Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When the Beat Generation and the counterculture merged

The poster for the Incredible Poetry Reading

I don't indulge much in nostalgia, though I do occasionally. A real today is usually much more interesting than an imagined yesterday. But Sunday's piece on the beat poets by the Chronicle's official nostalgist, Carl Nolte, reminded me of one of my favorite events of the past, when the Beat Generation seemed to merge with the counter-culture of the 1960s. It was 1968, the Nourse Auditorium was packed for a poetry reading to hear Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Lew Welch, and Richard Brautigan---and others[Later: Michael McClure was there] I've forgotten---read their poems. The event opened with the Mime Troupe marching down the center aisle playing their version of the Star Spangled Banner. When they finished, someone yelled "Play ball," the crowd roared, and the event began.

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