Saturday, June 25, 2016

Gay Pride Weekend

Gay Pride Weekend

"Enough, I've stayed up all might with these boys/And all my life enjoyed their handsome joys/I came with many companions to this Dawn/Now I am tired and must set my pen down/Reader, Hearer, this time Understand/How kind it is for man to love a man/Old love and Present, future love the same/Hear and Read what love is without shame./I want people to understand. They can! They can! They can!/So open your ears and hear the voice of the classical band."

"Old Love Story"  (from the collection White Shroud (1986)) in its entirety 

Some think the love of boys is wicked and forlorn
Character corrupting, worthy mankind's scorn
Or eyes that weep and breasts that ache for lovely youth
Have no mouth to speak for mankind's general truth
Nor hands to work manhood's fullest delight 
Nor hearts to make old women smile day and night
Nor arms to warm young girls to dream of love
Nor thighs to satisfy thighs,nor breath men can approve..
Yet think back to the time our epic world was new
When Gilgamesh followed the shade of his friend Enkidu
Into Limbo's dust to talk love man to man
So younger David enamoured of young Jonathan
Wrote songs that women and men still chant for calm
Century after century under evergreen or palm
A love writ so sacred on our bible leaf
That heartfire warms cold millenial grief.
Same time Akilleos won the war at Troy
Grieving Patrokolos' body, his dead warrior boy
(One nation won the world by reading Greek for this
And fell when Wilde was gaoled for his Bellboy's kiss)
Marvellous Zeus himself took lightning eagle shape
Down-cheeked Ganymede enjoyed God's thinck-winged rape
And lived a youth forever, forever as can be,
Serving his nectar to the bearded deity
The whole world knew the story, the whole world laughed in awe
That such love could be the Thunder of Immortal Law.
When Socrates climbed his ladder of love's degrees
He put his foot in silence on rough Alcibiades.
Wise men still read Plato, whoever they are,
Plato whose love-lad Aster was his morning star
Plato whose love-lad was in death his star of Night
Which Shelley once witnessed as eternal light
Catullus and tough Horace were slaves to glad young men
Loved them, cursed them, always fell in love again
Caesar conquered the world, top Emperor Power,
Lay soft on the breast of his soldier of the hour 
Even Jesus Christ loved his young John most 
Later he showed him the whole Heavenly Host 
Old Rome approved a beautiful bodied youth
Antinous Hadrian worshipped with Imperial Truth
Told in the calm gaze of his hundred stone
Statues standing fig-leafed in the Vatican
Michelangelo lifted his youth hand to smooth
The belly of his Bacchus, a sixteen-year youth 
Whose prick stands up, he's drunk, his eyes gaze side-
Ways to his right hand held up shoulder high
Waving a cup of grape, smart kid, his nose is sharp.
His lips are new, slightly opened, as if parted to take a sip of purple nakedness.
Taste Michelangelo's mortal-bearded kiss,
Or, of a hair-hooved horny Satyr happens to pass
Fall to the ground on his strong little marble ass.
Michelangelo loved him! What young stud
Stood without trousers or shirt, maybe even did
What the creator wanted him to in bed
Lay still with the sculptor's hand cupped on his head
Feeling up his muscles, feeling down his bones
Palm down his back and thighs, touching his soft stones..

What kind of men were the Slaves he tied to his bed?
And who stood still for David naked foot to head?
But men love the muscles of David's abdomen
And come with their women to see him again and again.
Enough, I've stayed up all might with these boys
And all my life enjoyed their handsome joys
I came with many companions to this Dawn
Now I am tired and must set my pen down
Reader, Hearer, this time Understand
How kind it is for an to love a man
Old love and Present, future love the same
Hear and Read what love is without shame.
I want people to understand. They can! They can! They can!
So open your ears and hear the voice of the classical band."

