Thursday, June 03, 2010

Allen Ginsburg Howls When Josephine Baker Dances with Raoul Dufy in Egypt-

June 3, 1853: William Matthew Flinders Petrie, English Egyptologist, was born. "Professor Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie FRS, known as Flinders Petrie, was an English Egyptologist and a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology. He held the first chair of Egyptology in the United Kingdom, and excavated at many of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt, such as Naukratis, Tanis, Abydos and Amarna. His painstaking recording and study of artifacts set new standards in archaeology. By linking styles of pottery with periods, he was the first to use seriation in Egyptology, a new method for establishing the chronology of a site. Flinders Petrie was also responsible for mentoring and training a whole generation of Egyptologists, including Howard Carter."

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June 3, 1877: Raoul Dufy, Fauvist painter, was born. Raoul Dufy developed a colorful, decorative style that became fashionable for designs of ceramics and textiles, as well as decorative schemes for public buildings. He is noted for scenes of open-air social events. He was also a draftsman, printmaker, book illustrator, a theatrical set-dresser, a designer of furniture, and a planner of public spaces.

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June 3, 1888: The poem "Casey at the Bat", by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, was first published, in the San Francisco Examiner. "Casey at the Bat" may not be great poetry, but it is a great poem, and for over a hundred years it has held our imaginations and hearts. There have been many explanations given. Certainly the most important factor is that Casey is expected to succeed, he has all the tools to succeed, and instead he fails. Marvelously, majestically, and with great verve, he falls flat on his face. Contrasts like this are the heart of comedy, and also the heart of baseball. The best hitters fail seven out of ten times, and each dramatic confrontation between batter and pitcher contains all the possibilities of great success or crashing failure. If baseball is, as some baseball writers have spent a lot of paper arguing, a metaphor for American life, then "Casey at the Bat" is a metaphor for all of baseball, the entire drama and pathos and history of the game neatly wrapped up in thirteen stanzas. And, most importantly, it's just plain funny. Read the whole story-

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June 3, 1906: Josephine Baker, American expatriate singer and actress, was born. "Most noted as a singer, Baker also was a celebrated dancer in her early career. She was given the nicknames the "Bronze Venus" or the "Black Pearl", as well as the "Créole Goddess". In France, she has always been known as "La Baker". She was the first African American to star in a major motion picture, to integrate an American concert hall, and to become a world-famous entertainer. She is also noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, and for being the first American-born woman to receive the French military honor, the Croix de Guerre."

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June 3, 1926: Allen Ginsberg, American poet, was born. "In the 1950s, Ginsberg was a leading figure of the Beat Generation, an anarchic group of young men and women who combined poetry, song, sex, wine and illicit drugs with passionate political ideas that championed personal freedoms. Major literary works of the Beat Generation include the novels On The Road by Jack Kerouac and Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs, as well as Ginsberg's epic poem Howl, in which he celebrates his fellow "angelheaded hipsters" and excoriates what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States."

The poem, dedicated to writer Carl Solomon, famously begins-

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...

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A rare early printing of 'Casey at the Bat'!

The Poem's first printing in an anthology, just a year after its first publication as a book-

Thayer, Ernest Lawrence Thayer, “Casey at the Bat” (in) A Treasury of Humorous Poetry. Being a Compilation of Witty, Facetious, and Satirical Verse Selected from the Writings of British and American Poets” edited by Frederic Lawrence Knowles.
Published in Boston by Dana Estes & Company: October, 1902.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I just finished posting a blog on Casey at the Bat and then came across your blog. I do book reviews (mostly non fiction) and some other short stuff. Started out as a movie-book review thing but got sidetracked into a nascent autobiography and then back to books and plays etc. I like your site and will make a point to drop in more often. Great minds think alike. And I an a big fan of Howl by Ginsburg. Dylan could never have written Gates of Eden or Visions of Johanna without having first read Howl.

Hope to see you around,

Robert Williams