Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cool Beat

[Allen Ginsberg – photo by Art Perry]

Ten years on from the publication of Lewis MacAdams’ The Birth of Cool (a cultural history of the term), and over fifty years since the first publication of such seminal Beat texts as Alan Watts’ “Beat Zen, Square Zen, Zen” and Norman Mailer’s “The White Negro”, film-maker, Zen priest, and all-around agent provocateur Noah Buschel sets the cat among the pigeons with his little essay for Hammer to Nail on-line magazine, Obliterate the New Hipster. “True mavericks like Gary Snyder and Phil Whalen and Don Cherry”, he writes, “have been replaced by little bitchy passive aggressive children who cum on their canvases and have absolutely no idea who they are..”...”(the) Williamsburg vampire squad be damned”... “I believe”, he declares, “today’s hipsters have a shitload of talent and could do things no one else has ever done—if they just let down their board game guards for a minute”.

Beat and beatnik. Authenticity and pose. The reflecting surfaces seem never to have gone away. and Buschel - writer and director of the movie Cassady incidentally - if he does nothing else, opens up the always-necessary debate. The Beats are cool. Oh yeah? But what do we actually mean by cool?

At Montreal’s Galerie Rye (from April 1 to May 3) one attempt will be made to answer that question. Vancouver-based photographer Art Perry will be exhibiting - “HIP! - Portraits of Cool by Art Perry – forty years of counterculture icons” (his portrait of Allen shown above, is, naturally, a part of the show). There will be an artist talk on April 1st , followed by a reception, and, on Sunday, the 3rd, a multi-media presentation, “The Hip Aesthetic: Beats, Beatniks, Hipsters & Authentic Cool”. Would Noah Buschel approve? Would Lewis Macadams? What are the odds the great hipster, hip semanticist, Lord Buckley, gets evoked?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Holy March 30 (Carl Solomon)

[Carl Solomon and Allen Ginsberg at the West End bar, New York City, 1978. photo. c. Michael Uffer]

“Holy Peter, holy Allen, holy Solomon…”

“Carl Solomon, I’m with you in Rockland..”

Carl Solomon (1928-1993), famed dedicatee of Howl, was born on this date,March 30.

Footage of Allen (accompanied by Ed Sanders) reciting the Heart Sutra, in memoriam, on the occasion of his passing, can be found here

Allen, quoted in Spin magazine, July 1997:

“I had a great dream the other day of Carl Solomon, who died several years ago. I meet him in the afterlife and say, “How is it there?” He says, “Oh, just like the mental hospital, you get along if you know the rules”. I say well, what are the rules?” He says, “There are two rules. First, remember you’re dead. Second rule, act like your dead”. I woke up laughing."

Here’s Carl on Allen (courtesy of John Tytell’s sadly-out-of-print collection of Carl’s writings Emergency Messages:

Allen at P(sychiatric) I(nstitute)

Yeats and Spengler were much on his mind. Read me Yeats' "The Second Coming" ("the falcon no longer hears the falconer". Some discussion of Toynbee just published in the U.S. Neal Cassady represents the "internal proletariat" of Toynbee - the hope of the West. The West not the East represents the future. I like the franks and beans of the Silver Palms. Irving Rottman digs his cream puffs. Aaron Fromm talks to people only after receiving a visit.Sam weinstein is worried about three pimples on his cock. Nathan Grossman thinks, at times, that he is Gerhard Eisler. Ginsberg has painted a striking Golgotha in the OT shop. He calls the nurses "Nursey-wursey". Kerouac comes on a visit. Ginsberg tells me that this guy is going to be the novelist of the future.

The Shrouded Stranger Of The Night

For any Ginsberg scholars interested in Allen's early ideas, let me say that I enjoyed exposure to the early Ginsberg and became acquainted with one of the ideas that haunted and fascinated him during, I imagine, the Empty Mirror period. There was the vision or concept of a mysterious necromancer, both ugly and beautiful, who haunted River Street in Paterson, and laughed to himself and cast spells world-wide in scope. Far removed from the adult big-wheel Ginsberg so into politics, the necromancer, the product of a youthful fanciful mind, was referred to as "the Shrouded Stranger of the Night". Allen and Kerouac had this poetic mythology in common and in the character of the Shrouded Stranger lay the embryo of Kerouac's Dr Sax.

