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AsEverWas (cover shot)
AsEverWas... memoirs of a beat survivor
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Hammond gives an overview of the book:

AsEverWas: MEMOIRS OF A BEAT SURVIVOR. Even though this work makes reference to the “Beat Generation” in its title, it’s anything but a nostalgic trip down memory lane through the land of dead poets. Instead, this is Hammond Guthrie’s story - -evocative, sensual, ribald and poetic, moving across the continents, riding endless wheels of adventure. As the story unfolds, the reader is thrust into a haze of movement: Drug smuggling. Prison. Burroughs. Ginsberg. The San Francisco art scene before the age of petty pretentiousness. Did all this really happen to one man? Is this the phantom of Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty now come back to life in another place and time? Are we reading a memoir/memory or an artful retooling of fact into fiction? Read on and you slowly come to realize that this is indeed Guthrie’s story: the lines ring too true and the revelations are too...
Read full overview »

AsEverWas: MEMOIRS OF A BEAT SURVIVOR.

Even though this work makes reference to the “Beat Generation” in its title, it’s anything but a nostalgic trip down memory lane through the land of dead poets. Instead, this is Hammond Guthrie’s story - -evocative, sensual, ribald and poetic, moving across the continents, riding endless wheels of adventure. As the story unfolds, the reader is thrust into a haze of movement: Drug smuggling. Prison. Burroughs. Ginsberg. The San Francisco art scene before the age of petty pretentiousness. Did all this really happen to one man? Is this the phantom of Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty now come back to life in another place and time? Are we reading a memoir/memory or an artful retooling of fact into fiction? Read on and you slowly come to realize that this is indeed Guthrie’s story: the lines ring too true and the revelations are too haunting to be anything but the statement of a man looking back on his life, trying to make sense of it all.

Notable Comments:

Richard Kostelanetz: “The first page is so marvelous it should at least be published as is.”

Peter Stansill: “The final third was riveting.”

Liam O'Gallagher: “Hi-Tech will feed off these vignettes! They are not compressed - filled with nostalgia and feeling for the 60’s when free spirits refused to be packaged along neural-pathways. Hammond’s ‘reel’ memories are an antidote in the land of microchip.”

Herb Gold: “Hammond, (..have no e-mail, fax, or cell phone; still use coffee cans with buttons & dental floss.) - your memories brought back memories.”

Lawrence Ferlinigetti: “It’s certainly worth the effort.”

Richie Havens: “Thanks for including me...as part of your life.”

Robert LaVigne: “I just love the section on Hube the Cube.”

Richard Aaron: “I sat up reading until 2 in the morning!”

James Grauerholtz: “Very interesting.

Read an excerpt »

Carmen McRae In The Rain

Back in San Francisco, I was just ahead of an impending storm front, sidewalk down on the lower end of Polk Street, making for the warmth of our third floor walk-up, when a torn scrap of paper scotch taped inside the window of a dingy little bar caught my attention. Curious, I walked over to read the note. The joint was completely dark inside and pad-locked tight, but the childish pencil scrawl read: "10 p.m.- Carmen McRae." I laughed as rain began to fall, thinking how improbable a performance that would be, and made for home. But I couldn't get Carmen's voice out of my head. The City was then in its psychodramic era du Trips Festival, and though I enjoyed the ballrooms and their condiments as much as the next person, I took a more personal interest in the sets happening in clubs such as the Jazz Workshop in North Beach and the Both/And in the Fillmore District. Free Jazz was beginning to come around, and my focus at the time was on musicians such as Thelonious Monk, Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, Bill Evans and John Coltrane.

