Michael John Fles

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Michael John Fles
MikeFles 4July2009-1.JPG
Born (1936-11-11) 11 November 1936 (age 84)
London, England
Occupationpoet, editor, musician, film personality
Genrepoetry, fiction, non-fiction
Notable worksBeyond the Beat Generation
RelativesLouis Fles, George Fles, Barthold Fles, Bart Berman, Helen Berman, Thijs Berman, Giorgio van Straten

Michael John Fles (born 11 November 1936), known both as John Fles and Michael Fles, 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.[1][2]


Michael John Fles was born to a Dutch father, George Fles, and a British mother, Pearl Rimel.[3] As conscious communists, his parents had moved to the Soviet Union, where his father fell victim to Joseph Stalin's Great Purge.[4] The mother, pregnant with Michael John, left the Soviet Union to give birth in London.[5] 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 1950.[6]

Beat poet and editor[edit]

Fles studied philosophy at the University of Chicago, but did not graduate. While a student, he became the managing editor of the Chicago Review.[7] In 1959 Fles was involved in the founding of the influential literary magazine Big Table.[8] Later he was the editor of The Trembling Lamb, a one shot literary magazine that published Antonin Artaud's "Van Gogh: The Man Suicided by Society", LeRoi Jones's "The System of Dante's Inferno", and Carl Solomon's "Danish Impasse".[9][10] In 1960 and 1961 he was a managing and contributing editor of Kulchur.[11] During all these years he published his poetry far and wide.[7]

Film personality and musician[edit]

In October 1963[12] he founded the Movies Round Midnight program at the Cinema Theatre at 1122 N. Western Ave. in Los Angeles,[13] along with Mike Getz.[14][15][16][17] He ran the program until 1965.[18] 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, in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Israel.[19][20] He lives in Trinidad, California[6][21] and is now retired.




  • 1958 – The Man Who Lived Underground (unpublished screenplay), with John Evans after a story by Richard Wright


