Passing of W.S. Burroughs

Jeff A. Hale (
Sun, 3 Aug 1997 15:52:41 -0600 (MDT)

The memorials will be many; the recollections will abound.

I offer only one slice of "Burroughsian" trivia:

In the mid-sixties, a young and highly intelligent kid from Davison/Flint,
Michigan moved into inner-city Detroit, in search of the emerging Beat
culture there (still mostly unrecognized in the histories of the sixties).

His name was/is John Alexander Sinclair.

Having acquired his B.A. in English elsewhere, John enrolled for graduate
work at Wayne State University. His love for Burroughs, Ginsberg, Corso,
Ferlinghetti and others of their caliber was such that he decided to do his
Master's thesis on "Naked Lunch." John's professors disapproved. John
dropped out. John formed "The Artist's Workshop," then "Trans Love
Energies," and finally the "White Panther Party." He became one of the
counterculture's most outspoken and controversial figures, serving a year
and a half of a 9-10 year sentence for possession of two "joints." Abbie
Hoffmann, a close friend, wrote "Woodstock Nation" lying on his back in
Sinclair's Ann Arbor WPP commune (and elsewhere in SE Michigan). The WPP
and YIP talked of joining forces throughout 1969 and 1970.

Burroughs's influence on the counterculture was/is most formidable. John
now lives in New Orleans. Whether he is there or on the road with his band
"The Blues Scholars," I know he is mourning this terrible loss.

Jeff Hale
Santa Fe