City Lights at 50


The Washington Post has a profile of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the founder of San Francisco's influential City Lights bookstore, which turns 50 this year. Ferlinghetti not only helped create a particularly strong poetic sensibility (he published "Howl" and staged famous readings), he is also a basically an unregenerate moron when it comes to almost everything, whether we're talking politics, the state of publishing, or his own work. Which is not in any way to undercut his importance.

Reason's Tim Cavanaugh gave a Bronx cheer to the on the Coney Island of the Mind author a while back, riffing off Ferlinghetti's lamentable antiwar poem, "Speak Out." And here is Reason's appreciation of the Beats (from whom, pro forma, Ferlinghetti distances himself) as important cultural entrepreneurs.