Best Beat Era Evocation

City Lights

Where else? The publishers of Howl still maintain that healthy authority-questioning outlook that made the beats so reviled and celebrated during the somnolent '50s, offering up three floors of mostly paperbacked volumes on an array of subjects eclectic enough for the thirstiest intellectual. There's a Little Press Alcove with a couple of hundred magazines, pamphlets, and booklets (Dead in Memphis and The Last Cannoli among them), postcards of James Joyce, Richard Wright, and other icons, a scattering of armchairs for comfortable browsing, and a sign instructing you to "Stash Your Sell Phone and Be Here Now." The top floor features a beat literature section -- Cassady, Kerouac, Corso, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Ferlinghetti, and all the rest -- and a well-stocked poetry room where readings are occasionally held and the Beat Era is, briefly, reborn. To conclude the reverie, cross Kerouac Alley to the wonderfully ramshackle Vesuvio (255 Columbus, 362-3370), where Bird, Billie, and Thelonious decorate the jukebox, poetry readings are held on the odd Saturday afternoon, and Broadway and Columbus looks mighty pretty through all that stained glass.

 
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