Friday, January 28, 2011
Beat Photos in London
For those of you in London (it was “for those of you in Paris..” last weekend!), Angelheaded Hipsters, the exhibition of Allen’s photographs at the National Theater, Southbank, is now up and running, and will remain up until mid-March. Don’t miss it! Beat Memories, Allen’s groundbreaking show at the National Gallery in Washington DC, we’ve already extensively noted here ( and here - and here!). The BBC News site has a slide-show up of some of the photos. Corbis, co-sponsors of the show have also just posted some of the images here
In connection with the show there will be a few events of definite interest in the upcoming weeks, including one on February 19, entitled Angelheaded Hipsters: Discovering the Beat Movement, featuring Allen's first biographer Barry Miles, writer & journalist John Harris Dunning, poet Michael Horowitz and musician Paul Higgs.
Also in London (note: link here is to a PDF file) Maggs Bros Rare Books have a couple of interesting items – William Burroughs photos of London, and William Burroughs Shoots Boys/Miles Shoots Burroughs, both taken from his time there in the early ‘70’s, two sequences of hand-made prints, produced a few years ago, taken from the original negatives, and currently being offered for sale (the link take you to a short but descriptive scratch catalog) [2012 update - needless to say, this link is now dead, but we draw your attention to Maggs Bros Burroughs materials, notably this catalog of Gysin-Burroughs here]
Ken Kesey at Sundance
Alex Gibney’s documentary, Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search For A Kool Place, premiers this weekend at Sundance, and will hopefully soon be on wider release. A long time in the making, Jay Meehan, writing in the Utah Park Record [link no longer available], gives some of the background:
“..First, with Kesey having passed away in 2001, there were the negotiations with the estate for access and rights to his archives... then, once the footage and audio recordings and photographs made by Kesey and the Pranksters on their iconic LSD-fueled "trip" had been unearthed, there was the time it took the UCLA Film Archives to restore the 40-some-year old print, followed by an editing process that had to work around Gibney's availability, which, at best, due to his other film projects, was rare..”
Variety gives an early review of the film here
Howl Theatre And Amram
Meanwhile in Austin, Texas – Boulder’s award-winning Square Product Theatre presents “the world premiere of a new theatrical adaptation of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl” (adapted and performed by Teresa Harrison) as part of the 2011 Frontera Fest, taking place at Austin’s Blue Theater
while in New York City, down at the Bowery Poetry Club, long-time Beat collaborator and our friend David Amram will be celebrating this weekend “his Lower East Side roots and his 80th birthday”
Renaldo and Clara on DVD
Our “Streaming Video” links here (hush, hush, it's still up!) for a little taste – but, the exciting news, Bob Dylan’s legendary 1978 movie Renaldo and Clara (featuring Allen and the whole Rolling Thunder touring party), is about to be released, finally, as a DVD! [2012 update -alas! - jumping the gun - still no official plans for the release of the Renaldo and Clara DVD]
And more Dylan news (tho’ we’d hand you over to the incomparable Expecting Rain site for anything in this arena), Dylan, it’s understood, has just signed a six-book deal with New York publishers Simon & Schuster (including two sequels to his already justly-praised 2004 book, Chronicles).
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
There’s plenty of Allen on You Tube and much of it can be found in our listings of Streaming Video and Audio, but here’s three that haven’t quite made it to that list yet, and, certainly, each one worthy of a viewing and/or a listen. So, in no particular order..
Supersonic Blues is an hommage/elegy put together by John Heartfield for Farepoesia Editions in Pavia, Italy, featuring, among other things, interesting footage of Allen and Peter and Peter’s brother Julius, from Robert Frank’s classic Me And My Brother.
