June 3 – this Sunday – is Allen’s birthday. To celebrate the Howl Happening Gallery in New York City has organized once again it’s now-annual event. This year it features David Amram, Ed Sanders, Hettie Jones, Eileen Myles, Simon Pettet, and Peter Hale (manager of the Ginsberg Estate), amongst others. The event will be hosted and m-c’d by Ginsberg’s “right hand man“, his long-time secretary, the poet Bob Rosenthal (whose long-awaited memoir, Straight Around Allen, is due out this Fall). There’ll be a film presentation, and an energetic group-reading of “Howl” (“I saw the best minds of my generation…”), that’ll fittingly conclude the proceedings.
June 6 (next Wednesday) marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy. An interesting piece in The Observer this past Sunday by David Margolick – “The day Robert Kennedy met Allen Ginsberg – “Have you ever smoked pot?””:
“At one point Ginsberg, loquacious and impassioned and hirsute, sporting jeans and a workingman’s cap, posed a question to Kennedy, the devout and strait-laced father of 10 – had he ever smoked pot? A smiling Kennedy said he had not. “Oh, come on!” Ginsberg remonstrated. “You can tell me! I won’t tell anyone!” And when Kennedy, then agonizing over a White House run, dug in – the dangers of dope hadn’t yet been determined, he noted – Ginsberg went off on him.
“That’s a pretty inhuman answer to give,” he scolded. “What kind of a president do you want to be? On the subject of something as spiritual and sweet as pot, if you’re going to sit around giving an IBM-machine answer, that’s not going to satisfy the (younger) generation.
“The trouble with you is you have the reputation, which is substantiated by that kind of an answer, of being kind of a heartless, anti-faggot, anti-tenderness, mechanical politician on the make,” Ginsberg went on. “And what this country needs, if anything, is tenderness. Tenderness is the key to the solution of the ecological problem, as well as all the other human problems. Tenderness to mother nature, tenderness to our fellow man, including tenderness to fairies and junkies, is what at this point is desired by the entire younger generation. What they’re looking for is a politician who’s friendly and tender-hearted.”
For the full article – see here
Robert Kennedy Jr’s expressed doubts about the “lone gunman’ theory of his father’s death – Tom Jackman’s story in The Washington Post chimes in with important research we’ve featured before in these pages by Ed Sanders –
Ed’s new book, the completed text, Broken Glory – The Final Years of Robert F Kennedy, a masterpiece of “investigative poetry”, has just been published, and is essential – and chilling (salutary) – reading
Fifty years on since “the Sixties’ (1968) and there’s much that we know, and still much that we don’t know.
More on Allen’s drug excursions in The New Yorker this week. Emily Witt reports on Jennifer Ulrich’s The Timothy Leary Project: Inside the Great Counterculture Experiment, (Ulrich it was, you may recall, who was put in charge of Timothy Leary’s papers, when the New York Public Library acquired them, back in 2011).
Peter Orlovsky – “Are we Gods ball in his back pocket or are we God with this sun in our heart brain that beams high when on psilocybin?”
Jack Kerouac, (reporting to Leary) – “I came home and had the first serious long talk with my mother, for 3 days and 3 nights..I learned I loved her more than I thought.”
Emory University’s comprehensive Beat exhibit, “The Dream Machine: The Beat Generation & the Counterculture, 1940–1975,” closes on Sunday, June 17. Last chance, then, to view this extraordinary gathering from Emory’s exemplary collection.
Read here the exciting news about student participation in that exhibit
“William S Burroughs and the Biosphere, 1974-1997” , a fascinating article (must-read) by Kathelin Gray in the LA Review of Books
Beats – Beat Generation – Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs..