Archive for the ‘da pennebaker’ Tag

I’m on the pavement thinking about the government (Day 45)

savoy steps location subterranean homesick blues bob dylan

Savoy Steps on 5th November 2013

Started the day off track at a coffee shop meeting inspired by Russell Brand’s interview by Jeremy Paxman a couple of weeks ago. Chris Ward, who gave me some publishing advice on Day 22, gathered together a small bunch of people who were struck by the Newsnight interview to discuss its implications and possibilities. We met up in Somerset House for a couple of hours and kicked about some ideas. This is an appropriate location in that it’s within yards of both The Coal Hole and the site of The Fountain Tavern (home of The Kit-Kat Club) which were places of political gathering and activism in the 17th and 18th Century. Given his increasing activism, Allen Ginsberg would have approved of this tangent.

Having spotted Ginsberg in the background of DA Pennebaker’s Subterranean Homesick Blues promo (shot in 1965) on an ad on Channel 4 the other night (Day 43), and being just a couple of streets away, I decided to seek out the location. And very atmospheric it was. Totally unchanged since 1965 (though the scaffolding has finally gone). Documentary-maker DA Pennebaker came back around 1985 and they were still working on The Savoy building on its left-hand side. The streets and alleys around The Savoy remind you of the rich palimpsest of history and stories that lays over this fabulous city.

I set up office in Westminster Reference Library, the Art bit, and carried on with my current pass at the Literature/Ginsberg chapter. Research-wise I pushed on with Hettie Jones’ memoirs, How I Became Hettie Jones, taking it into the legendary Gaby’s for lunch (it’s as perverse as ever, how many Cash Only restaurants can there be in Central London?)

In the late afternoon I spoke to the Allen Ginsberg Project / Estate in the East Village, NYC who are kindly helping with some interviewees, thanks to documentary-maker Yony Leyser whom I met in Leipzig last week.

{photo cortesy of http://www.popspotsnyc.com}

{photo cortesy of http://www.popspotsnyc.com}

Update 6/11/13

I found out today while researching the Ginsberg chapter that the term “subterraneans” was one Ginsberg coined to describe the intellectual hipsters and hip hedonists who hung out in Greenwich Village bars like the San Remo and Fugazzi’s. Dylan took the term from Kerouac but Kerouac had actually adopted it from Ginsberg.

Stoned Immaculate (Day 43)

bob_dylan_subterranean homesick blues da pennebaker

Picked up where I left off yesterday, ploughing through the tail-end of a key Ginsberg research book. Was watching telly last night and saw an ad (on Channel 4) for The Greatest Hits of Bob Dylan, made up largely of archive film clips, and I noticed, for the first time, Ginsberg in the background of that famous clip for Subterranean Homesick Blues (which was the promo film for DA Pennebaker’s 1967 documentary Don’t Look Back). I’ll go pay homage to the spot behind The Savoy Hotel, London next time I’m in that area.

Took the Enfants Terribles out for lunch down the street to mark their half-term, which was fun.

Then rounded the day off with a trip down to Gospel Oak (I love that place name) to do my first interview of a contemporary exponent of openness and generosity in the realm of creativity, namely Carole Stone.  Carole is a former journalist at the BBC and has latterly been working with YouGov. Over the years she has built up and nurtured a huge network of interesting people, old and young, successful and starting out, all bound together by her charm, warmth and genuine love of helping people get stuff done, worthwhile stuff of all kinds. Carole gave me a frank and insightful interview in her cozy front room, with languid cats and equally charming husband Richard in attendance, on how she operates and why, which I’ll weave into the Ginsberg chapter, as he was also renowned as a great networker of the authentic variety.

Here’s a brief extract from my draft Ginsberg chapter on this theme:

Ginsberg was proactive in his connecting to and of people. He was referred to by one friend as “the central casting office of the underground”. He was habitually seen carrying a purple bag and in it was an address book in which he wrote the details of people he encountered who were kindred spirits or of potential help moving the world in the right direction. He took delight in connecting people he thought might spark off each other, regardless of whether they were underground or establishment. The purple bag contained in effect a global network of the like-minded.

bob_dylan_subterranean homesick blues da pennebaker

%d bloggers like this: