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Documentary filmed in The Haight Ashbury during the Summer Of Love

 
Filmed during the Summer Of Love (1967) in the Haight-Ashbury, this groovy documentary features commentary from visionary poet Michael McClure, footage of The Grateful Dead hanging out at their Ashbury Street home, a visit to The Psychedelic Bookshop, The Straight Theater, scenes from McClure’s play The Beard and rare shots of the bard of The Haight, Richard Brautigan, walking through Panhandle Park in all of his glorious splendor.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Revolutionary, artist and man of conscience, Vaclav Havel R.I.P.


Velvet Underground meets Velvet Revolutionary

Vaclav Havel died today at the age of 75. A former chain smoker with chronic respiratory problems, Havel had been in failing health the past few months and died at his weekend home in Hradecek in the northern Czech Republic,

Czech independence leader, artist and human rights activist, Havel was elected the first president of a free Czechoslovakia since 1948 on December 29, 1989.

A prominent force in the Velvet Revolution, a bloodless overthrow of the communist regime in in Czechoslovakia, which returned democracy to Czechs after fifty years of Nazi occupation and communist rule, Havel was the very definition of a man of conscience. Soft-spoken, humble, impish and possessing a healthy sense of the absurd, Havel was that rare leader who chose the power of inspiration over rhetoric and empty gesture. He was a revolutionary who recognized that artistic creativity was every bit as important as political dogma or ideologies. Without the humanizing force of literature, theater and music and an understanding of the interconnectedness of all things, civilization is a hollow machine destined for spiritual starvation.

Himself a playwright, Havel was perhaps the only world leader who was closer to rock and rollers like Lou Reed, Frank Zappa and Keith Richards than politicians and bureaucrats. It is reputed that The Velvet Revolution was named after The Velvet Underground, whose music was made popular in Czechoslovakia by Prague’s radical avant-rock band The Plastic People.

Havel was a peacenik who somehow managed to navigate the treacherous waters of political power without losing his sense of perspective or soul.

Havel’s revolutionary message—which helped oust the world’s second strongest power from his country, but which Americans and in that moment the American Congress have not always been ready to hear—is that peace does not come by defeating enemies, it comes by making people free, governments democratic, and societies just. “The idea of human rights and freedoms must be an integral part of any meaningful world order. Yet, I think it must be anchored in a different place, and in a different way, than has been the case so far. If it is to be more than just a slogan mocked by half the world, it cannot be expressed in the language of a departing era, and it must not be mere froth floating on the subsiding waters of faith in a purely scientific relationship to the world.”

Today’s world, as we all know, is faced with multiple threats,” he said in 1993 in Athens, on accepting one of the countless honors he received. “From whichever angle I look at this menace, I always come to the conclusion that salvation can only come through a profound awakening of man to his own personal responsibility, which is at the same time a global responsibility. Thus, the only way to save our world, as I see it, lies in a democracy that recalls its ancient Greek roots: democracy based on an integral human personality personally answering for the fate of the community.

Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness,” Havel told Congress, referring to a movement toward democracy, “nothing will change for the better in the sphere of our being as humans, and the catastrophe for which the world is headed—be it ecological, social, demographic, or a general breakdown of civilization—will be unavoidable. If we are no longer threatened by world war, or by the danger that the absurd mountains of nuclear weapons might blow up the world, this does not mean that we have definitely won. This is actually far from being a final victory.”

Havel speaks at the Forum for Creative Europe in March of 2009.
 

 
Part two, plus a clip about how rock and roll figured into the Velvet Revolution, after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Always a Hitch: R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens

Hitch
 
It’s impossible to know where to begin when paying tribute to an intellectual giant and truly Dangerous Mind like author and journalist Christopher Hitchens, who died today of metastized esophogeal cancer.

Far more elegant remembrances will pour in from far more skilled writers than I could ever hope to be. Here’s three hours of the guy speaking for himself on CSPAN’s Book TV show.
 

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
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Home to Beats and literary rebels: Legendary Paris bookstore owner George Whitman R.I.P.
12.15.2011
03:38 pm

Topics:
Books
Literature

Tags:
George Whitman
Shakespeare and Company


 
A gathering place for adventurous writers like Allen Ginsberg, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, William Burroughs and Lawrence Durrell among many others, Shakespeare and Company was far more than just a business, it was a breeding ground and spiritual center for literary pioneers who were drawn to the shop by its enigmatic American owner George Whitman who opened the English-language bookstore in 1951,

Whitman passed away last Wednesday at the age of 98.

