Woody Guthrie’s guitar slogan – This Machine Kills Fascists’ – An extract from the book ’53 and Imploding’ .

Woody Guthrie’s guitar slogan – This Machine Kills Fascists’ – An extract from the book ’53 and Imploding’ .

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Woody Guthrie Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of Woody Guthrie Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Guthrie’s guitar slogan ‘This machine kills fascists’ is fascinating. First it highlights that a musical instrument is merely a machine and secondly it suggests that the power of reason is sufficient to change someone’s deep held views. I don’t know if that is true. Fascism is a corruption that spreads like pus from a burst appendix. It corrupts and degrades and produces the most terrible fevers and stench. It has to be disinfected or contained. Once it has caught hold it twists minds and eats away kindness until all that’s left is rancid hatred. Can love and reason turn that around? I guess you have to catch it young and educate those minds so that you inoculate them against this rancid cancer. It doesn’t stop me wanting to kill the bastards! I have to remind myself that violence begets violence, hatred breeds hatred and revenge merely creates cycles of revenge. As individuals and as a race we need to control our endocrinal urges and supersede them with cortex power – brain over glands – head over heart. Woody Guthrie knew that. He knew that you couldn’t kill fascism with a gun; you had to use education.

Featured Book – Goofin’ Pt. 7


            Hat taught me to drive in my multicoloured Ford Pop. It came natural to me. I’d been riding my Honda for a year and just seemed able to transfer the skills over. There was nothing much too it. I got in, twice round the block and we were off.

One advantage of it was that old Ford was that it was a lot warmer in winter than the old bike. Another advantage was that you could fit eight people in – with a bit of a squeeze. Then lastly it was always good for a bit of pastoral shagging – variety being the spice of life.

Hat sat there like a maniacal driving instructor dishing out instructions.

            “Left here! Straight on! It’s always straight on!”

            We took the bend at the library at fifty. Easy to do on a bike where you could lean into it but quite different in a sit-up-and-beg Ford Pop which promptly rolled on to two wheels, leaned over threatening to go into a roll and squealed like mad.

            Hat sank down into his seat.

            Somehow it stayed up and we made it round.

            “Whooooooooooeeeeeeeeey – Haaaaaaaaaa!” I yelled.

            “Pretty hairy,” Hat observed. “Perhaps a little less floorboard if you don’t want to fuck up the paint-work.” He nodded to himself. “Or soil the upholstery in the passenger seat.”

            We headed out for the open road and picked up two hitchhikers. That was mandatory. You always stopped for hitchers. It was the rule. If you had something you shared whether that was a joint or a ride.

            I was really getting into it. The car roamed around the lanes a little because the steering was basically shot but it had a bit of poke and cruised nicely at 60 – 65 M.P.H… We were going out of our way to drop off our guests. It made for a good run.

            Hat amused himself by rolling jays and passing them round as we hurtled down these narrow country roads. Everyone seemed quite mellow.

            “Not doing bad, is he?” Hat enquired, leaning over the seat to converse with the hirsute couple in the back.

            The hitchers looked a bit bemused. They hadn’t cottoned on to what he was talking about.

            “Considering it’s his first time out in a car,” Hat casually slipped in.

            I swung it round another corner and noted that the atmosphere had got a tad more tense.

            Everyone loved my multicoloured car. I nicknamed it Herbert. It was a name that seemed to suit. One particular speed-cop seemed to especially take to it. At every opportunity he pulled me over to have a closer look.

“Mornin’” I’d say breezily.

He scowled at me.

“Lovely day for it.”

He would get his book out and write me up without a word and hand me the ticket. Then he’d get back on his bike, kick-start it and glide off into the traffic.

I’d have to go in with all my details – insurance, log book and shit. A right fucking nuisance though I was determined not to let them see it was buggin’ me.

I’m sure the guy used to lie in wait for me. Sometimes he’d do me twice in a day and he averaged three times a week.

            “Mornin’,” I’d say breezily as I arrived at the cop-shop.

            The desk-cop would fix me with a scowl.

            I’d shake my hair out, stroke my beard and pull at the white scarf I wore under my flying jacket.

            “Hey, you guys go to scowl school?” I’d enquire. I’d hand him my documents. “Same again.”

            He’d start copying the details in without a word.

