Hommage to Allen in France
For those of you who might find yourself in Paris tonight! – Patti Smith salutes Allen, at La Salle Pleyel, part of a week-long engagement. She’ll be joined, as she has been on several previous such occasions , by Lenny Kaye and Philip Glass. Their thoughts about the project and about Allen are usefully captured in a series of promotional shorts, shot in conjunction with a 2009 performance at Les Nuits de Fourviere, the festival at Lyon. Patti’s interview can be found here , Lenny Kaye’s and Philip’s below.
Neal Cassady: Drug Taker, Bigamist. Family Man. Lauren Cochrane’s recent article/interview with Carolyn Cassady , wherein she “explodes a few myths” (and perhaps creates a few more?) is certainly worth reading. It can be found here . Allen’s youthful self-doubt is recalled, rather unflatteringly, it has to be said, by the 87-year-old Cassady: “Why this sudden interest in Ginsberg?.. I met him when he was 20. He had never got over feeling he was worthless. He’d go out and try to find a job, and he’d come back and he’d say, ‘I’m never gonna amount to anything. I just can’t do anything. Even my finger’s the wrong size”. He’d tried some assembly line or something.” With a sigh, she says she remembers him as a “poor dear”. Another recent interview with Carolyn Cassady can be found here [sic – interview no longer available] – . “As she’s telling me about a froideur that grew up between her and Ginsberg she breaks into a typical anecdote…” Cassady has of course spoken previously of her “difficulties” with Allen. Interviewed here by the website American Legends (on Neal and Allen), and, more extensively, by and yet another Cassady interview can be found here.
Allen in Czechoslovakia
Our good friend Josef Rauvolf has passed onto us this link to a recording of Allen performing in April 1990 in Czechoslovakia with the legendary rock band Pulnoc (Midnight), one of the later manifestations of the jailed and persecuted Plastic People of the Universe (Joseph Yanosik’s account of both the band and its centrality to Czech cultural history is essential reading and can be found here :
“Pulnoc recorded and released their self-titled debut album in Czechoslovakia in 1990. On June 15 1990 when the original Velvet Underground reunited for the first time in Paris for the opening of an Andy Warhol exhibition for the Cartier Foundation, Pulnoc opened for them. The band recorded and released a second album, “City of Hysteria” (featuring liner notes by Vaclav Havel and a new song by Egon Bondy), in the United States in 1991. A year later, Milan Hlavsa (the band’s founding member) published a book in Czechoslovakia telling the story of the Plastics entitled “Bez Ohnu Je Underground”, which coincided with the release of a multi-album box-set of the complete recordings of the Plastic People..”
Josef Rauvolf provides the more immediate context: “The Czech band Půlnoc (Midnight) recently released a live recording of their song “Magické noci” (Magical Nights) with Allen and Anne Waldman singing and chanting (Allen improvises an early version of “Birdbrain”, he and Anne swap chants). The gig took place in České Budějovice (in the South Bohemian region) when the gang went to see the Temelín nuclear plant.” Download it here or buy the complete CD here.
And to end on a bizarre note – Howl parodies, we’re always tickled by them here.
See Ken Goldberg and Tiffany Shlain‘s, even Oyl Miller’s tongue-in-cheek Tweet – now this [sic] from rabidly homophobic anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbara (founder of the sorely mis-titled Americans For Truth). It’s a satire but we confess for a while there there we were fooled! [2012 update -this parody of Howl is no longer available]