Wichita Vortex Sutra
The Philip Glass-Allen Ginsberg collaboration on the CD Hydrogen Jukebox contains this exquisite setting of Allen’s classic 1966 poem with his sensitive narration. A live recording, however (from a performance in Modena, Italy, in 1992), is also available and may be listened to here
(The libretto for the piece (a brief excerpt from the longer poem) may be read here and a series of brief commentaries on the poem (including Allen’s note from Composed On The Tongue) are available here
from LSD (A Documentary Report)
Now here’s an odd piece (but posted in the light of recent interest in the Peter Conners’ dual biography), Allen, in 1966, on a rare out-of-print vinyl record, chanting and speaking/participating, as part of a documentary about LSD. Allen’s open no-nonsense clarity cuts through the rather dated and certainly opinionated general nature of the program. (2012 update - sadly, this one has been pulled, hopefully, we'll be able to track it down again soon, but, the very nature of the medium - "Three From You Tube"? two years on? - it's remarkable that that (well, Robert Frank's "Me And My Brother" too) was/is the only casualty)
Friday, January 21, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
[Gregory Corso, Tangier, July 1961. Photo: Allen Ginsberg. c Allen Ginsberg Estate]
Gregory Corso died ten years ago today, three months shy of his 71st birthday. We salute him today via this little survey.
Video and Film Footage of Gregory Nunzio Corso.
There is the ragamuffin in Pull My Daisy , and the angelic kid captured in 1965 in London’s cavernous Albert Hall, reading his long poem, “The Mutation of The Spirit” (see the collection
Gregory in Rome has been charmingly dogged by Dario Bellini in his Gregory Corso Walks And Talks in Roma in two parts - here and here.
The unfettered Gregory may be also viewed in Francois Bernardi’s Original Beats, (mentioned previously, in the context of Herbert Huncke).
Anecdotes of Gregory, there are many. Mary Beach and Andy Clausen tell stories. Mark Erikson cleverly illustrates some of Gregory’s bon mots in Conversation with Gregory Corso - Skulls For Vienna .
And finally there’s Gustave Reininger’s The Last Beat, a full-length documentary on Gregory (made in his lifetime and with the cooperation of the poet), here’s the trailer.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
“Anti-Normative”? - James Franco, Allen Ginsberg, Harvey Milk and Hart Crane
Well is he or isn’t he? – and does it really matter?. James Franco continues to make news, speculating on his own sexual identity
“It’s funny because the way that kind of stuff is talked about on blogs is so black-and-white,”..“It’s all cut-and-dry identity politics. ‘Is he straight or is he gay?’ Or, ‘This is your third gay movie — come out already!’ And all based on, gay or straight, based on the idea that your object of affection decides your sexuality..There are lots of other reasons to be interested in gay characters than wanting myself to go out and have sex with guys,..And there are also lots of other aspects about these characters that I’m interested in, in addition to their sexuality. So, in some ways it’s coincidental, in other ways it’s not. I mean, I’ve played a gay man who’s living in the ’60s and ’70s (Harvey Milk), a gay man who we depicted in the ‘50s (Allen Ginsberg), and one living in the ‘20s (Hart Crane). And those were all periods when to be gay, at least being gay in public, was much more difficult. Part of what I’m interested in is how these people who were living anti-normative lifestyles contended with opposition. Or, you know what, maybe I’m just gay!”
The full article may be found in this week’s Entertainment Weekly
What occasioned this new “buzz” has been the wrap-up of Franco’s most recent “poetry-bio-pic”, The Broken Tower, his examination of another great poet-hero (and, significantly, queer poet-hero), poete maudit, Hart Crane. Paul Mariani’s 1999 biography of the poet. described by Publishers Weekly as “the first account of Crane to embrace his homosexuality and to assess its place in his poetry”, was read by Franco, “shortly after it was published”, according to one account, and became the basis of his screenplay. The title is taken from what was, allegedly, Crane’s final poem, composed in 1932, shortly before committing suicide and, supposedly, inspired by his one and only failed heterosexual affair, with Peggy, estranged wife of editor, Malcolm, Cowley . The text of the poem may be read here
Glimpses of Allen in India
Here’s another Allen-through-the-eyes-of-children (or maybe it’s Allen-as -“enthusiastic cook”?), two themes we’ve been pursuing of late. From the current issue of Tehelka Magazine. Srimati Lal recalling P(urashottama) Lal, her father, who died this past November, and who, in a long and distinguished career, “revolutionized Indian publishing” with the (Calcutta-based) Writers Workshop:
Glimpses of Allen in Ireland
Documentation from Allen's October 1993 visit to Ireland is provided by 3 a.m. magazine, who track down a postcard to Istvan Eorsi wherein Allen delights in his recent purchase of a "great grey tweed suit" - "thorn-proof" Donegal tweed! - 3 a.m, also presents a scan of a press-clipping from the local paper providing further background.
