Showing posts from December, 2011

A Christmas Message to the Readers of Suffolk Punch


Tom Waits - Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis


Bob Dylan - Here Comes Santa Claus


Gerald Nicosia on the Kerouac Estate

Over at our sister station THE BEATNIK we have something of a scoop today: Gerald Nicosia, the only really serious biographer of Jack Kerouac, writes about the recent Florida appellate court ruling on the will being used to direct the operations of Kerouac's estate. It's a forgery, people. There have been questions raised about its authenticity for a long time, but now all those Doubting Thomases (or Toms, since Kerouac fans tend not to like formalities) and all the conspiracy theorists who attach themselves to the other side of anything involving money and power, have been proven to be right. Go and read Nicosia's account, today. It will enrage you and cheer you up at the same time, since the good guys have finally been vindicated (although nobody is pointing fingers at anyone when it comes to the question of who forged the will). Where the good guys can possibly go from here, however, is anybody's guess.

My Gulliver Piece, With Added Comments

I spent half a day writing this crap for class and then it wasn't required because the lecturer was ill. So I thought I'd share it here. Might as well do something with it, although casually flaunting my laboured academic prose in front of Suffolk Punch readers is a little like doing a naked jig in the high street. The task? Take a passage from Gulliver's Travels and analyse it in 500 words using at least one 'secondary source'. Well, here we go...(I have, by the way, interposed a few comments not in the original script.)
Gulliver’s Travels Book 1, Chapter 4 “Which two mighty powers have…”
In this passage from Book 1, Gulliver learns from Principal Secretary Reldresal (sounds like redressal, that does) that a difference about how eggs should be eaten is the motivation for the long war between Lilliput and the neighbouring empire of Blefuscu. Reldresal has been asked to give this historical account to Gulliver in the hope that he will use his size and strength to suppo…

Harry Potter To Play Allen Ginsberg? Surely, A Calamity!

Daniel Radcliffe, who apparently played a young chap called Harry Potter in a series of children's movies about witchcraft which made a lot of money, is going to play Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings, a film about the murder of David Kammerer by Lucien Carr, an episode in the history of the Beats familiar to specialists and casual Beat readers alike. The response of the media to the news has been striking for its emphasis on the sexuality of Ginsberg. Our 'arry? Playing one o' them? Go here for an interesting article about the homophobic twaddle that almost every reference to the film has contained since it was announced.

Lunch Poems: Lawrence Ferlinghetti


Colonel Potter: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen

I was saddened today to hear of the death of actor Harry Morgan, who played Colonel Sherman T. Potter in one of my favourite TV series, 'M*A*S*H*'. He was 96. The internet tells me Harry also appeared as Officer Gannon in the 1960s revival of Dragnet, and on the short-lived and long-forgotten early '70s cop show Hec Ramsey - although I've never seen the former and can't remember the latter. He can be seen, if anyone still likes Westerns enough to look for them, in two of the greatest examples of the genre ever made, The Ox-Bow Incident, with Henry Fonda, and John Wayne's fabulous, moving last film The Shootist.

But it is for 'M*A*S*H' that some of us, at least, will remember him. Sherman T. (formerly 'Hoops') Potter, that eccentric veteran of multiple wars, with a love, as I recall, for Zane Grey (or am I imagining that?) and a horse called Sophie. I watched every episode of that show again and again and I never tired of the counterpoint Potter&…

Siddhartha sets out on the path


Happy Rohatsu Everybody

Men, women, children, cats, dogs, cows, sheep, tigers, lions, leopards, monkeys, fish, trees, rocks, grass and everything outside and in between.

Bob Dylan - Sara (Live)

I live in my own little cultural vacuum where nothing has happened that I don't want to be aware of and nothing has any legitimacy unless I give it my much-envied seal of approval. Maybe we all do, although I understand there is a strange species of people out there who designate themselves "open-minded" and condemn my selectivity. I condemn their unselectivity. It indicates to me a curious lack of passion.

An Unexpected Guest

I wrote a poem this morning. I call myself a poet so this should not really be newsworthy, but since I haven't written anything since September I'm rather pleased. After reading Jon Swift over my morning coffee, I stepped reluctantly (as ever) into the bath and there was the poem, knocking unexpectedly on my mental front door asking to come in for breakfast. Needless to say, I let it in. It was a lot more welcome than some of the visitors who've been knocking on that door recently. And it looks good, at first, second and third glance. When I've taken a fourth and fifth glance I may even share it with the world.

