The title of Allen Ginsberg’s noted poem – once considered too obscene by authorities to sell at City Lights – is now celebrated on baby onesies in the window of the famed bookstore in San Francisco’s North Beach. Some 57 years after the beat scene dawned, the era is remembered and revered on every corner. The The Beat Museum across the street has an amazing collection of original manuscripts and photos to keep the beat spirit alive. And a half-block alley full of vibrant color bearing Jack Kerouac’s name is home to beautifully engraved poems and painted walls.
Words also take flight with the “Language of the Birds” public art project where the droppings offer up brilliant opportunities to create your own dynamic sentence at the corner of Broadway and Columbus. One of the artists — Brian Goggin — is well known for “Defenestration” at Sixth and Howard where furniture hangs out the windows.
You can feel the energy of the era when you come here. As a sign that once hung over the Vesuvio Cafe at 255 Columbus once read — “Don’t Envy Beatniks…Be One!” According to the Beat Generation in San Francisco by Bill Morgan, at one time “…Vesuvio cashed in on the curiosity seekers who drew up in tour buses …by selling do-it-yourself Beatnik Kits — sunglasses, sandals, beret, false mustache, and a copy of a poem by Paddy O’Sullivan entitled “How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Peninsula after They’ve Seen North Beach.”