The 60th anniversary of Howl, the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s book of poems, served as the second fundraiser this month for the David Lynch Foundation, a non-profit organization the filmmaker founded to provide the benefits of transcendental meditation to under-serviced communities.
Hal Willner, the former musical producer of Saturday Night Live, was inspired by his mentor and late friend Allen Ginsberg to produce this event held at the Ace Hotel Theater in Los Angeles.
For those unfamiliar with Allen Ginsberg works and the “Beat Generation,” the infamous Howl and other Poems denounced capitalism and conformity in the U.S. The book attracted widespread publicity in 1957 when it became the subject of an obscenity trial as it depicted homosexuality, still illegal at that time.
Ginsberg was a practicing Buddhist who lived in New York’s East Village. One of his most influential teachers was the Tibetan “Chogyam Trungpa.” At Trungpa's urging, Ginsberg and poet Anne Waldman started the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in 1974 (aka Naropa), which currently attracts professors like “Sonic Youth’s” Thurston Moore and others.
This reviewer had the pleasure of attending an author and friend graduation at Naropa University a couple years back. It completely blew me away with their encouragement of unconformity and effective ways of teaching a blend of creative arts and philosophy. The ceremony kept in line with the guidelines of Buddhist teachings, freethinking and encouragement of artistic expressionism.
Howl was indeed a night of comedy, poetry and music by a variety of performers. Nick Cave exceptionally stole the night as far as musical performances are concerned. Though artists such as Lucinda Williams, Devendra Banhart, Macy Gray, Courtney Love, Tim Robbins and Peaches provided outstanding sets rounding out an unusually fascinating experience. SNL alumni such as Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen and Will Forte brought the funny within their rendition of traditional poetry readings and musical performances of Ginsberg poems.
Text by Franceasca Seiden; Photos by Paula Tripodi