May 11, 2013

"A dropout from a life of privilege, [Taylor] Mead allied himself with Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and other early leaders of the San Francisco Beat scene of the 1950s..."

"... before settling in New York to eke out a living as a member of its thriving arts underground." I loved this man. I'm glad to see he lived to the very old age of 88.
Indie auteur Jim Jarmusch, who cast Mead in a moving vignette that closed his 2003 film "Coffee and Cigarettes," considered Mead one of his heroes.
One of my favorite movies. Here's the movie that made me a big fan: Andy Warhol's "Lonesome Cowboys."
He was a familiar face on Manhattan's Lower East Side, where he wandered the streets with a notebook, read his poetry in coffeehouses – often against a background of a Charles Mingus recording – and fed feral cats in the predawn hours....

Born on the last day of 1924 in Grosse Pointe, Mich., Mead was the son of a wealthy businessman and his socialite wife who divorced before he was born. He floated through boarding schools and a number of colleges before his father found him a job in a brokerage house, which was not to his liking...
Here, you can watch the Taylor Mead segment of "Coffee and Cigarettes" on YouTube, but it will look a lot better — and the entire movie is recommended — on Amazon instant video or DVD.

Goodbye to Taylor Mead. Real tears shed for you here at Meadhouse.

ADDED: "Let's pretend this coffee is champagne... to celebrate life... like the rich, classy people do."

IN THE COMMENTS: betamax3000 said:
I was feeding apple slices to the baby alligators in the sewer through an open manhole cover when the headlights came upon me like two drunk angels. The police had beaten my dead horse before, and I sure was not going to stick around this time for another pony ride. Through the alley I went, past the passed-out vagrants and the virgin hookers and the baking-powder salesman who looked like Woodrow Wilson, then down the stairs to the jazz club in the basement below the Italian restaurant that served great Chinese if you asked right. I had my usual -- gin with an orange marmalade chaser -- when I heard someone call my name above the honk-and-skitter of the saxophone trio: it was Speedy Johnny, free from jail. The cops had busted him for contributing to the delinquency of minors with intent to double-park, and now he looked as pale as a night-school oyster.
More in that vein, inside.

56 comments:

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

"A dropout from a life of privilege,

"... before settling in New York to eke out a living as a member of its thriving arts underground."


What does this mean? Does this mean he repudiated his family's wealth and made his own way or does it mean that he still was able to fall back on his wealth if need be?

rhhardin said...

I spend the 60s doing interesting computer stuff so never heard of him.

El Pollo Raylan said...

He seemed Taylor Mead for the role he played in life.

Bill wrote: What does this mean? Does this mean he repudiated his family's wealth and made his own way or does it mean that he still was able to fall back on his wealth if need be?

Makes you wonder. W.S. Burroughs received a generous stipend from his family ($200/mo) in his early Beat years and he wrote "Junkie" under a pseudonym so as to not embarrass his well known St Louis family.

I think admirers of Mead (and Burroughs) would overlook any financial enablement they received in their formative years from conventional wealth and focus instead on the outrage they created towards the squares who "tormented" them.

ricpic said...

Fuzzy headed hipster Mead walked through the Negro streets at dawn, feeding feral cats and looking for an angry fix. We parted at the subway, Mead to continue his aimless wandering, me headed uptown to my miserable enslavement to Moloch at that lousy stinking marketing gig. I feel, I feel as though I'm on the verge of a breakthrough. If I could only come up with a gimmick to hook the suckers. Ohm, ohm, ohm...

--From Mead and Me by Allen Ginsburg

Ambrose said...

I once served a cup of tea to Allen Ginsberg. Plain. no milk or sugar. I was at an event where he was speaking; he asked if someone could get him tea. Johnny on the spot raised his hand and went for the tea. He thanked me, and then spoke crap for about an hour, but he was very polite to the audience.

Michael K said...

Bill Ayres also was "A dropout from a life of privilege," and look where it got him ! Advisor to a president (quietly).

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

I asked the question because it does interest me when people from wealth walk away from it.

Even then they know they benefitted from the wealth. They know they can always return and get help. They benifitted by the education and connections.

Many times this claim is bullshit. Like Ayers mentioned above or Romney claiming he was self made because he only got a million from his father.

I think Ann Richards said some are born on third base and think they hit a triple. I loved that old broad.

colorsinaroom said...

I think, here, a stark dividing line between blog and readers as concerns the subject. I mean if one gets down to purpose, other than entertainment, what did Taylor Mead do to further the world in a positive manner. Give Warhol blowjobs.

Now sure, entertainment has gained the same respect, if not greater so, than most all other endeavors. But still, can we have any hope that this life sources small emulation.

wyo sis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael K said...

"Romney claiming he was self made because he only got a million from his father."

Romney gave away his inherited wealth. If you know better, let's see the evidence.

dustbunny said...

Great post Althouse. Many of your commenters do not get that you have roots in a truely strange and culturally rich era. it is why I come here everyday.

madAsHell said...

