Gerard Malanga – Allen Ginsberg (Passport Photo)

Allen Ginsberg’s Passport ID, 1979 – Photo:  (c) Gerard Malanga.

Gerard Malanga, poet, photographer, filmmaker, legendary cohort of Andy Warhol during that artist’s most creative period, shares these memories of Allen. We’re grateful for his words.

“Sometime in the spring of 1979 I got a call from Allen asking if I could take a headshot that he needed for his Passport renewal. I’d photographed him on several occasions, both candid and posed, and he was always the ideal subject to work with. He knew the ropes. He was totally professional and we were easygoing with each other. He wanted something without his trademark rabbinic beard. So he prepped up in advance and shaved the eons of growth away along with his bearded laughing aura, enabling me to capture something relaxing & unique. Arriving at his East 12th Street flat the sunlight was pouring in his front-room windows. Just what I’d hoped for. I had to laugh: What’s Allen without his beard? It was kind of exciting photographing him in the new way he now saw himself and was very enthusiastic with the results; but I never knew if he ever used any of them & never thought to ask”.

Allen Ginsberg, 1926-1997.

Where’s Allen now with his wet kisses, oooooh! Oy-yoi-yoi!
Where’s his shamanistic smile walking up East 14th
when once he caught me on the stoop waiting for the mailman?
Did he really know as much about us way back then,
as I do now, looking back at where you is
upon a waning star of your demise of no goodbyes?
The family recipe for chicken soup shared with me
a cure-all for the common cold, the drips & drabs
of snotty phlegm. It works and continues working!
The headshot you requested for an ID foto back in ’79, or was it ’80?
Your face naked of all that fuzz, naked
of your past nor anticipating so many far-flung futures.
Your goofy look, I wanna say. Your 3 Stooges.
“The times they are a-changin’.”
The shared friends. Barbara Rubin. Maretta Greer. Ann Buchanan.
A city you nor I would recognize nor would we want to,
the way you embrace my thoughts on rainy days–
ghostly glooms across the pigeon rooftops of someone’s adolescence.
Where are you now in those darkened swarms?
The present past at the instant of a click
as the film advances one frame, then another and another,
always in the tunneled dark, exposed but not exposed.
So many lifetimes frozen, so many stories, once so real.
What is real? What is half-remembered?
Or is it we move on?
Who’s pacing whom? Who are the beneficiaries?

Gerard Malanga

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