COLUMN THIRTY-TWO, APRIL 1, 1998
(Copyright © 1998 Al Aronowitz)
PART 9: THE BEAT PAPERS OF AL ARONOWITZ
CHAPTER NINE: LETTER TO THE ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE
[Please note that a bulletin board and a chatroom for the ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE is being established at http://www.bookzen.com/books2/ag_memorial.html . Otherwise, the folowing letter is being sent to each member of THE ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE.]
I'm pleased to tell you how enthusiastically and without equivocation legendary performers Richie Havens and The Band's Rick Danko joined master musician David Amram, saxophone wizard Hayes Greenfield and singer-songwriters Ellis Paul and Christian Bauman in volunteering to perform at our tribute to Allen Ginsberg and his Beat Generation in the Central Park Bandshell June 12. The legendary Pete Seeger also has indicated that he'll be there.
John Scher, his staff, Amiri Baraka and I have only just started to line up performers for the event, at which you, too, as a member of THE ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE, are cordially invited to come up and take a turn at the mike to read, recite or maybe give a performance of some kind or maybe just show up to give a wave and take a bow. The Central Park Bandshell accommodates at least 15,000.
We like to call the committee's tribute to Allen and his Beat Generation AN INTERNATIONAL CONVOCATION OF THE BEST MINDS, although the event might also be called A Convention of the Enlightened.
With an expected marathon of readers to appear between musical performances, the tribute will start Friday, June 12, in New York's Central Park Bandshell and will continue Saturday, June 13, in Newark, N.J., a 13-minute or so train ride away. In Newark,
We have ambitious
the Tribute to Newark
committee chairman Amiri Baraka hopes to be able to resume the tribute in New Jersey's new Performing Arts Center. Within that ultra-ultra modern structure, commonly called the PAC, admission tickets can be sold and a VIP reception can be held. Further events might possibly take place the evening of June 13 in Newark's Weequahic Park Stadium.
I myself am witness to the fact that Allen and his Beat Generation freed us from the lingering Victorianism which still imprisoned the culture, the language and the behavior of the America in which I grew up. Too often, tradition imprisons us in orthodoxy and binds us to the past, preventing us from stepping into the future.
You can hear it in the music and you can see it on the stage, in dance, on TV, in the movies, in books, magazines, periodicals and everyday speech and behavior, Allen and his Beats have really loosened up our culture. Allen certainly changed my life. And the Beats keep changing lives. I've been told that On the Road is the most stolen book at New York bookstores, forcing the stores to keep the book under the counter. Every time another kid reads On the Road, his life gets changed, too. The Beats truly were a force in the ongoing war between candor and hypocrisy, between truth and bullshit. Yes, the Beats helped enlighten us.
As I said, we have only just started to round up a cast for the "show" at our INTERNATIONAL CONVOCATION OF THE BEST MINDS, but if other performers respond with the immediate and unquestioning "yes" given by those we've already asked, we feel hopeful that the tribute will have a cast which reflects the wide range and texture of all of us who have been influenced by Allen and the Beats.
Among poets, Andrei Voznesensky faxed me he would come, but that was when he thought the tribute was going to be held last August. Unfortunately, Lawrence Ferlinghetti told me he couldn't be in New York because he'd be in Italy. Michael McClure and Pete Hamill said they'd be in Central Park. From Iceland, Birgitta Jonsdottir promised to come read. From Prague, Gwen Albert said she'd try to lead a delegation. From Colombia, Medellin's Prometeo Festival chairman Fernando Rendon said June 12 conflicts with his own festival, but he would try to send a representative.
Others I remember who said they'd be here include Merilene M. Murphy, president of Telepoetics, Inc., and Telepoetics/Los Angeles; Danika Dinsmore, co-founder and executive director of Northwest Spokenword Lab (SPLAB!) in Auburn, WA; Kurt Heintz, site director of "This is Telepoetics/Chicago"; Ide Hintze of Vienna said she'd come and on and on and on. No, we won't lack for poets.
In the beginning, we asked you to lend us the prestige of your name to give THE ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE more clout in its effort to get the June 12 date in Central Park, which Elias Levenson of the Parks Department marketing staff has been kind enough to confirm. Now we ask you to contribute the prestige of your name once again, this time to the lineup of those who will take a short turn at the microphone, even if just to take a bow.
