Michael John Fles

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Michael John Fles
MikeFles 4July2009-1.JPG
Born (1936-11-11) November 11, 1936 (age 80)
London, England
Occupation poet, editor, musician, film personality
Nationality American
Period 1959-1995
Genre poetry, fiction, nonfiction
Notable works Beyond the Beat Generation
Relatives Barthold Fles, Louis Fles, Bart Berman, Helen Berman, Thijs Berman, Giorgio van Straten

Michael John Fles (born November 11, 1936), known both as John Fles and Michael Fles,[1] is an American poet, editor, musician and film personality. Professor David James referred to him as "the single most important promoter of underground film" in Los Angeles, California.[2]


Michael John Fles was born to a Dutch father, George Fles, and a British mother, Pearl Rimel. As conscious communists, his parents had moved to the Soviet Union, where his father fell victim to Joseph Stalin's Great Purge. The mother, pregnant with Michael John, left the Soviet Union to give birth in London. Mother and son later emigrated to the United States, where Pearl Rimel found employment in the aircraft industry. Michael John grew up in Los Angeles and Ojai, California, where he graduated from the Ojai Valley School in 1951.[3]

Beat poet and editor[edit]

Fles studied at the University of Chicago, but did not graduate. While a student, he became the managing editor of the Chicago Review.[4] In 1959 Fles was involved in the founding of the influential literary magazine Big Table.[5] Later he was the editor of The Trembling Lamb, a one shot literary magazine[6] that published Antonin Artaud's "Van Gogh: The Man Suicided by Society", LeRoi Jones's "The System of Dante's Inferno",[7] and Carl Solomon's "Danish Impasse". In 1960 and 1961 he was a managing and contributing editor of Kulchur.[8] During all these years he published his poetry far and wide.[4]

Film personality and musician[edit]

In 1963 he founded the Movies Round Midnight program[9][10] with Mike Getz.[11] He ran the program until 1965. From 1962 and into the 1980s he wrote over a dozen movie scripts, usually with co-authors.

Over the last several decades, Fles has been active as a musician and music therapist.[12][13][14] He lives in Trinidad, California.







Book chapters[edit]

References and footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Filmforum Begins Massive Oral Histories Project". Los Angeles Filmforum. 2009-11-22. Retrieved 2010-06-06. So far we have shot interviews with filmmakers David Lebrun, Peter Mays, and Chris Casady, and curators Terry Cannon (founder of Filmforum) and Michael Fles (formerly John Fles of Cinema Theater). [dead link]
  2. ^ James, David, ed. (2005). Stan Brakhage: Filmmaker. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-59213-272-0. In his own overview of the art of film, John Fles, the single most important promoter of underground film in the city who had sponsored the festival, claimed that 'With Brakhage, then, we reached the beginning of the birth of the new Masters,' and his work remained the cynosure for experimental filmmakers. 
  3. ^ "Lower School: 1951". Alumni. Ojai Valley School. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  4. ^ a b McDarrah, Fred; McDarrah, Timothy (2002). Kerouac and Friends: A Beat Generation Album. Greenwich Village, New York: Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 265. ISBN 978-1-56025-480-5. John Fles was managing editor of the Chicago Review and contributing editor of Kulchur and has poetry published in all the Beat literary magazines. He edited a collection of pieces by Antonin Artaud, Jean Genet, and Carl Solomon called The Trembling Lamb. 
  5. ^ De Grazia, Edward. Girls Lean Back Everywhere: The Law of Obscenity and the Assault on Genius. Random House. Strangely, de Grazia feels compelled to drop a footnote: 'According to Allen Ginsberg, Big Table's assistant editor, John Fles, actually drove them in his car' (p. 358). Fortunately, such uninteresting digressions are rare. 
  6. ^ Di Prima, Diane (2002). Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years. Penguin. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-14-023158-8. Or John Fles would bring over a new jazz record and talk with me about his one-shot journal, The Trembling Lamb. 
  7. ^ Baraka, Amiri (1997). The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones. Lawrence Hill Books. p. 247. ISBN 978-1-55652-231-4. When I finished Dante's Hell it was Lucia to whom I thought I should show, and she thought it should be published immediately. I also showed it to a friend, John Fles, who was publishing a one-shot anthology of new work, along with Artaud, whom Fles dug. It was called The Trembling Lamb. 
  8. ^ Birmingham, Jed (2007-02-01). "Reports from the Bibliographic Bunker". Kulchur. RealityStudio. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  9. ^ Thomas, Kevin (1965-01-13). "Midnight Film Show Prologue 'Ghastly'". Los Angeles Times. p. d6. Although this affair was a flop, it is time to praise the efforts of John Fles, the originator and director of Movies Round Midnight. 
  10. ^ Thomas, Kevin (1965-12-10). "L.A. Lags in Art Film Appreciation". Los Angeles Times. p. M17. [Movies Round Midnight] was started by poet, writer and critic John Fles, who has since left. Continuing Fles' policy, Alike combines the avant-garde with classics of the past, such as... 
  11. ^ Hoberman, James; Rosenbaum, Jonathan (1991). Midnight Movies. Da Capo Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-306-80433-5. Although Getz and his programmer, John Fles, booked mainly movies from the Film-Makers' Cooperative, they did show a few locally made products as well, including Paul Mazursky's first film, Last Year at Malibu. 
  12. ^ Doran, Bob (2008-01-10). "Music for a Cold Winter Night". North Coast Journal. Guitarist David Danielle is one such artist. He’ll be at the Jambalaya Monday, Jan. 14, with the Weirdos and Michael Fles’ world music/shadow play project Sahaja. 
  13. ^ "Equinox Celebration". Times-Standard. 2004-03-18. An Equinox Celebration: 'Spontaneous Tone Poems' features Michael Fles playing ancient musical instruments from around the world... 
  14. ^ ""Third Thursday Family Arts Night" Come Celebrate a Night of World Music May 18th, 2006" (press release). Humboldt Arts Council. Michael has been giving workshops at schools, libraries, and senior centers in Humboldt County for the last 15 years. Previously he traveled to Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Israel as a music therapist and performer. 
  15. ^ Burns, Jim. Brits, Beats and Outsiders (PDF). Penniless Press. p. 94. John Fles, who was in California, came back to help out, and he drove the poets from New York to Chicago, and later wrote an article, The Great Chicago Poetry Reading, which gave an emotional account of the event. 

External links[edit]

  • Sahaja musical video of Michael Fles by Shody Ryon