COLUMN TWENTY-NINE, JANUARY 1, 1998
(Copyright © 1998 Al Aronowitz)
PART 8: THE BEAT PAPERS OF AL ARONOWITZ
CHAPTER EIGHT: JUNE 12, 1998, IN CENTRAL PARK, AN INTERNATIONAL CONVOCATION OF THE BEST MINDS!
As secretary of THE ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE, I am happy to announce that, after our months-long campaign, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has agreed to grant us permission to hold AN INTERNATIONAL CONVOCATION OF THE BEST MINDS in the Central Park Bandshell on Friday, June 12, 1998.
The convocation promises to be a two-day event, extending to the afternoon of Saturday, June 13, when Committee Chairman Amiri Baraka hopes to obtain the use of New Jersey's brand, new Performing Arts Center in nearby Newark, N.J., only a 13-minute train ride from New York. Hopefully, additional events can be held the evening of June 13 in Newark's Weequahic Park Stadium.
THE ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE was organized with the express purpose of honoring Allen as one of America's and as one of the world's greatest poets, a man who impacted culture around the globe. But Sharon Levy, who was one of the organizers of the eminently successful Los Angeles tribute to Allen and whom we hope to enlist as an organizer of our INTERNATIONAL CONVOCATION OF THE BEST MINDS, has suggested that the Central Park event be held as a Beat Generation celebration that would honor not only Allen but also the late William S. Burroughs. As for me, I have heard from others who are not in favor of that idea and I would like to hear the opinions of other members of the committee.
So, we have a date in Central Park! Our next step must be to line up a credible program of poets and performers and musicians. To help us in this regard and also to help us with logistics, legendary concert promoter John Scher has agreed to act as producer. In addition, I've asked George N. Tobia Jr., attorney for the Jack Kerouac estate, to be our pro-bono counsel in organizing THE ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE as a not-for-profit corporation.
Musician extraordinaire David Amram, a committee member famous as having been associated with the original Beats as a collaborator in the Pull My Daisy movie, is among the first to have volunteered to appear on the program. Also among the first musician volunteers are committee members Hayes Greenfield, saxophonist, and Ellis Paul, singer-songwriter. In addition, poets from around the world are clamoring to participate.
Equally important to building a credible program is the necessity of obtaining funding. At the Central Park Bandshell, we won't necessarily need a stage but, as I've already written, we will need sound amplification, lighting, security and a crew. Also, I imagine that the New York City Parks Department will require insurance and police. In addition, we will have to pay for airline tickets and hotel rooms for those who we feel must appear at the event but who are unable to pay their own expenses. Plus, I'd like to be reimbursed for the few hundred dollars I've already spent out of my own pocket for postage, telephone and other necessities incident to my efforts as committee secretary. And also, we are required to make a donation to the Parks Department. We plan to sell T-shirts and also souvenir books at the event, but such sales won't come near covering the cost of producing this convocation.
Amiri Baraka and I have been friends for close to 40 years, during which time we both watched Allen Ginsberg grow to become of one of world's greatest poets and during which time I also watched Amiri grow to become one of the world's greatest poets. Obviously, I am proud to be associated with Amiri in helping organize this INTERNATIONAL CONVOCATION OF THE BEST MINDS. It is an idea we both dreamed up at Allen's funeral. That's what it is: a dream. An international convocation of those of us who were enlightened by Allen and his Beat Generation enough to want to gather in homage to him. We have already enlisted a committee of close to 150 who apparently share this dream with us. Amiri and I feel it is a dream worthy enough for all of us of like minds to make come true. To this end, the committee would appreciate any help it can get from members in obtaining sponsors to underwrite this event.
I, myself, feel I owe a great debt to Allen and to those who comprised the Beat Generation. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg gave me enlightenment and changed my life. Every day that goes by, another kid picks up a copy of On the Road, reads it and his life gets changed, too. June 12 and 13 will give all those of us whose minds have been thus enlightened to stand up and symbolically shout that fact to history.
