This is a fine interview with Allen Ginsberg taken from the BBC series Face to Face, in which Ginsberg opens up about his family, loves, identity, drugs and even sings.
The series, Face to Face originally started in 1959, and was hosted by John Freeman, whose skill and forthright questioning cut through the usual mindless chatter of such interview shows. Freeman, a former editor of the New Statesman was often considered brusque and rude, but his style of questioning fitted the form of the program, which was more akin to an interview between psychiatrist and patient. The original series included, now legendary, interviews with Martin Luther King, Tony Hancock, Professor Carl Jung, Evelyn Waugh and Gilbert Harding.
In 1989, the BBC revived the series, this time with the excellent Jeremy Isaacs as questioner, who interviewed Allen Ginsberg for this program, first broadcast on 9th January 1995.
Watching this now, makes me wonder what has happened to poetry? Where are our revolutionary poets? Where are our poets who speak out, demonstrate, make the front page, and tell it like it is? And why are our bookstores cluttered with the greeting card verse of 100 Great Love Poems, 101 Even Greater Love Poems, and Honest to God, These Are the Greatest Fucking Love Poems, You’ll Ever Fucking Read. O, for a Ginsebrg now.
Alan Clarke‘s TV drama Elephant didn’t fuck about. Thirty-nine minutes of screen time, three lines of dialogue, eighteen killings. No structure. No narrative. No plot. Just one bloody assassination after-the-other. And yet, it was one of the most powerful and disturbing films made by the BBC during the 1980s - and there has been nothing like it since.
Inspired by writer Bernard MacLaverty’s oft-quoted line that described the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland as like “having an elephant in your living room,” that everyone ignored, Clarke’s film presented the relentless killing that was part everyday life in the 6 Counties at that time.
Clarke was no stranger to controversy - his 1977 TV drama Scum, on the brutality of the Borstal system, had been banned, while Made in Britain, starring Tim Roth, caused an outcry over its complex depiction of a racist skinhead abandoned by the education system. Elephant was conceived by Danny Boyle, later the director of Trainspotting and written by MacLaverty, but it was Clarke’s skill as a film-maker that made Elephant so effective - long walking shots on Steadicam of anonymous killers in deserted urban landscapes; the quick, almost off-hand nature of the violence; and the lingering images of the victims. As one of Clarke’s regular collaborators, the writer David Leland said:
I remember lying in bed, watching it, thinking, “Stop, Alan, you can’t keep doing this.” And the cumulative effect is that you say, “It’s got to stop. The killing has got to stop.” Instinctively, without an intellectual process, it becomes a gut reaction.
Don Lane was born in Manhattan, became a Vegas entertainer and ended up hosting a talk show in Australia. It’s a long story worth telling… but not now. We’ll just jump right into these segments from Don’s Aussie show and Tom Waits’s appearances on them, which are quite entertaining. Lane is a gracious host who seems to be genuinely interested in Tom’s beat personae, which is about as real as the Charles Bukowski house slippers I almost bought on eBay.
Tom’s schtick, and it is schtick, is performance art of a very high caliber. And I enjoy it. But, having interviewed Waits in the mid-70s in Denver I know his skidrow, Raymond Chandleresque posturing was part of a deliberate process of creating a character, kind of like a hard-edged literary Pee Wee Herman.
In our meeting, Waits had mistakenly pegged me for a young college kid working for a college paper. Yes, I wrote freelance for a college paper, but I was a high school dropout that had grown up around some heavy weight poets in the Washington D.C. area, cats who had introduced me to the beat poets and the king of the bards of the backalleys Bukowski. Waits was laying his Waits trip on me and I was going along for the ride. But, when I mentioned Bukowski’s name, Waits’s attitude changed. Bukowski was not the superstar then as he is now. Tom wasn’t ready to be outed as a Bukowski imitator. I nailed Waits to the wall with my Bukowski rap. I basically told Tom that I felt his streetwise, hipster hobo thang was something he had picked up from Bukowski, which he did not deny. He seemed surprised that I knew who Bukowski was and had identified Bukowski’s style in his own. Waits had spent time with Bukowski and certainly seemed to me to have picked up some of Bukowski’s traits, from the way he held his cigarettes to the low growl in his voice.