Secret Thoughts About Allen

He goes on writing. Reams and reams of paper with more talk on it. What can he find to say? My mind dwells on long-gone themes like the scuttling of the Graf Spee. And how dead things are. And about how when I stare out at the stars, they still stare back. And the transience of life; how Kerouac is gone and my publishing uncle is gone and David Burnett is gone and Marianne Moore is gone. And my mind dwells on the wisdom of the patient in the Institute who when asked "What's new?", asked in reply "What should be new?"

Our dear friend Bob Creeley also "checked out" (he'd appreciate the vernacular) six years ago on this date.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Looking Back On The Chicago Conspiracy Trial

Allen Ginsberg
[Allen Ginsberg - Drawing by David Levine from The New York Review of Books, Feb 12 1970]

The death last week of Leonard Weinglass, “perhaps the nation’s pre-eminent progressive defense lawyer”, calls up memories of 1968 and the subsequent Chicago Conspiracy trial (or Chicago Seven - or Chicago Eight - trial) . Weinglass alongside William Kunstler were the two heroic defense attorneys; Allen was a memorable, spirited, witness for the defense. Jason Epstein’s definitive article, in the February 12 1970 edition of The New York Review of Books, about Allen’s participation (The Chicago Conspiracy Trial: Allen Ginsberg On The Stand) is pretty much essential reading. The article includes a full transcript of Weinglass’s direct examination (LW: Will you please state your full name? AG: Allen Ginsberg; LW: What is your occupation? AG: Poet. LW: Have you ever studied abroad? AG: Yes..In India and Japan. LW: Could you indicate for the Court and jury..what your studies consisted of? AG: Mantra yoga. Meditation exercises, chanting, and sitting quietly stilling the mind and breathing exercises to calm the body and to calm the mind, but mainly a branch called Mantra Yoga, which is a yoga which involves prayer and chanting….) “Weinglass’s aim”, as Epstein points out, “was to qualify Ginsberg as a witness who not only spoke out of deep religious convictions but whose spiritual specialty was the pacification of turbulent souls (pace his actions at the Democratic Convention in 1968)

Brett Morgan’s 2007 film, Chicago 10 (which, like Epstein and Friedman’s recent Howl, mixes animation with archival footage) is an interesting examination of the legendary trial.

We also draw your attention to Frank Condon and Ron Sossi’s dramatic distillation of transcripts of the trial (available as Voices of the Chicago Eight: A Generation on Trial, from City Lights).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Belatedly Annotating Kaddish

Here's an interesting curio sent on to us by Micah Berul, one of Allen's ex-students from Brooklyn College, who writes: "Going through some old things, (I) came across an essay on "Kaddish" (that) I wrote while a student of Allen' 1995 or 1996, in his class, "A Literary History of the Beat Generation"" (editor's note: Allen taught classes under this heading both at NAROPA and at Brooklyn, most notably, in 1987 in Brooklyn, along with a reading series under that title). Micah goes on: "He was kind enough to mail me my essay back after the semester ended with his handwritten comments. As you can see, he seemed to like it. It's written to him, addressing him as "you", which you won't see in (very) many essays on Kaddish". "An intelligent, sympathetic evaluation", Allen declares, "of the theistic/non theistic split of mind (in the poem)". Micah Berul is currently a labor lawyer living in San Francisco.

Dear Mikah, Sorry to return this so late, & to have got your 2 notes & not replied before - overwhelming mass of paperwork, 4 CD Holy Soul box set of CDs - new Poem book last year, paperback Howl Annotated & Journals Mid-Fifties - all out now.

this is an intelligent & sympathetic evaluation of the theistic/nontheistic split of mind in Kaddish Poem Thanks, Allen Ginsberg, 3/27/94

Well, more overtly factual, palpable rather than Idea.

(left Margin)
the passage " O Russian faced, woman on the grass," has classical elegance poetical construction like Tennyson etc.

bottom : see also Father Death Blues in Poem Don't Grow Old 1976.

