Saturday, December 6, 2014

Vintage Beat Generation Footage

More vintage Beat Generation footage this weekend. Both of these we've featured before - in fact, if you turn to our column on the right-hand side of the page, you will find a whole list of  "streaming videos". These two early film clips stand out, however. The first comes with an additional mystery - who shot it?  Robert Frank was one informed and plausible guess, but he denies it. Whoever it is behind the camera is comfortable, relaxed, scrupulous, attentive, seemingly part of "the gang". This precious footage, (there's really nothing quite like it - unless we cite the "rehearsed spontaneity" of "Pull My Daisy" from approximately the same time) is silent, black-and-white (and, somehow, all the more captivating, haunting, and evocative, as a result of that). It runs for just over five minutes. The date - 1959 - The location, New York's Third Avenue (the Harmony Bar and Restaurant, located on Third Avenue an East Ninth Street). The participants? -  one-moment-in-eternity glimpses of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lucian Carr (Lucien's family, wife Francesca, kids, Simon, Caleb and Ethan), Mary Frank (Robert's first wife and their two kids Pablo and Andrea), plus assorted souls (who is that guy, for example, at the end there, who comes by, pushing what looks like a pram?)  

The second clip featured here is yet more silent footage (but this time sepia-tinted and with a sound-track of Allen reading from Kral Majales and speaking (off the sound-track of Richard O Moore's groundbreaking 1966 WNET Ginsberg-Ferlinghetti program, recorded in 1965). The location - not the East Coast this time, but the West Coast, San Francisco (Allen's apartment at 1360 Fell Street, near the panhandle district, east of Golden Gate Park, to be precise). The participants - Allen and Peter (Orlovsky), a dutiful Julius (Orlovsky), a suitably animated Neal Cassady, and, who is that girl?

[2015 update - this footage has once again (temporarily?) become unavailable. We retain, however, these "descriptive notes"]

From previous "descriptive notes": "..the camera pans over the "pad" (domestic interior).
A laughing Buddha, a figurine of Ganesh. Who is the portrait of on the wall, framed by a tambourine? an Indian saint? a holy man?- anyone have any ideas? - Peter's locks against his naked back almost fetishistically observed - the notice pinned upon the door (by Allen? by Peter? for Julius?) - "Yes, I am somewhere in this room" - heart-breaking glimpses ("moments in eternity") - Julius obliges - Allen gets Julius to zip up his fly! - Peter (wool cap) bare torso, putting on his shirt, gathering his hair, tucking it back, brushing long hair in the mirror - Allen and Neal "getting ready" (with cigarettes dangling in their mouths!) - Finally, outdoors and onto the streets of San Francisco - Peter carrying a guitar - Allen carrying a shoulder bag - Julius ("who came out of the bug-house, who was living in a bug-house for eleven years") carrying an over-sized suitcase, faithfully trailing behind.   

And, finally, as a bonus, from 1967, Jack Kerouac shooting pool


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