I bet you can't wait.

The Death Of Emmett Till / Alabama

John Coltrane recorded "Alabama" on November 18, 1963, just two months after the racially-motivated Birmingham church bombing that killed four girls and injured several other people. I've always loved the hellfire kind of protest as demonstrated, to some extent, by Dylan's "Death of Emmett Till" because sometimes rage and explicit statement are the only appropriate responses to a terrible event. But Coltrane's track works on a different level aesthetically, presenting the bombing as a human tragedy, one that everybody civilised enough to feel can understand, while never disengaging from condemnation of the perpetrators. Music is subjective but to borrow a phrase from Dylan, I hear "tears of rage [and] tears of grief" in the track.

Jonathan Swift

There's more truth in a teacupful of Jon Swift than there is in a bucket of Will Shakespeare. Click the link.

An Excellent New Song Being The Intended Speech Of A Famous Orator Against Peace by Jonathan Swift

Allen Ginsberg - full show


Kerouac and the Clones

A correspondent suggests that Jack Kerouac has no place in the slice-and-dice Penguin anthology even though Ginsberg has, and would have made the cut but for those evil money-grubbers at HarperCollins. I've heard this kind of stupid prejudice against Kerouac many times, but I still can't help wondering what planet people live on. Everybody who isn't looking for the employee of the month badge at McDonald's or next year's £50 000 Anaemic Poetry Prize and the big seat at the English Department table in the University of Clones knows Kerouac is a great poet. Here's Ginsberg's own view on the matter from an old issue of Gargoyle Magazine.

Dove: Digging Deeper

I've been reading further on Rita Dove's decision to exclude Ginsberg and Kerouac from the new Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Verse and I've unearthed a couple of interesting details. First this old quote from Dove, which demonstrates she has no particular prejudice towards Ginsberg (I'd never heard of her before I read about the anthology, so what did I know?):

Allen Ginsberg's importance was in its twilight for so many years that it took his death to bring it to the front page. He electrified an entire world! And he continues to do so! There are generations who stumble across HOWL and find it speaks to them. Yet it takes a tragedy to make people notice.

Dove says in her introduction, apparently, that she couldn't afford to blow her whole budget on hefty permission fees from copyright owners. I don't know if she refers specifically to HarperCollins and Rupert Murdoch (I am so out of t…

Ginsberg: The Ugly Spectre of Revisionism

The rather wonderful Allen Ginsberg blog ( reminds us that Allen's poetry has been left out of Rita Dove's Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry.

WHAT??? Who the hell is going to represent American poetry at mid-century and into the Sixties then? Robert Lowell?? Kenneth Patchen??

This doesn't warrant a polite "Boo!", Ginsberg people, it warrants a howl, if you'll pardon the pun, of objection. It's philistinism. Absolute philistinism. And an absurd attempt to rewrite history, excluding the only serious challenge to the strangulating dullness of respectable literary life in those times.

I recommend we all write emails and letters of strenuous complaint and refuse to buy any more Penguin books until they correct their ridiculous error.

Rohatsu Is Coming, Bard Rolls Out The Mat

We Boodhists are fast approaching our favourite day in December, which is called Rohatsu. Rohatsu falls on December the 8th, and since the word itself, in Japanese, means "eighth day of the twelfth month" (at least according to About Buddhism) that would make sense. December 8 is the day Japanese Buddhists observe the enlightenment of the Buddha of our aeon, although of course, there have been countless Buddhas in past aeons, and I suppose there will be countless Buddhas in the future.

In Zen monasteries, Rohatsu is the last day of a week-long sesshin, which is to say an intensive meditation retreat in which monks focus on their meditation practise at every moment of the day as a means of redoubling their dedication to the search for Enlightenment. This, after all, was the historical moment when Buddha himself entered into the final stages of his search, confronted Mara and freed himself from cyclical existence.

I try to observe a mini Rohatsu week every year at the Bard Ga…

Misogyny Thy Name is Bard

I learned today that I have a reputation at the University for being a woman hater as well as a loudmouth and a bad poet. I can only imagine this is based upon my recent declaration that the two lecturers who grate on my nerves are female. Well, okay. I won't dignify such nonsense with a defence of my liberal egalitarian principles. Let people think what they like. I'm reaching the stage where I don't really care what people think, as long as the people I love still love me.