Wednesday, March 31, 2010

And wherever did that pesky term 'Beatnik' come from?

The SF Chronicle recently posted some of Herb Caen's most memorable columns. This famous one from April 2, 1958, is the first appearance of that word "Beatnik,'' forever after credited to Herb Caen.

Starts off like this..

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Carl Solomon!

[Carl Solomon in his Prince Street apartment several years after residence with me on sixth floor ward, New York State Psychiatric Institute, afterwards working mid-town at his uncle’s Ace Books Publishers, where he edited Wm. S. Burroughs’ Junkie paperback first edition. New York, 1953.(Ginsberg caption) c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Carl Solomon & Allen Ginsberg, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York City, 1991. photo c. Rich Wilson]

It's pretty difficult to track down Solomon's out-of print-books Mishaps Perhaps and More Mishaps, [but not impossible, we've seen copies on Abe Books] - and we've seen copies of his later Emergency Messages on Amazon. Steve Silberman has posted two poems from Mishaps Perhaps to whet your appetites, and Wikipedia have a reasonably informative short bio for those wanting to know a little more about Solomon's life>>

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Gregory Corso!

[Gregory Corso, Tangier, Morocco, July 1961. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Gregory Corso & Allen Ginsberg. New York City, September 1989. photo c. Pamela Hansen]

So we thought a little walk through Corso was in line. Starting with a more obscure poem "Way Out: A Poem in Discord" published as a limited edition by Ira Cohen's Bardo Matrix press in Kathmandu, 1974, posted here by the good people at Jack Magazine:

Next stop, Woodstock Journal's memorial, published a few months after Corso passed away, including tributes & poems by Robert Creeley, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ed Sanders, Andy Clausen, Anselm Hollo and more >>

Of course we couldn't mention Corso's birthday without somehow bringing up Happy Birthday of Death. Here's the frontispiece of possible titles he was considering:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

And on this day in 1957...

United States Customs seized 520 copies of the second printing of Howl & Other Poems, declaring it to be obscene. "You wouldn't want your children to come across it" San Francisco collector of customs, Chester MacPhee, was quoted as saying. However an additional 1000 copies slipped through undetected.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Lawrence Ferlinghetti

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti in his office with pooch, Whitman photo, files, coat racks, book bags, posters, at City Lights up on balcony, B'way at Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, October 1984. Allen Ginsberg (c. Allen Ginsberg Estate)]

...and we just happened to be sifting through the Bureau of Public Secrets website's enormous catalog, where they've posted Kenneth Rexroth’s complete columns from the San Francisco Examiner, and came across this timely tidbit. It's from from exactly 50 years ago about Ferlinghetti, freshly returned from a trip to South America with Ginsberg . (It begins just below the Beckett and Ionesco paragraphs >>)

And last, but not least! Thanks to Steve Silberman for spotting this. A new poem by Ferlinghetti, "At Sea," on the occasion of his 91st birthday, published/posted by Lapham's Quarterly >>

Yelp (with Apologies to Allen Ginsberg)

And as Ron Silliman also noted on his blog "also with apologies to Carl Orff." This fun parody by Ken Goldberg and Tiffany Shlain even got a little mention in the NY Times, Bay Area Blog >>

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Peter Marti & Marc Olmsted Interviewed by Julie Adler

[Peter Marti & Marc Olmsted, San Francisco Main Library, January 2010. photo: Liz Rodriguez]

Allen's Dharma pal poet friend Marc Olmsted sent us this 2008 interview with him and poet Peter Marti by producer/painter/performer Julie Adler & we can't thank him enough. This one really gets inside Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche's influence on their poetry & lives as well as Allen's and the early days of Naropa University.

It ends with a genius version of Allen doing his poem "Birdbrain" backed by Olmsted's band, The Job. Recorded at On Broadway in North Beach, San Francisco, (directly above the legendary punk club, Mabuhay Gardens) in 1981, this take is completely different from the more familiar release with the Glu-ons, & seriously off the chain!

Download the interview >> (our server's stream's been kinda janky, so you might be better off downloading, right-click and save)

Highly recommend checking Julie Adler's other interviews & radio segments, especially if you've got any interest in Tibetan Buddhism. They range from interviews with Reggie Ray, to stories on the Dalai Lama, Gyoto Monks, Milarepa, and the 17th Karmapa to name just a few. Check Julie's site >>

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Popeye and William Blake Fight to the Death

[Kenneth Koch and Allen Ginsberg, St Mark's Church, NYC, 1977. Photo courtesy the Poetry Project]

One of the more hilarious moments at the Poetry Project, now posted & available at Jacket Magazine >>

Friday, March 12, 2010

Huncke the Juncke: Godfather to Naked Lunch

[Herbert Huncke in photobooth circa 1953. Allen Ginsberg Collection.]

