Our friend, poet Simon Pettet,has been scouring the web this last few weeks and tracked down some things we had no idea existed, others we’d forgotten.
First off is “The Ballad of the Skeletons,” directed by Gus Van Sant, from 1996. This aired on MTVs buzz chart through the month of October during the last days Clinton/Dole Presidential race. Tom Freston was wanting more politically engaged content for the days leading up to the election and had suggested Allen do a video for his Ballad of the Skeletons track he’d recorded with Paul McCartney, Lenny Kaye and Philip Glass. Allen enlisted Van Sant and this was the result:
We couldn’t post the last without including Van Sant’s great Burroughs collaboration “Thanksgiving Prayer” (a week late on this!)
Next up, a segment of Peter Whitehead’s film Wholly Communion, the whole of which was floating online but has apparently been yanked. Something that desperately needs to be reissued, this documented the reading at Royal Albert Hall, London in June 1965. It included Harry Fainlight, Gregory Corso, Ernst Jandl, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Anselm Hollo, Andrei Voznesensky and many more. So, we’re left with this tiny teaser of Allen reading “The Change: Kyoto-Tokyo Express.” Unfortunately it comes in at the 13th Stanza of part II “Allen Ginsberg Says this: I am/a mass of sores and worms/&baldness & belly & smell/I am false Name the prey/of Yamantaka Devourer of/Strange Dreams, etc..”
And if you needed reminding you were looking at computer screen…