Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day

       [Postcard illustration of the first Labor Day Parade, New York City, 1882]

          [Labor Day gathering in New York City (Union Square) 1887 - Photograph via NewYork Public Library] 

                         [Labor Day Parade, "Women's Auxiliary Typographical Union", New York City, 1909]

from Kaddish - Allen's initial vow, preparing to enter Columbia University - to be an "honest revolutionary labor lawyer" - "Prayed on ferry to help mankind if admitted—vowed, the day I journeyed to Entrance Exam—/ by being honest revolutionary labor lawyer—would train for that—inspired by/ Sacco Vanzetti, Norman Thomas, Debs, Altgeld, Sandburg, PoeLittle Blue Books./ I wanted to be President, or Senator".

from Bill Morgan's biography, I Celebrate Myself - The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg:
"On campus he continued to be relatively hard-working and temperate, at least when compared to his new friends off-campus. In 1944 he became an editor for the Columbia Review and continued to work on the Columbia Jester as well. His ideas about being a labor lawyer faded, however, when either Lucien Carr or Jack Kerouac (Allen later repeated differing versions of the story) pointed out his inability to put himself in the shoes of the working man. "What do you know about either labor or law?" one of them asked him. It was a gibberish abstraction in his mind, they said - "Better go and be a poet, you're too sensitive".

Allen took their advice (his brother, Eugene, would became a lawyer) and, from then on, pursued, unequivocally, his poets' calling (thought not without occasional rueful thoughts that he might, perhaps, have followed that different life-course - from the "Howl" trial,  and for the rest of his life, intimately engaged with "the legal system", a passionate and active petitioner against injustice, a deeply commited supporter regarding the (numerous) legal difficulties of his (many) friends     

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