Today (July 15) is the official publication-date of the newly-revised Allen Ginsberg biography, Dharma Lion. Michael Schumacher‘s epic and well-received 1992 critical biography of Allen is being reprinted (with the addition of two new chapters) by the University of Minnesota Press. For full details – see here
That cover shot, incidentally, by Michael Tighe (we’ve featured it before on the Allen Ginsberg Project) – It turns out the precise location of the photo was East 14th Street (215 Avenue A at 14th Street, NYC). For such pleasing geographical minutae we are grateful to the intrepid Bob Egan and his shamefully-addictive PopSpots
And while we’re on the subject of precise locations, Marie Fotini writes to us to inform us that the classic pic of Allen and amigos in Mexico – see here – is actually not, as suggested, at the Plaza Luis Cabrera, or even in the Roma district, but rather (now definitively placed) in the Alameda Park in front of the Neptune (Poseiden) Fountain, as we’d suspected, but were never quite sure.
Gratuitously spotlighting photos – Here’s an image (by Jon Chase) of Allen and Lawrence Ferlinghetti – and Stella Kerouac (sic) “who was signing one of her late husband’s books”, that appeared in the New York Times a few weeks back, accompanying the article on Lawrence and his long-time agent, Sterling Lord. The caption to the photo dates it (no word on the location tho’) to 1988
Here’s another great photograph we like, Jack Kerouac beaming from the video-screens at the on-going Pompidou show.
James Campbell’s extensive review of that show (in last Saturday’s Guardian) is an informative, occasionally dyspeptic, but nonetheless essential, read (focusing, to a large part, on the legendary Beat Hotel (Paris locale) and on Pull My Daisy), and, regarding stock criticisms of misogyny and sexism, shrinking from them, not at all – (“the shadowy side of the Beat soul”, is how Campbell puts it).
Curator Philippe Alain Michaud is laudably quoted “The idea is to show these freedoms, which were fought for then, and which are in danger of disappearing…”
Campbell concludes the piece, sweetly, thus:
“One of the more pleasant surprises in store for visitors is the interest in visual arts on the part of the writers. Ginsberg was a talented photographer. Always conscious of the epoch-making nature of the Beat enterprise Lawrence Ferlinghetti, among others, has accused him of inventing the entire thing – he kept a pictorial record until his death in 1997.
Several of his carefully-preserved pictures, with hand-written captions, are exhibited.”
“It is heartening to know that a mad dash for freedom which set off from Columbia University 75 years ago is being celebrated in the dim City of Light this summer.”
Always interesting (if often alarming) to scan the rambling “Comments” thus generated – 137 of them in this instance,at last count – (How come more people don’t avail themselves of the opportunity of “Commenting” on this blog?)
“Houseoftheangels” writes: “I used to like the Beats when I was younger, but I find them utterly infantile, destructive and ignorant now I am older. There is no glory in abusing women and destroying one’s life with alcohol and drugs..” (You’ll have no disagreement with us there, Houseoftheangels!)
One “Quaestor” (quaestor? – the one who asks questions?) writes: “Wasted too much time on Ginsberg forty years ago. A waste of fresh air” – (Oh well, a summary dismissal – So I guess that’s that then!)
More Pompidou reviews – more informed Pompidou reviews – see Judith Benhamou-Huet’s lively page (“a rush of subversive pleasure”) – here, Le Bouquineur (“Une très belle exposition” (a very beautiful show) – here), and the Podcast Journal (en francais, of course) has, here. a podcast.
Another Last Word on First Blues review – You’ve probably tired of these, but – we couldn’t help passing it on – “(Q)uite a collection… (and) the packaging and research that went into this box set is fantastic”, writes Troy Mitchell at Innocent Words – (“included in the 3-CD set is a 28-page [not 280 page, as erroneously stated!] full-color booklet with rare writings, photos and drawings from the Ginsberg archives”)
And here’s another – Jeff Burger in The Morton Report – “What to expect? – Basically, the same quirky and consistently fascinating Allen Ginsberg that emerges from (the) poetic works, only with likable folk- and blues-influenced instrumental accompaniment and – on certain tracks – a beat. He (Ginsberg) is funny, idiosyncratic, rebellious. profane, political and profound, often all in the same song…The album, which sounds charmingly homespun throughout frequently delivers more musical pleasure than you might expect..”
So there. Now you’ve heard it. Go out and buy it.
Anniversaries – We mentioned last week that it was Percy Bysshe Shelley’s tragic anniversary but neglected to mention (except on Facebook) that it was also Peter Orlovsky’s birthday. And one more egregious omission – It was Harold Norse‘s birthday too – More than, just a birthday, that day marked his Centennial! – Custodian-extraordinaire Todd Swindell organized two San Francisco events for Harold (here and here), a third event will take place in Los Angeles (at Beyond Baroque) on July 23rd
(the previous night, Pat Thomasputs on a Ginsberg celebration at the same venue – special reading and performance by Detroit poet M.L Lieber and special guests Willie Arron, Dave Soyares and a benediction by Michael C Ford – Ford appears again the following night with Tom Livingston and S.A.Griffin, alongside a reading (on the Norse night) of Norse’s poems by LA_based artist Jason Jenn
Laura Israel’s Don’t Blink Robert Frank documentary opens in New York this week. Here‘s the official trailer
We like his description of Allen in his last paragraph there – “an irrepressible ghost in our cultural machinery” – Long may he haunt!