Poet and author Lawrence Ferlinghetti, pictured above in 1960, was born on March 24, 1919.AP
Lawrence Ferlinghetti has died in San Francisco. He was 101. Ferlinghetti is probably best known for three things: his Beat poetry, his San Francisco bookstore and small press, and his defense of the First Amendment in a famous court case.
His most famous work is a 1958 collection of poetry called A Coney Island of the Mind. In it, he compares the horrors depicted in Francisco Goya’s paintings of the Napoleonic Wars to scenes of post-World War II America.
A Coney Island of the Mind was translated into nine languages and sold more than a million copies. Despite his popularity, Ferlinghetti was never considered on par with some of the other Beat writers he called his friends — Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso and Allen Ginsberg.
Even though Ferlinghetti was raised in New York, he said he never met those East Coast writers until he moved to San Francisco and opened his bookstore, City Lights.
“A bookstore is a natural place for poets to hang out,” Ferlinghetti said in a 1994 interview. “And they started showing up there right from the beginning.”
City Lights became a magnet for West Coast intellectuals, and later a tourist destination.
Ferlinghetti also started a small press called City Lights Books. In the fall of 1956, he published a little 75-cent paperback, the first edition of Howl by Allen Ginsberg.
Howl was a new type of poetry that gave voice to an undercurrent of dissatisfaction in Eisenhower’s America. It became an anthem for the nascent counterculture.
“Before Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, the state of poetry in America is a little bit like the way it is today: poetry about poetry,” Ferlinghetti said. “Howl knocked the sides out of things. Just the way rock music in the ’60s knocked the sides out of the old music world.”Article continues after sponsor message
Howl included passages describing sex — both between men and women and between two men — and Ferlinghetti was arrested in 1957 on charges of publishing obscene material. At the end of a long federal trial, the poem was found to have redeeming social importance, and therefore not obscene.
Literary critic Gerald Nicosia says Ferlinghetti’s two greatest accomplishments were fighting censorship, and inaugurating a small press revolution.
“Up until that point, getting published was a difficult thing,” Nicosia says. “If you were a radical, an innovative writer, you would be rebuffed by New York, by mainstream publishers. By creating this press out of nothing — City Lights Press — he said: Look, you don’t need these big publishers in New York. You can do it, and you can get the books out, and not only that, you can make waves.”
Ferlinghetti was always an advocate for the underdog, in part because of his own life story. He was born on March 24, 1919, in Yonkers. His father died shortly before he was he was born, and his mother was committed to a psychiatric hospital shortly after. He was raised by an aunt, and then by foster parents.
Ferlinghetti enlisted in the Navy after Pearl Harbor, and served as an officer at Normandy on D-Day and at Nagasaki after the atomic bomb. That experience turned him into a lifelong pacifist.
After the war, he got a master’s degree at Columbia University, and a doctorate at the Sorbonne. He began writing poetry about America in the 1950s.
Ferlinghetti began his career at a revolutionary time in arts and music. In 1994, he still believed art could make a difference. “I really believe that art is capable of the total transformation of the world, and of life itself,” he said. “And nothing less is really acceptable. So I mean if art is going to have any excuse for — beyond being a leisure class play thing — it has to transform life itself.”
Through more than half a century of writing and publishing, Lawrence Ferlinghetti did.
What I dislike about these pieces, the media looks for SEXY stories then grabs onto them like a dog with a bone. The people interviewed are professionals that were working/filming/doing a story when caught, knowing the consequences of their actions. Seldom Seen calls it Kodak Courage. Encourages bad behavior.
Avalanches kill more than a 100 people worldwide each year. We have stories of three people who were caught in avalanches and survived.
The U.S. is on a pace for a record number of avalanche deaths this winter. More than two dozen people have already died in avalanches. And, of course, there are more months of winter to go. Especially unstable snow conditions have a lot to do with that and the fact that even experienced skiers may need to review their safety skills. As Stephanie Maltarich reports from Colorado, experts are trying hard to reach out to backcountry skiers.
STEPHANIE MALTARICH, BYLINE: Out on skis in the mountains outside the town of Crested Butte, international mountain guide and avalanche educator Jeff Banks says snow slides that kill people don’t just happen randomly.
JEFF BANKS: We know that 90% of all avalanche accidents are caused by the human element, meaning we’re the problem. We knew the snow was unstable and dangerous, and we still went there anyway.
MALTARICH: And a lot more people are going to dangerous places this winter.
BANKS: That makes it the perfect storm because there’s unprecedented backcountry use because of the pandemic.
