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January 3, 2020 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Shig Murao: The Enigmatic Soul of City Lights and the San Francisco Beat Scene is a website dedicated to Shig Murao, the first employee at the City Lights bookstore and Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s fellow defendant in the Howl obscenity trial (though he was infamously written out of the movie version). Written and compiled by Murao’s friend Richard Reynolds, the website has a multipart biography of Murao, as well as reminiscences by others. There are also audio clips of Murao and others, as well as photos, and scans of some issues of his zine, Shig’s Review.
posted by Kattullus (6 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, this is wonderful. City Lights is a real treasure - I worked just down the block until a few months ago and spent many a happy lunch hour in the history section. (To be honest I prefer Green Apple Books which I find less intimidating, but City Lights has such a history, as evidenced here.) Thank you for sharing!
posted by sunset in snow country at 3:13 PM on January 3, 2020 [5 favorites]

I'm shamefully ignorant of lesser-known Beat personalities, so I've never heard of Murao, and thus I can't wait to read this. Thanks for sharing.
posted by heteronym at 3:13 PM on January 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

Shig hired V. Vale at City Lights. Vale later started Search & Destroy and RE/Search. (unfortunately no working archive of ShigMurao.com seems to exist on the Wayback machine. But since it was done by Richard Reynolds maybe it's just the same as the Bancroft Library links in the FPP.)
posted by larrybob at 4:27 PM on January 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

Thanks for posting! Going to City Lights was an important part of my family’s life growing up. We were regulars. So reading this article is going to be fun. Thanks for posting this.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:18 AM on January 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is a delight to see. The website was originally intended to be a feature article by the late Richard Reynolds. He was a friend of mine, and he asked me to look at his unpublished article as an editor and to suggest magazines that might be a good fit. I thought about it and I thought about it and finally said, my friend, this is not an article. This is a website.

Richard would drop by my office about once a week while he was working on the website. The deal was that I would help him organize the website and edit the copy and he would bring lunch. Richard had cancer at the time and this labor of love seemed to help keep him going.

One major issue Richard faced was how to ensure that the website he had crafted would survive him. That problem was solved when his website became the first website to be added to the Bancroft library collection at UC Berkeley.

Richard adored Shig, and he did not want Shig’s story to disappear. He wanted that story told and shared. It is wonderful to see it posted here on MetaFilter. Thanks, OP!
posted by Bella Donna at 1:15 PM on January 4, 2020 [7 favorites]

I hope that if I ever face a terminal illness, I will have the grace to keep the memory of other people safe for the future.
posted by Kattullus at 4:01 PM on January 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

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