Today I begin teaching a two-week intensive undergrad seminar on New York’s Downtown Scenes, 1960-80. The course meets four hours a day, five days a week. It promises to be a little intense.
To set the stage, today we’ll discuss Ginsberg’s Howl, talk about the physical space and population of the Village and the LES in the 1950s and 1960s, and head out on a Beats-themed walking tour led by Cary Abrams of the Lower East Side History Project. (You can take the tour Thursdays at 2:00 if you’re interested.)
We’ll also, assuming the new super-smart business-school classroom we’re meeting in has something as old-fashioned as a VCR, watch Alfred Leslie and Robert Frank’s 1959 film Pull My Daisy, considered a watershed in avant-garde American film. Narrated by Jack Kerouac and adapted from his play, the film stars Ginsberg and Gregory Corso as themselves and also features the musician David Amram, both as music director and actor. Amram discusses the film in this three-part interview, which includes enough clips to give you an idea of what the film’s like:
And here’s the film in its 26-minute entirety:
Than you for sharing this information.
In 1959 when we made this little film, that there would be so much appreciaition of it today
it was done as a labor of love, as a kind of crazy home movie that we thought we could show our kids and grandKids some day, to allow them to know that we were (and today those of us still alive still are) friends and supporters of one another’s dreams of being artists, REGARDLESS of what we had to do to pay our rent.
It was fun making it back in 1959 and we never dreamed that 51 years later, people would be way more interested in the film than when we made it
There is also so much more interest today in the work so many of us did (and again those of us blessed to still be here continue to DO!i
I believe Jack as well as most of us also feel would be hopeful that this little film will inspire ALL YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY to make their OWN films and document their OWN friends, family and fellow brother and sister artists!!
Your course sounds wonderful and thank you for honoring the EGALITARIAN SPIRIT OF KEROUAC AND OUR GENERATION AND the ERA WHERE ARTISTS OF ALL GENRES COLLABORATED AND SUPPORTED EACH OTHERS DREAMS
David, thanks for reading, & for this amazing comment — for the peek behind the scenes. It’s hard to believe that this film or others by downtown artists in that era wouldn’t inspire new generations of filmmakers. I’m sure they do every day!