Editor’s Note: In honor of the legendary City Lights founder, who died Tuesday at the age of 101, we are republishing this “Scheer Intelligence” episode, which first aired on January 6, 2017. You can also find a more recent conversation between lifelong friends Ferlinghetti and Scheer here, along with other tributes which will be added throughout the week.
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Ninety-seven-year-old Lawrence Ferlinghetti was one of the founders of the paperback bookstore City Lights in San Francisco, as well as publisher and champion of beat poets and writers including Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. In their conversation, Ferlinghetti tells Robert Scheer how his experience as a naval officer in Japan during World War II made him an “instant pacifist.” Ferlinghetti discusses many in the Beat movement’s surprising sympathy for Fidel Castro and Cuba in spite of their socially progressive views. Despite his lifetime of work with the Beats, Ferlinghetti never considered himself one.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti – poet, painter and liberal activist
Joshua Scheer, Rebecca Mooney