MALTARICH: In the past, avalanche victims were typically younger men. But in recent years, the average age of people who’ve died in avalanches has been going up.
SARA BOILEN: We used to think that 20-year-olds were the riskiest.
MALTARICH: Dr. Sara Boilen, a clinical psychologist and avalanche educator based in Whitefish, Mont., researches why older and more experienced backcountry users are dying in greater numbers. She believes one reason is that experienced users are often years out from any formal avalanche education they may have had. And the human brain tends to forget information that it doesn’t use.
BOILEN: If I’ve skied 100 days in the backcountry, I’ve never had an avalanche and I’ve never had to dig my friend out, my brain has effectively disposed all the information I have about how to shovel out from an avalanche. And I think one of the things that we could do better is having little moments of tune-ups.
BOILEN: This winter, Crested Butte’s nonprofit Avalanche Center started offering a lot more of that. Staffers set up a pop-up tent at a busy trailhead every other Saturday or so.
ZACH KINLER: We’re just out here with the Crested Butte Avalanche Center doing some outreach, making sure folks are checking the forecast if they’re moving into the backcountry – and here to answer any questions that you guys might have.
MALTARICH: This goes beyond typical passive means of reaching backcountry users, like making forecasts of avalanche risk available on a website. Ian Havlick was hired this year to ramp up outreach after things got busy late last season.
IAN HAVLICK: Spring gave us an idea of what this winter would be like with increased use in the backcountry of all types – of skiers, snowmobilers, snowshoers, everyone.
MALTARICH: In addition to staffing trailhead outreach days, Havlick created a biweekly virtual fireside chat series, avalanche safety classes for local youth and online videos that show avalanche rescue techniques. The center also put up a colorful sign at the entrance of town that shows the current avalanche danger. The efforts seem to be working.
HAVLICK: The overall message has been getting out there. And it’s rated high danger today, and there’s hardly anyone at the trailhead.
MALTARICH: People who came to the trailhead today were cautious. And local skiers have noticed the uptick in outreach.
LAURA TOMLINSON: You can’t miss it, you know, if you get on Facebook.
CAROLINE MCCLEAN: I love the videos. Yeah, they’re very informative.
MALTARICH: People from across the country tune in to the fireside chats. And the team reaches hundreds of recreationists at trailheads. Last week, a social media post received 46,000 views, a huge increase from the normal 2,000.
HAVLICK: The feedback we’ve been getting from the community, it’s been overwhelmingly positive.
MALTARICH: Right now, Havlick’s position is only funded temporarily. The Avalanche Center’s goal is having a permanent outreach program to offer more education and outreach in addition to its daily forecasts. For NPR News, I’m Stephanie Maltarich.
‘The Infinite Spur’ with George Lowe, Michael Kennedy and Michael Gardner 7 p.m. Thursday on Zoom TetonClimbers.com By Gabe Allen
The tools of the modern alpinist have changed so much over the past 40 years that many are unrecognizable when compared with the objects that they evolved from. Waffled polyester has replaced wool, bent shaft carbon fiber ice tools are used in the stead of steel axes, and colorful camming devices are placed gently into granite cracks where the scars from hammered metal wedges still linger.
But there is one ingredient to a successful ascent that is more important than any specialized tool: an idea. The idea that the physical exhaustion, psychological turmoil and inherent risk encountered on an ascent are worth overcoming. The idea that the experience has intrinsic value.
“The risks are really high, and the reward is very ambiguous and muddled,” Jackson-raised mountaineer and guide Michael Gardner explained. “After you have an incredible experience on a big mountain, it’s not like you get back to camp and someone gives you a gold medal. It’s not a fulfilling experience unless you’re motivated internally.”
In 1977, Michael Kennedy and George Lowe pioneered a route up a steep tongue of ice and rock that jutted from the south face of the Alaskan Range’s second highest peak, Mount Foraker. They dubbed the route the “infinite spur” for its “length and the 11-day round trip of our ascent.”
Forty-two years later, Gardner and his climbing partner, Sam Hennessey, retraced the route with skis on their backs.
Kennedy, Lowe and Gardner will revisit the two historic expeditions starting at 7 p.m. Thursday via Zoom, the Teton Climbers’ Coalition’s second presentation of its winter speaker series.
The three mountaineers don’t have note cards with talking points; rather, the event will be framed as a conversation between two generations of cutting-edge alpinists.
“As often as not, they’re not actually talking about climbing,” Teton Climbers’ Coalition Chairman Christian Beckwith said. “They’re talking about how climbing is a vehicle for the exploration of life. This route is a sort of connection through time through different generations and the commonalities that bind them.”