[Herbert Huncke, East 7th Street, New York City May 1993. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Another great one from the Village Voice's "Clip Job" series...

Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the
Voice archives.
September 21, 1967, Vol. XII, No. 49

Huncke the Juncke: Godfather to Naked Lunch
By Don McNeill

My phone rang on a hot morning in July a year ago and it as Allen Ginsberg.

"Do you know Herbert Huncke?" Ginsberg asked. "Have you ever met Huncke?" I said that I hadn't.

"He's the oldest living junkie in New York," Ginsberg said, "and an old sidekick of Burroughs and Kerouac. He turned Burroughs on to junk and he's waiting in line at Manhattan General to get in so he can cut down on his habit. He's been waiting for four days and he thinks he can get in in about 20 minutes, and he needs his suitcase which is in his hotel room, so can you go up to the hospital and get his key, and go to the hotel and get his suitcase and take it to him? He's wearing a white sweater. Hurry!" Full story >>

Happy Birthday Jack Kerouac

Born in 1922, this would be his 88th birthday. In celebration, we wanted to point out a little known side of the poet-novelist: the imaginary sports writer. At the New York Public Library's Kerouac exhibition in 2007, Jack's mapping of imaginary Baseball Leagues complete with statistics, announcements and reports, were some of the more curious and fun items on display. The Berg Collections' curator, Isaac Gewirtz, compiled a 75 page book on the subject published by and available through the New York Public Library.

"Long before he wrote On the Road or Visions of Cody, the Beat novelist and poet Jack Kerouac honed his literary skills by writing news stories and feature articles about the likes of Phegie Cody, Wino Love, and El Negro, imaginary baseball players in his fantasy league. Isaac Gewirtz, Curator of the Library’s Berg Collection of English and American Literature, insightfully explores Kerouac’s little-known love for fantasy sports in the new book Kerouac at Bat: Fantasy Sports and the King of the Beats. The book features more than fifty reproductions of Kerouac's horse-racing and baseball 'publications,' score cards, team cards, and diagrams, drawn from The New York Public Library’s Jack Kerouac Archive."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gary Snyder & Robert Creeley Foundation Award

An article with interview snippets in the Milford Daily News in advance of Snyder receiving the 10th annual Robert Creeley Award in Acton Mass. next week. Our colleague Matt Theado at the Beat Studies Association heard from Chris Bergeron after his interview with Snyder saying “I interviewed him for about 40 minutes by phone & felt I'd never spoken with a 79-year-old man whose mind was as sharp as someone in their 30s. He was very sharp, personable, totally free of BS. What felt curious to me was unlike all the American Buddhist Lites I've known, there was such absolute but unforced conviction, it was like dealing with a new species.”

By Chris Bergeron/DAILY NEWS STAFF


Posted Mar 07, 2010 @ 11:32 AM

Like the man himself, Gary Snyder's poems speak with the keenness of a knife blade and the knottiness of a Zen riddle.

In poems written over the last 60 years, he might channel a magpie's rhyming call, drink double shots of bourbon in a cowboy bar or translate the Chinese hermit poet called Cold Mountain.

Raised in the Pacific Northwest and a longtime California resident, Snyder will head east to Acton next week to receive the 10th annual Robert Creeley Award.

On Tuesday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m., Snyder will read his poems in the Acton-Boxborough Regional High School auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

He called Creeley a poet he "learned from (with) a significant and unique way of using the English and American language."

"I knew Robert Creeley's work and I knew Creeley the man for a while. So I'm very pleased to come because I think of Robert as an old friend," he said in a phone interview from California. "For people of my generation...Robert was a very important figure we were quite aware of. He was one of the people whose works we followed through the years to see what he was doing and what he was coming up with next."

The award is given annually by the nonprofit Robert Creeley Foundation to honor the Acton-raised poet and teacher who wrote 60 volumes of innovative poetry until his death in 2004.

Robert Clawson, a founding member who serves on the nominating committee, said Snyder's visit presents "a real opportunity for people to hear a legendary poet."

"We think it's a real coup. Gary Snyder has not appeared much in the East. We're just delighted," he said. "His decision to come is a real high point for (the foundation's) 10th anniversary. It gives us lots of confidence about what we've been doing."

Born in May 1930, Snyder has created a remarkably varied body of work as a poet, essayist, environmental activist and translator of Japanese and Chinese verse.

An outdoorsman and Buddhist, he has written nearly 20 volumes of poetry in a distinctive voice that fuses Robinson Jeffers' passion for the natural world with William Blake's belief in its imminent spirituality.