THE ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE (As of Christmas Day, 1997.):
Amiri Baraka, Chairman Eugene Brooks, Honorary Member Connie Brooks, Honorary Member Ann Brooks, Honorary Member Edith Ginsberg, Honorary Member George N. Tobia Jr., Counsel John Scher, Producer David Amram, Robert Frank, Michael McClure, George Plimpton, Aram Saroyan, Charlie Rothchild, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Amina Baraka, Jim Ragan, Alfred Leslie, Ed Adler, Robert Creeley, Anne Waldman, Gary Snyder, Yoko Ono, Ed Sanders, Ann Charters, Robert Viscusi, Bob Fass, Eric Drooker, Tuli Kupferberg, Larry Sloman, St. Clair Bourne, Kinky Friedman, John Tytell, Chris Felver, Joseph Grant, John Perry Barlow, Andrei Voznesensky, Richard Cammarieri, Jonathan Lim, Fred McDarrah, Kurt Vonnegut, Rosebud Pettet, John Zacherle, Barry Feinstein, David Stanford, Levi Asher, Lillian Davis, Pete Hamill, David Greenberg, Danny Schechter, Robert A. Sobieszek, Gerry Goffin, Barney Rosset, Hettie Jones, Jerry Wexler, Jerome Rothenberg, Danny Shot, Arnold Weinstein, Janine Vega, Robert Lavigne, Joel Dorn, Bill Gargan, Jimmy Lyons, Quincy Troupe, Charley Plymell, Pamela Beach Plymell, Ed Dorn, Ellis Paul, Brigid Murnaghan, Hiro Yamagata, Kevin Moore, George Reed, Latif (William) Harris, Dennis Hopper, Johnny Depp, Joyce Johnson, Brett Aronowitz Luke, Ray Bremser, Brenda (Bonnie Bremser) Fraser, Jules Feiffer, Leonard Cohen, Oscar Janiger, Kathleen Delaney Janiger, Paul Krassner, Arthur Perley. Attila Gyenis, Morris Dickstein, Taylor Mead, Diane DiPrima, John Sampas, Gerald Nicosia, Steve Cannon, John Sinclair, Ted Joans, Art D'Lugoff, Ahmet Ertegun, Fernando Rendon, Gloria Cavatal, Marcus Williamson, Kenneth Koch, Birgitta Jonsdottir, Hayes Greenfield, Merilene Murphy, Peter Hale, Pavel Grushko, Kirill P. Grushko, Toni Morrison, John Ashbery, Sam Shepard, Michael Dean Odin Pollock, Mary Rudge, Gozo Yoshimasu, Ken Kesey, Ken Babbs, Jonas Mekas, Peter Coyote, Ide Hintze, George Krevsky, Dennis Gould, Bernard Kops, Irving Rosenthal, Paul Nelson, George Aguilar, Krishna Fells, Lucas Gutierrez, Andrew Matovich, Heather Haley, Jean Portante, E. Ethelbert Miller, Andrea Thompson, Ken Sherman, Dave and Ana Christy, Barbara Read, Theodore Wilentz, David Gascoyne, Regina Weinrich, Kevin Ring, Robin Blaser, Carl Hanni, Ron Whitehead, Pi-Oh, Philip Salom, Dr. Maya Angelou, Sharon Levy, Kathy Acker (deceased), Gordon Ball, Bob Holman, Bill Berkson, Philip Whalen, Michael Scammell, Karen Kennerly, Charles Potts, Scott Preston, Barry Gifford, Galway Kinnell, Robert Peters, Larry Fagin, Robert Bove, Theo Dorgan, John Reeves, Vincent Farnsworth, Gloria Frym, Gary David, Rita Dove, Larry Winfield, Natalie Goldberg, Steve Sanfield, Douglas Brinkley, Vaclav Havel, Aaron Yamaguchi, Eithne Strong, Joe McDonald, Kurt Heintz, Natalie Goldberg, Robert Lax, Andrei Codrescu, Lee Ranaldo, Pete Seeger, Hunter Thompson, Clark Coolidge, Jack Micheline, Joe Napora, Tom Robbins, David Hershkovits, John Brandi, Barry Miles, Jonathan Williams, Ani DiFranco, Steve Ben Israel, Jack Hirschman, Richie Havens, Valery Oisteanu, Ira Cohen, David Meltzer, E.L. Doctorow.
Still awaiting positive responses from the following, all of whom have been contacted:
Bob Dylan, John Eastman, Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Neil Aspinall, Ron Delsener, George Harrison, John Wieners, Ishmael Reed, Bruce Springsteen, Lew Lapham, Howard Stern, Don Imus, Tom Friedman, Frank Rich, Sally Grossman, Liz Smith, Richard Goldstein, Joanne Kyger, Sara Dylan, Joel Siegal, Andrew Wylie, Ted Koppel, Cecil Taylor, Scott Muni, Sterling Lord, Brian Hamill, Miguel Agarin, Brice Marden, Jack Newfield, Henry Stern, Carolyn Cassady, Norman Mailer, Lisa Phillips, Richard Gere, James Grauerholz, Jim Dickson, Ornette Coleman, George Soros, Lita Hornick, Felipe Feliciano, Don Allen, Lew Welch, Daisy Aldan, Barbara Guest, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ntozake Shange, Larry Rivers, Archie Shepp, Odetta Gordon, Jaap Blonk, Michael Horovitz, Miriam Patchen, Grace Paley, Peter Orlovsky, Howard Hart, Patti Smith, Megas, Dirk Gortler, Bill Morgan, Bono, Rand Ragusa, Lou Reed, George Herms, , Alan Kaufman, Duncan McNaughton, Holiness Dalai Lama, Jim Carroll, Michael Stipe, Lenny Kaye, Seamus Heaney, Cathal O'Searcaigh, Peter Sirr, John Giorno, John Updike, Maggie Estep, Thom Gunn, Annie Liebowitz, Beverly Smith, James Laughlin, Robert Hunter, Brother Patrick Hart, Ron Seitz. Christopher Underwood, Jan Pinkow, Marco Cassini, Hersch Silverman, Jordan Green, Michael Andre, Reetika Vazirani, Ann Hollander, Ann Douglas, Matthew Smith, Jerry Poynton, Ron Padgett, Ellen Gilchrist, Lionel Ziprin, Gelek Rintoche, Robert Pinsky, Nanao Sakaki, Carol Merrill.
Still to be contacted (Anyone's help in providing a correct mailing address for any of the following will be appreciated):
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Jose Angel Figueroa, Sarah Wright, Marion Brown, John Giorno, Gil Sorentino, Hubert Selby, Mrs. Bob Kaufman, Michael Horovitz, Esteban Moore, Gonzalo Rojas, Ersi Sotiropoulou, Haroldo de Campos, Tony Harrison, Mazisi Kunene, Lauri Anderson, Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Wait, Joe Strummer, J. D. Salinger. ##
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