He welcomed visitors with large-print messages on the walls. “Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise,” was one, quoting Yeats. Next to a wishing well at the center of the store, a sign said: “Give what you can, take what you need. George.” By his own estimate, he lodged some 40,000 people.

Whitman was generous but he also had a quick temper. He was loved but his fiery disposition could be off-putting and his methods of running his business somewhat dictatorial. He was a firm believer that anyone seeking shelter in his bookstore should expect to pay their way by doing some work in the bookstore and he evidently could be a tough taskmaster, like a Zen teacher wielding a bamboo stick. This didn’t dissuade thousands of writers from making the pilgrimage to his literary Mecca. There was no bookstore quite like it.

Whitman and his extraordinary bookstore were a seminal force in the lives and careers of some of the 20th century’s greatest authors. In this documentary, Portrait Of A Bookstore As An Old Man, we are introduced to Whitman and a life touched by the marvelous.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Joseph Arthur: Music, art and other leaps of faith
12.07.2011
07:05 pm

Topics:
Art
Literature
Music

Tags:
Joseph Arthur

jj
 
In pondering the best music of 2011, one must consider Joseph Arthur’s stunning album The Graduation Ceremony

Over the course of the past 15 years, Arthur has created a body of work that is beautiful, mercurial, romantic and touched by more than a little heartbreak and betrayal. Joseph manages to deal with relationships gone bad, loneliness, drugs and New York City with a pained tenderness that recalls Nick Drake. He does so without being maudlin or self-pitying.

No mere poet of despair, Arthur has written songs that shimmer with a sweet spirituality built around big fat Beatlesque hooks and there are moments of deeply solid funkiness to some of his material that is positively Prince-like. As I said, he can be mercurial. From his early collaborations with Peter Gabriel and T- Bone Burnett to his self-produced albums released on his own label, Arthur has never shied away from experimentation while maintaining a consistently high level of artistry. I’ve never been disappointed by a Joseph Arthur album and I own them all.

In recent years, Joseph has become a painter with a growing reputation among gallery owners and art collectors. His paintings have become a part of his live performances. In the course of a set, Joseph will start and finish a painting. The effect is thrilling and the results are astonishingly good. Art at the speed of sound.

Joseph spent an afternoon with me at my house and I filmed him painting and talking about his music, art and poetry. The video features tracks from some of his past albums as well as his latest.

If you don’t already know him, let me introduce you to Joseph Arthur.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection: Greil Marcus’s ‘The Doors’
12.05.2011
09:15 pm

Topics:
Drugs
Literature
Music

Tags:
The Doors
Greil Marcus

d
 
Listening to The Doors’ second album, Strange Days, while peaking on half a tab of Purple Owsley was one of those mindbending events that alter the course of a young man’s life forever. I was 16 years old, living in the suburbs of Virginia and, with the exception of a couple of freak friends, was pretty much alone in the world. There weren’t a lot of support systems during the Summer Of Love in the American South for a kid who wanted to explore his spiritual side. Organized religion had more than failed me, it terrified me. Catholicism spooked me so bad that even the sight of a nun or priest would send me rushing in a cold sweat in the direction of the nearest mental exit sign.

Getting LSD was the easy part. Knowing the best way to navigate the experience was the challenge. You just took the trip and put your faith in the loving hands of the cosmos. At least that’s what I did. Jim Morrison and his band mates were the dark guides on my solitary psychedelic journey.

Well the music is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
Music is your only friend
Until the end
Until the end
Until the end!

The Doors’ apocalyptic rock might seem like an entry way to a bad trip, but for me their music echoed and expanded upon an interior shadow world I had always been drawn to and their anti-authoritarianism played into my distrust of bully gods and their black-robed hitmen. LSD gave me a glimpse into the spiraling DNA that contained everything I needed to know about the Universe and all I had to do was crack the code.The Doors provided the soundtrack in my search for the key. A search that continues to this day. Breaking through to the other side turned out to be harder than I imagined.

Jim Morrison was the first rock star that tapped into the same rich vein of poetic dreaming that had lured me into the web of the French surrealists and the American counter-culture. Here was a young Navy brat, like myself, who drew inspiration from Rimbaud, Baudelaire, the Beats, The Living Theater and cinema. He took it all in and spun it back out into lyric-driven music that was familiar and strange at the same time. Intense and filled with mystery and sex, you couldn’t call it pop, but you could dance to it….or melt to it like a pillar of Biblical salt. In my rock and roll world, Morrison was the benign high priest who led me not so gently into a dark night of the soul shot through with glistening shards of seductive light.

