96 Year Old Beat Poet Ferlinghetti Looks Back At Old San Francisco, Beat Era



96 Year Old Beat Poet Ferlinghetti Looks Back At Old San Francisco, Beat Era

Famed author and San Francisco bookstore owner to this day,96 year young Lawrence Ferlinghetti is fesity as ever as he rails against what some may call  the ‘new totalitariansim’  ( or, at least the dot-com boom) which he claims has changed San Francisco from the true  ‘ flower power melting pot’ of the 1960s to the most expensive and stratified city in America where the growing upper class has pushed out many of those poor but creative bohemians, of which  he was one.  Below interview comes on the occasion of Ferlinghetti’s latest book, about his old compatriot, Allen Ginsberg



Below recounted from San Francisco Chronicle Datebook by Jonah Raskin

The heart and the soul of bohemian San Francisco, Lawrence Ferlinghetti has altered the cultural landscape of readers and writers both locally and globally from his perch at City Lights, at 261 Columbus Ave. in North Beach. “I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career,” a new collection of letters between him and Allen Ginsberg, tracks their friendship and explores the fellowship of poets born at City Lights Bookstore and its publishing arm, City Lights Books.


Another new book, the 60th anniversary edition of City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology, brings together poets from each of the series’ 60 volumes, including Jack Kerouac and Pablo Neruda, as well as Ferlinghetti himself, who edited the volume and wrote the introduction. “As long as there is poetry, there will be an unknown,” he writes. “As long as there is an unknown there will be poetry.”


Ninety-six years after his birth, there seems no stopping the author of “A Coney Island of the Mind,” which has sold more than a million copies since its publication in 1958 and which ventures as deeply into the unknown as any volume of American verse in the 20th century.

Q: Do you go to City Lights every day?

A: I stay at home and let others do the work.

Q: But you just selected the poetry for the 60th volume in the Pocket Poets Series.

A: I do editorial work at home.

Q: How do you feel about your correspondence with Ginsberg appearing in print?

A: I never expected the letters to be published. Elaine Katzenberger at City Lights wanted them in a book. Allen’s letters are always interesting, mine less so.

Q: In one letter, you talk about the “romance of publishing.”

A: When you’re young, everything seems like a romance. At 96, I can still feel romantic about publishing young unknown writers.

Q: Reading the book of letters, I was surprised to discover that Gregory Corso, whose work you publish, stole money from City Lights.

A: Corso was drinking at Vesuvio. People saw him break in, and they called the police. We went to the hole in the wall where he was living and told him he’d better leave town before the cops arrived. He went to Italy and didn’t come back for ages. We took the amount of money he stole from us from his royalties. I think that was very Buddhist of us. We never called the police on any thief. But sometimes we humiliated thieves by pulling down their pants in the store.

Q: I was surprised by the playfulness of your letters to Ginsberg. You call him “Gins,” “Ginzap” and “Cher maître.”

A: I was his editor and publisher, but I was not a part of his inner circle. He never once said a word about my poetry.

Q: I think Ginsberg was the only person to call you “Larry.”

A: Anyone who shows up at City Lights and says, “I’m a friend of Larry” isn’t a friend of mine. Lawrence is a family name. I’m fond of it.

Q: Is there anyone you would have liked to have published but didn’t?

A: Kerouac. We published him, but not until late in his career. He was tied up with big New York publishers. We did his “Book of Dreams” in 1960.

Q: At times you seem to have been Ginsberg’s therapist.

A: I didn’t think of it that way. He was often overseas and very far out. By comparison with his work, mine is square. I was the guy at home minding the store. He was on his trip. I was on mine. My poetry is heterosexual.

Q: Are you critical of San Francisco today?

A: The dot-commers came with money and no manners. Now we have the Silicon Valley invasion of the city. The techies have ruined much of the Mission. Now they’re hitting North Beach. People with Mercedes-Benzes have moved into the North Beach neighborhood where I’ve lived for 36 years.

Q: Are you a curmudgeon?

A: Everyone is a curmudgeon past the age of 70. The city is rapidly changing. Come back in 20 years and you won’t recognize it. The Manhattanization goes on and on.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the city?

A: North Beach. I’m looking forward to a new book entitled “Sketches From a North Beach Journal” by Ernest Beyl, a local writer for the Marina Times.

Q: Looking back, how do you feel about the city?

A: Like I’m on an extended visit and can go back to New York at any time, though New York is for the young. People from San Francisco who go back there disappear forever. In San Francisco you can still be an individual. The city, what’s left of it, is the last frontier.

