Audio of Shig and Others

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Charles Richards and Lawrence Ferlinghetti (lower right, looking at camera) at City Lights party, circa 1990.

Photographer unknown.

SHIG’S STORY



SHIG’S
 DREAM   
JOB
(1953)Dream_Job_2.html

AT THE
COUNTER:
THE EARLY
YEARS
(1953)At_the_Counter.html

SHIG’S
INNER
CIRCLE
(1953)Inner_Circle_2.html


THE
HOWL
TRIAL
(1957)The_Howl_Trial_2.html


SHIG’S HEYDAY AT
CITY LIGHTS
(1960)CL_a_la_Shig_2.html


THE END
OF AN
ERA
(1975)End_of_a_Era_2.html


10:00 A.M.
AT THE
TRIESTE
(1975)10_00_A.M._%40Trieste_2.html


LIFE AFTER
CITY LIGHTS
(1976)Life_After_CL_2.html


A SAMURAI
FAMILY
(1920)Samura_family_2.html



SHIG’S
PLACE
(1976)Shigs_Place.html



SHIG’S
REVIEW
(1983)Shigs_Review_2.html


THE
FINAL
CHAPTER
(1984)Final_Chapter_2.html
 

Shig was a private person who routinely turned down requests for interviews. The one exception I found was

an appearance on KPIX-TV’s PM West, when Shig shared a TV set with Neal Cassady, Eileen Kaufman, and Rev. Pierre Delattre.


In a Chinese World article dated October 27, 1961, Shig complained that KPIX wanted him only for his beard. “I’m a working man,” he groused. “I put in 60 to 70 hours a week. Just because I wear a beard doesn’t make me a Beatnik.”


There is no tape of that appearance. But it is still possible to hear Shig’s voice, below, thanks to John Murao, who taped two interviews with his uncle, and Charles Richards, who recorded a brief exchange with Shig on Weldon Kees’ suicide.


I have also posted below highlights from interviews I did with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Paul Yamazaki, and Charles Richards.


Note: Your browser must have javascript enabled and allow Flash, in order for the audio files below to play in the Yahoo Media Player.


Shig Murao








Play Weldon Kees audio

In this short clip, Shig describes how Weldon Kees came into the bookstore in July 1955 and bought Miguel de Unamuno’s Tragic Sense of Life, a discussion of faith versus reason, the day before Kees jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.


The date of this interview is unknown. It must have been after October 25, 1984, as Shig refers to Richard Brautigan’s suicide, which was discovered on that date.








Play visiting his uncle audio

Here Shig tells his nephew John about visiting his uncle Shigenori when Shig went to Japan as part of the U.S. occupation forces. It was not a happy visit.


Lawrence Ferlinghetti







Play Lawrence Ferlinghetti audio

Highlights from my interview with poet and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti, recorded in his office at City Lights on July 30, 2003. Included are memories of:


  1. How Neal Cassady repeatedly stole the same Edgar Cayce book from City Lights


  1. How they considered moving the bookstore to the Haight in the sixties


• How Shig would tell tourists that a wooden eggbeater he bought in Chinatown was a Buddhist prayer wheel


Paul Yamazaki







Play Paul Yamazaki audio

I interviewed City Lights book buyer Paul Yamazaki at Cafe Puccini in 2003. Here he remembers:


  1. Shig as the “Literary Pope of North Beach”


  1. How Shig’s presence in the bookstore was akin to that of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley


• How, with Shig, one had to earn the right to “hang around the register without being an alien presence”


Charles Richards







Play Charles Richards audio

Jazz trombonist Charles Richards and his late wife, painter Janet Richards, were good friends of Shig’s. In this interview, recorded at Charles’ San Francisco home on January 3, 2003, he remembers:


  1. The motorcycle accident that left Shig with a limp for the rest of his life


  1. How Shig established the tone of the bookstore


  1. Shig’s obsession with Coca-Cola


• Shig’s tendency not to put himself forward but let others discover his qualities