(Copyright 1998 Al Aronowitz)


Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998 17:20:13 EDT
Subject: Oh Boy, Read The News Today

The Smoking Gun:

Gary (Pig) Gold

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Date: Sun, 05 Jul 1998 06:43:51 +0200
From: Robert

I dont know if the astrocartography of John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr would interest you, but if so, this site contains new findings on not only the Beatles, but on other notable historical and cultural figures as well, and has been receiving a lot of attention from professionals in the field of astrocartography since it was posted in mid-April:

This is a non-commercial, free information / education site open to everyone. thanks for your interest,

rob couteau
(another american in paris)

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Subject: Re: Dylan Ad
Date: Mon, 06 Jul 1998 17:10:35 -0400
From: Steven Schwartz


Here's that Dylan I mentioned to you. Whaddya think--is it real or not?


husqvarna.jpg (60694 bytes)

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Date: Fri, 17 Jul 1998 08:54:00 -0400
From: Al Aronowitz
To: david meltzer
Subject: Re: RAINED OUT!

david meltzer wrote:

Dear Al,

big drag -- busted my buns & bankaccount to be there -- got there in time to see desolute scene of prop-beat schleppers not singing in the rain --

what's next?

DAVID: Sorry I didn't get to see you there. I arrived in p.m. See my Column 35. Best, al

dear Al

nevertheless, inexcusable. Was staying w/ the Fagins (Larry/Susan Noel) right across the hall from where Allen died on E 12th St. Susan & I spent a lot of time in the rain trying to find the band-shell & when we finally got there it seemed as if nobody else was around except for a small group of guys on stage talking to each other & one young neo-beatnik spouting spontaneous bop prosody to a geezer -- the vibes were sad sack & we turned around & split -- the state-of-the-art "sound system" & A-list stars were nowhere to be seen --

the drag is that I went there as a mitzvah which turned into mishegas --

the up side is that I was able to get a lot of work done on a couple of books in the East Village --

the downer was tribal disappointment & yet another nosedive embrace of a con which was, despite all elaborate PR, an exploitative seduction of art's generosity, cupidity, another weird replay of Frank Morgan/Wizard of Oz scam & razamatazz --

guilt but no blame

be well

DAVID: Yours is the only sour note I've received (aside from the fact that a. . .poet named Peter Chelnik donated a $50 bad check). All the other poets who were there have said the day was "magical" (again, I say see my Column 35 for an extended report; poet Brett Axel has promised another report). Apparently, you gave up and left the Bandshell too soon. As for me, I went into the hole a couple of grand putting the event together (Cost accounting attached). (And I was fed up with Allen in his last years). I'm told that someone blamed the prayers of the Christian right for the rain. Are you blaming me? John Scher and his Metropolitan Entertainment Group, who were the producers and who decided to cancel because the rain would render any electrical setup unsafe, are professionals who put on shows in venues like Giant Stadium, so I don't understand "another nosedive embrace of a con which was, despite all elaborate PR, an exploitative seduction of art's generosity, cupidity, another weird replay of Frank Morgan/Wizard of Oz scam & razamatazz" -- Al


Date: Fri, 17 Jul 1998 18:57:24-0800
From: (david meltzer)
Subject: Re: RAINED OUT!

dear al
okay already --
forgive my intemperate outburst -- but I hope you can sympathize a little bit w/ my unfunded poet pique --

as I said, it all turned out well despite the main event being cancelled --

be well & I'll check into your wesbite --

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Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 15:48:08 -0600
From: jo grant
Subject: My Thoughts on the controversy.

Al Aronowitz,

Since you are doing a column on the controversy surrounding the Jack Kerouac archive and Jan Kerouac's naming Gerry Nicosia as her literary executor I felt I should add my thoughts since I was a friend of Jan's and have known Gerry for a while. This, and what I have on my web site, is all I will have to say on the subject. Feel free to use anything you want Al. And if you have questions E-mail me.

(I just got word that my oldest daughter is in the hospital in Baltimore. She was visiting friends, had a cerebral hemorrhage and is, at this moment, in emergency surgery. Very critical. I'll be flying to Baltimore at 6:30 a.m. so I'll not be available after midnight tonight. Hopefully back on Sunday.)