We wish to express our thanks to John Scher and his staff at Metropolitan Entertainment Group, concert promoters, who have been so gung-ho in volunteering to act as producer of the tribute, reflecting the same kind of enthusiasm shown by you in your reply to our invitation to become a member of THE ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE. But then, we wouldn't have written you in the first place if we didn't suspect you shared at least some of our enthusiasm. A very enthusiastic Ken Viola of John Scher's staff asks that you please let me know as soon as possible if you wish to participate in the June 12-13 tribute. No admission fees will be collected at the Central Park event, and we're sure we can guarantee you a "sellout" crowd.
We have just started to line up featured entertainers for the tribute and we also have just started to round up the sponsors necessary to underwrite the cost of the event and we appeal for your help. John Scher has told me that if we can get a major headliner on the bill---such as the Grateful Dead, which owes so much to the Beat Generation or even David Bowie, who once told me how his life was changed by the Beats---then it will be easier for us to get a major sponsor. Otherwise, we can go ahead with what we already have, a bare bones presentation with just a sound system. But we will still need funds to give a required donation to the Parks Department and in addition we will have to pay for whatever else the Parks Department requires. With no dues or income, THE ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE, like this tribute, is entirely voluntary and spontaneous and has no treasury. This tribute will come off as an event that will be remembered only with your cooperation.
Al Aronowitz Secretary
THE ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE
Box 964 Elizabeth, NJ 07208-0964
THE ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE :
Amiri Baraka, Chairman
Eugene Brooks, Honorary Member
Connie Brooks, Honorary Member
Ann Brooks, Honorary Member
Edith Ginsberg, Honorary Member
George N. Tobia Jr., Counsel
John Scher, Producer
David Amram, Robert Frank, Michael McClure, George Plimpton, Aram Saroyan, Charlie Rothchild, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Amina Baraka, Jim Ragan, Alfred Leslie, Ed Adler, Robert Creeley, Anne Waldman, Gary Snyder, Yoko Ono, Ed Sanders, Ann Charters, Robert Viscusi, Bob Fass, Eric Drooker, Tuli Kupferberg, Larry Sloman, St. Clair Bourne, Kinky Friedman, John Tytell, Chris Felver, Joseph Grant, John Perry Barlow, Andrei Voznesensky, Richard Cammarieri, Jonathan Lim, Fred McDarrah, Kurt Vonnegut, Rosebud Pettet, John Zacherle, Barry Feinstein, David Stanford, Levi Asher, Lillian Davis, Pete Hamill, David Greenberg, Danny Schechter, Robert A. Sobieszek, Gerry Goffin, Barney Rosset, Hettie Jones, Jerry Wexler, Jerome Rothenberg, Danny Shot, Arnold Weinstein, Janine Vega, Robert Lavigne, Joel Dorn, Bill Gargan, Jimmy Lyons, Quincy Troupe, Charley Plymell, Pamela Beach Plymell, Ed Dorn, Ellis Paul, Brigid Murnaghan, Hiro Yamagata, Kevin Moore, George Reed, Latif (William) Harris, Dennis Hopper, Johnny Depp, Joyce Johnson, Brett Aronowitz Luke, Ray Bremser, Brenda (Bonnie Bremser) Fraser, Jules Feiffer, Leonard Cohen, Oscar Janiger, Kathleen Delaney Janiger, Paul Krassner, Arthur Perley. Attila Gyenis, Morris Dickstein, Taylor Mead, Diane DiPrima, John Sampas, Gerald Nicosia, Steve Cannon, John Sinclair, Ted Joans, Art D'Lugoff, Ahmet Ertegun, Fernando Rendon, Gloria Cavatal, Marcus Williamson, Kenneth Koch, Birgitta Jonsdottir, Hayes Greenfield, Merilene Murphy, Peter Hale, Pavel