A Walk in the Neighborhood

Alastair Johnston sent me "The Way-Out Walk of Poets" photograph above to go with the post on the Mad Mammoth Monster Poetry Reading. Wallace Berman took the shot of Bruce Conner and Beth Branaman (behind mask) who both designed the costumes for the Walk. Alastair used the photograph on the cover of The Ampersand's Beat: A Dead Horse issue. Alastair edited the Quarterly Journal of the Pacific Center for the Book Arts and it is worth hunting down old copies if you can find them. I have a few and there are great interviews and images relating to the alternative press in California. Unfortunately, I can find only one issue of The Ampersand on Abebooks.

The reference to 707 Scott Street on the upper left hand corner of the photograph caught my eye. The address is on Alamo Square, "one of the most photographed places in San Francisco" (see Morgan). Wallace Berman lived there in the late 1950's and took a famous shot of Jay DeFeo at her studio standing in front of her painting The Eyes. The photograph was exhibited in 1959 at 707 Scott Street. I assume that the Way-Out Walk photo was exhibited at the same time. Berman would provide Auerhahn Press with cover images at this time, including the iconic ones of Philip Lamantia injecting himself for Narcotica.

Joanna and Michael McClure lived at 707 Scott Street as well. As did Larry Jordan. Ark II, Moby I, a key little magazine of the San Francisco Renaissance, was printed in the basement. John Wieners lived at 707 Scott and kept a journal throughout 1959, before he suffered a nervous breakdown in the months after the Mad Mammoth Reading and retreated to Boston to recuperate. The journal (pictured above) was published in 1996 by Sun & Moon Press.



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