Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Garden

The Flaneur's patrol of Milvia street in Berkeley takes him past this humble memorial for Allen Ginsberg who lived across the street from it for a time in the 1950s.

 It's the butterfly garden of an elementary school named for the somewhat more conventional poet John Greenleaf Whittier. (Whittier was an Abolutionist Quaker who did write "The Brewing of the Soma" so he was der Ginzle's kindred spirit nevertheless.)  The kids frolic about and write poems there and they are tacked-up on boards along the fence. Visitors are welcome and there's a Jetson's style bench alongside a small pond, large rocks, and lots of flowers and plants.

His cottage is long gone, a utilitarian apartment block landed where it had been. The same fate befell the house on nearby Berkeley Way where Jack Kerouac lived with his Mother in 1957 when On the Road was published. A small apartment building replaced the converted chicken coop where Gary Snyder lived on Hillegass, a situation Kerouac memorably translated into fiction for his novel The Dharma Bums.
Ginsberg's poem, "A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley," from his collection Howl and Other Poems, offers insight and descriptive details of his life there. It has something of the feeling Berkeley can give its new arrivals, especially ones from the remote Atlantic coast: of unfamiliar vegetation, extravagantly so, of the strange new weather, chilly summers under a brilliant sun-- a tourist, quoted in the Chronicle this week, called it "tropical Helsinki." And with this feeling there often comes the hope for some new possibilities in one's life.

I knew Mr Ginsberg fairly well and have had long years to consider his strange case. I first encountered his name in 1965 in the liner notes to Bob Dylan's LP Bringing It All Back Home. Bob couldn't understand why Allen Ginsberg wasn't chosen over Carl Sandburg to read at the Inauguration of JFK. I was absolutely overwhelmed and enraptured by Dylan at that moment. It was the summer of Like a Rolling Stone which opened with the rimshot heard round the world, the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. Dylan was the triumphant messiah for the Old Testament Beat generation.

(More to follow)

Look closely and you'll find his name.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sidewalk Gardens in Berkeley

Allow the Flaneur to express his rapture through ecstatic snapshots of the flowery margins.

Poppy riot

Bougainvillea under blue sky

Doorways to the biosphere 
amid the artificial world

I'm moved by every humble blossom I encounter

Deep hues on Benvenue

 California is like a  prehistoric flower forest

This rose came over to speak to me

Fuschia, lovely and delicate

Labial and pink

The Brownian moments of wee buds

May-June 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Jack London Square Train Station

Breezed through yesterday, here's a look...

Oh brother.

Under the roof

Iron horse of the Twenty-first century

Dharma bums welcome

Train time, Baby

The Mesh generation

Location on the San Francisco bay grid

Here I boarded a train to Seattle in November 2005 at ten PM
 to begin a vast hejira
 crossing the continent twice in thirty days

18 June 2014

Berkeley As They Want to Be

Perpetually walking Berkeley streets the Flaneur can't help but  appreciate the idiosyncratic notions of kookie decoration, bizarre ostentation, and absurd expression that manifest therein.

 Dogs playing poker

I've passed by this front-yard classic countless times. 
The superb jazz singer with an itchy noise Anita O'Day 
and the scary Ann Sexton were formerly featured 
They may still be there beneath the shrubbery.

Berkeley doll
Fairy princess or impudent hussy?

May-June 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Color Theory and the Circular Enigma (The Secret of the Sea, Pt.III, Chap.1)

Return with the Flaneur for a deeper survey of the poetic marvelous made accessible through muralist environments created by Hilaire Hiler at the San Francisco Maritime Museum.

Diving right in
 The surface world recedes

Between the imagination and the greater imagination

Psychedelic avant le mot

Constant metamorphosis

Poseidon's staircase
Predecessor and precedent for Yellow Submarine, Nemo,et al
myriad schools of day-glow fish

Mermaid and menacing clam
a merman (I should turn to be)

Bones of a ancient fish once used as a ship

In corners and interstices, 
analogues of the deep sea
The mystery of the submarine mind

Sudden efflorescence
Hiler used metallic paint
subject to flashes

The splendor of the nearest, farthest-away

Pop Surrealist immersion
 the profound unconscious
in ordinary day light

Tales told by clouds
of fathomless dimensions beneath the sky
beneath the sea


Permission was granted, the key was turned
 I entered the color chamber

Sensations of unfiltered color pulsed 
in an optical illusion of motion

I meditated long and hard on abstract color theory
it all stacked up

I entered a color trance
Synaesthesia came in like a thousand mandolins
Dreams I had as a kid reading Dr Strange comic books
The all-seeing eye of Agamotto

The circular chamber began lifting off


Nobody on the beach seemed to notice

I kept going upward

 I landed on a hillside at Fort Mason
and soon fell into a deep sleep

Something woke me up
I left the last of the sunlight on the hill 
over the mysterious tunnel

Just enough time left
Last boat departs at eight P.M.

I sailed into a theoretical color field

The Moon, the enchanted bridge,
the sunset lights of the East Bay
calling me toward home

May 2014