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 273

                                         [Bernard Plossu - Mexique, Le Voyage méxicain, 1966 © Bernard Plossu]

Opening this week in Paris at the Centre Pompidou, another big Beat exposition (see our announcement back in April). This ambitious multi-media exhibition (up until October 3rd) comprises over six hundred different items - photographs, texts, documents, films, videos, paintings, drawings - and objects and devices for reproducing text, image and sound. A high point is, of course, the presentation of the famous "On The Road" scroll, the thirty-six meter- (one-hundred-and-eighteen foot-) long roll of teletype paper on which 
Kerouac typed up his fabled text. Another highlight, fitting for the Parisian location, is a focus on the so-called "Beat Hotel"  (one of its rooms is lovingly reconstructed, and a prominent feature is Harold Chapman's extraordinary set of photos from that period).

                                                          [The Jack Kerouac  "On The Road" scroll]

                                       [Allen Ginsberg at The Beat Hotel - Photograph by Harold Chapman]

The curators have orchestrated the exhibition around a geographical as well as historical framework, so the show traces Beat cultural manifestation not only in Paris - (and, obviously, San Francisco and New York, its spawning ground) - but also, significantly, (amongst other central locations), Mexico 

1953 finds William Burroughs writing to Allen (on the trail of ayahuasca
1959 (but written earlier) is the publication-date of Kerouac's seminal  Mexico City Blues 

               [Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso, Lafcadio Orlovsky, Mexico City, 1956]

Light is shone on several neglected areas of Beat culture, the specifically West Coast muse (artists like Wallace Berman, Jay Defeo and Bruce Conner), the African-American Beat... Here's Bob Thompson's "LeRoi Jones and his Family" (1964), just one of the six hundred items on display    

 [Bob Thompson - LeRoi Jones and his Family (1964) © The Estate of Bob Thompson]

Previews and reviews are beginning to come in - Here's several - First, en francais - "la retrospective vibrant" (Laetitia Cenac in Le Figaro), the AFP announcement, Tiphaine Dubled in ParisBogue   - here, a review/preview in Spanish - and here (and here) a notice of the event in German

and don't miss the catalog, now available from the Pompidou Center - "Les nombreux documents reproduits (photos, manuscripts, pochettes de disques, dessins et peintures) témoignent de l'euphorie creative des membres du groupe, ainsi que de la pluridisciplinarité du mouvement (arts visuels, littérature, jazz, poésie sonore..)…Une dizaine d'entretiens inédits avec des protagonistes du mouvement, ainsi que des extraits de textes et poèmes (Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, William Burroughs, notamment) viennent enrichir le catalogue" - (The numerus documents reproduced (photos, manuscripts, album covers, drawings and pantings) testify to the creative euphoria of the members of the group - thus (also to) the multi-disciplinary nature of the movement - (visual art, literature jazz, sound poetry). Ten previously unreleased interviews with the  movement's protagonists, as well as excerpts of texts and poems ( (by) Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, William Burroughs, in particular) (also) enrich the catalog)."  

Meantime, simultaneously, also in Paris, at the Galerie Semiose (up until July 23), there's an exhibition of the art of William Burroughs. Here's two reviews/previews on that - here and here.
That one also has a collectable catalog, "Pleased to Meet You"- (see here)

[William S Burroughs & Brion Gysin at Joujouka, Morocco (1992) -William S Burroughs - ink and collage on board - 50.8 cm X 76.2cm]

Et aussi  Jack Kerouac - and one to look out for -  An intriguing notice appeared in Macleans (Canada) - The Secret Canadian Life of Jack Kerouac by Richard Stursberg, (regarding Kerouac's recently-published French writings) - see here

The European Beat Studies Network's annual conference starts up again on Monday (this year in Manchester, England - the two central themes this year - music and science). Among the specifically Ginsberg-centric papers - Rona Cran, "Simultaneous Data - Collage in Allen Ginsberg", Peggy Pacini, "Writing and Reading Kaddish - An Exploration of the Soundscape(s) of the Poem", and Franca Bellarsi - "Ginsberg's Poetry through the prism of Buddhist Theories of Mind". Ginsberg biographer Steve Finbow will be chairing these Ginsberg sessions.
For a full list of the schedule - see here