The decision to overcome trepidation and make an attempt was last-minute in 1977 as well as in 2018.
Lowe’s and Kennedy’s ambivalence stemmed in some part from the weeks leading up to the climb. The duo had originally included a third member, Lowe’s brother Jeff. As a “warm-up” for the more remote and committing ascent of Foraker, the team attempted to climb a new route on the north face of Mount Hunter. During the most difficult section of mixed climbing, disaster struck: Jeff Lowe knocked a cornice loose and fell 60 feet, breaking his ankle.
After descending and getting him on a plane back to Anchorage, George Lowe and Kennedy went back to Mount Hunter and completed the route. Even with a successful climb under their belts, the seriousness of the incident lingered in their minds.
“The accident had shaken us both, but it also gave us a certain confidence,” Kennedy wrote in a recent article in The Alpinist titled “Falling into Place.”
Ultimately, just three hours before they left, the pair made the decision to go for the spur on Foraker. In a flurry of last-minute preparation they abandoned plans to ascend the far less technical Cassin Ridge on Denali.
“I thought we’d always question ourselves if we didn’t take this step into the unknown,” Kennedy wrote.
Forty-two years later, Hennessey and Gardner’s ascent fell together in a similar haphazard fashion. Gardner had been toying with the idea of a ski-laden expedition on the route ever since he started guiding on Denali with Alaska Mountaineering School. “I’d been looking over at the Sultana Ridge for 10 years,” he said. “Sam and I, throughout a couple of years of guiding together, had the idea of taking ski alpinism to the greater ranges. It was a really enticing objective because it’s so far to the base and so far off the top that, if you had the capability to climb with skis on your back and ski boots on, it was the most logical way to approach the mountain.”
Even though the concept of the route had been living in their collective subconscious for years, Hennessey and Gardner didn’t decide to go for it until the night before they left. After an unsuccessful attempt of a route on Denali’s south ridge, the forecast predicted a window of unusuallygood weather. “We had just been stormed on for four days and had run out of food,” said Gardner. “I don’t want to make it sound too cavalier, but we didn’t even have the right toe bails for our crampons to fit onto ski boots. We were running around base camp trying to see if anybody had them.”
At 8 p.m., the last plane of the day dropped off the missing crampon component. Five hours later they began their approach.
Although their stories might cast the four alpinists as impulsive, reckless adventurers, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The hasty preparations described here were just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Each of the four men had experienced the death of peers, friends and mentors. Each of them had suffered exhaustion, thirst, hunger, injury and desperation. And each of them had continued to make the choice to return to the mountains.
On Thursday they will attempt to delve into their motivations, although, as Kennedy put it, they aren’t always clear at the time.
“For me, once I completely understood why I did these particular types of routes, I didn’t need to do them anymore,” he said. “Maybe that’s too simplistic. There’s a lot to unpack here.”
Contact Gabe Allen via 732-7078 or email@example.com.
George Lowe following Michael Kennedy up the crux of the Infinite Spur on Mount Foraker in the Alaska Range during the first ascent in 1977. Kennedy and Lowe will share tales of the adventure, along with Michael Gardner, who with Sam Hennessey repeated the feat in 2018 — then skied down from the summit — Thursday in the second event in the Teton Climbers’ Coalition’s speaker series.
Michael Kennedy, George Lowe and Michael Gardner explore one of the world’s great alpine routes: The Infinite Spur.
About this Event
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In 1977, George Lowe and Michael Kennedy made the first ascent of one of the great lines in world mountaineering, Alaska’s Infinite Spur, in an eleven-day odyssey that stretched the boundaries of alpine climbing possibility.
Forty-two years later, second-generation Teton climbing guide Michael Gardner and partner Sam Hennessy climbed the route in a 48-hour push in ski boots while carrying skis, then skied the mountain’s Sultana Ridge to descend.
This special presentation features an intimate and candid conversation about climbing one of the world’s finest alpine challenges with three of its pioneers, and the way great lines connect their ascensionists through time.
The event, which is being sponsored by the Hatchet Resort, Black Diamond, Teton Mountaineering, Skinny Skis,Alpinist Magazine,Arc’Teryx, Access Fund, and The American Alpine Club, in collaboration with Coombs Outdoors and the Jackson Hole High School Mountaineering Club, will be streamed via Zoom.
A 45-minute “happy hour” before the main presentation will provide participants an opportunity to socialize, and to learn more about the TCC’s work on the Rec Center climbing gym.