            “Hey man,” I’d say conspiratorially. He’d stop writing and look up at me. “Just put ditto. Save you a lot of trouble.” I nodded and winked. “There, look, see, I’m on every page. Details haven’t changed.”

            He went back to writing with a stony expression. I think I was getting to him.

            Allie knitted me a big thick jumper to go with the car. It was multicoloured. I loved it and wore it every time I went into the cop-shop. For some reason I don’t think they were anywhere near as keen on that jumper as me. They seemed to take it as a personal affront.

            Jack used to particularly love my Herbert-mobile. He often took over from Hat as co-pilot. Some nights he’d rap on the window and drag me off into the night.

            “Hey, man, let’s get off to Brighton! You up for it?” We’d drive there and run up and down the shingle beach then get back in and drive back.

            I’d drive and all the while he’d be yattering in my ear.

This Week’s Featured Novel: Goofin’ – Pt. 1

I wrote this many back many circles of the sun when everything seemed young and fresh, full of wonder and possibility. I wanted to capture something of the Jack Kerouac Beat ‘On The Road’ vibe, but also the sixties vibe too. Of course, you never get close.

Those vibes have dissipated like a spray of perfume in a gale.


With the Cosmic Freaks


Opher Goodwin


This book is dedicated to Pete Smith, Jules, Praub, Pete Ayley, Janet, John, Bag, Tony, Maria, John, Nick, Lou, Rich, Carl, Tim, Billy, Ro, Erica, John Smith, Hat, Oz, Ginny, Bob, Ken, Glenys, Mutt, Booker, Lanky, Chalky, Snitch, Snatch, Wanky, Pussy, Jeff Evans, Gary Turp, John Lindsey, Jack, Dave, Roy Harper, Carol, Dan, Janet, John, Kathy, Tobes, Dave, Vicky, Rich, Lou, Eduardo, Bali, Liz, and all those other heroes of my youth who rocked my world!!

Where are you now? Those days live forever!


This is the ultimate sixties book – an ‘On the Road’ for the British Underground with all its sex, drugs, dreams and music; those times of crazy people high on life and mad for experience – when anything was possible.

It captures that idealistic naïve impossibility permeated with vitality and careering love and dreams, the wild rush for adventure without a thought for the future because it was going to last forever.

– Seemingly forever changes!

It spans continents as it trips its way through time, space and mind in a mad rush to discover life and experience or die trying.

Now was all there was and it had to burn, burn, burn or it was dead.

In the days of dope and poetry, where the world was ripe for changing, there was a mystical buzz of unity. In the shadow of an establishment that stood for war, prejudice, work, isolation and the rat-race with all it’s status seeking power games, racism and slow death signified by getting the lines straight on your lawn, Jack’s cackling laughter and bright eyes, death-defying madness and care-free attitude showed there was an alternative.

Maybe dope was never enough and when we grow up it is time to put aside childish things where they are confined to our dreams and memories. But somewhere out there Jack still lives where it is real.

We did change the world!Opher 16.8.2014



Society tried to sell me a dream:

                Work hard,

                                Fit in,

And keep your nose clean.

Jack sold me an alternative view:

                Go Go Go,

                                Live it,

Nothing less will do.

Opher – 22.4.2021

I was sixteen when I discovered Jack Kerouac. He came at the right time. I did not like the life on offer. I wanted something much more.

Jack offered sex, excitement, madness, exploration, wonder, awe, music, zen, marijuana and shared adventure.

That’s what I wanted.

It sounded much better than a career.

Poetry – Jack


Society tried to sell me a dream:

                Work hard,

                                Fit in,

And keep your nose clean.

Jack sold me an alternative view:

                Go Go Go,

                                Live it,

Nothing less will do.

Opher – 22.4.2021

I was sixteen when I discovered Jack Kerouac. He came at the right time. I did not like the life on offer. I wanted something much more.

Jack offered sex, excitement, madness, exploration, wonder, awe, music, zen, marijuana and shared adventure.

That’s what I wanted.

It sounded much better than a career.

Poetry – Screaming for Beat

Screaming for Beat

Screaming at the injustice

The insanity, the madness.

Screaming in the face of destruction, devastation.

Screaming at the rape of nature, the slaughter.