"God's perfect Darkness"


near (this is a near Buddhist notion)

yes a touch of conventional Theism, or traditional theistic language here.

or transgressing literary convention, and making the transgression "sacred."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Frank O'Hara

[Still from Frank O'Hara reading "Fantasy" March 5, 1966, viewable at]

Today is Frank O’Hara’s Birthday. [see the comments - no, it's not!] This is Frank reading “Fantasy (Dedicated to the Health of Allen Ginsberg)”
and here from ABE books is, what the bookseller refers to as a “talismanic object
Allen on O’Hara (writing, November 1966, in The Village Voice): “He (O'Hara) was at the center of an extraordinary poetic era…which gives his poetry its sense of historic monumentality..And he integrated purely personal life into the high art of composition, marking the return of all authority back to the person. His style is actually in line with the tradition that begins with Independence and runs through Thoreau and Whitman, here composed in metropolitan space age architecture environment. He taught me to really see New York for the first time, by making the giant style of Midtown his intimate cocktail environment. It’s like having Catullus change your view of the Forum in Rome…”
It’s like having Catullus change your view of the Forum in Rome
Here's Frank reading "Having A Coke With You", just one of the many treasures on Frank O'Hara dot org.
Happy Birthday Frank!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Song ("The Weight of The World..")

We forgot to mention yesterday that Ragnar Kjartansson continues, indeed is close to concluding, his site-specific performance(s) of “Song”, which opened, earlier this month, at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art. “For “Song”, the museum tells us, Kjartansson “wished to abandon the brutal masculinity of Viking landscapes and suits of armor for the peacefulness of family and femininity embodied by his (three) nieces, their voices echoing in the Hall of Sculpture as they sing the central lyric: The weight of the world/is love..” Those words repeated over and over. Here’s Allen reading the poem in its entirety (Kjartansson, intentionally, “misremembers” some of the words). For a recent Arabic translation of the poem see here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday's Weekly Round-Up 18

[Allen Ginsberg 25th Anniversary Reading of Howl, 1981 - photo by Marvin Moore]

Marvin Moore’s extraordinary picture of an ecstatic Allen reading from Howl at Columbia University in 1981, on the occasion of the poem’s 25th anniversary, heads up our weekly round-up. Further images (a studio portrait (from 1985), two portraits of Allen in the street (from the same day) and Allen and Peter in Halifax, Nova Scotia (1992) can be accessed here. Check out his website for more indepth look at his work.

Two new Allen biographies that we’re looking forward to - Well, Steve Finbow is just putting finishing touches on his (a critical biography, for Reaktion Books’ “Critical Lives” series). His thoughts on that can be found here. Meanwhile, Bob Rosenthal (Allen’s long-time secretary)’s first-hand account of life at the center of the Ginsberg vortex, Straight Around Allen, is, also. well on its way towards completion, so we hear.

Anne Waldman and her son Ambrose (Bye) recall the generosity of Allen on two shaky but charming You Tube video clips (from a December 2010 date in Cookesville, Tennessee), here and here. More of Anne on that occasion can be seen here. Damion Rogers interviews her for Lemon Hound. The Iovis Trilogy, the complete edition of her epic (720-page!) poem. “a visionary call to poetic arms”, will be published by Coffee House Press early this summer

Bob Holman, recently on tour with her in Montreal, proposes what he calls “a Ginsberg turn-on”. It can, he explains,” take any form, so long as Allen is evoked (probably by reading his poetry), his energy acknowledged,(and) the continuance of his work engaged”. His own Bowery Poetry Club plans to inaugerate a “Ginsberg Turn On”, coming up soon, twenty minutes, each night, every Tuesday evening.

Here’s a sad story about Harry Smith “turning in his grave” (from this week’s New York Post). And The Chelsea Hotel is similarly not what it was in days of yore.

And.. 54 years ago today Chester MacPhee of United States Customs Office in San Francisco seized 520 copies of the second printing of Howl and Other Poems on the grounds its contents were obscene.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti at City Lights Bookstore editorial office, North Beach, San Francisco, May 22, 1988. Photo. c. Allen Ginsberg]

Lawrence Ferlinghetti is 92 today. Can it really be the same Lawrence Ferling(hetti) who is featured here ?
Ferlinghetti's page at City Lights and the center for all Ferlinghetti information is here.
Here's him reading and speaking on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of City Lights Bookstore in 2003
His most recent poem, "Song of the Third World Birds" was published just a few weeks ago, March 2nd, in his local rag, the San Francisco Chronicle,
and, we've linked to it before, but if you missed it the last time, here's his feisty and unrepentant interview with Guernica magazine from last December.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Francesco Clemente

[Francesco Clemente - Portrait of Allen Ginsberg, 1985, oil on wood, 14 15/16 x 11 13/16 in.]

