Category Archives: Eric Drooker



“Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgement! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!” – “Beat poet Allen Ginsberg had seen it all coming to an America enthralled to the idol of consumerism that he called..Moloch (after Moloch, or Molech, the all-consuming Canaanite fire god)” – The visionary litany (of “Howl part II”) continues to make sense, half a century (and more) on.

Here’s Moloch envisioned by Eric Drooker (the reading is of course by James Franco):

Here’s Moloch illustrated by Lynd Ward (an artist very much on Allen’s mind at the time of composition). “Lynd Ward’s images of the solitary artist dwarfed by the canyons of a Wall Street Megalopolis lay shadowed behind my own vision of Moloch”, he writes (in the 1996 introduction to Drooker’s edition of his Illuminated Poems). For more on Ward’s work, see Art Spiegelman’s essay on him here.

And here‘s a video of Allen reading the Moloch section (in Prague, in 1996, we think). Note him blowing his nose and wiping his glasses and then gathering up the momentum, barely missing a beat!

There are, of course, several other recordings (both audio and visual) of Allen reading this seminal poem ( and this seminal section of the poem) – to begin with this and this. For more details, check out our Howl pages on Allen Ginsberg dot org. (here, and, for a gathering of miscellaneous written materials on the poem, see here).

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Eric Drooker, Howl, James Franco, Lynd Ward, Moloch

>Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 11


[Allen Ginsberg & Neal Cassady, San Francisco 1955. Photo likely snapped by Natalie Jackson, Neal’s girlfriend at the time. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]
Neal Cassady

It’s Neal Cassady celebration today, both in San Francisco (at the 6th Annual Birthday Bash at the Beat Museum), and in Denver (Neal’s hometown) at the Mercury Cafe. Al Hinkle (Big Ed Dunkel from On the Road) will be appearing at the San Francisco event, while Neal’s children, John Allen Cassady and Jami Cassady, along with special guest David Amram, will be celebrating their father’s birthday in Denver. The Denver Post has a useful piece on the unlikely local hero. And don’t forget to check out the Beat Generation/Neal Cassady pages at Tom, if you haven’t already, the Neal Cassady Estate, and, for a remarkable visual insight, Jerry Aronson’s rare archival footage of Allen and Neal at City Lights (from The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg, also available here through our Streaming Video). Neal Leon Cassady was born February 8 1926 and died February 4 1968 at San Miguel de Allende,Mexico. We’ve spotlighted it before but Peter Ferry’s travel piece about hunting down the ghost of Cassady in that far-off spot is well worth perusing.

Artist: Richard Nagler, Title: Allen ginsberg - New York City
Allen Ginsberg photo by Richard Nagler (courtesy George Krevsky Gallery)

“Visual Poetics”

Richard Nagler’s remarkable book Word on the Street has been out a few months now and we’re only just now getting around to commenting on it. Allen was a huge fan of the work and was going to write the preface (as it was he provides a pleasingly accurate blurb – “Everyone of these picture poems brings to my mind a haiku”), Nagler explains:

After two successful books of photography in which I had worked with two extraordinary writers, Isaac Bashevis Singer and Ishmael Reed, I thought the WORD photographs would benefit from a collaboration with an extraordinary poet. Allen Ginsberg immediately came to mind. It turned out I knew someone who knew someone who knew Ginsberg. It took two years of correspondence, but I finally got some pictures to Allen. He immediately grasped and “got” the pictures. As a poet and also as a photography-lover, he immediately agreed to write original poetry that would accompany the photographs. We met on several occasions in New York City and San Francisco to discuss the project, but in late 1996 I learned that he had just received a terrible medical diagnosis. He died just a few months later in April 1997. I was saddened and disappointed, but I did keep taking WORD images inspired by the word IMMORTAL in the window of City Lights Bookstore in a memorial to Allen’s passing. It was ten years later that I decided to try again to publish a book of this project.

The complete interview with Nagler can be read here

Further work by the artist can be viewed here

Drooker & Ginsberg[Eric Drooker and Allen Ginsberg. c. Arne Svenson. for the back cover of Illuminated Poems]

Speaking of the San Francisco Bay Area (Nagler’s from the Bay Area) and Allen-sympatico artists, next Wednesday, February 9, don’t miss Eric Drooker’s free lecture at CounterPulse, Eric Drooker -The Art of Animating HowlCounterPulse, a lively local performance space, is at 1310 Mission

And finally, Allen as artist himself, there’s an interesting post up on Dharma/Arte neatly titled “An Innocent Moment of Surprise”, about Allen’s signature “AH” doodle. That article sends you (as we do too) to the Museum of American Poetics’ extensive Drawings and Inscriptions Gallery for plenty more doodling (and we should also send you to the Gemini G.E.L site for even more sophisticated work – both sites can be accessed also via our “blogroll” on the right-hand side under the listing “Photography/Illustration”.

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Eric Drooker, Howl: A Graphic Novel, Neal Cassady, Peter Ferry, Richard Nagler

>Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 4


What do you think is the best, most representative, Allen Ginsberg recording? Allen Ginsberg at his “mojo-strongest”? Peter Conners, author of the recently-published White Hand Society – The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg following a tip from our good friend Steve Silberman, proposes “Kral Majales” in the version off The Lion for Real album. What do other folks think?

(An invitation to sample our extensive audio and visual links is hereby proffered to refresh your memory!)