Allen Ginsberg and Indran Amirthanayagam] 

Cafe Dissensus, Issue 26 - "The Beat and the Hungry Generation - when losing becomes hip" - (a special issue on the Beats and the (Indian) Hungryalist movement, edited by Goirick Brahmachari & Anhimanyu Kumar) appeared on-line at the end of last week and there's plenty there worth looking into. Among the specifically Ginsberg-centric pieces: Spring and Oblivion" - ("Indran Amirthanayagam revisits Allen Ginsberg's Howl & Other Poems through his personal memory of the poet (who was close friends with his father), their interactions, the copy of the book gifted to his father by Allen and Ginsberg's readings that Indran attended."),  "Mind Breaths - Learning Buddhism from Allen Ginsberg"  ("Poet and Beat researcher, Marc Olmsted's essay investigates Ginsberg's source and commitment towards Tibetan Buddhism and how he balanced it with his political views/socialism"),  "The Ginsberg-Dylan Express - Tangled Up in Vomit and Blues  ("Brinda Bose looks at two decades of collaborations between Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg, through poetry, music and films"),  "Talking  Poetry - Ginsberg and the Hungryalists - Samir Roychoudhury - a retrospective"  ("Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury writes a first-hand account of her visit to the Roychoudhury residence in Kolkata, where she meets and converses with Samir Roychoudhury about Allen Ginsberg and the Hungryalist Movement")  
Malay Roychoudhury is interviewed about Ginsberg and the Hungryalist Movement in a previously-published interview - here

As with the EBSN conference, tho' we cite the Ginsberg pieces, there's plenty more  - see Pamela Twining's  "The Women of the Beat Generation", for example - or Marc Goldin's "A Sojourn in Tangier"

And, still on Beat scholarship, Josef Rauvolf's recent presentation on Allen in Czechoslovakia (note - the presentation is in Czech) may now be found here 

Hilary Holladay interviews Todd Swindell re Harold Norse  in advance of the upcoming (July 6) Harold Norse Centennial

For more on Harold Norse - see here 

Patti Smith is interviewed for Vice this week - here 
Here's a recently-posted performance of Patti reading "Footnote to Howl" (on June 23, 2000 at the Mural Amphitheatre in Seattle, as part of the Experience Music Project concert series) - "Holy, holy, holy..".

For more renditions of that epic chant of passion - see here 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

1969 - Allen Ginsberg Wins His Case in Miami

A little bit of history, brought to us, courtesy of the Lyn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Picture Archives. 

In 1969, at a reading with his father, Louis Ginsberg, in Miami's Marine Stadium, Allen's microphone was egregiously and unceremonially cut-off. Manny Costa, the stadium manager (along with Paul Andrews, assistant city manager) interrupted and summarily curtailed the reading, arbitrarily declaring it to be "obscene". Allen took the incident to court, arguing that the action violated his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. The Judge, Judge Carl Clyde Atkins, ruled unequivocally in his favor:

"While Costa's actions may have been taken with the best of motives, they were clearly legally impermissible. Freedom of expression is a sacred constitutional right which the highest court in the land has constantly protected…Costa's action in restraining the remainder of Ginsberg's poetry reading was based on a determination which fell far short of the procedures required…It is true that obscenity is not entitled to the protection of the First Amendment but the fact of obscenity must be determined by proper judicial authority at an adversary hearing. Parenthetically, after a review of a tape recording of the performance which was in substantial conformity with the published poetry that Ginsberg was reading from, I do not find it obscene within the constitutional standards laid down by the Supreme Court…"

