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October 5, 2011 8:59 AM   Subscribe

"Born Shigeyoshi Murao in 1926, he was universally known as Shig. His playful demeanor—not to mention his signature beard, Pendleton shirts, Royal Air Force exercise vest, horn-rimmed glasses, and bowler—rendered him unforgettable. But that did not make him easy to know. Shig, who died in 1999, is largely remembered for an event that occurred on June 3, 1957, when two undercover agents from the San Francisco Police Juvenile Squad showed up at City Lights to buy a seventy-five-cent book of poetry."

"It is my hope that this website will serve as a resource for those who are fascinated by the bohemian culture of the mid-twentieth century and will illuminate Shig’s little-known role as the soul of City Lights during its heyday." —Richard Reynolds
posted by Toekneesan (10 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is great, Toekneesan. Thanks!
posted by cgc373 at 9:06 AM on October 5, 2011


Just dipped in and look forward to reading more later. Fascinating stuff. Thanks. Censorship trials are hilarious.
posted by binturong at 9:08 AM on October 5, 2011


I somehow misread Shig as Stig and thought, "Wow, they revealed his identity? And he's 85 years old?!"

The real story was way better though. I remember reading "Howl" in middle school and it was devastating. Always meant to read more Beat lit but sadly never got around to it. Maybe I should try again.

Interestingly, 50 years later Pacifica demured from airing a special on "Howl" and instead it became an online-only special. I'm having trouble finding it on Pacifica's site right now, but it looks like there's a version you can download here. (The mp3 link.)
posted by kmz at 9:15 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, paging digaman.
posted by cgc373 at 9:20 AM on October 5, 2011


Metafilter: the most fantastic collection of beards, turtlenecked shirts and Italian hairdos ever to grace the grimy precincts of the Hall of Justice
posted by exogenous at 9:25 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


His playful demeanor—not to mention his signature beard, Pendleton shirts, Royal Air Force exercise vest, horn-rimmed glasses, and bowler—rendered him unforgettable.

So he was a hipster decades before it was contemptible?
posted by acb at 9:36 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


More than that, one of the 'angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night', to the perplexity of the assistant DA, it seems.
Great post, thanks!
posted by Abiezer at 9:40 AM on October 5, 2011


Thanks for this - I came across Lawrence Ferlinghetti's description of Murao ("an inner-directed and dignified mystic bookman") a while ago and have been curious to know more about him.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:23 AM on October 5, 2011


Shig - I flip you my six bits
See the coins flash
washington, decap and Holy Bald Eagle
E Birdie Num-Num
InGot we trust.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:26 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I remember seeing him there at City Lights. I loved that place. I actually read half of howl in there, waiting for my parents to finish buying books.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:16 PM on October 5, 2011


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