Grushko, Kirill P. Grushko, Toni Morrison, John Ashbery, Sam Shepard, Michael Dean Odin Pollock, Mary Rudge, Gozo Yoshimasu, Ken Kesey, Ken Babbs, Jonas Mekas, Peter Coyote, Ide Hintze, George Krevsky, Dennis Gould, Bernard Kops, Irving Rosenthal, Paul Nelson, George Aguilar, Krishna Fells, Lucas Gutierrez, Andrew Matovich, Heather Haley, Jean Portante, E. Ethelbert Miller, Andrea Thompson, Ken Sherman, Dave and Ana Christy, Barbara Read, Theodore Wilentz, David Gascoyne, Regina Weinrich, Kevin Ring, Robin Blaser, Carl Hanni, Ron Whitehead, Pi-Oh, Philip Salom, Dr. Maya Angelou, Sharon Levy, Kathy Acker, Gordon Ball, Bob Holman, Bill Berkson, Philip Whalen, Michael Scammell, Karen Kennerly, Charles Potts, Scott Preston, Barry Gifford, Galway Kinnell, Robert Peters, Larry Fagin, Robert Bove, Theo Dorgan, John Reeves, Vincent Farnsworth, Gloria Frym, Gary David, Rita Dove, Larry Winfield, Natalie Goldberg, Steve Sanfield, Douglas Brinkley, Vaclav Havel, Aaron Yamaguchi, Eithne Strong, Joe McDonald, Kurt Heintz, Natalie Goldberg, Robert Lax, Andrei Codrescu, Lee Ranaldo, Pete Seeger, Hunter Thompson, Clark Coolidge, Jack Micheline, Joe Napora, Tom Robbins, David Hershkovits, John Brandi, Barry Miles, Jonathan Williams, Ani DiFranco, Steve Ben Israel, Jack Hirschman, Richie Havens, Valery Oisteanu, Hersch Silverman, Ira Cohen, David Meltzer, Miguel Agarin, Ben Schafer, Jeremy Pikser, Christian Bauman, Jordan Green, Vin Scelza, Sophia, Jen Dent, Aron Kay, Nancy Brodsky, Lorraine Rebennack, Jann Wenner, E.L. Doctorow.
Still awaiting positive responses from the following, all of whom have been contacted:
Bob Dylan, John Eastman, Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Neil Aspinall, Ron Delsener, George Harrison, John Wieners, Ishmael Reed, Bruce Springsteen, Lew Lapham, Howard Stern, Don Imus, Tom Friedman, Frank Rich, Sally Grossman, Liz Smith, Richard Goldstein, Joanne Kyger, Sara Dylan, Joel Siegal, Andrew Wylie, Ted Koppel, Cecil Taylor, Scott Muni, Sterling Lord, Brian Hamill, Brice Marden, Jack Newfield, Henry Stern, Carolyn Cassady, Norman Mailer, Lisa Phillips, Richard Gere, James Grauerholz, Jim Dickson, Ornette Coleman, George Soros, Lita Hornick, Felipe Feliciano, Don Allen, Daisy Aldan, Barbara Guest, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ntozake Shange, Larry Rivers, Archie Shepp, Odetta Gordon, Jaap Blonk, Michael Horovitz, Miriam Patchen, Grace Paley, Peter Orlovsky, Howard Hart, Patti Smith, Megas, Dirk Gortler, Bill Morgan, Bono, Rand Ragusa, Lou Reed, George Herms, , Alan Kaufman, Duncan McNaughton, Holiness Dalai Lama, Jim Carroll, Michael Stipe, Lenny Kaye, Seamus Heaney, Cathal O'Searcaigh, Peter Sirr, John Giorno, John Updike, Maggie Estep, Thom Gunn, Annie Liebowitz, Beverly Smith, James Laughlin, Robert Hunter, Brother Patrick Hart, Ron Seitz. Christopher Underwood, Jan Pinkow, Marco Cassini, Michael Andre, Reetika Vazirani, Ann Hollander, Ann Douglas, Matthew Smith, Jerry Poynton, Ron Padgett, Ellen Gilchrist, Lionel Ziprin, Gelek Rintoche, Robert Pinsky, Nanao Sakaki, Carol Merrill.
Still to be contacted (Anyone's help in providing a correct mailing address for any of the following will be appreciated):
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Jose Angel Figueroa, Sarah Wright, Marion Brown, John Giorno, Gil Sorentino, Hubert Selby, Mrs. Bob Kaufman, Michael Horovitz, Esteban Moore, Gonzalo Rojas, Ersi Sotiropoulou, Haroldo de Campos, Tony Harrison, Mazisi Kunene, Lauri Anderson, Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Wait, Joe Strummer, J. D. Salinger. ##
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