Along with most of the rock groups I grew up with, I don’t listen to The Doors these days. The iconic songs of my youth are etched in my genes - musical scarification. I hear them whenever I want by tilting my head in the direction of the Akashic records that spin on turntables somewhere in the Bardo. Years of hearing “Light My Fire” and “When The Music’s Over” on classic rock radio has dulled some of the magic for me. Yet I still get excited when I see a new book on The Doors, particularly when it’s written by someone who was “there.” The thought that hidden secrets might be unlocked from old songs making them feel new again or that some lost piece of history has been unearthed like a rock and roll version of the Dead Sea Scrolls triggers little jolts of excitement along my spine as electric as a Nicolai Tesla neck massage. Yes, hope springs eternal for fools like me.

Greil Marcus’s new book The Doors: A Lifetime Of Listening To Five Mean Years teased me into thinking there might be something fresh to be said about The Doors. Marcus has a rep for knowing a thing or two about rock and roll and pop culture, so I assumed he’d bring something to the mix that lesser writers managed to overlook, you know, a different perspective. But Marcus fails in almost every respect to engage the reader. Even the most devout Doors’ fan will find this slim volume of overstuffed prose and wild tangents a numbing experience. The Marcus perspective consists of bloated descriptions of Doors’ songs and performances, descriptions that are so subjective and adjective heavy that at times it’s like reading Olympia Press fetish porn by someone named “Anonymous.”

The Doors is less a book about the band than it is the experience of being subjected to Marcus’s stream of consciousness vamps on Thomas Pynchon, cult flick Pump Up The Volume, Oliver Stone’s dreadful Doors movie, Val Kilmer’s post-Morrison career, 20th century pop art, Eduardo Paolozzi, the Manson Family and so on. None of which he connects in any compelling way to the subject at hand (the subject becoming less clear as the book lurches along). It’s as if Marcus put some of The Doors’ music on shuffle and started writing whatever popped into his head - a Jackson Pollock action painting connected to The Doors by the mere juxtaposition of sharing the same room as their music. There are threads of elegant symmetry in Marcus’s writing but the center wobbles like a bead of sweat on a brooding hipster’s brow.

Read The Doors to get inside of Greil Marcus’s head if that’s of interest to you. He’s a smart guy and the book gives him an opportunity to show it off. But as a book about one of the planet’s great rock bands, The Doors is a brainy wankfest in which little of any significance is actually said. No amount of pop culture name-dropping and metaphoric over-kill in describing The Doors’ art can obscure the fact that there’s a big hole where the soul of a book ought to be. Marcus claims to be a Doors’ fan and yet there’s little love for the band between the pages of this frustratingly irrelevant book. The Doors may have been a labor of love for Marcus, but for the reader it’s just labor.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the south of France, an overweight bearded poet is writing his autobiography about his early days as a rock star: The End by J.M.

Video: The Doors interviewed in New York in 1969 for public television.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Behead the Currency: Alan Moore on OWS and why THIS generation has to do something NOW


 
In one of the best interviews with him I’ve read in some time, comics mage Alan Moore offers his views on the future of publishing, Occupy Wall Street and that sad tosser Frank Miller. He also comes up with an extremely appealing idea for wresting control back from the bankers and plutocrats: Change the currency!

Mull that over for a second, won’t you?

What do you think needs to change in our political system?

Everything. I believe that what’s needed is a radical solution, by which I mean from the roots upwards. Our entire political thinking seems to me to be based upon medieval precepts. These things, they didn’t work particularly well five or six hundred years ago. Their slightly modified forms are not adequate at all for the rapidly changing territory of the 21st Century.

We need to overhaul the way that we think about money, we need to overhaul the way that we think about who’s running the show. As an anarchist, I believe that power should be given to the people, to the people whose lives this is actually affecting. It’s no longer good enough to have a group of people who are controlling our destinies. The only reason they have the power is because they control the currency. They have no moral authority and, indeed, they show the opposite of moral authority.

In the sixth issue of Dodgem Logic, I remember doing an article and I was trying to think of possible ways in which our society might be altered for the better. I’m not saying that any of these ways would necessarily be practical but it’s important that we try to think these things through. It’s probably more important now than it ever has been. There is a sense that we don’t have an infinite amount of time to get these things right.

