Thursday, October 2, 2014

Happy Birthday John Sinclair

From the 1995 retrospective of the pioneering '70's Detroit rock band, The Up - Killer Up! - this bonus cut - "Prayer For John Sinclair", an agit-prop chant by Allen Ginsberg

It's 1971 and John Sinclair ("Ten for Two" - ten years for two joints!) is, most definitely, a political prisoner.

So hear him (Allen) intone:  "Trick or treat. Year after year. Literary persons, Ed Sanders, Robert Creeley, myself organization, the American chapter of PEN Club representing one  thousand one hundred writers have petitioned the state of Michigan for release of poet-musician John Sinclair from entrapment by police courts jails - nine-and-a-half to ten years sentence - no appeal - bail - fully maximum-security - for two-joint bust. This case articulates the bankrupcy of middle-class law and order - work within the system  rationalizations of irrational public injustice. No lawmaker, judge or policeman in Michigan can argue their own respectability while their state bureaucracy conspires to outrage law and order by keeping Sinclair in prison -  for the tenth time - October 3oth 1971, chanted, written and played by Allen Ginsberg, for prayer for John Sinclair. Om namah shivaya."

For more on the 1971 Free John Sinclair movement - see here.

See also our posting here

Marijuana joint

Fast forward to (October 2nd) 2014 - today,  it's John Sinclair's birthday! - 73 years old and very much alive!

Here's a link to the archive of his impeccable Radio Free Amsterdam radio show

Here's a link to all the news and more on the official John Sinclair web-site

Here's a recent interview/profile from The Guardian  (March of this year, tying in with his most recent CD - Mohawk (from Iron Man Records)

And some recent John-in- performance live - at Otto's Shrunken Head, New York City, last year, Louisiana Music Factory, March 2014, and in London (Canary Wharf, Spiegeltent), only last month  - Happy Birthday, John!   

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Expansive Poetics - 119 - (An American Place)

So, actually, what we're all talking about in terms of spiritual revolution is, in a way, continuing the tradition of person - democratic person, taking his own life as sacred, and being treated sacredly by neighbors and by state, which Hartley pronounces, after (Walt) Whitman, and (about) which he agrees with (William Carlos) Williams and that whole group, looking for an American place, looking for a place for themselves.

And that terminology of "place", you'll see continual in (Charles) Olson and (Robert) Creeley - that's one of Creeley's favorite words - "place". And, for him, it's not only just the American place but it's his own psychological place - "When we get to heaven, there will be a place for you and me and we'll all sit there in chairs..", or… I'll find it. It's a little (Creeley) poem. ["Oh No" - If you wander far enough/you will come to it/and when you get there/ 
they will give you a place to sit/ for yourself only, in a nice chair,/and all your friends will be there/with smiles on their faces/and they will likewise all have places"] 

And in his critical work, Creeley constantly talks about the word "place" also (meaning the same thing the Buddhists here (Naropa) mean by "space", which is to say a particular appreciation of the intimate immediate surroundings that you're in , not ignoring your own backyard, your trilliums (sic), your own dress, your own vocation, your own shoes, but actually paying sacred attention to the glass of water that you hold in your hand). By sacred there - Buddhists even eliminate the word "sacred", they say just pay attention - take it - be there with it - Don't reject it, don't put it down, don't say, "this glass is just material glass, it's nothing to do with me, I don't want this material world", but, actually, treating the material world as a sacred place in order to make it a sacred place. Because, when it's treated off-handedly, as a convenience for us to chop the trees down off of, or devastate for fish, then it becomes a polluted sinkhole.  

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-nine minutes in, and concluding at approximately forty-and-three-quarter minutes in]  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Expansive Poetics - 118 (Do It - Jeff Nightbyrd & Abbie Hoffman & Florence Becker Lennnon)

[Jeff Nightbyrd and Abbie Hoffman in Texas]

[to Jeff Nightbyrd] - What are you..  you're in town for an underground media convention?

Jeff Nightbyrd: We're going to have an alternative tv network in America.

AG: Uh-hmm

Jeff Nightbyrd:  (The) FCC has licensed low-power tv stations - KBDI and Video West and Public Interest Video in Washington put together a conference of leading experimental video people (who) came…

AG: Here in town (Boulder) or in Denver?

Jeff Nightbyrd: Here. Well, in Boulder and at KBDI. We get… probably some people saw it… two nights of live barbecue in the parking lot, and experimental video from around the country.. a party, Saturday night, and, we're working, right now, to put up some thirteen weeks up on the satellite, three hours, once a week. And it really came down to just that thing about..doing it!

AG: Yeah

Jeff Nightbyrd): I mean, there's all these academic reasons, and studying markets and whatever, and two people said, "Okay, we'll buy the time on the satellite…

AG: Yeah

Jeff Nightbyrd): …if you'll produce the programs". And we need $200,ooo…

AG: To produce programs?

