Lawrence Ferlinghetti A Coney Island of the Mind

With the trinity of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs all spirited away to the Valhalla reserved for the profanely holy, the mantle of surviving beat generation icon falls to Lawrence Ferlinghetti. As the owner of the City Lights Press and bookstore, Ferlinghetti was patron saint to Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg (he faced obscenity charges for publishing Ginsberg’s Howl) and a kingpin of San Francisco counterculture. That also makes him pretty old to sound credible revisiting the work of his heady youth with A Coney Island of the Mind. Kerouac, for one, couldn’t bear to grow up, and one suspects the same of Ferlinghetti. He wheezes through the well-meaning, life-embracing enthusiasms of his poetry while passionately decrying the soul-sapping evils of capitalism and the smiling forms of everyday fascism, but he fairly limps through this reading, performed earlier this year in San Francisco. A bit of a shame, considering a pretty good stab at providing backing music by Morphine’s Dana Colley, cool and suggestive, more redolent of the beat era than Ferlinghetti’s reading itself. (Rykodisc)