My thoughts:

I have a web site that gets many visitors and have considerable material on the Kerouac controversy on my site. Anyone who looks through the material would see that I am one of Nicosia's supporters even though I have never met him. My first contact with Gerry was when he reviewed a set of books I contributed to and eventually published back in 1993. The L.A. Times had retained him to review Voices from the Underground-Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press (Vols. One and Two). (Sunday Book Section, L.A. Times>, May 2, 1993) Later I spoke to him, found out that we shared some interests and through Gerry met Jan Kerouac. Over a period of a couple of years I spoke to Jan, learned about the problems she was having with John Sampas, and also learned that she was very close to Gerry---even though they had occasional differences that strained their friendship. Actually, It was Jan who would get angry about something, scream that she was tired of him acting like a father. Invariably she would call, make up and things would return to normal. She always shrugged it off as being related to the stress of her illness.

Toward the end of her life she discussed her dad's archive and desperately wanted it in a safe place where it would be protected and preserved. She had Gerry's promise that he would continue her fight to save the Jack Kerouac archive if she died. To insure that no one could stop him, Jan named him her literary executor. This is the primary reason I support him. He made a promise to Jan and even though it has caused Nicosia and his family incredible hardships, he continues his work for Jan. He is a zealot in his fight to save her dad's archive. I admire that kind of loyalty.

Over the past few years I have learned much about Nicosia from others. Although Allen Ginsberg was stung by Nicosia's comments about how he treated Jan---his God Child---at the NYU Conference, he spoke highly of him as a writer and biographer of Jack Kerouac. I joked with Allen Ginsberg about the conflict one night in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was not amused---almost walked away from me. He has always been ready to help people in the literary community, especially those who had little money, like Jack Micheline, Harold Norse, Bob Kaufman and later Bob's widow, Eileen, and others---there are many others.

Finally there is Jan's will---the part that includes Gerry Nicosia. She wrote it. Her words. The final words of a dying writer and a damn good writer. People are trying to change what she wrote. Trying to edit out what she included. Censoring her. Stealing her words. Changing what she clearly stated. She told me about it and she wrote about it. It's a fact. Lash has teamed with John Sampas who will be the big loser if they are unable to change Jan's will. Jan said Sampas is a thief---has written it---I believe her. These men now proclaiming their love for Jan are trying to rewrite her last testament.

Hopefully the courts will refuse to allow these people to change her will---to censor and steal her words. If the courts allow Jan's words and wishes to stand, her desire to see her dad's archive---the Jack Kerouac Archive---finally in a library where it will be preserved and open to people will happen. It's what Jack Kerouac wanted.

As a result of my support for Jan Kerouac's Literary Executor I've been subjected to vicious attacks by two of the people I refer to as Sampas toadies--DeRooy and Maher. They manufacture lies about good people. Recently I responded to one of their diatribes and that response was my last. They are character assassins. I want no part of them.

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Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 21:55:54 -0400
From: (R. Bentz Kirby)
To: Al Aronowitz
Subject: Archives


I received a copy of Joe Grant's email to you on the archives controversy. I did not know that you were planning to write a column on this issue. I don't know how far you have delved into the archives controversy, but you should be careful to fully investigate the situation. I have done some research in the matter and spoken with librarians who have told me of very sinister things that have been done by Kerouac's estate to suppress access to Kerouac materials. I also have seen documentation that suggests that this has happened.

Unfortunately for his cause, Gerry Nicosia has a voracious temper. He is also dedicated to what he believes is a promise he made to Jan. As a result, he rubs many people the wrong way. But if you are going to write on this issue, you need to take his position very seriously. If he is telling the truth, there is much that is not good at work here. I don't think that Gerry is a saint, but I do believe he is doing his best to do the right thing. If I were he, I would have quit long ago.

I don't know what your position is, or what your research has shown you, but there is a lot of disinformation out there. I don't know as much as Joe Grant does, but I have seen enough that it makes me sick and I wish something could be done about it. You certainly should consider me a Nicosia supporter. But I am not blind and base my support on facts that indicate he should be allowed to carry out the litigation concerning the validity of the will.



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Date: Sat, 18 Jul 1998 21:34:13 -0400
From: (R. Bentz Kirby)
To: Al Aronowitz ,
Subject: Nicosia to LA Times

I thought that some of you might be interested in the editorial letter that Gerry Nicosia wrote to the LA Times in reponse to the article that ran some time ago.

Saturday, July 18, 1998

Jack Kerouac Estate

This Beat Battle Goes On and On (May 30) described the legal fights surrounding the estate of Jack Kerouac as if they were primarily ego and power battles among contending individuals---myself, John Sampas, Ann Charters and Douglas Brinkley, among others. The fights, the article claimed, were about "who owns Kerouac" and "who gets to be the Great Biographer of Jack Kerouac." Nothing could be further from the truth.

