Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 8

James Franco and the Anti-Normative

“Anti-Normative”? – James Franco, Allen Ginsberg, Harvey Milk and Hart Crane. Well is he or isn’t he? – and does it really matter?. James Franco continues to make news, speculating on his own sexual identity “It’s funny because the way that kind of stuff is talked about on blogs is so black-and-white,”..“It’s all cut-and-dry identity politics. ‘Is he straight or is he gay?’ Or, ‘This is your third gay movie — come out already!’ And all based on, gay or straight, based on the idea that your object of affection decides your sexuality..There are lots of other reasons to be interested in gay characters than wanting myself to go out and have sex with guys,..And there are also lots of other aspects about these characters that I’m interested in, in addition to their sexuality. So, in some ways it’s coincidental, in other ways it’s not. I mean, I’ve played a gay man who’s living in the ’60s and ’70s (Harvey Milk), a gay man who we depicted in the ‘50s (Allen Ginsberg), and one living in the ‘20s (Hart Crane). And those were all periods when to be gay, at least being gay in public, was much more difficult. Part of what I’m interested in is how these people who were living anti-normative lifestyles contended with opposition. Or, you know what, maybe I’m just gay!”

The full article may be found in this week’s Entertainment Weekly  What occasioned this new “buzz” has been the wrap-up of Franco’s most recent “poetry-bio-pic”, The Broken Tower, his examination of another great poet-hero (and, significantly, queer poet-hero), poete maudit, Hart Crane.  Paul Mariani’s 1999 biography of the poet. described by Publishers Weekly as “the first account of Crane to embrace his homosexuality and to assess its place in his poetry”, was read by Franco, “shortly after it was published”, according to one account, and became the basis of his screenplay. The title is taken from what was, allegedly, Crane’s final poem, composed in 1932, shortly before committing suicide and, supposedly, inspired by his one and only failed heterosexual affair, with Peggy, estranged wife of editor, Malcolm, Cowley . The text of the poem may be read here

Glimpses of Allen in India

Here’s another Allen-through-the-eyes-of-children (or maybe it’s Allen-as -“enthusiastic cook”?), two themes we’ve been pursuing of late. From the current issue of Tehelka Magazine. Srimati Lal recalling P(urashottama) Lal, her father, who died this past November, and who, in a long and distinguished career, “revolutionized Indian publishing” with the (Calcutta-based) Writers Workshop:

Aside from the Indo-Anglians, the salons in my father’s library every Sunday would include guests like Pearl S Buck, Allen Ginsberg, Christopher Isherwood, Gunter Grass, Dr Karan Singh, Gopal Krishna Gandhi, FN Souza and many others who made their pilgrimage to WW’s remarkable haven. I remember returning home one afternoon from school to see a genial, bearded tall white man cooking machher jhol (fish curry) [sic] merrily in our kitchen. “This is the Beat poet, Allen Ginsberg,” Baba quietly informed me. On another evening, Pearl Buck, seated gracefully on the terrace of our home, read from her work over Bengali chai and pakoras…

Glimpses of Allen in Ireland

Documentation from Allen’s October 1993 visit to Ireland is provided by 3 a.m. magazine, who track down a postcard to Istvan Eorsi wherein Allen delights in his recent purchase of a “great grey tweed suit” – “thorn-proof” Donegal tweed! – 3 a.m, also presents a scan of a press-clipping from the local paper providing further background.

Glimpses of the Beats in Chicago

Good time to be interested in the Beats right now, if you’re living in Chicago. Tonight (through till February 5th) is the opening night of a revival of Marilyn Campbell’s adaptation of “The Beats”, a play directed by Ann Filmer.
Elsewhere in town at Thinkart features photos by Allen and works on paper and shotgun paintings by William Burroughs.

San Francisco/ Remembering the “Be-In”

Another of our treasures of  Ginsberg video – Jan 14 marks the anniversary, 44 years on, of the first “Human Be-In” – take yourself back to San Francisco, if only for a few fleeting “Technicolor” moments. Footage from the original “Be-in” can be seen below:

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