(“Ellie”), Allen’s dear friend, ” friend of the poets, doyenne of the oversized “fixture in Cambridge (Massachusetts) for decades, celebrated here on The Allen Ginsberg Project a few years back (on the occasion of her 75th birthday, in a must-read piece), recently announced her retirement.
As reported in the New York Times, she “is trying to adopt something like a pose of total acceptance (she doesn’t know the Japanese word for it or whether she’ll achieve it) towards retirement… The main reason is that the film and chemicals she depends upon have not been mass-produced since 2008, when Polaroid, which had gone into bankrupcy years before, stopped making them. And the stockpile to which she has access is diminishing, despite post-Polaroid efforts by enthusiasts to keep the cameras running.” – “It’s dwindling and I’m dwindling”, she declares.
Ellie on Allen (in another must-read piece – her 2012 interview with Michael Limnios):
ML: Would you like to tell your best memory about Allen?
ED: My best memory of Allen is watching the Democratic Convention with him. Estes Kefauver was a contender. I forget who actually won the democratic convention that year. We were at his father‘s home in Paterson… Also, when Allen recorded Mexico City Blues by Jack Kerouac late at might after he had arrived in Cambridge from a long trip. My nephew, writer Matthew Power, was with us. Allen probably started at midnight. We finished in the wee hours of the next day. Allen had the most inexhaustible energy. I would drag myself around behind him. He worked soooo hard..
ML: Would you mind telling me your most vivid memory from your shootings with the nude Allen and Peter?
ED: Oh, I knew them so well that seeing them nude was nothing!. The first time I did see Allen naked was when he opened his front door for me at his apartment. I forgot what apartment it was (wherever he was living in 1959-60). And Allen had an impeccable sense of presentation. I learned from every minute I turned my camera toward him.
More photography news – the New York Public Library’s recent large-scale digital distribution has revealed this previously-unseen photo (from the collection of Walter Silver (1923-1998))
Two (additional) alternative snaps can be seen on the contact sheet – here
The image is dated, rather vaguely, as “ca.1950s”, and the woman also in the shot, as, possibly, the American poet and activist Margaret Randall (tho’ Randall herself has denied it). Whoever her identity (and will we ever discover it?) it’s certainly a wonderful “stolen moment”.