White Hand Society is now out, incidentally (we announced it a few months ago), and an excerpt can be read here on Reality Sandwich, and here on the City Lights web-site. There’s also an illuminating interview here with the author, speaking of his time researching the book among the Ginsberg archives in Stanford.

Critical poems. It could be a poem like “Kral Majales”, or, for Seattle-based poet Martha Silano, “A Supermarket in California”. Her memory of that poem’s life-changing affect on her is the subject of a radio essay recently aired on KUOW public radio.

Heard enough about Howl the movie? – I know we’ve featured such material before but here’s another profile/interview with Erik Drooker. It describes, among other things, his recent City Lights visit. Did we mention City Lights recent 50th Anniversary Edition of Kaddish? Yes we did.


Filed under A Supermarket In California, Allen Ginsberg, City Lights, Eric Drooker, Howl, Kral Majales, Martha Silano, Peter Conners, Steve Silberman, Timothy Leary

>Howl: A Graphic Novel Illustrated by Eric Drooker review in PopMatters

>Fantastic review of Drooker’s HOWL: A Graphic Novel in today’s PopMatters

Eric Drooker first met Allen Ginsberg in 1988 during the Tompkins Square Park Riots on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. It was one of many skirmishes New York City would experience in the ‘80s, between the forces of gentrification and those who refused to give up territory they felt was rightfully theirs. The sympathies of both Drooker and Ginsberg were with the riffraff—the squatters, homeless, artists and other troublemakers whom the police were trying to evict from the area—and when they met again a year later the two discovered they had common artistic tastes, as well. Read full review >>

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Eric Drooker, Howl, Howl: A Graphic Novel, Sarah Boslaugh

>William Ney: A Talk with Allen Ginsberg After the Tompkins Square Police Riot

>William Ney brought this to our attention this morning and we thought it appropriate to post since it was at this riot that Allen formally met Eric Drooker who’s done the animation for the HOWL film.

[Photo: Allen Ginsberg. c. Steve Miles/All Rights Reserved]

By William Ney

This interview first appeared in the September 1988 issue of The New Common Good, a monthly broadsheet published by Marvin Jones and Chris Huestis, the owners of PACA Gallery on 7th Street just west of Tompkins Square in Manhattan, where, weeks before, throughout the night of August 6, 1988, what enlightened locals still recall as the Tompkins Square Police Riot had happened.

Allen Ginsberg then lived on 12th Street, two blocks from Tompkins Square, and with friends had been caught up in the festivities while strolling after dinner. I had been doing local journalism in the neighborhood, stumbled into the festivities around midnight then ducked and observed until they subsided, around dawn, when the police went home.

Allen Ginsberg died in 1997, with friends at home, a stone’s throw from the park. See here to comment and for recollections from 2010, when the appearance of a magical film about his most celebrated poem, Howl, provoked this archeology.

Read full interview at New Combat >>

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Eric Drooker, Steve Miles, William Ney

>Bay Area Writers React to the Movie HOWL

>Great roundtable discussion on Howl after a Berkeley screening last weekend, with Brenda Knight, Suzi Olmsted, Marc Olmsted, Gerald Nicosia, Nick Mamatas, Seth Harwood, and hosted by East Bay Literary Examiner’s Tony R. Rodriguez. A lively conversation with fantastic insights all in all but we do have to note that we’re a bit perplexed with Nicosia’s allegation that Peter was ‘locked up in Vermont by some lawyer.’ It’s a little unclear how he’s so certain that that’s the case, since, as far as we know, he himself never spent any time up there in St.Johnsbury with Peter. So it goes…

Original 1955 Book Cover. Photo: City Lights Books

We all came from different parts of the Bay Area, each of us a writer with a keen interest in seeing the premiere of Howl, a film addressing the “obscenity trial” surrounding the controversial poetic offerings of Allen Ginsberg, one of the architects who helped launch what would later be called Beat Literature. Our rendezvous point was the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood in Berkeley, just near the lively corner of College and Ashby. At just about 4:15 on this recent Friday afternoon our small band of Bay Area writers snuggled ourselves inside this hospitable theater that many regard to be Berkeley’s finest cinematic venue. Gathered with eager smiles were: Seth Harwood, action writer of impressive talent, who authored Jack Wakes Up; Brenda Knight, poetry scholar and author of the exceptional book Women of the Beat Generation; Nick Mamatas, gifted neo-Beat writer of You Might Sleep …; Gerald Nicosia, Beat historian and acclaimed biographer of Jack Kerouac, who penned the most important life history on Kerouac with his book Memory Babe; Marc Olmsted, student of Allen Ginsberg and writer of What Use Am I a Hungry Ghost?, which contains an introduction by Ginsberg himself; and Marc’s wife, writer and artist Suzi Olmsted. Read full story >>

And, a glowing review in LA Times. Just the kind we like >>

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Filed under Brenda Knight, Eric Drooker, Gerald Nicosia, Howl, James Franco, Jeffrey Friedman, LA Times, Marc Olmsted, Nick Mamatas, Rob Epstein, Seth Harwood, Suzi Olmsted, Tony R. Rodriguez

>Visualizing Madness: The Art of “Howl” Steve Silberman interviews Eric Drooker

>Steve Silberman interviews Eric Drooker and gets behind the animation element of HOWL, the section we think is so far the most under-appreciated component to the film.

Visualizing Madness: The Art of “Howl”

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Eric Drooker, Howl, Steve Silberman