When a Howl Gets Your Attention
I have long been interested in the writers of the Beat Generation, the Beatniks, if you will.
I was searching the Internet Archives for an audio file of Alan Ginsberg's famous poem, Howl.
I once was privileged to hear him read it in one of our churches in Boston. Sometimes you are surprised at what you may hear in a Unitarian Church! Read the Wikipedia entry to place Ginsberg and Howl into context .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howl
I find the cast of characters that make up the Beat Generation fascinating. This counter culture literary crowd were dropping out, smoking dope, listening to cool jazz, getting involved in far left politics and trying out alternative life styles before baby boomer kids discovered it and became the hippies of the 60's. Thus. alarming the parents of a generation.
The key Eastern Beat personalities were Alan Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. They came to connect with Neal Cassady who came from the slums of Denver and lacked the formal educations of the others but was intellectually their equals. He became a pivotal figure in the group being an inspiration for Kerouac's book, "On the Road" and Ginsburg's, Howl. The Beat Generation grew to be a large group of writers and artists and hangers-on that inspired a literary revival. Who said the 50's were dull.
I am doing what I promised myself I would not do and that is write a long blog post on the Beat Generation. I only brought it up in order to make a comment about my dog, Heidi. the mind leads us in wondrous directions.
After finding the audio reading by Ginsberg I was looking through the other entries with howl in them, popping up in my search. There was one on wolves howling. I clicked on it and played it. Immediately, Heidi was up on her feet in the middle of the bed, worthy of Marmaduke, very alert obviously wondering where all the howling was coming from. Heidi is usually very quiet and a frequent sleeper when with me in my room. Not today, she heard the call of the wild. I must remember to keep a firm grip on her when the wolves howl for real outside my place some nights. She got me laughing and I had to turn off the record of wolves howling before she got overexcited. Oh to have had a video camera running.
I would have included the audio file in this posting except for some reason I cannot get the Internet Archives' embedded files, whether audio or text, to open in the main portion of the blog. If anyone has any idea, let me know.
They do open on the template in the side bar. You will find an audio file strip there if you want to hear wolves howling.
I can't resist! Her are a couple of more things about the Beat Generation. If you are interested in reading about this group and sampling some of their work go to this extensive site. and click on anyone of the names in the sidebar.
If you want to know more about Neal Cassady go here. His wife Carolyn is an interesting study in herself. She had a very good artistic upper middleclass education and somehow connected with the Beat Generation by falling for both Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady. She married the latter when the former said , "too bad but Neal saw you first." Kerouac and Cassady had a very close friendship, obviously a loyal one. Carolyn finally went on to a career in painting and writing. She may still be alive living in England.
One of my favourite movies is "Heart Beat" which is inspired by On the Road. It is the story of Jack, Neal and Carolyn. It is not a great movie but I like Nick Nolte and Sissy Spacek. I think the scene is very funny where the three of them living together in a "ticky tacky type suburb befuddling their conventional neighbours with their interesting menage a trois. It is worth the rental. I also enjoy seeing all the old 50's styles of houses, furniture, cars etc.the stuff of my youth.The character Ira is modelled on Alan Ginsberg.
At the very end, Dean Moriarty (the Neal character) is seen getting on a Hippie commune's school bus, (the Hog Farm) and you know the influence of the Beat Generation was being handed on. I once met the motley crew of the Hog Farm when they visited New Haven when I was a minister there, which make this scene more personal in some way.
Enough! I can't stop myself. More another time, perhaps.