A Look Back
This section will look at some of the highlights of the previous 11 issues of Jack Magazine. Rest assured, I have many more memories, and these highlighted posts are not just my favorites. Each and every artist who has contributed to this magazine has become a memory at this point, one I will always appreciate.
I remember for the very fist issue of Jack Magazine, Michael Rothenberg told Michael McClure about Jack Magazine. Michael M. allowed me to reprint three selections from Touching the Edge: Dharma Devotions from the Hummingbird Sangha, published 1999, by Shambhala Publications, Inc.
I remember Michael R. saying that Michael M. said something like, “You just don’t know Jack,” which became a catch-phrase.
McClure also sent me a signed copy of the sutras, and wouldn’t you know, I ended up losing it when moving from California back to the Midwest. I couldn’t believe I’d lost that book. In a weird twist of fate, Denise from over at Empty Mirror Books, who I’d had contact with over the years, wrote to say that whoever found the book sent it to her. She knew it was mine due to Michael’s signing it to me directly. I was really embarrassed, but she nicely sent the book to me. What an odd coincidence though. I bet nobody will ever sign a book to me again.
I also really enjoyed reading and reviewing Gary Snyder’s The Practice of the Wild.
Allan Graubard also came to me by way of Michael Rothenberg. He allowed me to reprint in digital form his Fragments of Nomad Days in Jack. This beautiful book mesmerized me. With photos by Ira Cohen — with whom I later did a large gallery for Big Bridge — the complete words and images were wind-swept and woeful, but reaffirming. I felt, as I did this issue during a complicated romance at the time, very into it. With Santa Anas flowing in my windows on dry days, and palm fronds floating downward from the sky, I could feel Fragments. I still go back to read it when I need to.
Issue 2 also presented Jack Collom’s great Ecosystem of Writing Ideas, a multipage look at his teachings in nature writings at Naropa University.
When issue 2 came out, Gregory Corso was very ill, and by issue 3, he was gone — January 17, 2001.
In honor, Michael got permissions from Ira Cohen, BARDO MATRIX’s publisher, to do a digital printing of Corso’s Way Out: A Poem in Discard, which had been printed in 1974 in Nepal on rice paper. It’s a fascinating canto/play-based chapbook. We also did a tribute to Gregory, and I remember writing something too. I remember being afraid to post those photos of him in the hospital, but Michael convinced me it was cool. Ira had provided us much material, including a letter titled My Karma Ran Over My Dogma, which Ira had written.
In issue 3, I’d reprinted Gregory Corso’s Way Out, and for issue 4 got permissions from Ira Cohen to publish another from BARDO MATRIX: Angus Maclise’s The Subliminal Report. Ira, Gregory, Angus: these guys were urban shamans. I don’t think my work on Report was quite as fascinating as Way Out, because I didn’t try to find a cool paper background. But as an original work, it was grand. Ira had made a woodblock profile — and a trademark Mylar portrait of Angus — to put on the cover of the book.
I don’t have many inside stories to tell of Ira. I talked with him on the phone a few times when working on a web gallery. Both he and Michael were frenetic and thought I was very shy, I think.
Michael wrote this poem, which was later published in Exquisite Corpse:
Phantom, Come Hither!
for Ira Cohen & Mary Sands
You’re not having enough fun
Or smoking enough dope
Not opening up your head
Or heading out into the open
So go (NOW) to the Cosmic Hotel
Check in to the Paradise suite
Give the Akashic cashier
All your hard-earned money
Condemn the sacred incantation
Of your tragic virgin muse
Pay tribute to the grave robbers
To troubadour Francois Villon
Master bandit vagabond
Break open the sky!
Let the shattered stars shred all memories
On the bloody road to ruin
Map the trail where lost dreamers go
This is not a day for archives
Libraries or documentaries
Pound the wheel into motion
Lie without shame
In a bramble of white roses
Run in terrible glee through worlds
Of avant-garde Pinocchios
Dance like Yakas
In the hallowed wheat fields
Of Indiana, Ohio and Idaho
The Killing fields of Pollyanna!
Drink to the masked dancers. Have fun!
Because that’s what suffering is for
There is no time for contemplation
No time to lean on a lamppost
And smoke that forgotten cigarette. . .
Instead, blow blue smoke into the lights of a dying city!
While the sun goes up and down and up
And you shed your skin
And I shed mine
And die, and die, and die
With every fucking breath
Death-click, enlargement, refraction, replication and scan
You’re holding on too tight
To your rule book
You don’t need your life!
Step outside and scream
To the Daughters of Hell!
I’m waiting for you
Ghost draped in flesh
Waiting for you
To turn me on
June 7, 2000
I don’t think it was ever intended to just keep on the Beats with Jack Magazine, though surely they were an influence, but just as surely, we wanted to break out of the mold.
For issue 5, right when we published it, we got news that Philip Whalen had died, and got some devotions together. This was June 22, 2001, a year after the first issue. Back then I was trying for quarterly issues, which was too much for me to keep up with. Michael, one of Whalen’s best friends and executor of his estate, was going through a tough time. We talked often, I got plenty of stories of the loving and humorous manner in which Whalen lived until the very end.
One of this issue’s features reached to a different part of the world, South Africa. Jack featured the work of 8 poets from that region, a fascinating journey.
Issue 6 was my favorite issue. It represents a time I was downtrodden in life. The end of a long relationship. A culmination of lies and being cheated on. Feeling very alone, with few friends. Struggling in every aspect of my life. I also got laid off, and my grandfather had died. My dad’s Parkinsons was getting worse.