The event is free and open to the public. A $5 donation is suggested. A link to the Zoom event will be sent to registrants one to two days before the event itself.
Michael Gardner in 2019 on a 48-hour push on Mt. Foraker’s Infinite Spur. Photo: Sam Hennessy
On May 24, 2017, a Republican candidate for Congress assaulted a journalist. He grabbed the reporter’s neck with both hands, slammed him to the ground and began punching him. What did the journalist do to provoke the attack? He had asked the candidate a question about his position on health-care reform. The candidate — who initially lied about the attack — was arrested. He ultimately pleaded guilty to assault.
What happened next illustrates the core problem with the modern, Trumpified Republican Party. The candidate who performed the assault was elected in the 2017 special election, reelected in 2018, and is now Montana’s governor. His name is Greg Gianforte.
Gianforte’s ascent tells you everything you need to know about today’s Republican Party. Disqualifying, extremist behavior isn’t just tolerated in the modern GOP — it’s encouraged. If America is going to have a functioning center-right party — and it sorely needs one for democracy to survive — then Republicans need to find a way to stop rewarding violent thugs, crackpot conspiracists, and those who troll Democrats on social media rather than solving problems.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and recently elected Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) offer an instructive comparison. Before winning a seat in Congress, Boebert had been arrested and summoned at least four times. Another time, she failed to show up for a court appointment, telling the judge she had forgotten which day of the week it was. “I am now aware today is Friday,” she explained.
Nonetheless, Boebert knocked off Scott R. Tipton, a five-term Republican incumbent in the primary. Tipton was unapologetically pro-Trump, but not extreme enough for Boebert.
Since getting elected, Boebert has established herself as a GOP firebrand. She soared to national prominence with a viral campaign ad in which she pledged to “carry my Glock” to Congress. Just hours before a violent mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6., Boebert wrote on Twitter that “Today is 1776.” When the mob left, Boebert then voted to overturn the results of November’s presidential election. Despite being one of the most junior figures in the House, she has been rewarded with high-profile interviews on Fox News. More than a half-million people follow her on Twitter. She is a national Republican star because of her extremism.
Del. Stacey Plaskett, one of the House managers in former President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, defends the decision not to call witnesses. “As all Americans believed at that moment, the evidence was overwhelming,” she says.Win McNamee/Getty Images
Just before voting Saturday to acquit former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, the Senate seemed to reverse course, with a decision not to call witnesses.
Del. Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat from the U.S. Virgin Islands who was one of the House impeachment managers, is defending the agreement between House managers and Trump’s attorneys not to call witnesses after all.
“We had no need to call any witnesses at the end of the trial because, as all Americans believed at that moment, the evidence was overwhelming,” she said in an interview Sunday with NPR’s Weekend Edition.
The Senate voted 57-43, which included seven Republicans, to hold Trump guilty on the impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection. But that was short of the two-thirds, or 67 votes, needed to convict him.
“I know that people have a lot of angst and they can’t believe that the Senate did what they did. But what we needed were senators, more senators with spines, not more witnesses,” Plaskett said.
She said the House managers wanted to enter into the record the statement of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., about a conversation Beutler had with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., regarding a call he had with Trump on Jan. 6.
After an agreement was reached to read Herrera Beutler’s statement into the record, Plaskett says, there was no need to call her as a witness.
“Individuals do not come to the Senate floor, raise their hand and testify. Individuals are depositioned, videotaped, and that tape is then played before the Senate,” Plaskett said.
“We wanted the testimony and the statement of our colleague Jaime Herrera Beutler, who is a tremendous patriot to put herself out there. And we were able to get that,” she said.
Plaskett denied that she and other House managers were pressured by Senate Democrats not to call witnesses.
“No. We made a decision,” Plaskett said. “And again, it was not a reverse course. We got in what we wanted, which was the statement of Jaime Herrera Beutler. And that completed even more so our case. The evidence was overwhelming when we closed, and all Americans believe that we had closed our case.”
Asked about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s scathing statement Saturday that Trump “is practically and morally responsible for provoking” the Capitol insurrection, Plaskett said that it showed “we proved our case and it’s obvious from his statement that [McConnell] believed what we said.”
“Those 43 who voted to acquit the president did so because they were afraid of him, because they were more interested in party and in power than they were in our country and in duty to their Senate oath,” she added.
Plaskett said Trump “will be forever tarnished” by the impeachment.
“I think it leaves him for all history — our children and my grandchildren will see in history that this was the most despicable despot attempting to become a fascist ruler over a country that was founded in democracy,” she said.
