San Francisco

Beat Museum Announces Yearlong Monthly Performance Series

Building on last summer's success of the Beatnik Shindig, featuring three jam-packed days of Beat events June 26–28, the Beat Museum has announced it's kicking off a yearlong monthly series of Beat and Beat-inspired performances at the museum and other venues in the city and beyond.

The first performance, from 7-10pm Wednesday, June 15th at Monroe nightclub (473 Broadway), will feature poet ruth weiss, one of the original Beats. Cost is $25 or $12 for museum membersJerry Cimino, founder of the Beat Museum, pointed out that weiss, who lives in Mendocino, was not only around from the beginning, "She’s credited as being the first person to stand up and read her own poetry with jazz, and she did it six months before [Jack] Kerouac." She even lived at the storied 1010 Montgomery St. three years before Allen Ginsberg (who wrote Howl there), he added.

Cimino told us the impetus for the series came from William Randolph Hearst III, a longtime supporter of the Beat Museum. He suggested having a couple of speakers each month, perhaps at bigger venues if need be, and he provided support via the Margaret and William R. Heart III Gift Fund. In addition to some famous names he can't yet reveal, he said they'll showcase lesser-known people. "It’ll be a good mix," he said. "It’s something that we want to sustain in perpetuity, but right now we have a yearlong commitment."

ruth weiss. | Photo: Dennis Hearne

Though the Beats have never gone out of style, the launch comes at a time of a resurgence of keen interest in the movement, Cimino says. After his big Beat blowout last summer, now Beat & Beyond: A Gathering is running New York City this month at Howl Arts. Then, the Centre Pompidou in Paris will host an exhibit on the Beats from June 22nd to October 3rd this year.

Photo: Geri Koeppel/Hoodline

“The beats are back in a big way,” Cimino told us. "The themes of the beats are timeless ... The themes are about youthful rebellion and finding your sexual identity; what is my path in the world.” The Beats promulgated ideas that San Francisco became known for, he added: Concepts like embracing your fellow man, racial equality, gay and lesbian rights and environmentalism. The Beats even wrote about saving the whales and the dolphins back in the 1950s. "The Beat generation values became San Francisco values." 

Photo: Geri Koeppel/Hoodline

The Beat Museum has long been a beacon for anyone holding those values, as well as a long list of notables who've stopped in. Patti Smith, Jimmy Page and Van Morrison have all been there in the last few months, Cimino told us. Owen Wilson, John Waters, Penn Jillette, Russell Brand, Kevin Nealon and more have visited, too. "We get a lot of famous people" he said.

Jimmy Page is a card-carrying member of the Beat Museum. | Photo: Courtesy of Jerry Cimino

Next month, the Beat Museum has lined up three more events in the series celebrating the Harold Norse Centennial: Kevin Killian, Regina Marler and Todd Swindell at the Mechanics' Institute 7–9pm July 6th, Adrian Brooks, Jim Nawrocki and Tate Swindell at the Beat Museum 7–9pm July 9th, and Tom Livingston, Michael C. Ford and S.A. Griffin at Beyond Baroque all the way in Los Angeles 4–6pm July 23rd. Look for more details to come on those and other upcoming events.

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