A Poet On the Lower East Side: A Docu-Diary – (ASV #27)

Istvan Eorsi has already been profiled on The Allen Ginsberg Project – here. In 1995 he brought a Hungarian film crew (lead by director Gyula Gazdag) over to New York to film Allen in his downtown environment. “A Poet On The Lower East Side: A Docu-diary” was the result, “a free-wheeling cinéma vérité documentary”, in the words of one reviewer. To continue (and providing for us a useful synopsis): “Beat poet, Allen Ginsberg, host(s) radical maverick Hungarian writer, poet and translator, Istvan Eorsi, on his one-week visit in May 1995 to the Lower East Side. The(se) soul-mates talk about various subjects, that range from Buddhism to the meaning of “first thought”, [‘first thought, best thought’], and stroll together around Allen’s neighborhood, where they are followed by a camera crew, as they encounter Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky and Jonas Mekas, visit a Korean grocery, reminisce about a poets’ hang-out coffee house long gone on MacDougal Street [the San Remo], visit several bookshops, St Mark’s Church (Poetry Project), and chat with sincere protesting squatters about to be evicted in Alphabet City. There’s also time for a visit to Ginsberg’s hometown of Paterson, N(ew)J(ersey), a chance to hear Allen record “Howl” at the Looking Glass Studios, and hear (him) sing “Father Death Blues” in his humble old-fashioned kitchen [it’s the bedroom, actually]. If you’ve ever wanted to catch the legendary poet…in some spontaneous moments on camera, here’s your chance in this heartwarming no-frills doc..”

Yes, “Father Death Blues”, there’s filmed recordings of it here and here, but this late version (against a backdrop of books, Tibetan statue and thangka painting – Allen in crisp white shirt, Allen at home) is surely one of the most beautiful.

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