Francesco Clemente, Allen’s sometime collaborator (see, for example, their stunning collaboration on White Shroud), is 59 years old today. Here’s an interview with him from this past November (in aRude magazine).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Beat Atlas by Bill Morgan

Bill Morgan’s new book is just out from City Lights. Rick Dale of The Daily Beat, one of the earliest reviews, gives it an enthusiastic “thumbs-up” – “I absolutely love this book.It’s quirky, interesting, and practical..Beat Atlas has my highest recommendation”.
Nancy Peters, in her introduction, writes "Bill Morgan provides a comprehensive birds-eye view of the proto-Beat presence across America, and this alone illuminates an important area of literary history and geography. But even better, he also maps the complex, ever widening nexus of poets and visionaries who, for half a century, wrote to each other, performed together, supported one another's work, and sustained a movement that was dissident, controversial, and, ultimately dominant".
The author himself explains: "This is the third book in a series from City Lights. The first two cover the Beat Generation in New York and San Francisco, respectively, and were organized as walking tours to those cities. This volume mentions only a few locations in those two places, but, unlike those, this one is not designed to be followed in any predetermined sequence. It is organized first by region and then by state and town within each region. No attempt has been made to put the towns in any order other than alphabetical. Within each section, one location has been selected to highlight a notable place of interest. Lowell, Massachusetts, the birthplace of Jack Kerouac, introduces the book for no other reason than its importance as a Beat site. Other towns within that state follow in alphabetical order. By working with this guidebook in one hand and a trusted map in the other, you can plot your own tour around the country, just like Jack, Neal, and Allen did more than sixty years ago. Grab your rucksack and hit the road!"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Digital Dharma

Jewel Heart is pleased to announce the launch of its new website: “The new site features a significant visual makeover, a new streamlined user-friendly interface and, most importantly, a growing library of Gelek Rimpoche’s teachings available through downloads and streaming, both live and on demand”. “Digital dharma”, they call it, “audio and visual dharma through digital downloads, transcripts of Gelek Rinpoche’s teachings spanning back to the mid-80’s”.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Plutonian Ode

Owen Plotkin's film on and of Allen's 1978 poem, Plutonian Ode, remains, regrettably, cautionary and timely. "Radioactive Nemesis were you there at the beginning black dumb tongueless unsmelling blast of Disillusion....I dare your reality! I challenge your very being! I publish your cause and effect!.."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday's Weekly Round-Up 17

[Allen Ginsberg, QE2, Albany, NY 11/29/90 - photo by Dan Wilcox]

Dan Wilcox is the host of the "Third Thursday Poetry Night" at the Social Justice Center in Albany, upstate New York, and is a member of the poetry performance group "3 Guys from Albany". As a photographer, he claims to have "the world's largest collection of photos of unknown poets". That may or may not be true, but he also has fine snaps of some familiar faces. Numero Cinq on-line magazine graciously showcases his Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti and More” portfolio.

Rick Schober in Massachusetts is working on an interesting project. He recently put up a promotional video about it. His Vox Redux Press plans to be publishing The Whole Shot: Collected Interviews With Gregory Corso. The video gives a short overview of Corso's life as well as details about the book.

AG, June 2, 1966. From a footnote sent, following his interview (with Tom Clark) to "the readers of the Paris Review":
"..I tried small doses of LSD twice in secluded tree and ocean cliff haven at Big Sur. No monster vibration, no snake universe hallucinations. Many tiny jeweled violet flowers along the path of a living brook that looked like Blake's illustration for a canal in grassy Eden: huge Pacific watery shore, Orlovsky waves, titanic cliffs that Wordsworth mentioned in his own Sublime, great yellow sun veiled with mist hanging over the planet's oceanic horizon. No harm. President Johnson that day went into the Valley of Shadow operating room because of his gall bladder and Berkeley's Vietnam Day Committee was preparing anxious manifestos for our march toward Oakland police and Hells Angels. Realizing that more vile words from me would send out physical vibrations into the atmosphere that might curse poor Johnson's flesh and further unbalance his soul, I knelt on the sand surrounded by masses of green bulb-headed Kelp vegetable-snake undersea beings washed up by last night's tempest, and prayed for the President's tranquil health.."
We note, of course, in passing, the death last week of Owsley Stanley.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Allen's Jukebox: The Country Blues

[The “photo-booth self-portrait” of Robert Johnson from the early 1930s, one of only two known photos of Johnson made public. from the Granger Collection, New York.]

