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Archive for March 12th, 2009

howlquartet“Artists from different disciplines have long been inspired by one another’s works, often with remarkable results. But both words and music suffer in Lee Hyla’s ‘Howl,’ a string quartet written in 1993 to accompany Allen Ginsberg’s 1956 poem of that name.

“A performance on Friday at Zankel Hall by the stellar Brentano String Quartet made me want to scream. The ensemble — Mark Steinberg and Serena Canin, violinists; Misha Amory, violist; and Nina Lee, cellist — played Mr. Hyla’s work against a recording of Ginsberg reading his colorful rant at the status quo, a major work of the Beat Generation.

“A poem as long and as dense as ‘Howl’ — whose myriad vivid images are crammed into long run-on sentences — is ill suited for simultaneous musical accompaniment. Music and words seem engaged here in a cacophonous battle with no clear victor.” (more @ NY Times)

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DubaiPoetry“The words of the late Palestinian poet and author Mahmoud Darwish echoed in a packed hall yesterday at the launch of the first annual Dubai International Poetry Festival.

“The festival was inaugurated by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in the presence of more than 100 regional and international poets and writers from 45 countries.

“Jamal Khalfan bin Huwaireb, head of the festival’s organising committee, said in his keynote address that the aim of the festival was to create an opportunity for poets from around the globe to meet. . . .

“‘Poetry is among the most evolved of the arts and the strongest bridge between cultures. We believe that poetry can correct what politics has damaged,’ said Mr bin Huwaireb.” (more @ The National)

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chcuk-norris“On Glenn Beck’s radio show last week, I quipped in response to our wayward federal government, ‘I may run for president of Texas.’

“That need may be a reality sooner than we think. If not me, someone someday may again be running for president of the Lone Star state, if the state of the union continues to turn into the enemy of the state. . . .

“Anyone who has been around Texas for any length of time knows exactly what we’d do if the going got rough in America. Let there be no doubt about that. As Sam Houston once said, ‘Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.'” (more @ WorldNetDaily)

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DEU Obama Fingers“Sprehe, a company that has all manner of frozen delicacies on offer, has come up with a new product it calls ‘Obama Fingers.’ Far from being real digits, though, the ‘fingers’ in question are ‘tender, juicy pieces of chicken breast, coated and fried,’ as the product packaging claims. . . .

“‘We noticed that American products and the American way of eating are trendy at the moment,’ Judith Witting, sales manager for Sprehe, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. ‘Americans are more relaxed. Not like us stiff Germans, like (Chancellor Angela) Merkel.’ . . .

“For Americans in Germany, though, there is a risk that the product might be seen as racially insensitive. Fried chicken has long been associated with African-Americans in the US — naming strips of fried chicken after the first black president could cause some furrowing of brows.

“Witting told SPIEGEL ONLINE the connection never even occurred to her. ‘It was supposed to be a homage to the American lifestyle and the new US president.’ she said.” (more @ Spiegel Online; via Newser)

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kerouacradioJack Kerouac, author of “On the Road” and progenitor of the Beat Generation as well as subsequent generations of literary dreamers, was born on this date in 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts. He died in 1969 at age 47.

Gilbert Millstein’s 1957 New York Times review of “On the Road,” which Dwight Garner called “probably the most famous book review in the history of [the] newspaper,” can be found here.

The following excerpt from “On the Road” describes Sal Paradise’s (Kerouac’s) first attempt at traveling west alone:

I’d been poring over maps of the United States in Paterson for months, even reading books about the pioneers and savoring names like Platte and Cimarron and so on, and on the road-map was one long red line called Route 6 that led from the tip of Cape Cod clear to Ely, Nevada, and there dipped down to Los Angeles. I’ll just stay on all the way to Ely, I said to myself and confidently started. To get to 6 I had to go up to Bear Mountain. Filled with dreams of what I’d do in Chicago, in Denver, and then finally in San Fran, I took the Seventh Avenue Subway to the end of the line at 242nd Street, and there took a trolley into Yonkers; in downtown Yonkers I transferred to an outgoing trolley and went to the city limits on the east bank of the Hudson River. If you drop a rose in the Hudson River at its mysterious source in the Adirondacks, think of all the places it journeys as it goes to sea forever — think of that wonderful Hudson Valley. I started hitching up the thing. Five scattered rides took me to the desired Bear Mountain Bridge, where Route 6 arched in from New England. It began to rain in torrents when I was let off there. It was mountainous. Route 6 came over the river, wound around a traffic circle, and disappeared into the wilderness. Not only was there no traffic but the rain come down in buckets and I had no shelter. I had to run under some pines to take cover; this did no good; I began crying and swearing and socking myself on the head for being such a damn fool. I was forty miles north of New York; all the way up I’d been worried about the fact that on this, my big opening day, I was only moving north instead of the so-longed for west. Now I was stuck on my northermost hangup. I ran a quarter-mile to an abandoned cute English-style filling station and stood under the dripping eaves. High up over my head the great hairy Bear Mountain sent down thunderclaps that put the fear of God in me. All I could see were smoky trees and dismal wilderness rising to the skies. “What the hell am I doing up here?” I cursed, I cried for Chicago. “Even now they’re all having a big time, they’re doing this, I’m not there, when will I get there!” — and so on. Finally a car stopped at the empty filling station; the man and the two women in it wanted to study a map. I stepped right up and gestured in the rain; they consulted; I looked like a maniac, of course, with my hair all wet, my shoes sopping. My shoes, damn fool that I am, were Mexican huaraches, plantlike sieves not fit for the rainly night of America and the raw road night. But the people let me in and rode me back to Newburgh, which I accepted as a better alternative than being trapped in the Bear Mountain wilderness all night. “Besides,” said the man, “there’s no traffic passes through 6. If you want to go to Chicago you’d be better going across the Holland Tunnel in New York and head for Pittsburth,” and I knew he was right. It was my dream that screwed up, the stupid hearthside idea that it would be wonderful to follow one great red line across America instead of trying various roads and routes.

In Newburgh it had stopped raining. I walked down to the river and I had to ride back to New York in a bus with a delegation of schoolteachers coming back from a weekend in the mountains — chatter chatter blah-blah, and me swearing for all the time and money I’d wasted, and telling myself, I wanted to go west and here I’d been all day and into the night going up and down, north and south, like something that can’t get started. (via Literary Kicks)

Kerouac’s explanation of his “spontaneous prose” writing method can be found here.

Video and audio clips from Kerouac readings, as well as rare tapes of Kerouac and Neal Cassady, can be found here. More can be found here and here and here.

A video documentary, Jack Kerouac – King of the Beats, can be viewed here.

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