Tobias Simon [shown on film] [representing Allen Ginsberg]: Many persons have contacted me offering money and support in the Ginsberg affair. Not a single city official, or state, or county law agency has expressed any concern in redressing the injuries suffered by the principals in this matter. I have therefore today written to the new United States District Attorney, Mr (Robert W) Rust, demanding a federal grand jury investigation, looking to federal indictments and ultimate punishments for those responsible for the outrages perpetrated in this matter. 
Now we were quite pleased, of course, with the decision of Judge Atkins permitting the resumption of the poetry reading of Allen Ginsberg and his father Louis Ginsberg. But there is another matter that I wanted to bring to your attention today. We believe that law amd order principles should be even-handedly applied, regardless of color or status. It is equally criminal to assault a man's rights as it is to assault his person. Officials of the city of Miami have deprived some of the citizens of their rights, thereby diminishing liberty for all of us.

[next, approximately one minute in, and for approximately forty seconds, silent footage of Allen, then….]

AG: The moment they turned off the microphones, I was pronouncing.. comparing the police bureaucracy in Prague and in Miami in its repressiveness  [reading the poem "Kral Majales"]

Interviewer: Did you use profanity in that..

AG: Not in that description, no. I had used four-letter words as part of the poetry that was read fifteen or twenty minutes earlier.. The mic was turned off on a poem exorcising the Pentagon, so I'll begin with that poem.

Interviewer: And read it in its entirety

AG: Read it in its entirety and then just go on through.. I'm sure the stuff I'll read is.. if anybody has a dirty mind and is looking for dirtiness, anything I read tonight will be just as dirty in their eyes as what I read last time but actually it's all not dirty really, it's just, like "in the eyes of the beholder". In other words, the people who turned off the microphone, it seems to me, have a kind of sex-fiend-ishness of their own. I mean, they're preoccupied with dirty words, and they're calling words dirty, so I guess it's their..their dirtiness that's concerned here, trying to lay it out on me. I'm just writing what goes through my mind and I'm sure what goes through my mind is not any different than what goes through your mind.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ferlinghetti on Ginsberg & Blake et al

A brief respite from the ballads today (but more song!)  - and more anon! - one recent 
You Tube-posted-video that we missed (from a few weeks back, from April of this year) -  spry nonagenarian Lawrence Ferlinghetti attempting William Blake's joyous "The Nurse's Song" ("and all the hills echo-ed"), and, recollecting fondly the genius of his dear friend Allen. 

This short film by Mauro Aprile Zanetti - "Fernanda Pivano - Complice La Notte" begins with discussion and appreciation of Allen's great Italian translator, Fernanda Pivano, before moving in to more general discussion of the Beats and of Allen and, in particular, Allen's rendition of Blake's lyric. (Lawrence goes searching for the text, writes it out (for the interviewer's benefit), and then follows with his own croaky spirited rendition).   

                                                            [Fernanda Pivano (1917-2009)] 

Interviewer: The Club Tenco  [in Lecco] is going to have a night on May 13 dedicated to Fernanda Pivano, and here we are to ask you. She was, and she's considered as the muse by the Italian musicians, singer-songwriters that know about the Beat Generation, because she translated (them). So can you tell me how..when did you meet Fernanda? when was it?

LF: Oh I met Fernanda when she came to San Francisco with her husband ,who was the…I think he was the designer for the original Olivetti typewriter. Ettore Sottsass was very sick and he came here to go to the hospital in Stanford, down in Palo Alto, and so 'Nanda came with him of course, and she came and visited me on Potrero Hill where I was living and I think it was just after Howl, Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" was published (because I have a photo of her reading Howl, and I think it's a photo of her reading the first copy of Howl. It would have been 1956). She was enamoured of Allen Ginsberg but not really very much interested in the other Beats. She wasn't at all interested in my poetry, for instance. She loved Gregory Corso, but it was really Allen who turned her on. And it wasn't Allen as a singer (Allen hadn't become a singer and a chanter until much later in his career.In 1956, when "Howl" was published, he just recited his poems. There was no music. It was only much later when he became attracted to Indian music and Ravi Shankar came to this country, and Allen took up doing his poems with the harmonium (a harmonium was a squeeze-box), and it was very beautiful some times what he did.