Since we spotlighted "Allen's Jukebox" last week, we thought we'd re-post Allen's Country Blues mixtape that we first posted in 2009, but this time with a few more links to the tracks and some minor corrections.

Back in the late '80s, Allen made a handful of blues collections for a Brooklyn College course he was teaching. They were pretty much collections of his favorite blues songs from over the years, and, usually, were his favorites because of the lyrics, which he only seemed to cherish more and more as the years went by.

This one's from January 1989. Yes, that xerox-of-a-xerox can't really be scanned any better, I'm afraid, so here's the transcript of the track listing below. Will try to transfer the cassette and have it available for download before too long. In the meantime, we'll try to fill in the list with links to You Tube and other audio links available as we find them.

We've had to re-edit, for clarity, Allen's confusing listing for "Eddie One String Blues", which is the record's title, and not the track title. It's actually "The Dozens," which he more accurately lists afterwards as "Dozen's Portent" (sic). Brilliant track - in fact, the whole album is a rare gem, well worth tracking down.

Blues Anthology – Blind Lemon Jefferson, Elizabeth Cotton, Ma Rainey, Robert Johnson, et al 1926-1928

Side A
Ma Rainey
1) Jealous Hearted Blues. Oct 1924. Howard Scott- Cornet, Don Redman-Clarinet, Fletcher Henderson - Piano, Charles Dixon- Banjo.
2) See See Rider. Louis Armstrong – trumpet, Buster Bailey-Clarinet, Fletcher Henderson – Piano, Charles Dixon – Banjo

Bessie Smith
3) Young Woman’s Blues 1926
4) Send me to the Electric Chair
5) Gimme A Pigfoot (this may be an alternate version from from the one Allen listed)
6) Yellow Dog Blues
Charlie Green – Trombone, Buster Bailey – Clarinet, Coleman Hawkins—Tenor sax, Fletcher Henderson Piano, Charlie Dixon – Banjo, Kaiser Marshall – drums. Bessie Smith Story Vol II CL856

Texas Alexander
7) Levee Camp Moan Blues. August 12, 1927. Charters Country Blues Vol I

Blind Lemon Jefferson
8) That Black Snake Moan. Milestone MPL 2013 October 1926.

Charlie Patton
9) Tom Rushen Blues. June 1929 Yazoo L 1026
10) Shake It Break It. June 1929
11) Poor Me. February 1, 1934

Blind Blake
12) That’ll Never Happen No More. May 1927. Unknown Rattlebones (instrument) . Biograph BLF-12003

Mississippi John Hurt
13) Blue Harvest Blues. NY, Dec 28, 1928. Biograph BLF-C4

Richard Rabbit Brown
14) James Alley Blues . March 11, 1927. London: Matchbox Blues Master Series MB5201 New Orleans.

Peg Leg Howell
15) Rolling Mill Blues. 1929 Georgia Blues Yazoo L-10121

Lonnie Coleman
16) Rock Island Blues 1929 Atlanta Blues Sam Charters RBF 15

Eddie One String Jones
Dozen’s Portent One String Blues. (Zither Monochord LA Skid Row(1940, 1950? prod. Sam Charters)

Robert Johnson
18) Crossroads Blues. R.J. King of the Delta Blues CL 1654. November 1934
19) Walking Blues. Nov 27, 1936. R.J. King of the Delta Blues CL 1654. November 1934
20) Stones In My Passway (as above)
21) Hellhound On My Trail. June 20, 1937. (as above)
22) Love In Vain 1937 King of the Delta Blues II

Bo Carter
23) Baby Who’s Been Here. 1938 Bo Carter’s Greatest Hits. Yazoo. L1014

24) Irene. 1940s Deja Vue DOLP Italy
25) Black Girl [aka In the Pines/Where Did You Sleep Last Night] (as above)

Skip James
26) Washington DC Hospital Blues 1964
27) Drunken Spree. 1964 Vanguard USO 79219
28) Devil Got My Woman 1931 Biograph BLP 12029 “Skip James King of Delta Blues”

Bill Williams
29) Make Me Down A Pallet on the Floor. 1970 Blue Goose 2013
30) Nobody’s Business (as above)