As I continued to discuss my take on his act, Waits slowly worked himself out of character and got real. His voice became less gruff, his body language changed from a guy who had taken a few too many punches to an alert intellectual who had read a few too many books. He relaxed and shared with me his actual past: suburban upbringing under the guidance of parents who were school teachers, one of whom taught English. None of this changed my mind about Waits’s art. His lyrical gifts and musical genius stand tall in my mind. But, the Tom Waits we see on stage is a character created by the Tom Waits we don’t see. And maybe none of that matters. But, I did enjoy the soft spoken young cat who dropped his guard for a few minutes in the lounge of a seedy hotel in Denver. A lounge that the puppetmaster Waits had chosen deliberately for dramatic effect. Yes, it’s showmanship. But I always believed that the beats were about getting down to the realness of shit. I wasn’t prepared for the Monkees version of bohemia.
Enjoy the Tom Waits we love in these episodes of The Don Lane Show broadcast in 1979 and 1981.
Parents TV Council claims profanity is up a shocking percentage in primetime. (In fact, they say it’s up 69% ... snicker). While I don’t think the PTC would intentionally cook their numbers, they’re not exactly an unbiased organization about this stuff, so you have to be a tad skeptical when any activist group presents in-house research. Most interesting is the PTC’s list of words they’re objecting to (their chart, below), which expands mightily on George Carlin’s famous list of seven words you can never say on TV. Wondering: Does the Bible-based “hell” and “damn” really seem like profanity? What about “suck” and “screw”? Is bleeped profanity the same as profanity that you actually hear? (Perhaps ... you do sort of get the point). And is anybody else curious what the euphemisms were for “fuck”? And what does “other breasts” mean, exactly?
Is MSNBC doing the dirty work of its future owner Comcast?
Phil Anschutz, major shareholder and content partner with Comcast, donated large sums of money to the First Amendment Alliance, one of the largest outside groups targeting Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections. The Anschutz Corporation, wholly owned by Phil Anschutz, gave $50,000 on 9/24/2010 to the First Amendment Alliance. The two candidates targeted by the First Amendment Alliance? Jack Conway and Michael Bennet. Keith Olbermann gave to Jack Conway’s campaign along with Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords.
One of the coolest fake bands in TV history. From ‘Get Smart’.
The Sacred Cows were session musicians Jerry Scheff (bass) John Greek (guitar) & Ben Benay (guitar) They played the band and recorded the music. John Greek also recorded with real band The Beautiful Daze; played guitar on The Seeds’ 45 ‘Wind Blows Your Hair’ and played on four cuts on the Uni Lollipop Shoppe LP.
Don’t just stand there being placid
Get into some psychopathic acid
I’ll take you to a place that’s purple and paisley
There’s no problem everybody is crazy
Come on get rid of your frustration
Get into our hate generation
If you are ready…...
Get Smart season 3 episode 15. Larry Storch plays the Groovy Guru.
After Monty Python’s Flying Circus ended in 1974, the BBC wanted to find other avenues for their team of talented comedy writers and performers. One of the first ideas, was a proposal for a Michael Palin series. Palin was keen to try something different, but was unwilling to take-on any planned project without his writing partner and fellow Python, Terry Jones. With an offer to make a pilot, the pair came up with Tomkinson’s Schooldays, a hilarious spoof on Tom Brown’s Schooldays.
Partially inspired by Palin’s own experiences at public school, the show starred Ian Ogilvy as the School Bully, Gwen Watford as Mummy, Jones as the Headmaster, the Bear and Mr Moodie, and Palin as Tomkinson and in a selection of other roles. The pilot proved a major hit, and led to a series of Ripping Yarns - each a brilliant single story episode, with an all-star supporting cast (including Denholm Elliott, Joan Sanderson, Roy Kinnear, Judy Loe), covering such derring-do tales as bank robbers (The Testing of Eric Olthwaite), POWs (Escape from Stalag Luft 112b), Agatha Christie-type whodunnit (Murder at Moorstones Manor), stiff upper lip heroes (Across the Andes by Frog), and misadventure on the high seas (The Curse of the Claw).
A second season was commissioned, but only 3 episodes were made, as budget costs and a lack of nerve from the BBC unfortunately led to Ripping Yarns cancellation. This BBC documentary, directed by Maria Stewart for the Comedy Connections series, gives a fascinating and revealing insight into the making of one of British TV’s finest comedy shows.