Monday, September 10, 2007

I’m going nuts, or... an Allen Ginsberg sighting!

I've been watching the 2-DVD set of The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg, a fascinating and very poignant film that comes with some terrific extras. Among the latter is a set of interviews about A.G., one of which is by Ed Sanders - the most powerful of them all, I think. Sanders sums up what we can learn from Ginsberg's life and work thusly: be kind, never give up on anybody, and expect a better world. Another amazing interview on the set is with Patti Smith, who was at Ginsberg's bedside when he slipped away. She described the memorial tribute to him, Planet News, in which she participated... and remembered that she was playing the clarinet in a piece dedicated to him and... it became evident to her that the thing wouldn't stop playing! As she was trying to wind things down so as not to go past her allotted time, the instrument, which wouldn't end its song, bucked up wildly in her mouth, knocking out a part of her tooth! She watched this tiny "ivory" chip sail across the stage through the lights, and losing what she called her last vanity... her perfect teeth!... felt that Ginsberg was sending a signal!

Well, while I was walking to the train this morning, I was thinking about Ed Sanders's formulation of what G.'s life taught us - and as I passed underneath a big old bending and bowing tree, felt a little dubious about the better world part. I muttered something about it to myself, as I am wont to do ... and... at that exact instant, the tree let loose a SHOWER of acorns on my head. Not just a small handful, but what felt like every last nut on the tree. Between that & Patti Smith's shivered tooth, I may now have to consult with some Buddhist monks! It's really a wonderful film. Whatever you think about Ginsberg and his work, you'd probably enjoy it and get something out of it.

Currently reading :
The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice: First Journals and Poems 1937-1952
By Allen Ginsberg

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