With politics at the moment seemingly determined to keep ploughing on their same destructive course because they can’t think of anything other to do, when we’re facing the possibility of an economic apocalypse, of potentially an environmental apocalypse, we don’t necessarily have an infinite amount of time. I think that since our leaders are not going to address any of these problems then we really have no choice than to attempt to wrest the steering wheel from them. If they’re aiming at the precipice with the accelerator pedal flat to the floor, then we don’t have any other choices left. Do it now, in this generation, because we don’t how many more there’s going to be.

The economic problem is a strange one…

Economics is always strange. You’re not talking about anything that’s actually real. Researching a chapter for Jerusalem, I read a couple of books on economics to see if I could get my head around the facts of the situation. I was astonished when I found out the value of derivative bonds, in 2008. These are bonds that have a value in themselves that were once connected to a real thing, there might have been a bond made for the sale of a herd of sheep, but that can be sold on and they gain in value. The notional value of the world’s derivative bonds was in the region of sixty trillion. Exactly ten times the economic output of the entire planet, which is around six trillion. That means that the gap between what economists and what the world’s economic forces and the banks thought they had to play with and what actually existed was fifty-four trillion. That would seem to me the depth of the hole we are in.

So something has to be done about that. I would suggest beheading the bankers, but while it would be very satisfying and would cheer us up, it probably wouldn’t do anything practical to alter the situation. Behead the currency. Change the currency, why not? It would disempower all the people who had bought into that currency but it would pretty much empower the rest of us, the other ninety-nine percent.

The Honest Alan Moore Interview – Part 1: Publishing and Kindle (Honest Publishing)

The Honest Alan Moore Interview – Part 2: The Occupy Movement, Frank Miller, and Politics (Honest Publishing)

Via Jay Babcock’s Twitter feed

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Oscar’: Documentary on the importance of being Wilde

oscarwilde
 
Writer Michael Bracewell examines the importance of being Oscar Wilde, through the events and works of the great poet’s life.

Here, Wilde is compared to an Existential hero, a man who was brave enough to set an example for all of us - to relish in the essence of who we are.

Wilde was rarely modest, and best explained himself in a letter to his lover Alfred Douglas, Jan-Mar. 1897:

‘I was a man who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age…The gods had given me almost everything. I had genius, a distinguished name, high social position, brilliancy, intellectual daring: I made art a philosophy, and philosophy an art: I altered the minds of men and the colors of things: there was nothing I said or did that did not make people wonder.

I treated Art as the supreme reality, and life as a mere mode of fiction: I awoke the imagination of my century so that it created myth and legend around me: I summed up all systems in a phrase, and all existence in an epigram.’

First aired in 1997, this is a fascinating documentary explaining why Oscar Wilde still really matters, with contributions from Tom Stoppard, Stephen Fry, Neil Tennant and Ulick O’Connor.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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The Buddha made me cut my hair: The teachings of my imperfect Master

trungpa
Ginsberg and Trungpa.
 
When I arrived in Boulder, Colorado in 1971 it was a small town with a big campus filled with privileged white kids. It was also home to thousands of hippies. I’d left Berkeley for Boulder drawn not by the institute of higher learning but by a desire just to get higher…literally.  Convinced that a massive earthquake was imminent, I fled the Bay Area and headed for the higher ground of the Rocky Mountains. I had also been told by people I trusted that Boulder was my kind of town: Berkeley without the angst. Tibet of the West. And as a child I had lived in Boulder while my father attended the University (on the G.I. Bill) and I had distant memories of something magic about the place.

Boulder in the 70s was an easy mix of stoned and moneyed youth and rough-edged mountain Bohemia. On the fringes of the University, was a thriving arts and intellectual scene. Professors, hipsters, local poets, divinely intoxicated recalcitrant drunks and various combinations of all of the above would hang out at a downtown watering hole called Tom’s Tavern. Tom’s sold cheap beer, had a pool table and a jukebox stuffed with vintage rock, old standards and hillbilly music. It was the center of off-campus intellectual life in Boulder. Within the smoke stained and booze infused walls of Tom’s I found my University, a joint where Jean Paul Sartre could drink Hank Williams under the existential table while Arthur Rimbaud shimmied to “Mickey’s Monkey.”

I had always considered alcohol the drug of choice for straight people. It was my parent’s drug. Alcohol was for squares. But at Tom’s you drank. And that’s what I did. I started drinking. I also started getting serious about being a poet.

In 1971, Tibetan Buddhist master Chogyam Trungpa landed in Boulder and the mix of academia, back to naturists, spiritual seekers, old beatniks and young hippies was given an energizing and discombobulating dose of high-octane Crazy Wisdom.

