Tag Archives: 1960s

Fare Thee Well, Captain Beefheart

When I was a kid, Captain Beefheart seemed about as underground as you could get. You wouldn’t hear him on pop 40 radio. You had to tune in late at night to a free-form college station. Or have a misfit friend, as I did, who could recite lyrics from Trout Mask Replica as if he were channeling Tristan Tzara. Continue reading

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Billy Collins on Richard Brautigan: “An American Brand of Surrealism”

Poet Billy Collins has written an introduction for a new edition of Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America, a 1960s bestseller that ranked with Steppenwolf and The Hobbit in every hippie’s paperback library. The book cover photo of a mustachioed … Continue reading

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Listening to the Voice of Anna Akhmatova

What I found, remarkably, were recordings of Anna Akhmatova reading poems late in her life in the 1960s. This may be as close as we can come to hearing Mandelstam’s voice. Indeed, Akhmatova and Nadezhda Mandelstam preserved his verse in their voices and memories for three decades, resurrecting it furtively from inner speech, reciting it aloud to one another in the privacy of their rooms, then preserving it again in memory. Only after a political “thaw” came after Stalin’s death could Mandelstam’s poetry begin to be spoken publically and printed in books.

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Praying With John Coltrane at Antibes 1965

When I listened again to John Coltrane’s Alabama, I was moved by its prayerful tone. I heard the seeds of A Love Supreme in Coltrane’s soaring solo as well as Elvin Jones’ crashing cymbals. I hear the same life force in this live version of Naima, which the quartet performed on July 27, 1965 at the Antibes Jazz Festival. Miraculously, a fragment of A Love Supreme survives from the same gig. It makes me wonder if there are any complete live performances out there somewhere in the universe. Continue reading

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Just Kids: Patti Smith Remembers Robert Mapplethorpe

Patti Smith met Robert Mapplethorpe on her first day in New York City in the summer of1967. They were both kids from stern religious backgrounds who yearned to be artists. Smith tells the story of their relationship in a new … Continue reading

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Nina Simone’s Revolution, After 40 Years

While hippies were rolling in the mud out on Max Yasgur’s farm, Nina Simone was singing for another outdoor concert in Central Park.  It was August 17, 1969, and Revolution was in the air.  The Harlem Festival was later known … Continue reading

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Gravity’s Rainbow Turns Noir In L.A.

Critic John Powers on Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, Inherent Vice: I know people who swear that Pynchon has saved their lives. But I know others who say he is literally unreadable. Nobody will say that about “Inherent Vice,” his loosey-goosey … Continue reading

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Café Mouffe: Fare Thee Well, Mike Seeger

Mike Seeger – singer, virtuoso instrumentalist, steward of American folk music traditions – died Friday night at 75. According to NPR, Seeger’s “love for traditional songs and tunes inspired many other musicians — including Bob Dylan . Seeger was a … Continue reading

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Mouffe at the Movies: Sue Lyon’s Lolita

We finished Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita today — reading it aloud, mind you — and almost immediately asked ourselves the question posed by the trailer for Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 movie adaptation. “How could they make a movie out of Lolita?” My … Continue reading

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Let’s Lift A Toast To The Burning River

If Great Blue Herons are part of your quality of life, please join me in lifting a toast to the Cuyahoga River. When the river caught on fire in Cleveland 40 years ago today, it became a tipping point in … Continue reading

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