Be that as it may, it continues to entrance. And this time give off a fresh new aura with a colorized version. How intriguing to see these figures animated – and caught off-guard, time-frozen, in conversation, in the city street on a summer’s day (in the days when there were no fears involved with public gatherings!)
Just a brief reminder that The Fall of America – A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute will officially be with us soon – next week! – (Lake Schatz lays down an early heads-up about the project at Consequence of Sound – and Tom Shackleford (at Live For Live Music) here) – Rolling Stone’s Daniel Kreps has a note – Cover design (see above) by Darryl Norsen
“I knew Allen Ginsberg and interviewed him at length three times. I also co-promoted several of his Southern California readings in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, and produced a live recording of him in 1982 at the Unitarian Church. My first Ginsberg interview initially appeared in 1996 in HITS Magazine and a very short edited version appeared in The Los Angeles Times Calendar section on April 7, 1997 when the daily newspaper asked me to pen one of the tribute stories on Ginsberg when he died. During 1999 a portion of one of my interviews was published in The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats. In 2007 I wrote the liner notes to the first-ever CD release of Ginsberg’s Kaddish for Water Records.”
Kubernik’s 1994 and 1996 interviews will be featured in the upcoming spring 2021 issue (issue #100!) of Kevin Ring’s Beat Scene magazine.
A few excerpts (the emphasis with Kubernik is Allen’s music connections):
HK: Does the vision change once it leaves the paper?
AG: No. It doesn’t make much difference. The method of my writing to begin with is that I’m not writing to write something, is that I catch myself thinking; I suddenly notice something I have thought of when I wasn’t thinking of writing, and then I write it down if it is vivid enough. And as far as the choice of what to write down or not, the slogan is vividness, is self-selecting. So in a sense, the method is impervious to influence by the audience because I’m just thinking to myself in the bathtub.
HK: What about poetry readings and performances? Is it different reading with a musician next to you or now a bunch of people sharing the stage?
AG: I have to focus on my text. I’m still pointing toward the tornado.
HK: What does music and beat do when it’s added to voice and text?
AG: Well, a whole mish mosh. First of all, I grew up on all blues, Ma Rainey and Lead Belly. I listened to them live on radio station WNYC, back in the late ‘30s or early ‘40s. So I have a blues background. There’s some sort of Hebrew-ic cantillation relation to the blues that I’ve always had. So the first thing on the collection [Holy Soul Jelly Roll] is “When The Saints Go Marching In” that I made up acapella when I was hitchhiking, and recorded in Neal Cassady’s house a year later. Then things like my mother taught me. “The Green Valentine Blues.” Just coming from everyone who likes to sing in the shower.
Then there was the poetry and music, King Pleasure, and the people who were putting together bebop, syllable by syllable, like Lambert Hendricks and Ross. I knew them in 1948. We used to smoke pot together in the ‘40s, when I knew Neal Cassady, around Columbia when I was living on 92nd Street.
HK: What happens when the beat or the music collides with your words and voice?
AG: Elvin (Jones) has a very interesting attitude. He feels that he’s not there to beat out the vocalist. He’s there to put a floor under them. He’s there to support and encourage, and give a place for the vocal to come in, not to compete with the vocal, but to provide a ground for it. He’s very intelligent as a musician. We did it once together in 1969 on the Blake album; there was military type drum, and then this recent rap song. I’ve got some other stuff we haven’t put out with Elvin. I’ve rarely found opposition to the music because the musicians were very sensitive, and built their music around the dynamics of my voice.
HK: Subject specific answer required: You write something on a piece of paper. Other people, musicians, come invited to participate and collaborate. Does the original intention become a different trip once there is music and other elements involved?
AG : Well, it widens it into a slightly different trip, but the words are pretty stable, and they mean what they mean, so there is no problem. The interesting thing is adjusting the rhythmic pattern and the intonation to the musician’s idea of what there is there. That’s pretty good, because I’m good as an improviser, I can fit in, as you can hear on “Birdbrain.” Where I can take a long line or a short line and fit in sixteen bars without worrying about spaces and closed places.
There’s plenty more (from the 1996 interview) – here. Looking forward to the Beat Scene presentation.
Audience Question: Was it hard to be a woman beatnik?
Diane di Prima : Oh, everyone asks that. No, not at all. You just are yourself. I didn’t think of myself as a girl or a boy. I don’t know what the guys were thinking about when I would sometimes answer the door and with almost nothing on. Joel Oppenheimer wrote a whole story about it. He was very upset but that was his problem, not mine.
Once at the age of 14 I decided to be a poet, I knew what wasn’t going to happen, like matched dishes, a washing machine, a regular consensus lifestyle of any sort.
But, no, seriously, I wasn’t a woman beatnik. First of all, there weren’t any beatniks when I started. That’s something that the magazines made up later. Different people claimed they made that word up. Herb Caen is one. But there were several. You couldn’t be a beatnik if you didn’t know they existed.
If you read the beginning of Recollections of My Life as a Woman, you find that I learned very early from my grandmother that men were decorative. They weren’t important in the world, because they didn’t deal with the daily business of life. You know, it was nice to have one around, but they came and went and did their thing and you did yours.
And that sensation of space, is nothing less than God.’”
More sad news. We end, regrettably, this week on a sad note. Sometime Naropa teacher, member of the “Tulsa School” and the “New York School”, poet, Dick Gallup passed away in his sleep on Wednesday night. He was 80. Check out his reading at Naropa in 1975 with John Ashbery – here