Saturday, December 26, 2009

the secret mind of Bob Kaufman

In the photo: Mario Ellis Hill performs Bob Kaufman's Does the Secret Mind Whisper? A series of YouTube videos capture various poets honoring Kaufman's legend.

Does the Secret Mind Whisper? was published as a broadside by City Lights in 1959 and then again in pamphlet form in 1960. Copies of it are fairly difficult to find today. Are there plans for it to be republished? I certainly hope so.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tosh Berman

Wallace Berman took this photograph of his son Tosh in 1960. Silver gelatin print; taken in 1960, printed in 2006. h: 20 x w: 16 in. In an interview with Tosh:
3:AM: It would be remiss of me not to mention your father, Wallace Berman. He’s being undergoing a bit of a revival in recent years - there have been some retrospectives of his work, but also Stewart Home has cribbed the ethos of Semina for his imprint. How much of an influence is Semina on your work, if at all?

TB: My Dad is a major influence on me. He taught me to go against the grain and listen to that inner voice. I am surrounded by two geniuses in my life: my dad and my wife. Both are creatures of the creative, and I feel like I am in their shadow – but what a great place to be in. They both taught me to go by instinct. And instinct is the core of the creative act.

Semina is sort of the self-made ‘zine of its time. He just did it without thinking out the commercial aspect. So in one sense it was a pure piece of work. Very personal and therefore beautiful. I think of TamTam in that manner. I just want to show the public what turns me on. So in a sense, it’s a sharing feeling. I don’t care about the masses, I just want people who are interested in what I am doing. Ten people into Boris Vian is good enough for me.
[LINK to the above.]

See an earlier entry titled "Trippy sardonic West Coast surrealism."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Donald Hall matriculates into Ezraversity

Donald Hall interviewed Ezra Pound in Italy in 1960. After editing and much backing and forthing with Ez, Hall published it in 1962. The Paris Review has now made the entire interview available as a PDF.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

jazz at Newport

Jazz on a Summer's Day (1960) - a film about jazz at Newport - is available online to anyone here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

1936 painted in 1960

1958-60, oil and charcoal on canvas. Although he was only 21 when the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, Robert Motherwell was deeply affected by the conflict, and would make over 200 works on the subject. I found this one at MoMA and took the photo with my iPhone (forgive the poor quality). A monumental canvas, stark imagery, an apparently symbolic use of color (smoldering blackness...of death?... against vital whiteness...of life?...) convey passionate feelings. And we know which side Motherwell was on: the side of the Republic, a lost cause. MoMA acquired this canvas in 1998.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Zukofsky's home-made recording

The 22nd episode of PoemTalk is a discussion of a poem written in the 1940s but recorded, at home, onto a reel-to-reel player. Click here for program notes and a link to the discussion.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

fun cocktail glasses

...that belonged to my wife's parents.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Alex Katz at Bowdoin

This untitled oil painting is Alex Katz in 1960 - rendering a landscape in Skowhegan, Maine. The canvas is in the permanent collection of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. As I write this, it's on exhibit at the college through 2010, part of a show called "Grounded: Two Centuries of American Landscape Painting."

In 2006 there was a show of Katz' 1960s paintings at PaceWildenstein. (Here's a review of that.)

Here are his one-man shows of the era:

Compare the 1960 landscape with this one--below--of 1972:

(The 1972 piece is a silkscreen, called "Sunset: Lake Wesserunsett IV.")

Monday, June 1, 2009

post-WW2: separate & professional but still fighting like a unit

Ian McLellan Hunter, blacklisted in the U.S. and writing teleplays and screenplays in England and Europe under assumed names (including Samuel B. West), wrote and/or helped write two episodes of the British TV series, The Four Just Men, based on 1921 and 1939 films that had been based on Edgar Wallace's novel Just Men. In the novel, four British veterans of WWI pledge to use their different professional specialties to fight postwar injustice. In the 1959-60 series the four are WW2 vets, spread out now that the war is long done but still fighting like a unit.

