It’s Neal Cassady celebration today both in San Francisco (at the 6th Annual Birthday Bash at the Beat Museum, and in Denver (Neal’s hometown) at the Mercury Cafe. Al Hinkle (Big Ed Dunkel from On the Road) will be appearing at the San Francisco event, while Neal’s children, John Allen Cassady and Jami Cassady, along with special guest David Amram, will be celebrating their father’s birthday in Denver. The Denver Post has a useful piece on the unlikely local hero. And don’t forget to check out the Beat Generation/Neal Cassady pages at Tom Christopher.com,, if you haven’t already, and also, of course, the Neal Cassady Estate,.
Neal Leon Cassady was born February 8 1926 and died February 4 1968 at San Miguel de Allende Mexico. We’ve spotlighted it before but Peter Ferry ’s travel piece about hunting down the ghost of Cassady in that far-off spot is also well worth perusing.
Richard Nagler ’s remarkable book Word on the Street has been out a few months now and we’re only just now getting around to commenting on it. Allen was a huge fan of the work and was going to write the preface (as it was he provides a pleasingly accurate blurb – “Everyone of these picture poems brings to my mind a haiku”), Nagler explains: After two successful books of photography in which I had worked with two extraordinary writers, Isaac Bashevis Singer and Ishmael Reed, I thought the WORD photographs would benefit from a collaboration with an extraordinary poet. Allen Ginsberg immediately came to mind. It turned out I knew someone who knew someone who knew Ginsberg. It took two years of correspondence, but I finally got some pictures to Allen. He immediately grasped and “got” the pictures. As a poet and also as a photography-lover, he immediately agreed to write original poetry that would accompany the photographs. We met on several occasions in New York City and San Francisco to discuss the project, but in late 1996 I learned that he had just received a terrible medical diagnosis. He died just a few months later in April 1997. I was saddened and disappointed, but I did keep taking WORD images inspired by the word IMMORTAL in the window of City Lights Bookstore in a memorial to Allen’s passing. It was ten years later that I decided to try again to publish a book of this project.
Further work by the artist can be viewed here
Speaking of the San Francisco Bay Area (Nagler’s from the Bay Area) and Allen-sympatico artists, next Wednesday, February 9, don’t miss Eric Drooker’s free lecture at CounterPulse, Eric Drooker -The Art of Animating Howl. CounterPulse, a lively local performance space, is at 1310 Mission.
And finally, Allen as artist himself, there’s an interesting post up on Dharma/Arte (Brazilian-based Buddhist community – link now regrettably no longer working) neatly titled “An Innocent Moment of Surprise“, about Allen’s signature “AH” doodle. That article sends you (as we do too) to the Museum of American Poetics’ extensive Drawings and Inscriptions Gallery for plenty more doodling (and we should also send you to the Gemini G.E.L site for even more sophisticated work – both sites can be accessed also via our “blogroll” on the right-hand side under the listing “Photography/Illustration”.