I had read Allan Weisbecker’s *In Search of Captain Zero and reviewed it two issues prior, and now with summer coming on had decided to learn to surf. For the first time in a while, I felt better. While I never could surf very well, I loved to get out on the water. There was an act of ablution. Issue 6 was my first real thematic issue outside some South African poetry previously. I featured Kevin Opstedal’s Rare Surf, Vol. 2, and had permissions from surfer/painter Matt Scott to illustrate the magazine with his art. Ben Marcus contributed great surf film chronology The Price of Gas. I was on the road to redemption, but still wipe now and then. This was probably my favorite issue because it represented something of beauty after struggle.
*In the next few years I would hear from Allan Weisbecker himself, and we keep in touch randomly. I reviewed his post-Zero book — Can’t You Get Along with Anyone?– over at Big Bridge. I feel like Zero had saved me from certain doom, and given me hope. Thank you, Allan.
By the time I put issue 7 together, I had moved from California, a scene that had birthed Jack. I think this issue was a little darker and blander, somewhat reflective of a transition in life that was actually good in the end. This is the issue I met Cece Chapman, whose work has appeared in Jack since. Cece made me feel like I was still by the sea. I also really enjoyed the last issue with the old categories of Eco-Watch and Renaissance, including John Aeillo’s poetry and Mark Spitzer’s Bob Dylan’s Tarantula. I also got to know Joanna Barnum, who would illustrate more in Jack later and create my Moon Willow Press logo someday.
We’re in full bloom again with beautiful photographs of Cuba by Terri Carrion, and some brighter colors overall. Cece’s feature took me away. I featured an speech by Ian Johnston on my favorite author’s, Gabriel García Márquez’s, One Hundred Years of Solitude. Dan Barth, who had written a feature for the first issue, was back with Ken Kesey: The Artist and His Work.
At this time, I was moving around a lot and had to quit HTML-editing Michael’s Big Bridge. I just didn’t have time. I had left California after packing all day, and arrived in Vegas at 4:00 a.m. during my Big Move. In the next year, I had lived in Normal, Illinois; Naperville, Illinois; and Kansas City, Missouri. I had little time for Jack for a few years.
I thought maybe a new design might help me reinvigorate my passion for Jack, but truth is I was still recuperating from my downtrodden last year in California and my several jaunts around the country to find new housing, a new job, and so on. My dad was getting more ill. I was not sure I wanted to keep doing Jack, but something inside made me move on. Issue 9 had a design change. I liked it. I was also living temporarily with my Dad’s first cousin and her husband, in Kansas City. They had lead fascinating lives. I wrote an article about them, featuring their years in theater.
The art in this issue, by Claudio Parentela, may have saved my poor design choices! Kevin Opstedal, who had once sent me a tape of surf music, was back with more poems, and some of Jack’s regulars like Jayne Lyn Stahl, Julio Peralta-Paulino, Ashok Hiyogi, Martin Kovan, and Zdravka Evtimova were in this issue.
When I put issue 10 up, it was up for almost 2 years and was the only dynamic issue of the magazine, where I added to it throughout that two years. This had to do with another couple years of a lot of travel, caring for my father, and traveling back and forth to Vancouver, BC, to spend time with both my fiance and my dad back in the states. I liked this issue though. It was centered around fantasy, which was a favorite genre as a child and extended into adulthood and movies. Once again Joanna Barnum did some fantastic illustrations. Several summers before I’d read a draft of Michael Rothenberg’s Drums of Grace, and asked if I could excerpt a chapter. The book is a lifelong work of his, and where his “Walter Blue” originated. The fantastical journey is also illustrated by Ira Cohen.
Some might say a fantasy issue is a far cry from any Beat to Big Bridge arc, but the beauty is that it was on the edge. And I found several regular contributors who had written something in this genre, who were back again, including Marco Antonio Govea, Martin Kovan, Margaret Pearce, AE Reiff, and Nanettte Rayman Rivera.
With the Eco-Watch category having ended previously due to a lack of articles in that area, I decided to concentrate this entire issue on the great outdoors and preservation of natural ecosystems. By now I was also married and planning to open Moon Willow Press, and saying good bye to my wonderful father (Issue 11 was dedicated to him). I foresaw Jack’s end, and welcomed some new writers I wish I’d known about earlier, including Justin Kibbe, Oritsegbemi Emmanuel Japka, and Nathaniel Mohatt. I had some regulars return as well, and featured a compilation of all previous wilderness writings, including pieces by Coral Hull, Gary Lawless, Jack Collom, John Aiello, Jhana Hadson, J. Scott Bryson, Katherine McNamara, kevin Opstedal, Michael McClure, Mark Koslow, mIEKAL aND, and Susan Smith Nash. This may have been my second favorite issue because of the subject, which comes full circle if you look at Ancient Order of the Fire Gigglers.
The current, and final issue, is about travelin’ on. There are a few regulars I wish to thank yet again: Stephen, Valery, Julio, AE, Daniel, Marcia, Vernon, Shelia, Ashok, Bart, Dee, Zdravka, and Charles. Thanks also to Francis, Michael G., Clara, David M., William, M Bromberg, Landon, Carlos, Thomas, Joanne, Farida, Donna, and Pat. I want to say thanks to all the contributors, especially Michael Rothenberg, for adding so much to Jack Magazine, including, with David Meltzer and Terri Carrion, a compilation of ROCKPILE on the Road journal entries and photographs featured in the current issue.
I want to also particularly thank once again Cece Chapman for helping Jack live when it was down, to Jayne Lyn Stahl and Rodney Nelson for their continued work, understanding, and connection in some email conversations, to Anthony Wright for some fascinating reading as of late, and to Jon Watson for being one of the world’s last true Dharma Bums.
There is always discovery, wherever we go. Just remember, it’s not leaving, it’s just moving on.