Trungpa had developed a style of teaching meditation and Buddhist philosophy that was user-friendly for Westerners. Raised in the classic Tibetan monastic tradition as a child and later as a student at Oxford, Trungpa had the experience of ancient wisdom coupled with a modern education that allowed him to fluidly adapt to contemporary expectations and to challenge them. Unlike the kind of gurus most of us were accustomed to, Trungpa wore tailored suits, smoked menthol cigarettes, was a heavy drinker and known to have experimented with psychoactive drugs. He upended every holy man stereotype in the book. In his own sly way, Trungpa was shedding light on how superficial our ideas about “spirituality” are. As Catholics and Christians, many of us were substituting Bibles, crosses, crucifixes and rosaries for prayer beads and the Tibetan Book Of The Dead. Trungpa let it be known from the get-go that spirituality was more than just changing your costume.

Trungpa’s fresh approach to Buddhist instruction and initiation included methods that were controversial and his drinking and womanizing created a lot of scandal among the more conservative and traditional Buddhists, both in America and back home in Tibet. Sometimes his methods were as radical as the old Zen master who broke his student’s finger in order to bring the student into the moment. I experienced Trungpa’s teachings first hand and the results were mind-altering and soul-shaking.

I was celebrating Trungpa’s birthday (his 35th?) with a bunch of his students and friends at a home in the foothills above Boulder. Everybody was roaring drunk, including Trungpa. At one point, he grabbed the kitchen sink water hose and starting spraying everyone until we were all soaking wet. He then began hurling handfuls of birthday cake in all directions, landing a direct hit on my face. I grabbed some cake and threw it at him. With the speed and ferocity of a lion, Trungpa lunged forward and dragged me down to my knees by my hair, which was very long at the time. He yanked at my hair until tears flowed from eyes. After what seemed like an eternity, he let go of me and laughed. I was mortified.

Later that night I cut off all my hair. It was the first haircut I’d had in seven years. When I was 15 I had been expelled from school for being a longhair. I never went back to school and hadn’t cut my hair since. Looking in the mirror, I was appalled by how I looked. My identity had been so linked to my “freak flag” that I barely recognized the nerdish fellow staring back at me. My beautiful hair was gone and so was an important symbol of my freedom…a symbol that I had relied on for years to declare my independence, my spirituality and general grooviness. I had grown so attached to my hair and what I thought it stood for that I had become lazy in developing other ways of being truly free. At least that’s the conclusion I came to based on what I felt was a lesson from Trungpa.

I was certain that Trungpa’s hair-pulling rage was a mystical transmission of a profound teaching, a bit of the old Crazy Wisdom. I was absolutely convinced that Trungpa’s actions were much more than just a drunken reaction to my tossing cake at him. I was the recipient of something ancient and precious. This is the kind of thing that happens in a guru/student relationship. The student reads and projects a lot into whatever the guru does, whether there’s anything there or not. But it doesn’t matter whether or not the teacher is teaching. All that mattered to me is that I was compelled to question my identity, my ego, my reliance on exterior symbols as substitutes for real wisdom and real freedom. I was also reminded of one of the main reasons I had grown my hair long in the first place: I have big ears.

I felt so naked and uncool with short hair that I went into a self-imposed exile until it started growing back. I went so far as to stop seeing my girlfriend Mimi. So in addition to being a recluse, I was also a celibate.

The “hair teaching” was yielding all kinds of unexpected results. I was hurled into the life monastic. I was Thomas Merton with Alfred E. Neuman’s ears. “What me worry?” Yes, I was worried all the time. Worried that by the time my hair grew back Mimi would find someone else. And she did. She left me for one of the biggest pot dealers in Colorado. This betrayal escalated my self-pity into self-loathing on a grand scale.

At 22 years old, I had entered my dark night of the soul over a fucking haircut. A blow to my ego and vanity exposed just how firmly strapped to the Wheel Of Samsara (illusion) I really was and the whole fucking game was blown wide open by a drunk Tibetan guy covered in birthday cake.

My hair grew back and a few years later I cut it again. This time I wore it as a Mohawk that I dyed silver. The freak flag was still flying but with a whole lot less at stake. Hair comes and goes, but the ego is forever…until it isn’t.

I could write a book on what it was like being around Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche during those wild days in Boulder. He started a school (Naropa) which drew my literary and counter-culture heroes to our Colorado town. The collective energy surrounding him was madly magnificent. Poets and prophets everywhere: Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Diane di Prima, Jack Collom, Timothy Leary, Amiri Baraka…the list was long and impressive. They were all coming to Boulder to study with, observe or challenge this young Tibetan sage.  They would eventually pull it all together in a branch of Naropa called “The Jack Kerouac School Of Disembodied Poetics.”