Good time to be interested in the Beats right now, if you’re living in Chicago. Tonight (through till February 5th) is the opening night of a revival of Marilyn Campbell’s adaptation of “The Beats”, a play directed by Ann Filmer
Elsewhere in town at Thinkart features photos by Allen and works on paper and shotgun paintings by William Burroughs
San Francisco/ Remembering the “Be-In”
Another of our treasures of Streaming Video (look across on the right-hand side for more) - Jan 14 marks the anniversary, 44 years on, of the first “Human Be-In” – take yourself back to San Francisco, if only for a few fleeting "Technicolor" moments. Footage from the original “Be-in” seen below:
[Shig Murao, Cafe Trieste, San Francisco, June 1988. Photo: Allen Ginsberg. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]
Poet Ron Silliman over on his blog has been running a contest and offering free copies of the Howl DVD to the first three that get the answer right. Too late now, the answers are in, but readers of The Allen Ginsberg Project shouldn’t have had much difficulty. Shig Murao, the answer, the “forgotten” hero of the Howl trial, we reported on, you may recall, in October of last year. Tuesday’s Silliman posting posed the question, today’s (Wednesday) provides the answer.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Herbert E Huncke, “the original Beat”, “Elmer Hassel” of On The Road, who died August 1996 (despite a life of excess, he lived to the ripe old age of 81) would have been 96 today. Sadly, Ben Schafer’s 1997 compendium The Herbert Huncke Reader is out of print (tho’ second-hand copies are still available and well worth tracking down). More immediately available are a series of recordings he made towards the end of his life, reading some of his deceptively simple first-person prose recollections, From Dream to Dream (available in its entirety on Ubuweb). Among the pieces featured there are the title piece for an earlier collection, “The Evening Sun Turned Crimson”, the typically gentle, compassionate “Elsie”, and “New Orleans 1938” (a piece that can be heard in 1997, given a spirited reading by his friend Edgar Oliver). That, and, even more poignantly right now, Janine Pommy Vega reading his review of the autobiography of the legendary hobo, BoxCar Bertha (the only review Huncke ever wrote) come courtesy of our friend Laki Vazakas, who’s own full-length documentary Huncke and Louis, a distillation of many hours of footage is another gem definitely worth seeking out. Huncke was the great impromptu story-teller, as can be seen in Laki’s short video from 1994 of him holding forth at Café Nico in Manhattan’s East Village. Similarly Manhattan-local is the footage of him (and another Beat legend, Gregory Corso) shot by Francois Bernardi for his film Original Beats and featuring footage of Huncke in his room at the Chelsea Hotel. A further section from that film (Huncke discoursing) is available here. He can also be seen, some years earlier, 1983, on the Woodstock Public Access program, The Velvet Trigger, reading “Song of Self “ (the text is here), and, sitting with Allen and recalling Jack in “Whatever Happened to Kerouac” (see our link in our “streaming videos”). There’s also an interesting interview with Johnny Strike, conducted in 1982, on Reality Studio
Friday, January 7, 2011
“Ginsberg”, Woodward writes,” beyond the fireworks of his crazed life, was actually a driven, even ambitious, writer. This drive…allowed him to sidestep oblivion; his devotion to his art-making was his ladder over the crevice.” “I've haven't viewed writers, or writing, or art-making”, he declares, “the same since.”