"Crime and mystery series that starred Jack Hawkins (as British M.P. Ben Manfred), Hollywood song and dance man Dan Dailey (as US journalist Tim Collier -who was based in Paris), Richard Conte (as New York Professor of Law, Jeff Ryder) and Vittorio de Sica (as Italian hotelier Ricco Poccari) all of whom had been members of the same unit during the war. They took turns each week in tackling an injustice (the episode being set in either London, New York, Paris or Rome) and each was aided by a female assistant, one of whom was future 'Avenger' Honor Blackman."

This show was a production of ITC and also of Sapphire Films. Sapphire was the group that put out "Adventures of Robin Hood," which had a pinko coloring to it and for which Ian Hunter also wrote.

great society before Great Society

Don't you love how planful & totalizingly synthetic--willing to generalize--intellectuals were circa 1960? This quality becomes more and more remarkable to me the further into the details of the books and projects of the time I get.

Howard Mumford Jones took over the American Council of Learned Societies in 1955 (ACLS was in turmoil then) and by 1960 he published a book to make the case generally. Imagine an intellectual today talking about one society? Humanities saves all.

Nicholas Joost and the 1920s rage

Nicholas Joost had been a Chicago-area professor and, for several years in the early 50s, was an associate editor at Poetry magazine. After a while his main interest became The Dial, the avant-garde magazine whose heyday had been the 1920s. Eventually he would write several books about the Dial but first, from 1956 through 1960, he helped prepare a major exhibit on the Dial put on at the Worcester Museum (in Massachusetts). Joost's manuscripts (at Georgetown) include correspondence of the late fifties and they seem (to judge from the finding aid) almost entirely taken up with the Dial exhibit. I haven't seen the exhibit catalogue for the show, which opened in '59 and ran through part of '60, but I'm soon going to be in touch with the folks now at Worcester, get a copy of the catalogue and find out what institutional records they have kept. I've long been curious about specific reasons why the 1920s were so much the rage in the mid and late 1950s, why specifically Fitzgerald's fiction had such a comeback, why American modernists circa 1925 was of such great interest. This Dial show and its reception will, I think, give me some further clues.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Julie as Emily

Click here for more.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pound as a central image

Hugh Kenner's The Pound Era, which reshaped the discussion of Pound in the 1970s, and in some ways re-ignited the debates about Pound's politics (because, for Kenner, Pound's fascism by no means mooted his poetic centrality), was published in 1973. Not knowing much about Kenner's earlier work, I'd always assumed it was written in the late 60s and early 70s; such a big book surely took a while to make.

Yesterday I spent the day reading around in the Poetry magazine papers at the University of Chicago and read Kenner's correspondence with Poetry editor Henry Rago in the years 1957, '58, '59, '60. And in a letter to Rago dated 1960, Kenner told Rago, "I plan a Great Book" which will use Pound's "career as a central image," etc. etc. There you go. Kenner first conceived of The Pound Era in 1960.

In one sense, the Pound era is 1960-71. Kenner was incensed by Richard Ellman's biography of Joyce, which was also published in 1960. His book on Pound is in part a corrective.

Friday, January 16, 2009

dear diary

January 11, 1960: Susan Sontag writes in her diary:
I: You know why you find it so hard to stay alive? You've been running without gasoline?
S: How? Is honesty the gasoline?
I: No, honesty is the smell of the gasoline.

Friday, January 2, 2009

group therapy live on TV

Airing live on Playhouse 90, April 22, 1960: John Franken- heimer's direction of the Rogert O. Hirsen script, Journey to the Day, in which six patients in a state mental hospital are brought together for group therapy. The play was based on actual conditions at two mental hospitals, one in Ohio and the other at St. Vincent's in NYC. Mike Nichols plays one of the roles, as does Steven Hill. That's Frankenheimer, standing, and Nichols seated in the center. Mary Astor stands behind Nichols and Steven Hill has his back to us, at left. I've ordered the playscript and look forward to reading it.