Tag Archives: John Chick

Bardo Matrix – John Chick

John Chick (1944-2013) was one of the members of the original Bardo Matrix crew, who started out as a psychedelic lightshow or ‘experimental cine’ group in Boulder, Colorado. After moving to San Francisco in 1967, Chick helped set up light shows at the Avalon Ballroom with The Family Dog, with whom he was staying that summer. Doing so, Chick found himself at the heart of San Francisco’s Summer of Love. Once that summer had been spent he moved back to Colorado where he helped The Family Dog set up The Denver Dog – the Avalon Ballroom’s Colorado branch – and helped distribute The Avalon’s psychedelic posters in Denver. At The Denver Dog Chick worked with Blue Cheer, Jim Morrison, Chuck Berry, Janis Joplin and many other musicians and bands. The next year, in 1969, Chick decided to follow the hippie trail to Kathmandu, where he opened the Spirit Catcher bookstore with Angus MacLise and continued the Bardo Matrix imprint. The bookstore became a meeting place for expat poets and musicians and it was under the Bardo Matrix imprint that Ira Cohen and Angus MacLise published their famous Starstreams poetry series on local rice paper. Chick witnessed the arrival of the first Magic Bus in Kathmandu (which had Wavy Gravy and Dr. Larry Brilliant aboard) and many buses to follow. In 1972 he opened the legendary Rose Mushroom Nightclub on ‘Freak Street’ to accommodate the steadily growing flux of hippies.


Online Resources:

Kathmandu Post – How a used bookstore in Kathmandu’s Jhochhen captured the spirit of the hippie movement

Bardo Matrix

The Bardo Matrix Press was founded in Kathmandu in the early 1970s by original Velvet Underground drummer, artist, and poet Angus MacLise and poet, photographer, and publisher Ira Cohen as a publishing outgrowth of the Colorado artists’ collective of the same name. MacLise and Cohen commenced to issue pamphlets, booklets, posters, books, and broadsides by not only themselves and their fellow travellers, but also by some of the most important names of post-war literature: Paul Bowles, Gregory Corso, Diane Di Prima, and Charles Henri Ford were among the chosen.

The publications were printed in editions of anywhere from a couple of dozen to a few hundred, usually utilizing fine printing techniques such as wood blocks, letterpress, special inks, and handmade paper. But this was not based on traditional thoughts on fine printing, but rather on the opportunity to create something cheap and beautiful. There was a built-in audience for these publications on “Freak Street” in Kathmandu, where people in the circle of Bardo Matrix operated a small bookshop which did decent business selling wood-block printed headshop posters alongside poetry broadsides, these publications, as well as second-hand English language paperback books.

After the 1979 death of Angus MacLise, the activity of the Bardo Matrix Press quietly faded out. Ira Cohen returned to New York City where he was a highly visible member of the poetic demimonde until his passing in 2011, shortly after he had helped stage an exhibition on the life and work of Angus MacLise.


Bardo Matrix Checklist:

Section A: Books
Section B: Broadsides
Section C: Spirit Catcher Bookshop

· John Chick


Online Resources:

· The Bardo Matrix

· Big Bridge – Ira Cohen: The Great Rice Paper Adventure Kathmandu, 1972-1977

Granary Books – Dana Young Archive

Granary Books – Ira Cohen: The Bardo Matrix, Gnaoua, and The Great Society

Granary Books – Petra Vogt Archive

University of Delaware – Bardo Matrix Press