12 Hilarious Catskill Comedians

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kutchers catskills

* Doctor:”You’ll live to be 60!”
Patient:”I am 60!”
Doctor: “See! What did I tell you?”

* Patient:”I have a ringing in my ears.”
Doctor:”Don’t answer!”

12  Hilarious Catskill Comedians

12 Most Hilarious Borscht Belt Comedians


  • When she (and we) were little – when there was still this kind of classic humor on TV – we used to beg  mom to stay up for Johnny Carson because he had all the funniest comedians. Most of them were Jewish, and you could bet that they had worked the Borscht Belt in the Catskill Mountains, aka the Jewish Alps.

Here are some of their best lines.

1. Don Rickles

Show business is my life. When I was a kid I sold insurance, but nobody laughed.

2. Groucho Marx

I don’t have a photograph, but you can have my footprints. They’re upstairs in my socks.

3. Rodney Dangerfield

It’s been a rough day. I got up this morning, put a shirt on and a button fell off. I picked up my briefcase and the handle came off. I’m afraid to go to the bathroom.

4. George Burns

I love to sing, and I love to drink scotch. Most people would rather hear me drink scotch.

5. Joan Rivers

I hate housework. You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again.

6. Sid Caesar

The guy who invented the first wheel was an idiot. The guy who invented the other three, he was a genius.

7. Henny Youngman

Getting on a plane, I told the ticket lady, “Send one of my bags to New York, send one to L.A., and send one to Miami.” She said, “We can’t do that.” I told her, “But you did it last week.”

8. Red Buttons

Ninety isn’t old. You’re old when your doctor doesn’t X-ray you anymore. He just holds you up to the light.

9. Shecky Greene

Frank Sinatra saved my life once. Five guys were beating me up outside a hotel in Vegas. Frank walked by and said, “That’ll be enough, boys.”

10. Alan King

Marriage is nature’s way of keeping us from fighting with strangers.

11. Milton Berle

A man is hit by a car while crossing a Beverly Hills street. A woman rushes to him and cradles his head in her lap, asking, “Are you comfortable?” The man answers, “I make a nice living.”

12. Buddy Hackett

I met this beautiful young girl, and my doctor said to me, ‘You better be careful. If you have sex with her for 30 days in a row, it could be fatal.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve been going with her for almost 30 days. Little does she know, she dies tomorrow.

That’s the cleanest joke Hackett ever told. Playing the hotels in the Catskills, the comedians couldn’t “work blue.” In the clubs in Vegas, or later on cable television, they could say what they liked and Hackett was the most off-color — and the funniest. When asked about his act, Hackett said, “If it’s funny, it’s not dirty; and if it’s dirty, it’s not funny.”

In the episode, “Yada Yada,” Seinfeld suspects that his dentist converted to Judaism for the jokes. Maybe I did, too. All I know is that just about every Jewish comic — and many who are not Jewish — working today will tell you they studied under the Borscht Belt comedians. Hard work, impeccable timing, self-deprecating wit and an affinity for the underdog made it possible for us to be entertained and for many others to have careers in comedy.

Who’s your favorite Jewish comic, then or now?





* I just got back from a pleasure trip. I took my mother-in-law to the airport.

* I’ve been in love with the same woman for 49 years! If my wife ever finds out, she’ll kill me!

* What are three words a woman never wants to hear when she’s making love? “Honey, I’m home!”

* Someone stole all my credit cards but I won’t bereporting it. The thief spends

less than my wife did.

* We always hold hands. If I let go, she

* My wife and I went back to the hotel where we spent our wedding night; only this time I stayed in the bathroom and cried.

* My wife and I went to a hotel where we got a waterbed. My wife called it the Dead Sea .

* She was at the beauty shop for two hours. That was only for the estimate. She got a mudpack and looked great for two days.. Then the mud fell off.

* The Doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn’t pay his
bill so the doctor gave him another six months.

* The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, “Mrs. Cohen, your check came back. ” Mrs. Cohen answered, “So did my arthritis!”

* Doctor:”You’ll live to be 60!”
Patient:”I am 60!”
Doctor: “See! What did I tell you?”

* Patient:”I have a ringing in my ears.”
Doctor:”Don’t answer!”

* A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says, “You’ve been brought here for drinking.”
The drunk says “Okay, let’s get started.”

* Why do Jewish divorces cost so much?
They’re worth



12  Hilarious Catskill Comedians