I'm wondering how Malcom Shabazz paid his way to Mexico city.

Oh, yeah.....I paid for that.!

rcocean said...

"Makes you wonder. W.S. Burroughs received a generous stipend from his family ($200/mo) in his early Beat years and he wrote "Junkie" under a pseudonym so as to not embarrass his well known St Louis family."

Given that he'd killed a women, turned drug addict, been arrested, fled the USA, and been kicked out the army, I'm glad he still at least a little desire NOT to embarrass his family.

Lem said...

He appeared to 'signed off' in the movie... is there a specific word for that?

BTW, here is the Taylor Mead scene Althouse mentions.

rcocean said...

BTW, wasn't his mother still alive when he published "Naked Lunch"?

Lem said...

A single word for 'saying art imitates life' or vice versa?

rcocean said...

I take it for granted that he was Gay.

NTTAWWT.

Astro said...

Here's what I don't get about Amazon Prime. I signed up for AP a couple years ago and paid my initial fee. I buy stuff via AP sometimes. Sometimes I'll watch a free movie or TV show.

But most of the free movies suck. The vast majority are from the remainders table at a defunct Blockbuster store. Not worth watching even at $0. If they really wanted to compete with Netflix streaming, why not match the monthly fee system? I'd sign up for that through the AA portal.

Lem said...

He seemed Taylor Mead for the role he played in life.

That's our Pollo!

Lem said...

How about my question Pollo?

I think we ought to coin one if one doesn't exist.

Having to say the mouthful 'life imitates art' or vice versa shows a lack of respect and imagination.

AJ Lynch said...

Thanks Lem for complimenting CL's clever comment as I missed it in the thread! CL can turn a phrase!

Lem said...

NTTAWWT. was my unrecognized contribution.

AJ Lynch said...

How do I turn on the sound in my new iPad? Or is that film clip supposed to be silent movie?

Lem said...

...as I missed it in the thread!

That's what he secretly hopes for.

We have to probe every word he says enough to get a TSA commission.

rcocean said...

"NTTAWWT. was my unrecognized contribution."

You should have copyrighted it. You could have been rich, rich, rich.

betamax3000 said...

I was feeding apple slices to the baby alligators in the sewer through an open manhole cover when the headlights came upon me like two drunk angels. The police had beaten my dead horse before, and I sure was not going to stick around this time for another pony ride. Through the alley I went, past the passed-out vagrants and the virgin hookers and the baking-powder salesman who looked like Woodrow Wilson, then down the stairs to the jazz club in the basement below the Italian restaurant that served great Chinese if you asked right. I had my usual -- gin with an orange marmalade chaser -- when I heard someone call my name above the honk-and-skitter of the saxophone trio: it was Speedy Johnny, free from jail. The cops had busted him for contributing to the delinquency of minors with intent to double-park, and now he looked as pale as a night-school oyster.

Lem said...

You should have copyrighted it. You could have been rich, rich, rich.

That's not what I'm talking about.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Lem seeks A single word for 'saying art imitates life' or vice versa?

That's tough, Lem. It's a real sentence with a subject, object and a transitive verb. If you try to eliminate or reduce the verb you get "artificial life."

BTW, Oscar Wilde said that the converse was more true--that life imitates art. But he was an aesthete and would say something like that.

betamax3000 said...

Speedy Johnny's father was once a famous lawyer before he was found with young girls and younger boys, and so the money had run out rather quickly. Now Johnny's Father stayed at the Mission down by the park and settled disputes among the pimps and hobos: small-time stuff, but even those on the lowest rung of the ladder need a lawyer now and then. When you only have one sock a Sock Thief is an evil bastard, indeed.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Thanks, Lem & AJ!

rcocean said...

"That's not what I'm talking about"

So what are you talking about?

AJ Lynch said...

See what I mean about Betamax Lem? He is creative so he can't be Garage who does nothing but spiel from Think Progress or Huffpo cues cards.

betamax3000 said...

When I was younger the low-lifes on the wrong side of town held a certain charm for me. Now -- after years of swimming amongst them like a goldfish in a bowl of tomato soup -- I knew they were not Charmed, they were Blessed. God can Love you no matter how much money you hade in your pocket or how many teeth you had left in your head. Which was good for Speedy Johnny, cause he was pretty skint on both.

Lem said...

aesthete ha?

I had the tilde on the wrong side... making it sound like atheist. which is what undoubtedly you were going for.

As you probably know in Spanish we cheat with the tilde.

Lem said...

So what are you talking about?

See the Althouse post on Fred Stoller.

Lem said...

Garage who does nothing but spiel from Think Progress or Huffpo cues cards.

Somebody' got to do it... better him than me.

But I do see what you mean thou.

betamax3000 said...

After a few drinks at the jazz club I strolled out along the boulevard and made sweet, furious love with a Fire Hydrant beneath the Stars. Passion is a funny thing: those who don't have it want it, and those who have it can't control it. Fire Hydrants: they are my weakness on a drunken night.

betamax3000 said...

