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Posts Tagged ‘Ginsberg’

In the stress of life and a new job, I have frequently found myself at 3am worrying about work. My remedy has been to listen to audio books which I find soothing and I manage to get back to sleep. I should add at this point that a recording of Ginsberg reading ‘HOWL‘ did  not have this effect.

However my recent late night/early morning sorry has been Patti Smith reading her book “Just Kids“. There is an intimacy in an audio book read by the author, it felt like Patti was telling her (and Robert’s) story directly to me. I was surprised at her accent (yella, fella etc) and affected by her vulnerability. In fact, yesterday morning at 5am I found myself weeping as the story drew to a close with Sam Wagstaff’s and then Robert Mapplethorpe’s deaths. Yesterday was that kind of day and the book on reflection is full of reminders of our mortality.


Patti and Robert lifted from here

It is an old story. I watched a film a while back that is an intersection with Just Kids.  Black White + Grey, is mainly about Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe’s relationship. Ron Brownson has written about this here and I agree it was sad not have more focus on Wagstaff and his amazing collection of photography (which Smith details the beginnings of in Just Kids). I have been dreaming of black and white photographs of American Bison since: the great herds of the great plains of the west, now as non existent as the New York of the 1970s that Smith and Crump document.

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A pile of American Bison skulls waiting to be ground for fertilizer: photographer unknown, mid-1870s (image by Chick Bowen, 27 May 2011)

I hate the concept of ‘bucket lists’ and yet I sort of have one. Sadly often the things I want to see or do don’t exist or can’t happen. For example I wanted to stay at the Chelsea Hotel (a feature of the Just Kids story and many others) but it has been bought out and closed. “ A property developer recently bought the down-at-heel building for $80 million (£48 million) and has turned it over to an architect best known for designing bland Holiday Inns.” Gone the way of the bison, ground into fertiliser.

[This post was written to a soundtrack of Smith’s “Horses” and aided by strong black coffee.]

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I’ve been on a beat reading binge lately. I do this every now and again. I think it started when I read an essay [.pdf] comparing Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar with Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and finally seeing the 2011 Walter Salles movie.

I then read a biography of Neal Cassady and Carolyn Cassady’s Off the Road and on and on. I’d really like to read this book about LuAnne Henderson – MaryLou in On the Road.

However the revelation this time was Big Sur… I thought I’d read it but I can’t have as it is just devastating. A term that sounds dramatic, but really I was so moved by Kerouac’s story. The enormity of it perhaps. There is a moment when Jack, feeling positive, takes a “huge deep Yogic breath” on the beach but instead of sea air is overcome with “a horror of an eternal condition of sick mortality…I see myself as doomed, pitiful

It’s worth a read

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I have also been quietly working on a long-time project to be able to recite Ginsberg’s Howl. To this ended I follow @howltweeter on twitter which recites the poem endlessly in small chunks.

I have also been working on simply noticing

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I accidentally caught a news item tonight on the Power of Portraiture exhibition at Gus Fisher Gallery . “How we perceive leadership has changed over the years. The use of portraiture to reflect the image of ‘power’ and ‘authority’ has also had to change to reflect the differences in values and leadership styles.

I read a review over on EyeContact recently on this and Hurrell wrote “much of the show is plain dull. Just bad art that deserves to be tossed into an incinerator.” I guess that’s an understandable reaction to such a selection. Of course being in Auckland I haven’t seen the exhibition so I can’t comment too much about it. However I find portraiture on the whole creepy, and self portraits are worse. There’s that whole thing about being watched. This I found quiet disturbing in patches of the major Rita Angus retrospective at Te Papa earlier this year.

From what I have seen I was struck by some very conventional works. I quite liked the painting of Michael Savage as it seemed very straight forward and perhaps befitting the man? The other was Richard McWhannell’s portrait of Don McKinnon which was a little less formal and had a nice quality of light about it. Its all very weird because I just LOVE photographs of people, yet I would hesitate to have a painted portrait of someone on my walls.

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Michael Joseph Savage by John A Berrie. [1937]

So from this weak start you may gather I have decided to continue with this blog. I am sure it will change with my move to Dunedin in mid January – maybe because I am hoping for a more rural outlook (and on that front I need lots of blog-reader long distance mojo right now to secure the house we are after). Also my recent cancer scare and other sad events this year, my perspective has been altered a little. It has been bought home to me that original art and more particularly owning it is something that must show up on “Stuff White People Like” (if it hasn’t already) and is hardly a socialist activity, unless maybe its your own art . I am also working on my “4 Things to do before I am 40” list, an anniversary that is approaching super fast (which is why the list has been shortened).

Amongst this I will still find art and it will continue to be an integral part of my life and you might read about it here. My motto will be from Ginsberg via Patti Smith “I noticed…”

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