Saturday, July 4, 2015

Allen Ginsberg's Uncle Sam Hat

[Allen Ginsberg on Central Park Bandstand, 5th Avenue Peace Demonstration to Stop The War in Vietnam. 1966 -Photograph by Fred W McDarrah  c. the Estate of Fred W McDarrah and Getty Images

Fred W McDarrah's iconic shot of Allen wearing his Uncle Sam hat - (an image that became transformed into a poster, that, at one time, in the 'Sixties, was ubiquitous, hanging on seemingly every student's bedroom or dormitory wall).

He (Allen) tells the story (of the events of that day, March 26, 1966)  in the recently re-published National Security Archives interview:

"I remember specifically one time, there's a very famous photo of me in an American hat an Uncle Sam hat, that was for a march [in New York] that began at Bryant Park, near the Public Library on Forty-Second Street and went all the way up to the Bandshell in Central Park. And although it had been organized by Women Strike For Peace and  The War Resisters League and the Vietnam Veterans, it was invaded by a group of what looked to be extreme left radicals waving Viet Cong flags, getting up in front of the march, getting all the publicity, with all the newspapers collaborating, and then, whn we got to the bandstand, taking over the microphone and not letting the originators and the organizers of the march speak; until after a long long while, an hour of arguing, the police intervened, or the marchers intervened. So the folks who don't have that historical memory should remember that very important thing: the sabotage of the Government during the political conventions, during the large Be-Ins, during the antiwar marches, the deliberate sabotage of the left, which was more extensive than just on the street: it was like secret manipulations to discredit and make misinformation camapaigns about them."  

[Allen Ginsberg in Uncle Sam Hat (with The Fugs (Ed Sanders et al)  on the 5th Avenue Peace Demonstration to
Stop The War in Vietnam, 1966 - Photograph by David Spieler]  

from the Sotheby's catalog (at the auction of Allen's possessions, by the Ginsberg Estate, in 1997, following his death):

"Lot 94: A vintage "Uncle Sam" top hat with label inside printed "Knox Fifth Avenue, New York" and "The Halle Bros Co. Cleveland" Paper "Uncle Sam" top hat - Cotton and velour….Ginsberg did not save the original hat that he wore in the [McDarrah] photo but he received several hats as gifts after the famous photo debuted. Ginsberg was given [this particular] paper hat in the early 1970s and he and friends were photographed wearing it. He kept it on a closet shelf with a label saying, "Allen Ginsberg's Uncle Sam Hat". The nicely constructed vintage hat with pieces of the American flag sewn over an old top hat base was used in Ginsberg's video of  "The Ballad of the Skeletons" filmed by Gus Van Sant. The cotton and velour hat was given to Ginsberg by a young admirer."

[Allen Ginsberg from "The Ballad of The Skeletons" video (1997)"]

Here's (1995) the hat placed on the head of his guru (teacher) Gelek Rinpoche 

[Gelek Rinpoche - Tibetan Vajrayana teacher, visited to say goodbye at his stident Yael Crawford's house, Cleveland. I'd stayed over with Philip Glass for Jewel Heart Meditation Center benefits poetry and music. A friend gave me this cloth-sewn Uncle Sam hat, too small for Rinpoche's dome. He'd just gotten US citizenship and passport.Dalai Lama enshrined over mantel, March 20, 1995 (Allen Ginsberg's inscription)] 

                                               [A Papier-mâché "Uncle Sam"  hat c.1900 - not Allen's ]

Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 225

Sometime since we noted great Ginsberg parodies - Remember Yelp? and Tweet? - even "Peter LaBarbera" (!) - Filip Noterdaeme has taken it one stage further, not just revisiting 'Howl" (the opening poem) but that entire book! - Growl and Other Poems will be published by Lit Fest Press in the Spring of 2016. Meanwhile, here's the opening salvo - "Growl" (and Noterdaeme on the thinking behind it)

Gary Snyder in the current Newsweek
Robert Frank in this weekend's The New York Times
Jonah Raskin's curt and-to-the-point interview with Lawrence Ferlinghetti published  in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle

More updates on previous Allen Ginsberg Project postings - see here for here
here for here
here  for here

More Ginsberg video footage. This is from Paris, 1990, three classics - William Blake's "..Tyger", Allen's "Father Death Blues" and "CIA Dope Calypso" - see here  

                                                   [Allen Ginsberg performing in Paris, 1990]

                                                                                        [Clark Coolidge]

                                                                  [Thurston Moore at Naropa]

Clark Coolidge begins teaching Ginsberg at Naropa next week (as part of the Summer Writing Program)  - and, as Thurston Moore points out, he too - "My class will focus on Allen's work vis a vis his recordings and his relationship and inspiration to recording artists ((Bob) Dylan, Patti (Smith) and all). Clark and I will join forces with our classes on the last day"

Clark Coolidge and Thurston Moore may be viewed in performance together - here

Thursday, July 2, 2015

William Blake - Auguries of Innocence - 4

                             [William Blake's script - from "Augurires of Innocence" in the Pickering manuscript]