I had heard of a man on the East Side who was hopelessly in love with a parking meter, but that wasn't the same. Just because it has a coin slot doesn't make it closer to True.

madAsHell said...

I spend the 60s doing interesting computer stuff

I was doing Cox airplanes, Briggs-Stratton go-carts, and gun powder.

betamax3000 said...

In the morning I searched my pockets for clues of the previous night, but only found the usual: a few pennies and nickels, a matchbook or two, and red paint on the knees of my pants.

bagoh20 said...

I like classy poor people more than classy rich, and isn't this just slumming, which is the extremely common delusion that the grass is greener somewhere else.

I never understood the gravitas given people who have resources but throw them away just for the joys of poor hedonism, which is not much different than rich hedonism.

The thing is, you had resources that you could use to help people, to build things, to make something better than just your personal memoirs, and you passed? Those of us who started with nothing and worked for decades to get what you were given for free have a hard time respecting that. We think you're kind of a dick.

rcocean said...

See the Althouse post on Fred Stoller.

Yeah, right. Fuck you.

pjckmen said...

Oh yeah! I agree with the idea that there is a coincidence Friv4

Lem said...

Yeah, right. Fuck you.

Unrecognized...

AJ Lynch said...

Bingo Bago!

William said...

Rich kids work with a safety net. They can do tricky stuff on the tightrope because their falls are not fatal, or so they think.... I don't see where a life feeding feral cats and making grand gestures for literate drug addicts is so special and blessed. He's welcome to his life, but it is distinguished chiefly for its failure and longevity.

El Pollo Raylan said...

He was a minor Beat, but still a Beat. Tellingly, the Beats left behind few viable offspring, so at least we won't have a Malcolm Shabazz situation to contend with.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

When you smoke weed in MA, you dropout from a life a privilege.

Sometimes, when you're messed up on weed, you get stabbed to death in your home with the weed spread around your carcass and $5000 left behind.

Because of weed.

So, don't be dropping out from a life of privilege.

Embrace diversity with a weed-free open mind, and you might just live in
MA.

Course we all remember this:

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
“But when a tragedy like this happens, with public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it’s important that we do this right. That’s why we have investigations. That’s why we relentlessly gather the facts.”

Meaning, if three dead bodies show up and there is weed and $5000 cash sitting around, we will congratulate everyone involved in the investigation, from top to bottom, for warning people about the dangers of choom.

Finding the killer or killers isn't a concern, and they might go on to murder in cold blood more people and maybe even wound hundreds more, but if we can conclude "drugs are bad" and raise awareness, by God it is worth it.

Pay raises all around!$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

NotquiteunBuckley said...

"dangerous speculation" that "spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties."

This describes cops declaring a triple homicide a drug deal gone bad.

Despite much evidence to the contrary.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

The irony is these asshole law enforcement officials relented and yielded to the power of weed, the weed's power existing in the (perhaps) sober LEO's mind and their mind only until they spread their unjustness through media across the world.

Weed was to blame in the end, because these cops would have had to figure out some other way to say "all is well here, just some hooligans killing hooligans again" without mentioning the plant had it not been present.

Lydia said...

Lonesome Cowboys made Althouse a big fan of this guy?

Oh, dear.

But it does go some way in explaining just how she was able to vote for Obama in 2008.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

The real irony is I watched fireworks as a child, very very good ones, near the hydro plant just NW of Madison, WI.

For many years this tradition, even on the lake when, somewhat amazingly time spent waiting for all the boats to leave wasn't a concern for any involved, was awesomely American in what the "Team America: World Police" movie put to tune to help describe it with words as follow:

America! (Fuck Yeah!)
Comin' again to save the motherfuckin day yeah!
America! (Fuck Yeah!)

Ethanol seemingly wasn't a concern for the screenauthoers then.



NotquiteunBuckley said...

"All this evidence is out there; waiting.

For you to take it, and use it.

THERE IS EVIDENCE OUT THERE PER ANDREW BREITBART WAITING TO BE USED BY PERSONS PERSON ENOUGH TO USE IT.

Showmanship is the answer; the great man Mr. William Frank Buckley Junior had it and used it.

He also was a great man for many many reasons, also could be a prick too as all humans are, except Jesus, and those who feel they are Jesus walkin' and waiting to be God are especially apt to anger my most primitive nerves.

Buckley, given his 82 years of time, taught those willing to learn: Sadly I set myself up with this username in order to help motivate me to become educated but I have failed.

I can't but help of think of Orson Welles' "Everybody's Shakespear" and think how things might now happen for a reason, not things might "not" happen for a reason.



NotquiteunBuckley said...

Rest.

Gold.

Rant.

Rest.

Australia.

Rant.

Rest.

Astronomical Unit*.

Rant.

Restaurant.

*lol

au

Craig said...

A top of the line, custom made set of Taylor Meads will set you back the better part of five grand.

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