Note this current photo feature on slate.com about ”Jack Kerouac and the Beats.” See the 21 images here.
Jennifer Myers in today’s SUN reports on the latest step in the City of Lowell’s effort to redevelop the Smith Baker Center on Merrimack Street near City Hall. Kudos to the SUN for making this Page One news. Her Facebook page has additional comments also.
Allen Ginsberg and friends reading poems in the Smith Baker Center, June 1988. Note that this is a side view of the upper floor church hall, which was filled with more than 1,000 people on this night. Poet Michael McClure later said that it was the most important poetry reading in America that year. McClure performed with Ray Manzarek (formerly of The Doors), and the readers included Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, John Weiners, and others. [photo (c) by George Koumantzelis]
Thanks to Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! on Facebook and the blog Reader’s Almanac of the Library of America for this film clip and commentary about Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg. The footage is from November 1975 in Edson Cemetery in Lowell, when Bob Dylan was in the city with his Rolling Thunder Revue for a concert at the brand new University of Lowell (now UMass Lowell). Here’s the link.
Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg at Jack Kerouac’s grave in Lowell’s Edson Cemetery (Photo by Ken Regan (c) 1975)
On the Huffington Post, New York City-based Beat Literature scholar Regina Weinreich writes about James Franco, poet Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac. Read her blog post here from the HuffPo. Regina has been to Lowell several times as a guest speaker at Kerouac festivals and conferences.
Poet Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan in Edson Cemetery (1975) [Photo by Ken Regan, courtesy of tangledupinlheurebleue.blogspot]
Show flier for Rolling Thunder Revue at ULowell (1975) [Web photo courtesy of picasaweb.google.com]
At Kerouac’s grave in Edson Cemetery (1975) [Photo by Ken Regan]
At Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, Franco American School (1975) [Photo by Ken Regan]
The whole inside back page of the NYTimes Book Review today has an essay by Lee Siegel comparing the Tea Party with the Beats (Kerouac, Ginsberg, and the other Beat Generation writers of the 1950s and ’60s). The essay is a cultural stretch in many ways, but makes for surprising reading when you see how Siegel connects the two mindsets and social movements. Read the essay here, and get the NYT if you appreciate the thinking.
Rita Savard of the Sun wrote a great background story about Bob Dylan and Lowell in nothing flat so that it hit the streets just as lots of people were talking about Dylan coming back to Lowell.
Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg at Kerouac’s grave in Edson Cemetery, November 1975.
We ought to give him a key to the city this time or maybe a chip of red granite that skateboarders have knocked off one of the pillars at the Kerouac Commemorative. The granite was cut in Minnesota, not far from where young Bobby Zimmerman hung out around the University of Minnesota campus in the big city. When I flew out there to inspect the carved granite panels with Steve Conant, who was a planner at Lowell Heritage State Park at the time, we wandered over to the famous “Dinkytown” near the campus where the students and midwest-style bohemians gathered. It had been Steve’s idea to move the Kerouac “tribute thing” (we didn’t have the Commemorative concept yet) from a small chunk of federal land near the Lower Locks complex to a larger parcel of land on Bridge Street that was going to become a new downtown park with the help of state funds. I was working at the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission in those days (1986), and the LHPC had already approved my proposal to commission a sculptural tribute to Kerouac of some kind. I recommended the move to Bridge Street if the LHPC would double the budget for Kerouac from $50,000 to $100,000 since it was a larger site and we would need a more substantial public artwork. The new location and funding were approved by the Commissioners (unsung heroes in all this, people like Clementine Alexis, Kay Georgalos, Maryann Simenson, Bill Hogan, along with staffers like then-LHPC boss Armand P. Mercier, operations director Ray LaPorte, later executive director Peter Aucella, and others), and we were off to the races. Steve coordinated the state piece of the park development, I had the federal piece for the LHPC, and Ed Trudel of the City Division of Planning and Development managed the whole bunch of us young turks because the City held the overall park construction contract. It was a classic Lowell multi-partner project. We dedicated the Kerouac Commerative in then-Eastern Canal Park in June 1988. A few years later, Tom Bellegarde, I think, put up the bold wooden sign that reads “Kerouac Park,” and that made the whole thing Jack’s Place. Better than Eastern Canal Park for the ages.
How many films have been made about a poem? Here’s one. Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” isn’t for everyone’s taste, but it did its part to shake up a lot of people’s thinking and sent a shock wave through the literary world. It’s been described as the second most influential long poem of the 20th century, after T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” (1922).
The writers of the 1950s, ’60s, and later who are known as the “Beat writers” continue to make news and feed contemporary culture. Today’s Globe includes a review by Sam Allis of a new film about Allen Ginsberg’s central poem, “Howl,” whose title was suggested by Lowell’s own Jack Kerouac, and the 1957 obscenity trial that raised its profile. The movie features well known actors such as James Franco as Ginsberg, Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) as publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s lawyer, David Strathairn (he’s been in many films, including one of the “Bourne” movies), and Jeff Daniels (veteran actor). This is a film that should be screened in Lowell.
(Web photo courtesy of boston.com) James Franco (right, with Aaron Tveit) portrays poet Allen Ginsberg in “Howl.’’ (Jojo Whilden/Oscilloscope Laboratories)
The NYT today has an article about the current exhibition of photographs by poet Allen Ginsberg at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The article in the paper includes a photograph of Kerouac making a goofy face on the street in NY in 1953. Read the article by Holland Cotter here, and get the Times if you appreciate the reporting. And here’s another link for the related slide show from the Times online.
Writer Jay Atkinson of Methuen reviewed the new volume of letters by Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg for the Boston Globe. Jay’s most recent book is “Paradise Road: Jack Kerouac’s Highway and My Search for America.” Read the review on boston.com here, and consider subscribing to the Globe if you appreciate the writing.