The Goods 9/9/23
Wallace Berman’s Semina Culture
Wallace Berman was a visual artist of the beat generation. He had a magazine or zine called Semina which he produced in small quantities and passed out to friends. As far as I can tell it was never for sale. In Semina Wallace worked with writers who’d not yet had their shine like Charles Bukowski or Bob Kaufman.
He was an early pioneer of the first Xerox machines to produce visual art.
Wallace was an urban legend among the famous beat writers that were begining to become household names in the late 50s and early 60s. He didn’t like the spotlight and wrote under a few pseudonyms. All the while being an underground icon who was friends with the people you wanted to know back then including the Rolling Stones, who’d visit his secluded home in Topanga Canyon.
There is a story about Wallace being interviewed on tape by a journalist who was close to Jack Kerouac and other major names of that scene. Shortly after the interview Wallace went to the journalists hotel room and destroyed the tapes with his interview and Jack Kerouac’s. So thats lost to history. The story we have is probably cooler than the interviews. I first heard about Wallace from and interview with his son Tosh Berman on Expanding Mind Podcast by Erik Davis.
Semina Culture is like a cross between an art book, a biography and a west coast Beatnik encyclopedia. A bulk of the book is layed out alphabetically with short biographies of Wallace Berman’s closest friends and collaborators. I’ve found a lot of interesting people fliping through this book.
Wallace Berman was killed by a drunk driver while riding his motorcycle on his 50th birthday. He told his son he would die on his 50th birtday years prior.
“I’ve labored long and hard for bread/ For honor and for riches/ But on my corns too long you’ve tred/ You fine haired Sons of Bitches.” - Black Bart, Wells Fargo stagecoach robber.
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