As the scene continued to gather momentum, I ended up managing a beautiful old hotel in Boulder where Ginsberg, Burroughs, Corso and other poets and artists took up residence for a while. I sat at Ginsberg’s feet and read him my poems. He was patient. But I was a pretty boy and he enjoyed my company. I drank with Corso and listened to his high-pitched rants. Burroughs was the mystery man up on the top floor guarded by his mellow and diligent assistant James Grauerholz. I organized impromptu poetry readings in the lobby of the hotel and people would be hanging from the rafters as some of America’s greatest bards proclaimed, sang and shouted at the heavens.

When I write the book, I’ll recall the night my punk band performed at a Boulder nightclub with Allen Ginsberg and his mighty harmonium as our opening act. He sang from Blake’s “Songs Of Innocence And Experience” and I stood offstage and watched him and realized how fucking lucky I was to be so close to someone who literally changed my life when I first heard him read “Kaddish” on a vinyl record that Carla Bombere (my beatnik girlfriend) gave me to listen to when I was 15 years old. And not far from where I was standing was another young guy taking it all in, a teenager named Eric who helped my band carry our equipment. A few short years later he’d change his name to Jello Biafra and begin his own unique bardic journey.

Chogyam Trungpa’s arrival had a seismic affect on this lovely town at the foot of the Rockies. Whatever magic exists in Boulder wasn’t created by Trungpa, but he was certainly a big part of activating it. And the Naropa Institute continues to sustain that magic. The last time I was there a few years ago, I noticed that Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth was walking the grounds and soaking it all in.

There are those who think of Trungpa as some kind of charlatan, an exotically charming scam artist who beguiled a bunch of gullible people into buying into a bastardized form of Buddhism. I hear it all the time. But take it from someone who was there, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was the real deal. In asking us to look past spiritual materialism, he included himself. Look past the teacher into that formless void from which all things of the ego arise. The great teachers offer us a glimpse into nothingness and Trungpa was a great teacher. His willingness to get down in the trenches with his students is often mistaken as a weakness in his own character. Aren’t gurus supposed to be above it all? Trungpa didn’t give a shit about the games gurus play. Trungpa worked from the ground up, taking energy from wherever he got it and using it to set a fire under his students that would eventually burn away some of the bullshit and illuminate the illuminated. Was he a perfect teacher? Probably not. But that’s what made him special. It was his humanity and accessibility that made him such an effective teacher. There’s nothing remote or exotic about Buddhism. It’s really rather plain and ordinary. Kind of like the nose on your face. Or in my case, the ears.

In the raw documentary Fried Shoes Cooked Diamonds , director Costanzo Allione captures some of the communal craziness and excitement that was flowing through Boulder while Trungpa was living and teaching there. It was an exhilarating time and important period in the evolution of America’s Buddha nature.
 

 
Watch another fine documentary, “Crazy Wisdom,” on the Naropa scene after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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‘Growing Up In America’: Documentary on Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman and more


 
In Growing Up In America, Morley Markson revisits his 1969 documentary on counter culture icons, Breathing Together:Revolution Of The Electric Family, with the original subjects of the film to get the perspective of age and hindsight.

Reflecting the past through the present, forming a kind of Möbius strip of history, we watch as they watch: Jerry Rubin’s transformation from firebrand radical to Capitalist cliche, the evolution and assassination of Fred Hampton (through the eyes of his mother) and the unwavering integrity and self-realization of Abbie Hoffman, William Kunstler, Timothy Leary, former Black Panther Field Marshall/expatriate Don Cox, Allen Ginsberg, and MC5 manager and White Panther founder John Sinclair. This is a fascinating glimpse at lives that mattered and still do.

It’s hard to believe that with the exception of John Sinclair and director Markson all of these men are dead. Are these the last of a dying breed?

While Growing Up In America is a vital and significant document, its failure to include some women in the mix is a glaring oversight. Bernardine Dohrn, Angela Davis, Shulamith Firestone and Diane di Prima are just a few of the women who were actively involved with cultural and political upheaval of the Sixties and any one of them would have provided a much needed woman’s point of view to the film. Once again, we’re confronted with the notion that the Sixties counter-culture was a boy’s club.

This fine documentary is out-of-print on video and has yet to be released on DVD.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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