Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Robert Crumb's Birthday




It's Robert Crumb's Birthday. He turns 73 today.  Happy Birthday, Robert!






                                                      [Robert Crumb - Self-Portrait (1982)]




R. Crumb on Allen Ginsberg


Allen Ginsberg kissed me once. It was in 1989, before I knew what was going on and I couldn't stop him, he kissed me on the mouth. [laughs]
I like Howl. Howl's great. It's like the beatnik manifesto of the '50s, y' know, it really says it all. It's got that beatnik attitude of that time in America. It's quite eloquent. But after that, he didn't really do anything that struck me as particularly interesting. But he was like a spokesman for the hippies in the '60s too. He would lead the hippies in all those Indian chants. He tried to lead them in the direction of spirituality, an East Indian kind of spirituality with meditation and chanting and all that.

R. Crumb on Jack Kerouac:



When I was 17, I read On The Road, and it sickened me, because my reaction was, "Oh God, these guys are out there having so much fun. I'm not having any fun at all. I'm just sitting here in my parents house. But them — the girls, the adventures, they're just like having a fuckin' lark On The Road."I liked his writing. I still like his writing, I think he's a great writer. He has a very particular, specific genre that he does of that time. He's very much of his time, you know, the non-conformist in the post-war era. But I like Kerouac. I haven't read everything that he's written. Sometimes I intend to go back and read more of his stuff, but I haven't read anything he's written in a long time.




R.Crumb on William S Burroughs:

"I love Burroughs also; a great writer. But his best writing is his straight-ahead prose. He wrote all this crazy fantasy stuff, which I think he was encouraged to do by this other beatnik writer, Brion Gysin, who, for some reason Burroughs admired. Gysin was, I think, a jive-ass, bullshit kind of guy. Burroughs, I think he lacked confidence in his own writing, because when he wrote straight prose it didn’t sell well. When he wrote Junkie, and that came out, it didn’t sell well in the beginning. And then he wrote this other book, Queer, around the same time in the early ’50s and he couldn’t even get that published. That wasn’t published until the 1980s. And Queer is a great book. Both Junkie and Queer are great. They’re both written in this very dry, prose style. And his little thin book called the Yage Letters, which were letters he wrote back to Allen Ginsberg while he was in South America looking for this psychedelic Yage plant. That’s a great book; great stuff. But the problem is, there’s not enough of that, not enough of his straight-ahead prose. He just didn’t think it was any good because he either couldn’t get it published or it didn’t sell. So then he wrote this gimmicky thing called Naked Lunch, which is mostly fantasy stuff and not very interesting to me, and that sold well. He made his reputation on Naked Lunch.
"He was a very eccentric character; very eccentric ideas and thoughts. He tried all kinds of strange, avant-garde psychotherapies. He was into psychic experimentation. He built himself an orgone box based upon the theories of Wilhelm Reich. He later got involved in Scientology and had this E-meter and used it as a way to psychically clear himself. He said it was his electrical Ouija board. [laughs] He tried other stuff too, like out of body experience. I can relate to all that stuff because I’m interested in all that fringe, psychic experimentation also. But he was very serious about that stuff.
"The sad thing about Burroughs, the tragic thing. was he abused himself so badly with substances. It’s amazing that he was still a very sharp thinker into his late years. His intellect was still pretty good even though he'd used drugs and heroin– and he didn’t stop that until he was about 60 or something–and then he became a bad alcoholic. I heard these  tapes of him giving recitals, reading his stuff to audiences, and he’s so drunk you can barely understand him, he’s slurring his words so badly. It’s really sad. Still, he lived until his mid-80s. He was a tough guy. He appeared to be kind of wimpy, but he was tough."



Here's Crumb eloquently reminiscing, last year on Australian radio


from that interview (on Allen and the Beats):

(Allen was a) classic, classic example. He became a guru, total guru of the hippies - and loved it, ate it up. He'd get up there on stage, and, you know, just chant OM or something in his robes and everything and they loved him, ate it up. He was a hero, they were all heroes, all those people from the Beatnik-histter era, you know, they were our antecedents and the people we looked to. Like Kerouac - it killed him, it destroyed him, they wouldn't leave him alone, they pestered him to death, he couldn't escape from them hippies they climbed over his fence to get at him. He just wanted to sit quietly and drink in his house with his mother aor whatever and they hounded him to death. 

The Arena documentry ("The Confessions of Robert Crumb") from 1987, is available - here


The Confessions of Robert Crumb

The trailer for Terry Zwigoff's landmark 1994 documentary may be viewed here  



Here's Crumb and his wife fellow-cartoonist Aline Kominsky at the Prague Writers Festival in 2009

Here's Crumb's 2010 Paris Review interview


Here's Crumb on NPR's Talk of the Nation  in 2013

In fact, all of the Crumb brood….


Here's Crumb (more recently) talking comics in San Francisco in May 2015



oh and ps. Jesse Crumb, Robert's son, turns out to be a pretty talented artist himself. From the 1995 set (with Erica Detiefsen)  - Beat Characters - Diane di Prima, Ted Joans, Kenneth Rexroth, David Meltzer, microphone (poetry and jazz), Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Tuli Kupferberg, and Allen Ginsberg 


In fact, all of the Crumb brood…..

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