  • 1960 – "The End of the Affair, or Beyond the Beat Generation", Village Voice 6 (8) (15 Dec): 4, 12.[22]
  • 1960 – "The Root", Kulchur 1960 (Spring): 39–41[23]
  • 1961 – "The Great Chicago Poetry Reading", Swank 8 (1) (March) 65–68, 70.[24]
  • 1961 – "Uncle Bill Burroughs' Guided Tour: Naked Lunch", Swank 8 (3) (July): 50.[25]
  • 1963 – "Personal State Meant" ("written and read at the Cinema T[heater] on May 9, 1963"), published as chapter 5 in James, David, and Hyman, Adam (eds.): Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980, Indiana University Press, 13 March 2015, pp 41–42.[26]
  • 1963 – "Are Movies Junk?", Film Culture 29,[27] republished as chapter 7 in James, David, and Hyman, Adam (eds.): Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980, Indiana University Press, 13 March 2015, pp 45–46.[28]
  • 1964 – Seeing is Believing (self-published), republished as chapter 9 in James, David, and Hyman, Adam (eds.): Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980, Indiana University Press, 13 March 2015, pp 53–56.[29]
  • 1995 – "Sound Wave Mirror", chapter 11 in Kenny CB (editor): Listening, Playing, Creating: Essays on the Power of Sound. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.[30]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Renan, Sheldon (2016). An Introduction to the American Underground Film. New York City: E. P. Dutton. pp. 102, 216.
  3. ^ Niemi, Robert (2011). The Ultimate, Illustrated Beats Chronology. Berkeley, California: Soft Skull Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-59376-411-1. Michael John fles is born in London to a British mother, Pearl Rimel; his father, George Fles (1908–1939), a Dutch communist, is imprisoned in a Russian gulag during Stalin's Great Purge; CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Beckett, Francis (17 March 2016). "Chapter 10: The Persecution Gene". Stalin's British Victims. Routledge Revivals. Taylor & Francis. pp. 187–194. ISBN 978-1-317-36586-0. Retrieved 22 September 2017 – via Google Books. So it is for John Michael Fles, whose mother, for years, never heard an unexpected ring at the doorbell without her heart leaping in the hope that it was her beloved George, finally released from a dreadful Siberian camp. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Berman, Thijs (1993). Op zoek naar George Fles, het einde van een Hollandse revolutionair in de Sovjetunie [Searching for George Fles, the end of a Dutch revolutionary in the Soviet Union]. Amsterdam: Van Gennep. ISBN 90-6012-992-X. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b "Alumni Notes: Lower 1950" (PDF). Family Tree. Ojai Valley School. 2012. p. 30. Retrieved 22 September 2017. Michael Fles was sorry he couldn't make it to OVS's centennial celebration, but he sent greetings from his home in Trinidad, CA, and let us know he recently took part in what was termed as a "Sound Meditation Vernal Equinox" event.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Birmingham, Jed (1 February 2007). "Reports from the Bibliographic Bunker". Kulchur. RealityStudio. Retrieved 12 November 2009.
  12. ^ Prelutsky, Burt (February 1965). "The Wildest House in Town = Los Angeles magazine". p. 53.
  13. ^ Prelutsky, Burt (February 1965). "The Wildest House in Town = Los Angeles magazine". p. 53.
  14. ^ Thomas, Kevin (13 January 1965). "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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ Thomas, Kevin (10 December 1965). "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...
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Peabody, Rebecca; Bradnock, Lucy, eds. (18 October 2011). Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles Art, 1945-1980. Getty Research Institute. p. 71. ISBN 978-1606060728. This late-night series, the brainchild of theater manager Mike Getz and local programmer Michael John Fles, kicked off on Columbus Day with the irreverent declaration, 'Oct. 12, 471 Years Ago Columbus Discovered America. Today you discover the New American Cinema.'
  18. ^ Mekas, Jonas (19 April 2016). Movie Journal: The Rise of the New American Cinema, 1959-1971. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0231175562. In Los Angeles John Fles is holding bravely the bleeding California beachhead with weekly shows at the Cinema Theatre. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ Doran, Bob (10 January 2008). "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.
  20. ^ "Equinox Celebration". Times-Standard. 18 March 2004. An Equinox Celebration: 'Spontaneous Tone Poems' features Michael Fles playing ancient musical instruments from around the world...
  21. ^ "Trinidad Tidings: Get a taste of Trinidad". 22 September 2017.
  22. ^ Fles, John (15 December 1960). "The End of the Affair, or Beyond the Beat Generation". Village Voice. 6 (8). pp. 4, 12. Retrieved 22 September 2017 – via Google News Archive.
  23. ^ Fles, John (Spring 1960). "The Root". Kulchur: 39–42. Retrieved 22 September 2017 – via Reality Studio.
  24. ^ Burns, Jim (March 2012). 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.
  25. ^ Fles, John (July 1961). "Uncle Bill Burroughs' Guided Tour: Naked Lunch". Swank. 8 (3): 50. Retrieved 22 September 2017 – via Reality Studio.
  26. ^ Hyman, Adam; James, David E. (18 August 2015). "Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980". Indiana University Press – via muse.jhu.edu.
  27. ^ Stevens, Brad (18 March 2003). Monte Hellman: His Life and Films. McFarland. p. 176. ISBN 9780786481880. Retrieved 23 September 2017. John Fles' article "Are Movies Junk?" can be found in Film Culture 29. He also contributed to Robert R. Branaman's anthology Fuxi Magascene (Ari Publications, San Francisco, 1965).
  28. ^ Hyman, Adam; James, David E. (18 August 2015). "Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980". Indiana University Press – via muse.jhu.edu.
  29. ^ Hyman, Adam; James, David E. (18 August 2015). "Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980". Indiana University Press – via muse.jhu.edu.
  30. ^ "Listening, Playing, Creating". www.sunypress.edu.

External links[edit]