In 1974, Snyder won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for "Turtle Island," a collection of poems that synthesized American Indian myths, Buddhist philosophy and environmental concerns to forge new ways for people to live harmoniously on the Earth.

Snyder said he began writing poetry at 15 when he started climbing "big snow peaks" while living with his mother and sister outside of Portland, Ore. "I only wrote poetry in those days because I couldn't find any other way to write what was happening in my mind or feelings in regards to the mountains," he said. "It was a search for a form and a language that I felt would do justice to what I was trying to say."

Asked about early poetic influences, Snyder recalled reading Jeffers and D.H. Lawrence's "Birds, Beasts and Flowers" as a teenager in Portland's public library.

Rather than imbuing mountains with spiritual qualities, Snyder said his earliest mountaineering poems, many of which remain unpublished, "were an exercise in trying to represent the starkness, inhumaneness and absence of feeling comfort" that he felt on the snowy peaks.

After graduating from Reed College in 1951 with dual degrees in literature and anthropology, Snyder immersed himself in non-academic pursuits that fed his interests in the wilderness, Native American spirituality and East Asian painting and religion. He worked as a merchant seaman, a logger and fire lookout in the North Cascade mountains in Washington.

After studying Zen Buddhism and Asian culture at University of California, Berkley, Snyder spent several years in Japan immersing himself in language study, Zen practice and other aspects of its culture.

Snyder practices a school of Buddhism known as Rinzai Zen in Japan and Linji in China which stresses the possibility of "sudden enlightenment" after years of rigorous discipline.

He cautioned that enlightenment rarely comes suddenly.

"Any notions you have about enlightenment are completely false. That's just another human idea," said Snyder, laughing. "When my teacher shaved my head, he said even Buddha Shakyamuni is still meditating, still practicing, still working on himself somewhere in the universe."

While growing numbers of Americans are studying Buddhism, Snyder said it would be misleading to "compare it with the artistic and poetic traditions" that have made some other non-Western religions popular.

"Buddhism goes straight to the nature of consciousness itself. The main practice of Buddhism has always been reflection, contemplation and meditation with a basis in impermanence and the absence of self," he said.

A true Buddhist practitioner must accept the "impermanence" of a constantly changing universe, the "absence of a deity" and any belief in a "substantial self" or personal soul, he said.

Snyder said, "American Buddhism has got several centuries to go yet before it gets on its feet."

Now 79, Snyder said he thinks of his work "in three categories rather than all one category."

"I've written what I think are useful and clear essays in the environmental and ecological philosophy field. And they had a good influence, in particular, my book of essays 'Practice of the Wild."'

He continued, "Another would be my work as a Buddhist and that is in some of my essays, and I think some useful and almost unique perspectives. The third thing I do is as a poet. And as a poet I'm in the American language."

Summing up, Snyder said, "There's a literary world, an environmental world and there's a Buddhist philosophical world which are sort of woven or braided together."

Asked where his disparate interests came together, Snyder laughed and said, "They all come together in the mind when you meditate. That's for sure."

Choosing his words, he said, "It's not enough just to know yourself.

"You have to become more aware of yourself and your context which is your world. In a sense, the world is our mind," he said.

To illustrate his point, Snyder said when teaching workshops he'll sometimes take people out for a walk "to make them see where the rivers and streams are flowing to and from."

"I'll remind them that good manners requires you to get to know the names of the plants and flowers and birds," he said. "That's etiquette."

To learn about the Robert Creeley Foundation and Gary Snyder's appearance on March 16 in Acton, visit

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A few more Howl film sneak-preview clips..

Somehow we forgot about this one. There are four clips in all. First is a beautiful example of Franco as Ginsberg reading Howl, then on to an interview, and then two of the courtroom standoff.

Hal Willner interviews Allen Ginsberg on Harry Smith

[Hal Willner and Harry Smith at Naropa Institute, Boulder Colorado, July 1989. photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Marianne Faithful, Hal Willner and Harry Smith at Naropa Institute, Boulder Colorado, July 1989. photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Yesterday's post on Harry got us thinking about this one of Hal interviewing Allen. This text is excerpted from a much larger interview based around Allen's recording history, done June 29, 1993, that Willner conducted for the Holy Soul Jelly Roll liner-notes released in 1994. An edited-down version of this was published in Think of the Self Speaking: Harry Smith - Selected Interviews by Elbow/Cityful Press. Since we have the whole thing here, and space not being an issue, we thought we'd post it in its entirety. Huge thanks & shout-outs to Randy Roark who did the transcription for this as well as many other Ginsberg projects.