Jeff Nightbyrd): ..and everybody announces "Okay, we're somehow going to do it". And we're running all over the country, starting two days ago, to put something on,

AG: (Timothy) Leary wants a revolution. So who doesn't. As long as it.. As Gregory (Corso) said, "The Beat group had the first bloodless revolution" (which was a revolution of the spirit) - or initiated, or started, or continued (it), if you can see - from Marsden Hartley - we just continued an old American tradition (which you can find with (Boulder poet) Florence Becker Lennon - did you hear her last night?- she was great!)

Jeff Nightbyrd: I heard it was..

AG: She was eighty - and she was great. Yeah. That last line of a thing was very particular - like Hartley (it sounded like Hartley). She was looking at a bunch of hardhats working next door to her house on Seventh Street here, and said, "Are these the men that are building the bomb to blow up the world, or are they only the men who are poisoning mothers' milk"?  It was a very particular poem, yeah. By "particular", I mean (as in) "minute particulars" [ in William Blake's phrase], specifics, specific instances. She had picked the specific instance in her backyard, in her own  range of her eighty-year-old life and written about it. As Hartley did.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-six-and-a-half minutes in, and concluding at approximately thirty-nine minutes in]

Monday, September 29, 2014

Expansive Poetics - 117 (No Future - (Punk Statements))

Student: Do you think that (punk) new wave (music) has God or has respect…

AG: No, no, no, no. I think they've dispensed with the notion very wisely (though they may have dispensed with the heart also, unwisely)

Student:  Yeah, I think they have..

AG: But not really, because you hear a lot of great stuff from (the) new wave (bands). The Clash, certainly, are totally political, totally heart-felt, I would say. To have to exist in a tough world they might appear tough, but they're very very generous - totally. That was my experience of them, singing with them - total generosity and self-sacrifice for a spiritual cause, for a political-spiritual cause.

Student: But Allen, don't you think that adolescence (in) every culture is a testing of yourself to discover yourself. And the anger...

AG: Yeah

Student: …the anger in punk is that most of these kids grew up in suburban environments that are just incredibly dead, more..

AG [pointing to the class]: All these kids did too.

Student: Well, I don't..

AG: Not that there's so many kids here.. 

Student: It's also a mistake to speak of it in such a monolithic way. The punk movement in England was very very working-class.

AG: Yeah, yeah.

Student: Yeah. So it was very different to what happened in the States.

AG: Yeah.. we're just talking about what we were thinking about here about the American punk.

Student: But even in terms of that..

AG: Yeah

Student: ..I think there's still a breadth of..(a spectrum..)

AG: Yeah, there's a whole bunch of punks that are just following the five-and-ten-cents-store fashion at this point. It's like what they see in the

Student: How about the lyrics (of) like Costello (I think that's his name)

AG: Elvis Costello

Student: His song, "There's no future"  (that's (part of) the lyrics of it)

AG: Those are the change…  the Sex Pistols

Student: The Sex Pistols

AG: "No future for you, no future for me"

Student: Yeah

AG: "No future for me, no future for you". Well, you know.. but I dug that, as being the frankest political statement of the decade. That the middle-class and military was preaching that we have a future if we trust them and if we trust the American Way, and if we trust the normal middle-class conspicuous consumption consumer society. And (that) if you go through school and behave and do it right, and don't interrupt, and don't get up on the stage and take others' place, you'll be alright, and you can get a job later on, and be whatever it is, and (get) insurance. And, particularly in England, where the Sex Pistols came  out, with total unemployment for blacks (well, sixty percent unemployment for blacks, and thirty-five percent unemployment for white kids), and, actually (in) England, as (William) Burroughs (had) described (it), "a fish caught in a shrinking pond", it was an actual statement of fact. And only until the English recognize that will they ever be able to have any kind of future, until they can hit bottom mentally and recognize where they're at.
So I thought it was a useful social statement, though likely to be misinterpreted (like Jerry Rubin's "Kill your parents" - which was actually an elevated thought, but misunderstood a little, by him even) - he said (he said himself that he thought that was a mistake, because he didn't understand the effect). 

Student: Yeah.. I'd just.. with the whole new wave/punk movement, I would just like to see more vision

Student (CC): Well I'm not sure if there is any vision.

AG: Well, you've got to write some new wave lyrics. That's what I'm doing. I'm writing new wave lyrics to lay on a trip - that visionary trip - to do something about it.

Student:  (The music that I) hear in my head is more (interesting)

AG: Don't just sit there, do something about it!

Student: Yeah, it's more futuristic.

AG: You and (CC) ought to form a rock 'n roll band, dance in front of it. Yes? (sorry, I interrupted you).

Student: No, that's all

AG: Do it! But you can't do it by just talking about it. You got to do it. That's basically what I object to in your method - you talk about it, but you don't do it. And if you do it, then you have to formulate exactly what there is to do, and what you can do and what you can't do,  and what you can do with other people and what you can do without other people, and then you form a community of doing it. The process of doing it forms the community itself. That was the theory of the 'Sixties - that in the organization of doing it, you find affinities and people you can work with and make friends with and see every couple of years.. 

[Audio for the above can be heard here, starting at approximately thirty-two-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately thirty-six-and-a-half minutes in]