Category Archives: Steven Watson

>Allen Ginsberg on Charlie Rose 1995

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Lisa Phillips 1995 Beat Culture and the New America show at the Whitney Museum in New York has already been spotlighted here but it was an important show and a significant moment – “the scroll” (on display to the public for the first time), Jay Defeo’s “The Rose” (in all its immensity) – an important contextualizing of both a West Coast and an East Coast cultural explosion and avant-garde.

Allen was alive then and more than happy to participate in the publicity surrounding the event, guesting on Charlie Rose’s PBS talk show. His appearance is announced thus:
“(Tonight), a conversation with Allen Ginsberg, the poet who helped to shape The Beat Generation. He is joined by Steven Watson, author of “The Birth of The Beat Generation”, Nat Hentoff , a columnist at The Village Voice and George Herms, the California artist whose art exemplified the Beat aesthetic. The group reflects on the importance of the Beat Generation in American History.”

Unfortunately, this lively conversation has been sandwiched in between two absolutely unrelated segments – a (relatively) long opening segment on contemporaneous child welfare scandals in New York City and an interview with former NBC and PBS executive, Larry Grossman. Allen and company come in approximately 22 minutes in, if you’re willing to wait -or fast forward – and the discussion lasts for about twenty minutes.

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Beat History, Beat Studies, Beats, Charlie Rose, George Herms, Jay Defeo, Lisa Phillips, Nat Hentoff, Steven Watson

>Steven Watson on Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl: A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich

>Steven Watson lays it down for us in the current issue of Art Forum. He is the the author of The Birth of the Beat Generation, Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties, Strange Bedfellows: The First American Avant-Garde among many others.


Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Howl, 2010, still from a black-and-white and color film in 35 mm and Super 16 mm, 90 minutes. Allen Ginsberg (James Franco).

PROBABLY NO WORK of American literature of the mid-twentieth century has taken on so many identities as Allen Ginsberg’s 1955 poem “Howl”: Beat anthem, First Amendment cause célèbre, Lower East Side fringe festival. It’s safe to say that even those who have never read the poem would recognize its haunting opening lines: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, / dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix.” It’s even safer to say that few of its admirers would have considered “Howl” a likely subject for a motion picture. Who would make a poem into a movie anyway? That’s even more unlikely than Ginsberg appearing in a Gap ad! read full story >>

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Filed under Artforum, Jeffrey Friedman, Rob Epstein, Steven Watson