Elizabeth Cotten
31) Freight Train Blues 1957 Folkways FA3537
32) When I’m Gone 1979

(An asterisk on the xerox indicates lyrics were available at the time, something that nowadays one could find on the internet with little effort )

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An Eastern Ballad and A Western Ballad

"All fees for Mr Ginsberg’s poetry and image are donations to The Poetry Project, Jewel Heart and Shambhala Meditation Center of New York"

Lost perhaps in the rest of the advertising copy of Ralph Lauren is also this encomium:

“Arguably, one of the most influential poets of all time, Allen Ginsberg’s work is marked by a spiritual grace, potent political voice, rhythmic energy and a razor-sharp sense of humor. A leader of the legendary Beat movement, Allen redefined the boundaries of art for all future generations..”

"An Eastern Ballad" - and, as we reported on earlier, "A Western Ballad," Shannon McNally's interpretation of Allen's classic early poem is now out - Nate Dow in The Boston Herald gives it (the entire CD in fact) a straight A.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"The Arab Beat Generation"

"This year has been the perfect time for Allen Ginsberg to recite his poem "Howl" inside my mind. At times, I've had to scream with him "Moloch! Moloch! when watching scenes of protesters being killed in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and the rest of revolting countries, seeing them opening up their chests for a ticket to the heaven of freedom. What an expensive ticket the soul is!"
(Mona Kareem, 24-year-old Kuwaiti journalist and poet, quoted this past weekend in the Toronto Star.)
"We", she goes on to declare, "are the Arab Beat Generation, yet we have no face; we've already set it on fire. We have no Kerouac, no Ginsberg, no Cassady..." Read her full statement here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Guru Blues

Videoheads, an artist's video collective, now based in Amsterdam, made several video recordings of Allen over the years, in London, Amsterdam, and Paris. This is a snippet from his performance (with Steven Taylor and Peter Orlovsky) at the Pompidou Center in Paris in 1979. The spirited rendition of "Guru Blues" is introduced by, (unrelated) Allen, en francais, noting that the children of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (Robert and Michael Meeropol) had written a book (We Are Your Sons: The Legacy of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (1975)), about their experience growing up as the children of the famously executed pair. Dark Cold War secrets.

The version of "Guru Blues" is followed by a reading of the poem "On Neal's Ashes".

And here, by contrast, is the studio recording.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Jack

[Jack Kerouac, late 1944 or early 1945 New York City. Allen Ginsberg]

Jack Kerouac would have been 89 today. His birthday might be celebrated here any number of ways. We thought best, on this occasion, to point you towards Allen's wonderful essay, "Negative Capability: Kerouac's Buddhist Ethic" (recently made available on-line [2012 update - regrettably now not, but you can subscribe to the essay at Tricycle on their home-page here]). A Buddhist and a Catholic and a Humanist, and, first and foremost, a writer. Happy Birthday, Jack! - Long may your books be read and your beneficial (beatific!) influence reign!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday's Weekly Round-Up 16

[photo/ephemera collage by Althea Crawford for Holy Soul Jelly Roll box set insert]

Bibliographic Notes

The current presence of Howl the movie has summoned up a few complimentary bibliographic articles. Gilliam Orr in The Independent proposes a reading list that begins, as everybody would suggest, with the poem itself, followed by such titles as, James Campbell’s overview, This Is The Beat Generation, Ronna C Johnson & Nancy M Grace’s Girls Who Wore Black, and Harold Chapman’s photographic documentation, which, as they carefully note, is “currently out of print”

An equally maverick selection was proposed last year by Courtney Crowder in the Chicago Tribune. Taking for granted the poem itself as the starting point, she recommends Bill Morgan’s biography, I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg; the Ginsberg-Kerouac letters; Susan Edwards’ book-length memoir, The Wild West Wind: Remembering Allen Ginsberg; and Chris Felver’s photo book, The Late Great Allen Ginsberg

This, to quote our friend Michael McClure is just “scratching the.. surface”

Cinematic Notes

Another Allen on Film – Ruth Du’s short, Six’55 (featuring Roger Massih as Allen) - “a historical interpretation of the first night Allen Ginsberg recited his famous “Howl” in the Six Gallery in San Francisco in 1955” - just won the prize for “best undergraduate cinematography” at NYU’s Fusion Film Festival.