Allen in Vancouver
[Jerry Heiserman (later Sufi "Hassan"), the late "Red" a poet, Allen Ginsberg, Bobbie Louise Hawkins Creeley, Warren Tallman, Robert Creeley above Charles Olson, left to right top rows; seated left Thomas Jackrell then student poet, Philip Whalen & Don Allen anthologist & Postmodern Poetics editor, last days of Vancouver Poetry Conference late July 1963, car parked in front of host professor Tallman's house -- he'd sent me a ticket to come back from a year and half in India for the assembly -- which included Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov. (c. Allen Ginsberg Estate)]
Some Recent Reviews
Paul Buhle’s review of the recently-expanded City Lights edition of Kaddish, in Zeek, A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture is worth catching. And, speaking of Ginsberg City Lights reviews, Peter Conners’ dual Ginsberg-Leary biography continues to get good reviews, here’s another one that comes via Popmatters.
People have been asking where's the least expensive place to buy the Archer Prewitt designed Ginsberg figurine. We've seen it for as high as $60 (ouch!) So far it looks like Movie Replica Direct has the best deal at $39.95, but they're backordered.
We'll leave you with this beautiful recording of Allen's 1977 reading of "Mind Breaths" at the 92nd St Y. (the entire evening is also available, and listed in our links under 'streaming audio')
Thursday, January 6, 2011
["John Wieners, tragic American poet, visiting my room Park Plaza Hotel, Boston February 1, 1985. We'd met three decades earlier at Cedar Bar, New York -- Robert Creeley & Frank O'Hara both admired his gift then, Hotel Wentley Poems were published that decade -- but none of his books were in print at time of this visit." (Allen Ginsberg Caption.) c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]
[John Wieners at the Odessa Restaurant, New York City, November 1993. Photo: c. Allen Ginsberg]
Happy Birthday, John Wieners
The first of our 2011 birthday shout-outs goes out to the ever-present, graceful spirit of "pure poet”,”pure genius”, John Wieners, who, today, would have been 77 (the laudatory terms are Allen’s, from his introduction to the Black Sparrow edition of the first volume of Selected Poems 1958-1984. (Robert Creeley’s introduction to a second Black Sparrow volume also available on line is worth checking). Among other treasures on-line are recordings of Wieners reading (a legendary 1965 University of Buffalo reading, and, of course, the incomparable PennSounds page) - there’s also video up on TheEastVillage.com.
We couldn’t not mention, while celebrating John and Allen, Raymond Foye’s fondly-recalled account of John’s 1988 visit with Allen on the occasion of his participation in the “Literary History of the Beat Generation” series at Brooklyn College. A similarly poignant account of the interaction between the two poets, on another occasion, was recently provided by Eliot Kreiger on his blog. For an intelligent profile/over-view of the great poet shortly before his death in 2002, Pamela Petro’s piece for the Boston College magazine, “The Hipster of Joy Street”, is certainly worth a read if you’ve not seen it. Catherine Salmons in the Boston Phoenix a few years earlier might also serve as a reminder of the respect he had accrued.
The achievement lives on (two recently posthumous books have been published in the last few years by Lowell, Mass’s Bootstrap Press, “A Book of Prophecies” and “A New Book From Rome”
- and here’s his circa 1976 Statement for Who’s Who?
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
We'd mentioned the Woodstock Times obituary in our last posting, but on second thought, consider it worthy of a full post mention, since it goes into such precise detail about her life & life's work. It also includes a small selection of tributes worth more than a second glance.
Monday, January 3, 2011
We should also mention that HOWL has received the NBR's (National Board of Review) Freedom of Expression Award, alongside films Fair Game and Conviction. Huge congrats to everyone who worked so hard to make this film a reality!