Screaming at the mindless billions

Swamping all that is good and pure

With their synthetic plastic, neon boredom.

Screaming at myself for being

Part of the of the machine,

Within the machine,

Of the machine,

And at the whim of the machine.

Screaming at myself,

Consumed with guilt,

At my impotence,



And inadequacies.

We should all be screaming

Instead of placidly sitting,

Buying, consuming

And politely talking


Voting for psychopaths,

Allowing transgressions.

We should all be screaming

As the world is being torn

From our grip,

Nature eradicated,

And the planet


Into a plastic theme park,

With Muzak, playgrounds, wheel-chair access and a curfew.

Where it is safe,


And there is no raucous noise to disturb the peace,

No insects to bite

And no, absolutely no, need

To think.

Opher 21.1.2016

Screaming for Beat

The Beat poets were the start of a movement that wanted no part of the machine that society had become. They wanted life. They were on a mad crazy journey to experience, feel and gain knowledge, insight and satori. They smoked hash, took peyote and heroin to change reality and explore the dimensions of mind. Life was a journey, a vivid set of possibilities to be experienced. Every moment was vital. It had to be squeezed and its essence extracted. Life was for living, for kicks, for crazy, but also for love, satori and spiritual exploration. Life was Zen.

There were no rules or boundaries. There were poems to be created and shared; emotions to be garnered, sex to be shared, music to be bopped to and journeys to be undertaken. There wasn’t a second to waste.

Society was on a mad controlled rush to consume, exploit and use up. It was devoid of love, poems and purpose. Everything was regimented, made to fit, reduced or eradicated. Nature was unwanted unless confined to trimmed lawns, tidy flower beds and ornamental plants. If it moved – kill it.

For me that vision of society was a vision of a nightmare – an existence sucked dry, leaving life as a desiccated husk of a life devoid of feeling and passion.

The world was being tamed, destroyed, consumed and made to fit the plastic model. People were being controlled, trained to work and consume and tamed. Their desires were repressed. Their feelings controlled. Their passions doused.

The world was being transformed into a plastic nightmare of consumption and order. Nature and wilderness are being destroyed before our very eyes as the juggernaut of progress bulldozes the planet in its relentless greed.

We are being fenced in, tied up with laws and placed in our cubicles in orderly lines. I want the chaos. Fuck the safety – I want the excitement – I want to live each second. It’s not about the length of a lifetime; it’s about the quality.

Poetry – Meaning Jack and Allen

Meaning Jack and Allen

Searching for meaning,

Truth and beauty

In the back streets

Away from the plastic

Neon falsity of Mammon.

Searching for a raw

Unprocessed chord,

A burst of inspiration

Blast of energy

Among the processed

Refinement of rehearsed notes.

Searching for energy.

Searching for words of passion,

Fury and eloquence,

Words that are meant,

That are revealing,

Inspiring and awakening.

Searching for candour

Amid the controlled,

Those robbed

By the political correctness thieves

Who steal souls in the name of respect.

Searching for compassion

Among the dead

Moribund corpses

Who walk the well-lit streets

Without a mind,

Regurgitating indoctrinations

And believing it.

Searching for someone to offend

Argue with

And learn from.

Who has the balls to speak;

To scream the images

That adorn the inside of their skull.

Searching for reality

In the midst of a culture

That has sold its spirit

To both religion and business,

That is bankrupt,

Devoid of ideas;

That consumes the planet

In the madness of its death throes;

In a mindless self-fuck;

That thinks plastic is perfect –

It’s what the suckers want –

It makes bucks.

Searching for the spirit

Of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Cassidy

On one long crazy rapture

One night of endless madness

With no limits,

No end.

Spitting words, dreams, visions and thoughts

In sounds

Beyond words

Beyond meaning.

On an endless drive

Of desperation

Roaring across plains,

Up mountains,

Down canyons

In search of crazy;

In search of ultimate kicks.

Goofin’ with eternity,

Lost in honking sounds,

Mad fuck

And high on anything –

Just so long as it will never stop,

Never be understood,

Never be explained.

But it is there –

It exists

In the Zen of an instant,

A rock, a sax solo, a raving stanza,

A drooling poem

Spontaneously bursting into existence

Climaxing from the tongue

In an orgy of sudden understanding,



Unfettered, furious,

So orgasmic and crude

That it throbs through your groin

To explode in your brain

With uncontainable joy.