Lawrence Kramen's

"David Amram: The First 80 Years!" gets a "sneak preview" this weekend in Lowell

and - didn't we mention? don't think we did - footage from last year's Peter Orlovsky Memorial at St Mark's Church is now up on The Poetry Project's web-site (actually, it's been there now a good long while!)

Kerouac at Lowell

Yes, Lowell - don't forget Jack Kerouac's birthday tomorrow! (Saturday March 12th) - His home-town is once again celebrating with a birthday-bash. As acknowledgment of the 75th anniversary of the 1936 Lowell Flood, there'll be readings from Doctor Sax, (wherein he describes the flood,

as he remembered it, still a boy, only 14 years old). There'll be a showing of the film Whatever Happened to Kerouac?, and an evening of jazz and blues - and poetry - at The Back Pages Jazz and Blues Club,"an evening of words, music and improv", hosted by, and featuring David Amram
Amram notes:
"Kerouac was one of the first writers to understand the relationship of Formality and Spontaneity, and how the treasures of the Old World (the classics of Europe) had a relationship to the treasures of the New World (USA jazz, blues. Native and Latin American and Immigrant American musical forms that combined tradition with improvising. Growing up in Lowell, he had a sense of community, family, the church, the beauty of everyday life and respect for every person who crossed his path; especially people that entered the gyroscope of his life, wherever he went in his endless travels. He never lost his hometown roots or relinquished his values in order to attempt to be cutting edge or trendy. Like all great artists, he followed his heart and
remained true to himself"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Allen's Classical Jukebox (Notes on Music Notes 1)

[Birds on Wires via Arksinspace]

Following up on yesterday’s post, here’s a few additional notes to the auctioneer’s notes and a few further superficial notations.

So, Clement Janequin (1485-1558) and his “Chant des Oiseaux” (Song of the Birds). Allen is drawing here on his knowledge of Ezra Pound’s work on early music and sends the reader to Pound’s Canto 75 (“Out of Phlegethon!/out of Phlegethon,/Gerhart/art thou come forth out of Phlegethon?..." - ”Phlegethon”, from Greek mythology, one of the five principal rivers in the realm of Hell (Hades). It flows with fire and burns but does not consume. Gerhart - German composer, Gerhart Munch, who escaped from the war, bearing music manuscripts (including a handwritten transcription, for violin and piano, of Francesco da Milano’s lute transcriptions of Janequin’s choral setting).
“Clement Janequin wrote a chorus…when Francesco da Milano reduced it for the lute, the birds were still with the music. And when Munch transcribed it for modern instruments the birds were still there’, writes Pound in his ABC of Reading

Alonso Mudarra (1510-1580) (mis-transcribed by Allen as Alphonse De Mudurra)’s David’s Lament (Triste Estaba el Rey David) - Spanish composer – A performance of this piece (by the Kings Singers) can be accessed here

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) – AG (and/or his transcriber) surely don’t mean Mass in 5 minor (sic), but Mass in B minor - and for Partita #2, here's the legendary Glenn Gould playing it . For a performance of the St Matthew’s Passion (this exquisite performance by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Soloists), can be found here

Ludvig van Beethoven’s (1770-1827) Grosse Fugue, as performed by the Alban Berg Quartet in 1989, can be found here. His Piano Sonata Opus 111, performed by Sviatoslav Richter, may be listened to here

“Quarter op. 116 (?) , the one so strained” – Quartet (sic) Opus 116. Any idea what Allen is referencing here? – Beethoven’s Opus 116 is this, but does he really mean this Terzetto:Tremate, empi, tremante"? perhaps he has his numbers wrong?
Missa Solemnis, Opus 123, yeshere’s the Kyrie

Sviatoslav Richter can also be heard playing here the work of (Franz) Schubert’s that Allen cites (the auctioneer doesn’t enumerate), the Schubert Sonata in A Major. For (Johannes Brahms, we’ll send you to Eugene Istomin, Isaac Stern, and Leonard Rose playing the first movement of Brahms Piano Trio No.1. (the composition, Allen’s choice). Prokofieff’s famous film-score to Sergei Eisenstein’s masterpiece Alexander Nevsky is where he leads us with Prokofieff (pointing out that this was a favorite piece of music for Jack Kerouac). Pieces by Arnold Schoenberg (Verklarte Nachthere’s Pierre Boulez and the New York Philharmonic), and Karlheinz Stockhausen's Kontakte, complete the survey.