When Jan Kerouac filed her lawsuit against the Sampas family, she knew she would die soon. She stated that the purpose of recovering her father's archive was not to possess it herself or to make money from it, but rather to get it safely into a library, where it would be preserved and made accessible to all scholars. She signed an agreement with the Bancroft Library in Berkeley promising that, if she won, she would deliver her father's archive to that institution. Her battle was based upon her father's own written intentions.

Specifically, she relied upon Jack Kerouac's letter to John Clellon Holmes, June 8, 1962, in which he writes: "My brand new 4-drawer file cabinet . . . has, now, neatly filed, some several million words of letters since 1939 in prep school and all my own loose writings I used to keep remember in old dusty boxes? and all childhood scraps, athletic clippings, in brief, a gold mine of information for scholars."

One month before Jan died, she told an interviewer, "I would like to help in leaving the legacy [of Jack Kerouac] to all people who appreciate the Beat Generation . . . I might just die in the process. But even if I do, I want to make sure that it's carried on." In that interview, Jan said: "Gerry [Nicosia] is the one who winds up helping me the most." To fulfill Jan's testamentary wish is the primary reason for my current legal actions.

I have no desire to write another book on Kerouac. I am trying to finish a large book on the healing and readjustment of Vietnam veterans, for Henry Holt. Nor do I wish to hinder Charters, Brinkley or anyone else from writing about Kerouac. It should be apparent that by placing Kerouac's archive in a public institution, I seek to increase Kerouac scholarship.

Finally, a word about the portrayal of me as a "punchy . . . raging" brawler, supposedly known for "frontal attacks" and threats against other biographers. A follower of Thoreau, Gandhi and King, I have been a peace activist most of my life. During the Gulf War, I worked closely with Ron Kovic, staging many events in the Los Angeles area calling for a nonviolent solution to the crisis. Recently I founded a study center at the University of California, Santa Cruz, called the Vietnam Veteran Peace Archive. The father of two small children, if I could achieve one end during my lifetime, it would be to help bring about an end to violent conflicts of every kind.

Corte Madera, Calif. ##

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Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998 22:18:31 -0500 (CDT)
From: (Lew Rosenbaum)

from the San Francisco Guardian

July 1, 1998

Cracking the case

Gary Webb's Dark Alliance tied the CIA to crack's arrival in inner-city Los Angeles---and sparked a national controversy. His new book goes even further.

By Ron Curran


IN AUGUST 1996, San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb's "3Dark Alliance" series documented how the CIA helped Nicaragua's contras sell crack cocaine in South Central Los Angeles. The contras used the drug money to finance their war against Nicaragua's leftist government.

To most readers, the credibility of Webb's investigation was beyond dispute.

The articles spurred congressional hearings and reports from departments such as the federal Customs Office corroborating Webb's allegations, even though many government agencies tried to withhold information from investigators. The northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists named Webb journalist of the year for the "Dark Alliance" series.

But the mainstream news media---most prominently the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times---scrambled to discredit his findings.

Either they were embarrassed they got scooped or they refused to believe their high-placed government friends were responsible for the nation's devastating crack boom.

Then the Merc [4]publicly disowned the story---without ever giving Webb or readers a convincing reason why. The paper's editors had encouraged Webb in his research, but in the firestorm that followed "Dark Alliance" 's publication they retracted their support for the series. After the controversy, the Merc, which is owned by media giant Knight-Ridder, exiled Webb from its Sacramento bureau to the police beat in Cupertino.

Webb left the paper and expanded "Dark Alliance" into a book of the same name.

Just published by Seven Stories, it reinforces Webb's investigations with newly uncovered evidence.

But the mainstream media are ignoring this new evidence too: the Post, the New York Times, and the L.A. Times have all ignored Webb's book---no reviews, no news stories, no coverage at all.

But as Rep. Maxine Waters (who wrote a strong introduction for the book) told me, "Gary Webb has uncovered one of the dirtiest little secrets of the Reagan administration---that we, as a government, introduced a drug to America's inner cities that is literally killing thousands of kids, and that we did it purely for short-term political gain in support of a cause that didn't deserve our support in any way.

For reporting that, Webb lost his job. But the book provides vindication."

We interviewed Webb by telephone while he was in Seattle promoting his book.