Before getting to the interview, we wanted to point out the most recent publication dedicated to Harry - Harry Smith:The Avant-Garde in the American Vernacular, edited by Andrew Perchuk and Rani Singh. It's a compendium of transcribed lectures from conferences hosted by the Getty Center some years ago. Though much of it (tho' not all) is fairly dry academic analysis, it's got the most complete biographical info' on him available and has the single best color-reproductions of any of Harry's work we've yet seen.

Pop Matters give it a good thorough review >>

[Cover Photo: c. Brian Graham]

Ok, so now on to the interview:

...When I was in San Francisco I heard from a filmmaker --Jordan Belson -- about a fabulous alchemical magician painter-filmmaker, Harry Smith, who had been a student or descendant of Aleister Crowley and had Crowley manuscripts and had created the first materials for casting oil colors on a mirror through a projector and projecting it on the wall, and that grew into the light shows later on, the mixed media light shows with the technique for projecting on ... remember they used to have the sort of tie-dye colors moving together.

HW: In the Joshua Light Show.

AG: Yeah. Well that was Harry Smith's equipment originally, which he left to Jordan Belson and others in San Francisco, from the Berkeley Renaissance of 1948.

I saw this old guy with black and white beard....

HW: So what year is this again?

AG: Nineteen-sixty. [And he was] making little marks listening to Thelonius Monk and sort of notating something. For some reason or other from the description and from the concentration of his activity and his locale I decided maybe that's Harry Smith, so I went up and introduced myself. And he said, yes, that was his name. And I said, "Well, what are you doing there?" And he said, "I'm trying to determine where Monk comes in on the beat -- before or after. What are the recurrent syncopations, what is the pattern, the mathematical pattern of syncopations in his solos and how they vary?" And I said, "Why are you doing that?" And he said, "Well, I'm keeping track of his time because I'm using his music as background to films that I'm making frame-by-frame -- handpainting frame-by-frame, all collage drawings. Read full interview >>

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Paola Igliori interviews Allen Ginsberg on Harry Smith

Paola Igliori interviewed Allen to include in her book American Magus Harry Smith: A Modern Alchemist for her now defunct Inanout Press. American Magus is unfortunately long out of print, and the few copies out there are fetching upwards of $75. It's definitely worth it for anyone seriously interested in Smith, as it includes interviews with & stories by Lionel Ziprin, Folkways Records' Moe Asch, Rosebud Pettet (Harry's spiritual wife), Robert Frank, Bill Breeze, and many others.

Allen Ginsberg & Paola Igliori, 24 September 1995

What's the first memory you have of Harry?

I heard about him before I met him, from Jordan Belson, who lived on Montgomery Street up the block from me in San Francisco, a filmmaker who had learned a lot from Harry. Harry originally came from Seattle, then in Berkeley as part of what was called "The Berkeley Renaissance" in 1948—around Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, and other poets studying medieval history. I don't think Harry was matriculated, but I think he had worked with Kroeber, I'm not sure—the anthropologist. While we were sniffing ether, Jordan told me about Harry, this polymath brilliant fellow who'd invented the machinery for making light shows and had left that behind when he left San Francisco. The people working on rock concert light shows developed their multimedia Fillmore West wall-collage projections from Harry's equipment, including the idea of mixing oils or colors on a mirror which was then projected on the wall: liquid psychedelic flowing moving images.

He told me enough about him so that when I was in New York later in 1959 I went to the Five Spot to listen to Thelonious Monk night after night. The Five Spot was then on the Bowery—a regular classic jazz club where once I saw Lester Young, and Monk was a reg­ular for several months. And I noticed there was an old guy, with a familiar face, some­one I dimly recognized from a description, slightly hunchback, short, magical-looking, in a funny way gnomish or dwarfish, same time dignified. He was sitting at a table by the piano towards the kitchen making little marks on a piece of paper. I said to myself, "Is that Harry Smith?—I'll go over and ask him." And it turned out to be Harry Smith. I asked him what he was doing, marking on the paper. He said he was calculating whether Thelonious Monk was hitting the piano before or after the beat—trying to notate the syn­copation of Thelonious Monk's piano. But I asked him why he was keeping this track record of the syncopation or retards that Monk was making, never coming quite on the beat but always aware of the beat. He said it was because he was calculating the variants. Then I asked him why he was interested in it, this is almost an Hermetic or magical study. I understood he was interested in Crowley, magic, in numbers, in esoteric systems, Theosophy, and he was also a member of the O.T.O. But he had practical use for it. He was making animated collages and he needed the exact tempo of Monk's changes and punctuations of time in order to synchronize the collages and hand-drawn frame-by­-frame abstractions with Monk's music. He was working frame-by-frame so it was possi­ble for him to do that, but he needed some kind of scheme.