In order to get up with this kind of music, and that of The FreeArts Workshop, I had spent a considerable amount of time (via Max's extensive library of rare LPs) listening to the work of earlier players - Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Art Tatum, and to the incomparable big band sound of the Benny Carter, Charlie Barnett, and Count Basie Orchestras. It was during this background education that I first heard the uniquely vibrant voice of Carmen McRae, the younger contemporary and eventual confidant to the great Billie Holiday, who recorded one of Carmen's earliest compositions, "Dream of Life." Hence my reservation that the formidable singer would be performing in a nasty little dive on Polk Street at 10 p.m. on a wet Wednesday night. As the evening progressed throughout one of the worst storms in memory, I kept thinking about Carmen McRae, played Billie Holiday albums and, without any affirmative results, called a couple of jazz clubs in inquiry. At nine o'clock I gave in, still doubting that the seedy little tavern would even be open for business, put on a sport coat under ten pounds of rain gear and made my way back to Polk Street.

To my surprise, the missive had been removed and in its place a small neon blinked "OPEN." After depositing my slicker at the door, I let my eyes adjust to the bar's campy interior. I felt soggy and a little out of place when the overtly gay bartender swooned by my table for my drink order. I just couldn't bring myself to ask him if there was a cover charge - the unremarkable bar didn't have a stage or a piano. I brightened a bit when four or five other patrons, including a black couple, filled up the remaining tables. Just before ten o'clock, as I sat nursing my whiskey and doubt, the flamboyant bartender rolled out an old upright from behind a heavy curtain and returned to his perch at the bar. What little light there was dimmed, and without prelude beyond saying, "Good evening, everybody," Carmen McRae herself sat down at the keyboard. She sang one glorious standard after another for a good forty-five minutes to a completely silent (if not stunned) audience of a dozen or so very lucky people.

During a casual break Ms. McRae commented that twenty years before, the bar had been a great after-hours hangout for jazz players in transit. She and the owner had remained friends, and whenever she stopped in the City, she said she liked "to fall in, relatively unannounced, and sing for a while." Carmen went on for another intimate thirty minutes, mesmerizing the tiny house with her classic interpretations of Billie Holiday songs, including the rarely performed "Don't Explain." Following our applause, she quite unexpectedly closed her impromptu set with an amazing piano skat take on Charlie Parker's version of Ray Noble's composition, "Cherokee."

Carmen thanked us for listening (!) and joined some friends at one of the tables. The bartender rolled the piano back behind the curtain and, except for her anomalous presence, the bar returned to its unremarkable condition. Following a night-cap I gathered up my rain gear and repaired to the nearby Cedar Alley coffee house for a double espresso to aide me home. When I ventured out again, the storm was at its most furious, and I stopped to catch my breath under an awning next door to the bar where Carmen had performed. Just then, a door opened behind me, and out walked Carmen McRae! She stood there a moment taking in the torrential downpour, and I addressed her with as much courage and decorum as I could muster. "Excuse me, Ms. McRae, I was here earlier this evening and thoroughly enjoyed your performance, but, really, you shouldn't be out here by yourself on a night like this!" I then innocently offered to escort her to wherever she was going. She smiled a smile I will never forget, and as her cab pulled to the curb, she said to me with all sincerity: "Young man, you are a gentleman - if I was just a few years younger and didn't already have plans, I would take you up on that offer." As she got into the back seat, she paused for just a moment - her indelible eyes took me inside so tenderly, and she waved me good-by from the rear window. Truly flattered, I stood there forever, actively blushing in a precipitant wind as the image of Carmen McRae's unlikely presence in my life disappeared in the rain.

hammond-guthrie's picture

Note from the author coming soon...

About Hammond

In brief:

I am a non-objective abstractionist painter who writes.

Read full bio »

Published Reviews

Feb.05.2008

What a marvelous surprise lurking beneath the cover of this one. AsEverWas, by Hammond Guthrie is a trip to hipster Mecca, but this book is disguised as something else entirely. Guthrie is laying...

Feb.05.2008

Very early in the book, it was so very tempting to accuse the author of merely name dropping about his Herculean druggy glory days; touting others' achievements and success by associations. But I was soon...