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Beat crazy

"Man, those cool cats groove, Daddy-o.Brush up on the Beatnik lingo, grab some bongos and a beret, then head for Pegasus Coffee House for Beat poetry and jazz with Bob McAllister and the Bischoff brothers, Dec. 16. McAllister, backed by Korum Bischoff on drums and Jared Bischoff on guitar, will read his own poetry and works by such Beat greats as Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure and Allen Ginsberg.I'm paying homage, poet McAllister says. So much of art is calculated, but if you want that first creative splurge, that flowing urge, that 'instant poetry' stuff, that improvisation, trust your first impulses like the Beat poets did. I believe everyone's got that creative genius within. But it's dangerous to write that way; it's subversive.The Beats rebelled against their vision of 1950s conformity - the corporate creature, the man in the grey flannel suit. A romantic, hard-drinking, misogynistic lot, they practiced studious excess in the context of McCarthyism, the Cold War and the Bomb. McAllister recalls being introduced to the Beat life in 1957, when he was 16. I had this friend, Lea MacQuarrie. He got me involved, McAllister says. One year you're into baseball and football, and the next year you're listening to weird poetry, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. It opened up a whole new way: drink coffee, hang, look at people and watch the girls in their leotards.The poetry McAllister listened to in the coffee houses helped inspire him to study creative writing at the University of Washington. McAllister's own teaching career was jump-started when the draft board informed him that graduate school would not make him exempt from Vietnam - but teaching high school would. As a protobeat, hippie kind of guy, I knew I wouldn't do well in the military. I started teaching and I didn't look back, McAllister says.He taught briefly in Wenatchee and then in the Bainbridge Island School District. He founded the Bainbridge Writers Workshop, still run by Nancy Rekow, and in so-called retirement, works as a carpenter, directs plays at the high school - and gives poetry readings. But it's different to sit in a coffee house now, and it's a whole other thing for McAllister to write, or to read a Beat poem.I write an 'approximate' Beat poem, he says. It's approximate because we're out of the context. In order to write an authentic Beat poem, you'd have to be in the context. We have grey flannel suits, but we also have Eddie Bauer.Viewed from another angle, though, McAllister sees the Beats as a connected to both past and present, with roots that extend to nonconformist writers like Whitman and Thoreau and an unimpeded view of the road ahead. McAllister believes the impulse to find our way out of whatever has cornered us is human condition hard wiring.Rebellion persists, especially in the artist's psyche. Electrostatic glue nightmare madness! McAllister suddenly yelps, and then, in an aside says:I just made it up. See, I was just following the voice I was hearing. Aspiring Beats should come to Pegasus Coffee House at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16, for Beat poetry, jazz, open mike and a costume contest. Information: 842-6725. "

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