Read full interview >>

Friday, March 5, 2010

Benefit for Tuli Kupferberg at Bowery Poetry Club Saturday March 6, 8pm

Come Honor Tuli and Experience Living History with *VILLAGE ALL STARS*: David Amram, Taylor Mead, Steven Ben Israel, Penny Arcade, Peter Stampfel, King Missile (Dog Fly Religion), Steven Taylor, Clayton Patterson, Bob Holman, Tsaurah Litzky, Steven Dalachinsky, John Kruth, Cary Abrams, Norman Savitt and many, many others.

$10 donation goes to help defray Tuli’s medical expenses after his recent stroke.

And again, if you can't get to the benefit, but still want to donate, you can do so via the Fugs website.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Orlovsky Brothers

Happened to catch these on Gary Parrish's excellent Farfalla Press blog. Peter's "Good F*ck with Denise" has enough expletives in it that no doubt You Tube will yank it soon, so catch it while you can! [2012 update - miraculously, it's still up!] - Julius Orlovsky is represented by just a short clip from Robert Frank's remarkable Me and My Brother, (available in its entirety through Steidl - We highly recommend tracking that down!) [2012 update - that clip however has been pulled]. The third and final clip is raw footage from 1966 of the Velvet Underground

Village Gate, NYC, June 7, 1966, raw footage featuring Andy Warhol, Gerard Malanga, Barbara Rubin, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky,Tuli Kupferberg, Ed Sanders, Storm De Hirsch & more..

John Lennon - Goodnight Irene

This one tops the list for 'spirit' awards. Not hard to pick out Peter Orlovksy who then introduces Ginsberg. We're thinking it's gotta be Lennon's 31st birthday, October 9, 1971 at a hotel room in Syracuse. (disregard the Bed Peace photo on the posting) Allen, just back from India brought along the new harmonium he bought there, and played that and his finger cymbals while introducing the chant "Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum" as well as "September on Jessore Road" he'd only just written days before. According to Bill Morgan, Phil Spector was also in the room and Jonas Mekas was recording. We're checking with Mekas to find out if this is his recording. You can check his Happy Birthday John film from 1972 on Ubuweb, but it doesn't include the Goodnight Irene song.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Gordon Ball

Gordon Ball was a filmmaker friend of Jonas Mekas when Allen & Gordon first met in the mid 1960s, and it wasn't long before Gordon and his girlfriend Candy O'Brien were completely ensconced in managing Allen's Cherry Valley farm (no easy task considering the colorful cast attracted to the place!) By the early '70s Ball edited & published the now out-of-print Allen Verbatim, the result of recordings and notes he made while touring with Allen. From then on he became editor of most of Allen's published Journals, beginning with Journals Early Fifties Early Sixties. He's currently a professor of English at Virginia Military Institute, where he's got the latitude to teach the cadets "Howl," and other 20th century poetry, & his recently-published memoirs 66 Frames are available through Coffee House Press. All that aside, we wanted to draw attention to him as a photographer. He was able to capture Allen and the circle of poets visiting Naropa, summer after summer, as well as document the Cherry Valley farm (about which he's got a book in the works, though in prose, not photo). Here are a sample of those, but more can be found on his website >>

Better yet, Jacket Magazine have posted Ball's talk on photography, a transcription from a lecture that he gave on his experience as a photographer >>

[Cherry Valley, New York farmhouse: Peter Orlovsky, mama goat ("Shiva") and baby, February 1970. c. Gordon Ball]

[Cadets read Howl, February 19, 1991 Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Virginia. c. Gordon Ball]

[Allen Ginsberg's Committee on Poetry, Inc. farm, Cherry Valley, New York Thanksgiving 1969. From left, standing: Julius Orlovsky, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gordon Ball, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley. Front, seated: Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky. c. Gordon Ball]

[Rene Ricard (poet; art critic; actor in Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girls), poet and performance artist Anne Waldman, poet Stephen Hall, Naropa Institute, Boulder, Colorado, July l976. c. Gordon Ball]

[Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, NYC New Years Eve, 1977. c. Gordon Ball]

2012 update - the Cherry Valley book alluded to here has now appeared - East Hill Farm - see Gordon Ball's Cherry Valley here

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac's 88th Birthday, March 11-13

We're fast approaching Jack's 88th birthday & once again the city of Lowell is pulling out all the stops. Check their site for event lineups which include a screening of Henry Ferrini's classic Lowell Blues, and performances by David Amram, and many others >>