William S. Burroughs is the classic example of outliving your enemies to get the laugh last. Born to a well-heeled family here in St. Louis 100 years ago on this very date, his boyhood dream was to become an outlaw of some sort -- and perhaps a writer. Instead he went to Harvard, came back here briefly to work as a reporter, then escaped into the great wide world. First came drugs, then came marriage, then came a fateful night in Mexico City, 1951, when he drunkenly fired a pistol that killed his wife, Joan Vollmer. Outlawry achieved, he fled the country for good and began writing in earnest. With artist Brion Gysin he developed the cut-up method of writing, which scrambled his prose into hallucinogenic collages of subconscious savagery. Blending his love of paranoia, drug use, his theories on male homosexual superiority, guns, the fervent belief that humans were destined to leave their bodies and roam outer space freely, and the blackest of black comedy, Burroughs crafted some of the most pungent American writing of the 20th and 21st centuries. Tonight, in honor of the greatest literary outlaw of all time -- of all time -- St. Louis hosts the 100th Birthday Celebration of William S. Burroughs from 6 p.m. to midnight at the Heavy Anchor (5226 Gravois Avenue; www.theheavyanchor.com). Brett Underwood, Bodybag Man and Christian Saller read and perform Burroughs' writing, Eric Hall and Tim Rakel perform suitable music for the films and video of "El Hombre Invisible" and Subterranean Books will be selling his works onsite (until 8 p.m.). Admission is by donation, which goes to the performers.
Wed., Feb. 5, 2014