Interviewer: So you met her in that moment?

LF: Yeah, in 1956, in San Francisco.

Interviewer: And what happened later?

LF: I was in contact with her over the years but.. and I know that I was aware that she became known as the authority for poetry for the Beat poets in Italy. So, anything she said about the Beat Generation was taken as authentic and true, whereas I felt that many things she said about the Beats was not true, things that she'd imagined (things that she said about me that were totally imaginary). And I think she had a lot to say about Gregory Corso - and about (Jack) Kerouac (she liked Kerouac very much, it was more Kerouac's novels than his poetry that 'Nanda liked, Kerouac's On the Road was her interest, Kerouac was making the connection with American jazz, so that's the connection with the musicians in Italy). He was doing always with a Buddhist theme, like his chanting and using the harmonium, it usually sounded like Buddhist chants. And he used to sing William Blake. The Songs of Innocence bu William Blake. Allen Ginsberg would sing them to the harmonium and they were.. It was beautiful. - "Tyger, tyger, burning bright, /In the forest of the night/What immortal hand or eye/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry"

Interviewer; So Ginsberg used to play harmonium and (be) reading these poems..from William Blake? 

LF: Yes.   And then he would do.. more and more he would do his poems with various kinds of sound, various music. Like, he had a poem called "Don't smoke" - "Don't smoke, Don't smoke, Don't smoke, Don't smoke" - and he would do it with he drums - "Don't smoke, Don't smoke, Don't smoke.." It went on like that forever.

[LF begins singing, attempting to recall William Blake's "Nurses Song" from memory]  
"When the voices of children are heard in the land.." - That's William Blake - I wish I had the harmonium! - "When the voices of children are heard in the land, and…." - "My heart is at rest within my breast..and everything else is still" - "When the voices of children are heard in the land and everything else is still" - "And all the hills echo-ed"

[LF & Interviewer browse through Lawrence's library for the text
LF: What about down the lower left?  - I can't see anymore. 
Interviewer: It's a Beat book?
LF: Yeah
Interviewer: Ah, it's a collection [continues searching]The Essential Neruda,…. Coney Island of the Mind (oh, the Italian version!)... So, under "Blake", there is…  in Italian.. poetry.. "Balthus".. "Barzelleta".. "Belgian".. "Ballad of the Ancient and Moderns".. "Beat poets"… [Interviewer gives up on the printed source] -  Oh, on-line I can find it very easily.

[Lawrence writes out the poem]
Interviewer: Well, well, go and play till the light fades away ..and ..then go home to bed..The little ones..

LF  "and all the hills echo-ed" - That's it, right?

Interviewer: Yeah,  you got it. Faster than the printer!

LF: Okay [Lawrence attempts to read the poem]  - Allen had a deep voice. "When voices of children are heard on the green,/And laughing is heard on the hill/My heart is at rest within my breast,/And everything else is still./"Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down/ And the dews of night arise/Come come leave off  play, and let us away/Till the morning appears in the skies"./"No, no, let us play, for it is yet day/And we cannot go to sleep/Besides, in the sky the little birds fly/ And the hills are all covered with sheep."/"Well, well, go and play till the light fades away/And then go home to bed."/The little ones leap'd/and shouted and laugh'd/And all the hills echo-ed" - "an all..and all the hills echo-ed..and all the hills echo-ed..and all the hills echoed, all the hills echoed, all the hills echo-ed - "and all the hills echo-ed' - (Allen would get the whole audience singing this!) - this chorus - "And all the hills echo-ed, "And all the hills echoed, And all the hills echoed, And all the hills echo-ed"….