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You need no ticket to make a place for yourself here where humor, black and otherwise, comes to you from the stage where the human comedy itself is being played, its performance trumping the things dark and tragic and found in the world of literature.
Monday, April 17, 2006
The original, authentic Howl reading...

"On October 13, 1955, Elvis Presely played the City Auditorium in Amarillo, Texas -- just one of the countless stops en route to the hysterical adulation he was to experience after signing to RCA-Victor the following month. That same night, far away in San Francisco, six poets -- Kenneth Rexroth, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Phil Whalen, Philip Lamantia, and a teenaged Michael McClure -- read their work at the Six gallery on Fillmore street, creating such a storm that Jack Kerouac, no less, described the event as 'the night of the birth of the San Francisco poetry Renaissance.' Ginsberg, a twenty-eight-year-old native New Yorker who'd made San Francisco his adoptive city, gave a reading of his epic Blakean poem, Howl. It was to be a foundation stone of Beat subculture.

In truth, the two events weren't so far apart as moments of resistance to the stifling, desensualized dullness of American life in the fifties. The readings were as much a part of the dawning of rock'n'roll as were Presley's scandalous gyrations -- his manner, style, and delivery rooted in black R&B. (It was with good reason that Norman Mailer identified the followers of the Beat generation as 'white Negroes.') 'This was a time of cold, gray silence,' Michael McClure was to write. 'But inside the coffee houses of North Beach, poets and friends sensed the atmosphere of liberation...we were restoring the body, with the voice as the extension of the body.'"

From: Beneath The Diamond Sky -- Haight-Ashbury 1965-1970 by Barney Hoskyns
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