BAY GUARDIAN: Did you do much new reporting and research on the story for the book since the series ran?

GARY WEBB: Oh yeah, there was a lot of new stuff. A lot of stuff came out after the series ran. We got 3,000 pages of new documents from the L.A. Sheriffs Department's investigation that was just amazing. Probably 90 percent of the book is new. The series was about 12,000 words; the book is about 160,000 words. So there's a lot more detail, a lot more context that I think was lacking in the newspaper series, that shows how this all fit in, what was going with the CIA and the government at the time. A lot of stuff that had been either underreported or not reported at all during the 1980s I was able to explore at length in the book.

BG: What were your most interesting or unexpected new findings?

WEBB: Some of the most interesting is the stuff the Mercury News chickened out on and wouldn't run. What was going on in the DEA's office in Costa Rica, where the U.S. drug agents were supposed to be investigating drug crimes but were either looking the other way or, as I was able to point out in the book and a customs investigation found, were trafficking drugs themselves. The fact that this conspiracy went farther than the CIA is one of the best parts about the book, plus the whole history of crack and how it got here and the negligence on the part of the government that let, or made, it happen.

BG: How did you get the new information---Freedom of Information requests, tips from people who read the series..."

WEBB: FOIA requests, tips, and I had a stroke of luck when the CIA inspector general's report came out in January. There was some great stuff in that report [corroborating Webb's findings] and, though we were pretty far along in the book, the publisher was flexible enough to let me go back and incorporate that information. And as anything when you do a big story, people come out of the woodwork, and we had a number of people come out of the woodwork, specifically this fellow Enrique Miranda {TK ID}, who was Enestes' {TK ID} right hand man. He was very informative and helpful.

A great irony of the Mercury taking the dive was that the stuff we've since gotten is even better than what we had in the first place, and they missed the chance to report it. Having the chance to do this book was so liberating as an investigative reporter, to have the chance to lay out everything you have in context, and explain to people why it matters, so they can really understand it. You just don't have the luxury of doing that at most newspapers. If you're talking about anything serious or complex, you just can't do it in the newspaper because they won't let you.

BG: One of the main criticisms of the series was that you didn't have a smoking gun? Do you think you have one now?

WEBB: When you're dealing with the CIA, you're lucky to find any fucking paper at all, much less a smoking gun. What you have to do is build from the outside toward the middle, put everything you have together, and put it out there for people to consider. You're never going to find a CIA memo that says, "Go sell crack in L.A." What really irritates me about the press is that when you set up any investigation, people immediately start screaming for a smoking gun.

So you can get 99 percent of the way there, but they still use the smoking gun argument to tell people "Look, there's nothing here." The only time you find smoking guns is in "Perry Mason." So you have to gather as much evidence as you can, take a good hard look at what you've got, and a legitimate conclusion can become very obvious.

BG: Why do you think the mainstream press -- from your own paper to the Washington Post, LA Times and New York Times -- went so far out of their way to discredit your series?

WEBB: Because it's a very dangerous story. It makes people think bad things about their country and their government. Newspapers will let you think bad things about a certain politician, but when you start questioning the foundations of our democracy, then they say, "He's a troublemaker, a zealot, a maniac." It's similar to when the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a series called "What Went Wrong" that was a very detailed documentation of how the middle-class got fucked by the Reagan administration. The popular response was incredible, but the mainstream media response was, "This is the most awful thing we've ever seen." By and large, if you go through the history of the news media, the media's reading of the popular opinion on an issue is mostly wrong, most of the time.

BG: While corporate media and most Washington politicians were working to shoot down your findings, the series certainly struck a chord in the African American community, particularly in South Central L.A. Have you found that to be true during your book tour? And what kind of opposition have you met?

WEBB: I've found that the support is coming from a lot of different people. A lot of African Americans, a lot of senior citizens come out and listen, a lot of college students showing up. People who don't believe the mainstream press anymore and don't believe the government, and with good reason. It's like they're starved for information. That's what strikes me most. This is a complicated story, but people are coming out on their own volition to hear about it because they're interested in it.

BG: It's almost like the Vietnam era, where people wanted information, but for the first time were forced to question the information they were getting from the mainstream media and the government.

WEBB: And where was the New York Times and Washington Post on Vietnam? They were cheering on the war. You can't base everything on what the establishment press tells you -- you should be thinking for yourself.

BG: How much opposition have you run into on the book tour when you do radio shows and make other appearances?