Continuing with Allen's reading from, and annotation of, William Blake's "Auguries of Innocence"

AG: “The Catterpiller on the Leaf/ Repeats to thee thy Mother’s grief “ – That’s a mysterious one. How do we make that one? - “The Catterpiller on the Leaf/ Repeats to thee thy Mother’s grief “

Student:  (Maybe the caterpillar being born…)

AG: Being born. Yes. Being born of earth, really. In the Book of Thel, actually, if you read the Book of Thel, that actually completely explains that couplet, because it’s a conversation between Thel, who’s a little scared to be born, a virgin from the Bardo Thodol, [Tibetan Book of the Dead], who’s not sure she wants to be born, and so she enquires of the lightning, of a Cloud (which represents male sperm), and she enquires of a Clod of Clay and a little Worm on the Clod of Clay and the Clod of Clay (and the Clod of Clay is the Mother, the little Worm is the “little Babe born”), and they invite her to look into the grave and see how they operate. (And) she’s scared to get born lest she have to go into the Clod of Clay  and become a Clod of Clay -  So, “The Catterpiller on the Leaf/ Repeats to thee thy Mother’s grief "

“Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly/For the Last Judgement draweth nigh”

"He who shalt train the Horse to War/Shall never pass the Polar Bar“ – I don’t know what "The Polar Bar" is. Anybody know that one?

Gregory Corso: Yeah Al, It's usuallyyou can’t pass the bar, get past the bar. Me, myself, I passed the bar. But (what) he means by "the Polar Bar", obviously, is where they’ve never trekked before

AG: Yeah.. "He who shalt train the Horse to War/Shall never pass the Polar Bar“ 

“The Beggars Dog & Widows Cat /Feed them & thou wilt grow fat”

"The Gnat that sings his Summer’s Song /Poison gets from Slanders tongue"

"The poison of the Snake & Newt/ Is the sweat of Envys foot" 

"The poison of the Honey Bee/Is the Artist’s Jealousy"
Gregory Corso: ' Scuse me, Al, what was that one before the honey-bee?
AG: "The poison of the Snake &  Newt..
Gregory Corso: Newt
AG: ... Is the sweat of Envys foot"
Gregory Corso: Foot 
AG: How do we interpret that?
Peter Orlovsky: (in attendance in the class also): What’s a newt?
AG: A newt is like a little…
Gregory Corso: A little chameleon
AG: (A) little lizard, little water lizard, babe-lizard, or, actually, the beginning of a frog, isn’t it?
Student: No, that’s something else..
AG: (A little) chameleon-like thing.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately eighteen-and-a-quarter minutes in, and concluding, approximately twenty-one-and-a-quarter minutes in]  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

William Blake's - Auguries of Innocence - 3

                             [William Blake's script - from "Augurires of Innocence" in the Pickering manuscript]

Continuing with Allen's reading from, and annotation of, William Blake's "Auguries of  Innocence"

AG: "Every Wolfs and Lions howl/Raises from Hell a human soul” – did you get that? – it doesn’t put it down in Hell, it raises it from Hell, (that is) the energy of the wolf’s and lion’s howl "Raises from Hell a Human Soul", merely by their raw energy, the naked nature. And then the compliment of that is: 
 “The wild deer wandring here and there/Keeps the Human Soul from Care” 
(which, in a sort of simple-minded ecological context, makes perfect sense - which is that a State which has the space and the calm for a wild deer to wander "here and there”, obviously, has room for people to “wander here and there”, or is calm enough "to keep the human soul from care".

“The Lamb misusd breeds Public Strife/And yet forgives the Butchers knife”

The Bat that flits at close of Eve/Has left the Brain that wont Believe” – That is to say, the.. there’s a joke in there. I mean, he’s laying a trip on the bat as being, you know, sinister, a sinister creature, but the fear of the bat, actually, “flitting at close of eve/Has left the Brain that wont Believe” 

“The Owl that calls upon the night/Speaks the Unbelievers fright”

“He who shall hurt the little Wren/Shall never be beloved by Men” – It’s obvious – He who would hurt a little wren? Who’s gonna love him? [laughs] – even better: 
“He who the Ox  to wrath has movd/Shall never be by Woman lovd” 
– So, any guy so macho as to abuse an ox...
It’s crystal-clear. And yet, first inserted into the brain, they seem mysterious..

Student: They didn't have any S & M at that time?

AG: "The wanton Boy who kills the Fly/Shall feel the spider’s enmity” – Of course, that’s speaking of the boy’s projection, having killed the fly, then he’s going to be, like, paranoic about nature and feel the spider’s enmity

Student; Also the spider might have eaten that fly

AG: Yes.. stealing, he’s stealing the spider-food. So the spider will be coming out at night and crawling all over his bed-clothes, looking for a fly

“He who torments the Chafers Sprite/Weaves a Bower in endless Night"

to be continued….

[Audio for the above can be heard here starting at approximately fifteen-and-a-quarter minutes in and continuing until approximately eighteen-and-a-half minutes in]