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The annual HOWL! FESTIVAL kicks off today in the East Village.

Opening day, this year, coincides with the 85th anniversary of Ginsberg’s birth. Per tradition, the poet Bob Holman will lead a group reading of Howl with a cast of friends and fellow poets. From the website:

Each year we commence the open air festivities in NYC’s Tompkins Square Park with a group reading of Allen’s ground-breaking 1956 poem, HOWL, just before dusk, conducted in a symphonic manner by Bowery Poetry Club mastermind, Bob Holman. The line up of poets lending their voices to bringing Howl to life this year (in no particular order) include: Darian Dauchan, Alice Whitwham, Nicole Wallace, Curtis Jensen, Julie Patton, Fay Chiang, Miguel Algarin, Andy Clausen, Eliot Katz, Bob Rosenthal, David Henderson, John Giorno, Hettie Jones, Steven Taylor, Ed Sanders, sick prose, Elisabeth Velasquez, Helena D. Lewis, Eliel Lucero, Nikhil Melnechuk, & Jon Sands.

I plan to be there with my undergrad Downtown Scenes class. (It’s our final day today; we opened the course with Howl, so this seems a fitting way to close.)

As much as I look forward to the reading, I think I’d rather listen to Patti Smith read Ginsberg than just about anyone else but Ginsberg. Here she is with Philip Glass reading Ginsberg’s “On the Cremation of Chogyam Trungpa Vidyadhara” (1987) at a memorial for Ginsberg. From Dream of Life:

That spittle at 2:50 is, I think, one of the most moving moments in the history of punk performance.

I also like her piece “Spell,” which incorporates G’s Footnote to Howl:

The same piece as included in Dream of Life:

Follow the Howl! Festival on Twitter. Follow @HowlTweeter too.

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Wow. In case you missed this story at the Local East Village yesterday: our friends at Fales Library are acquiring a treasure trove of documentary concert footage and interviews from the heyday of New York punk. I’m wishing I’d had access to these over the last six months while writing about CBGB’s origins, but still glad they’ll be available to future researchers. From the blog:

The Fales Collection at New York University will shortly begin the process of preserving and cataloging an extraordinary video archive of punk and new wave performances known as “Gonightclubbing, Ltd.,” mainly recorded in the nineteen seventies at East Village clubs like CBGB using reel-to-reel video.

The archive is the work of video artists Emily Armstrong and Pat Ivers, and until collected by a team from Fales last week it occupied significant cupboard space in Ms. Armstrong’s apartment. Although the material has been presented at museum and theater shows, it has never been commercially available. Almost 200 live shows by acts like the Dead Boys, the Heartbreakers, Iggy Pop and Suicide have remained largely unseen since the two young cable TV employees hauled their gear around downtown clubs more than 30 years ago.

Fales has been collecting documentation of the downtown art scene since 1994. Marvin Taylor, director of the archive, told The Local, “You can’t talk about the art scene without talking about the birth of punk rock.” He described the Armstrong-Ivers material as the “premiere collection” of live recordings from the period, with great sound quality because the makers were able to record directly from the soundboards at clubs. “It’s the very best. I have never seen anything like it,” he said.

The rest of the story here.

Photo by Emily Armstrong for Local East Village.

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