WEBB: None. The public response has been, "We're happy to hear you didn't give up on the story, we're glad you wrote the book, and we want to know how we can stay on this issue." That's the reaction I've gotten the whole time I've been out there.

BG: Were there any valid criticisms that you went back and re-confirmed, or any holes that you subsequently filled?

WEBB: Sure, absolutely. I've said it all along---there were some parts of that series that should have been explained more fully. The thing you could say about it was that it was accurate, but incomplete. What I tried to do with the book is show all the other evidence that we couldn't get into the newspaper, or were actually prohibited from writing for the newspaper. Initially it was a problem of space, but in the end it was self-censorship on behalf of Mercury News management.

BG: What's been your biggest frustration in trying to get this story out and have people understand its importance? Have you felt sometimes like you're banging you're head against a wall, especially the way the Merc handled it?

WEBB: You know, I didn't feel frustrated because I knew I'd be able to fully tell the story, finish telling the story, in this book. I knew that once I did, people could read it and evaluate it and make up their own minds. I just think it's too important a story to get cut off in the middle.

BG: Do you think the Merc is going to review it?

WEBB: (laughs) It's a no-win situation for the Mercury. If they review it and trash it, people are going to say, "What did you expect?" If they review it and say it's right, they're going to look like idiots.

BG: What do you think that they way the Merc handled this tells about the state of the mainstream press today? It was obvious that they just caved, and then Siberia-ed you to Cupertino.

WEBB: Yeah, and without giving any valid reason either.

BG: What exactly did they tell you as an explanation?

WEBB: There were all these platitudes about having to be honest with the readers, and I said, "How can you be honest with your readers by sitting on information?" I sent them voluminous memos documenting everything I wrote. They wrote a column telling readers I didn't know what I was talking about without ever looking at any of my research. I had to make them look at it, and they still weren't interested.

BG: Do you think the decision was made in Knight-Ridder's super-headquarters or was it strictly Merc management?

WEBB: I don't know, but I do know Knight-Ridder has backed the decision all the way. All I know is this is the first time I've ever seen a newspaper take a dive like this. Criticize the media if you want, but they rarely take dives on true stories. But they have done it in this case. You know, it happens, like when ABC killed an investigation of the tobacco industry. And it happens when they sense a story is going to cause discord or discontent. Not with the general population, but with the establishment. I think the thing that frightened them the most on my story was that suddenly there was this whole reactivation of activist black groups getting together and demanding some political changes in Washington. And I think, honest to god, that they were more scared by the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings than anything, when hundreds of citizens actually showed up to watch their government in action and started hooting at the antics they were witnessing. It scared the living hell out of them.

BG: Definitely can't let that happen.

WEBB: (laughing) No! What next! If people start having disrespect for the Senate Intelligence Committee, they might start disrespecting everybody, and then where would we be.

BG: People might even start voting.

WEBB: You know, they don't want to get the population riled up about something important. Let's keep them riled up about Monica Lewinsky. That's the one thing you learn fast working in journalism---you're to spot media manipulation immediately. And to see the way the media is manipulating the public the way it is, it's just really depressing.

BG: Maxine Waters has seemed to be a big supporter of your story, and she was very strong in her foreword to your book.

WEBB: She showed up at a book signing I was doing in Santa Monica, just out of the crowd, on election night. The crowd went nuts. Once she gets her teeth in something, she never lets go of it. She knows she's right on this issue.

BG: So what happens next? Do you hope Congress finally moves to do a full investigation?

WEBB: I think we may actually create enough pressure to force the government to release the rest of the reports we've done on this. The public has to get riled up, though, or the government won't do anything. I've been told that the key 600-page report on this, the one which contains the secret agreement between the Justice Department and the CIA so the CIA doesn't have to report drug trafficking, will never be released, will never be declassified. I don't imagine the CIA will ever be very eager to let that one loose.

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"Naturally, I hope this book will continue to inspire people and make them laugh. And if in the process it should also encourage them to overthrow the capitalist system, well, why not?

As Joe Mondragon one said in a mild fit of revolutionary zeal, 'A person's reach should exceed their grasp, or else what's a heaven for . . .que no?'"---John Nichols, in the afterward to the anniversary edition, "The Milagro Beanfield War"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Diana Berek
Lew Rosenbaum

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The Blacklisted Journalist can be contacted at P.O.Box 964, Elizabeth, NJ 07208-0964
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