Alex Moffat played that Fox News host, who compared himself to a human White Claw and started his broadcast with what he called “a loose collection of scaremongering non sequiturs.” Among them, “Is AOC hiding in your house right now?” and “Pixar: Is it making our kids depressed or gay? Pick one.”
The program’s first guest was Senator Lindsey Graham (Kate McKinnon), who said that it was “a great day for 30 percent of America.”
In defense of Trump, McKinnon said, “Just because the rioters were yelling ‘Fight for Trump’ doesn’t mean they meant Donald Trump. Could’ve been some real Tiffany heads. Maybe even some Eric stans, I don’t know. But regardless, the trial is over and now we can move past this and focus on the serious issues. That’s locking up Hillary and freeing beautiful Britney Spears.”
McKinnon added that she didn’t understand the contempt directed at Trump. “He is smart, he is nice, he’s in shape,” she said. “Last fall he died of Covid and didn’t even tell nobody.”
Playing Senator Ted Cruz, Aidy Bryant discussed the relationship between Republican senators and Trump’s legal counsel. “Like any impartial juror,” she said, “we took it upon ourselves to meet with the defense lawyers, to give them some very simple advice: stop, and don’t.”
The final guest was the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (Beck Bennett), who, despite denouncing Trump, said that his not guilty vote was justified “because everyone knows you cannot impeach a former president.”
“That’s why we should have impeached him before, back when I said we couldn’t,” he said. “I think he’s guilty as hell, and the worst person I ever met and I hope every city, county and state locks his ass up.”
Bennett then exhaled a long breath and declared, “God, that felt good. I’ve been holding that inside my neck for four years.”
Asked what he would now do in the Senate, Bennett replied, “I plan to reach my hand across the aisle and then yank it back and slide it across my hair and then say, ‘Too slow.’”
Fake Commercial of the Week
If you can afford a trendy Peloton exercise bike but have no interest in the relentlessly upbeat motivational messages from its onscreen product, “S.N.L.” may have a product that’s more your speed. It’s the Pelotaunt, which in this advertisement is billed as “the only exercise bike that provides you with personalized, at-home negative reinforcement and relentless criticism.”
Among its many modes of emotional manipulation are snotty disdain, insincere praise and avoidant attachment style. And if none of those settings gets you into shape, why not try a workout accompanied by the theme from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or video of “an elderly woman who’s like 1,000 times better than you”?
Timely Legal Assistance of the Week
Who among us has not required the intervention of a plastic surgeon after using an extremely powerful adhesive as a substitute for hair spray? It happened in real life to Tessica Brown, who became an unfortunate viral sensation when she pasted her pate with Gorilla Glue.
Now, should any of us make the same mistake, we have the law firm of Denzel and Latrice Commode (Kenan Thompson and Regina King), who can’t fix our hair but may be able to help us win large cash settlements. As King explained, “Fact: Every day as many as one people fall victim to using Gorilla Glue in place of a beauty product. And they deserve compensation.” She added that, though the odds may be tough, these attorneys understand what they’re up against. “We know it’s going to be hard taking a gorilla to court and suing him over his glue,” she said.
Weekend Update Jokes of the Week
Over at the Weekend Update desk, the anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che continued to riff on Trump’s impeachment acquittal.
Like so many other men living in Florida, Donald Trump has once again escaped from justice. This has to be the dumbest trial I’ve ever seen. Here’s how dumb it was: The jurors, who are deciding the case, were the ones attacked by defendant. The trial took place at the scene of the crime. And then right after the trial ended, one of the jurors who voted to acquit Trump ran out and said, “Someone’s got to prosecute this guy. He did it. This man belongs in jail.” What are you going to do? If you’re going to impeach the president for anything, don’t you think it’s sending a mob to kill the Vice President? I feel bad for Pence — 43 of his work friends were like, oh come on, Mike, they only tried to hang you. Stop being such a drama queen. I think it would be hilarious if Biden now sent rioters back into the Capitol. And he was like, What? You guys said it was fine.
During Donald Trump’s impeachment, House managers showed security footage of Capitol rioters violently attacking police. But here’s a little Black history lesson for you: Just because there’s video evidence doesn’t mean you’re going to get a conviction.
Jost then added:
Video evidence of the violence on January 6 showed that Senator Mitt Romney and Vice President Pence both had close calls with rioters. So let me get this straight: You’re a white supremacist mob and you go after these guys? The two whitest guys I could think of? They make me look like Ice-T.