Searching for an explanation

For the madness

Wreaked on humanity,

On the planet,

The poor trussed planet;

The enslavement of humanity

The taming,

The reduction

Containment and boredom,

The pressures

That causes people

To explode

In cruelty and barbarism.

Searching for the love

That melts the soul

In ecstatic waves;

That swamp, crash and churn,

So that we are absorbed,


And reborn totally alive,

And free.

Searching through words,

That squirm and metamorphose,

Through my mind

My dreams –

Searching for expression,

Substance and delirium.

Searching through images

Extracted from the mundane,

With shape, texture and colour

Never before glimpsed!

Creating poems to reflect

The turmoil;

Truths that stalk the coils

Within the skull.

Opher 21.1.2016

Meaning Jack and Allen

It is great to reconnect with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg every now and again. The visions they espoused created images in my head.

Allen altered poetry. He opened my head up and gave me eyes to see. He brought poetry to life from the rotting carcass it had been.

For me Allen’s forte was that there were no rules.

Allen wrote poetry in the same stream of consciousness that Jack wrote prose. It was a revolution.

That revolution brought a whole new way of writing, thinking and feeling. It created the modern world. Others had done it before – Henry Miller for one, but nobody connected in to that ‘reality’ the way Allen and Jack did. They were searching for the meaning in life, the ultimate kicks, to tune in to the craziness of life, to live.

They weren’t satisfied with the plastic, the superficial, the mundane; they wanted something that had depth; which meant something.

Society is empty.

Real living was to let everything out – all that emotion, feeling, energy and joy.

They wanted to live and life had to burn. If it wasn’t real it wasn’t worth a fuck.

Allen Ginsberg – America

Allen is one of the great poets. His Howl turned me back on to poetry. Now that the USA is melting into idiocy with Trump’s mad narcissism and fascism it’s time to take stock.



America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.   
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I’m sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America, after all, it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.   
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.   
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don’t think he’ll come back it’s sinister.   
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?   
I’m trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I’m doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven’t read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for murder.
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid I’m not sorry.   
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.   
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.   
My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I’m perfectly right.
I won’t say the Lord’s Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven’t told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over from Russia.
I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let your emotional life be run by Time Magazine?   
I’m obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.   
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It’s always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie producers are serious. Everybody’s serious but me.   
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.

Asia is rising against me.
I haven’t got a chinaman’s chance.
I’d better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals an unpublishable private literature that jetplanes 1400 miles an hour and twentyfive-thousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underprivileged who live in my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I’m a Catholic.

America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his automobiles more so they’re all different sexes.
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party was in 1835 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother Bloor the Silk-strikers’ Ewig-Weibliche made me cry I once saw the Yiddish orator Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have been a spy.
America you don’t really want to go to war.
America its them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.   
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia’s power mad. She wants to take our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader’s Digest. Her wants our auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him make Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers. Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.   
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.   
America is this correct?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

Berkeley, January 17, 1956

Poetry – Jack Kerouac – In Vain

The stars in the sky
In vain
The tragedy of Hamlet
   In vain
The key in the lock
      In vain
The sleeping mother
      In vain
The lamp in the corner
         In vain
The lamp in the corner unlit
            In vain
Abraham Lincoln
                        In vain
The Aztec empire
                           In vain
The writing hand: in vain
(The shoetrees in the shoes
         In vain
The windowshade string upon
            the hand bible
   In vain—
   The glitter of the greenglass
In vain
The bear in the woods
         In vain
The Life of Buddha
         In vain)

Poetry – Jack Kerouac – Mexico City Blues

Jack is remembered for his incredible prose and the Beat Generation. But he wrote some amazing poems too.

Got up and dressed up
and went out & got laid
Then died and got buried
in a coffin in the grave,
Yet everything is perfect,
Because it is empty,
Because it is perfect
with emptiness,
Because it's not even happening.

Is Ignorant of its own emptiness—
Doesn't like to be reminded of fits—

You start with the Teaching
Inscrutable of the Diamond
And end with it, your goal
is your startingplace,
No race was run, no walk
of prophetic toenails
Across Arabies of hot
meaning—you just
numbly don't get there