Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
Alan Kaufman is lucky to be alive.
In Part 1, the writer and poet traces his lineage back to his parents, who met in New York in the 1940s. His dad was a Jewish gangster, as Alan describes it, and his mom was a French Jewish Holocaust survivor. Here is the card that the French government issued, verifying his mother as a Holocaust survivor:
Alan details a trip to Europe he took in 2014. His hosts in Zurich drove him to the mountains in Northern Italy where his mother and grandmother hid during World War II.
He fast-forwards to his parents' meeting and starting a family in the Bronx. When he was a teenager, he picked up a copy of On the Road, and the book ended up inspiring his move out west.
In Part 2, Alan tells us about his discovery of Israel. A friend told him all about the country, smashing Alan's preconceived ideas about the place, and so he went and lived there for a number of years.
He shares stories of his return to NYC, drunken addiction, and homelessness. He was in a downward spiral before a friend told him to snap out of it and get help. He did, and roughly a week later, he was headed for San Francisco.
He quickly got involved in the early '90s poetry scene here, and tells some great stories around that. He goes on to describe what it was like to get discovered as a writer as well as his work with "outlaw" artists here in The City. He also shares the story of a student strike he led while he taught at the Academy of Art University.
Alan ends this podcast comparing the San Francisco of today with the city he moved to 30 years ago, and tells us all about the poets strike he led back in the early '90s.
We recorded this podcast outside of Alan's home in Oakland in October 2020.