June 3: Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg, the author of “Howl,” “Kaddish,” and numerous other stunning poems that brought Jewish and homosexual content, as well as outrage at the inhumanity of modern American capitalism, to the forefront of American intellectual consciousness, was born (first name Irwin) in Newark, New Jersey on this date in 1926. Ginsberg became the most enduring […]

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People of the Book 101: Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in February, 1973 — and made his last public appearance as a special guest at the NYU Poetry Slam on February 20, 1997. We honor this pioneering poet and activist with this 1st of February remembrance. by Jules Chametzky Drawing by Marty Carey […]

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The “Howl” Trial

Photo: Michiel Hendryckx Some 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, printed in England, were impounded by U.S. Customs on this date in 1957. Publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti was charged with promoting obscenity, and after a long trial (covered in a Life magazine picture story), the book was ruled not obscene in a decision that paved the way for the American […]

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The First Human Be-In

The first Human Be-In brought more than 20,000 people to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on this date in 1967, as a prelude to the Summer of Love. Among the key organizers of this “Gathering of the Tribes” was Allen Cohen, a founder of the San Francisco Oracle, who had teamed up with the psychedelic […]

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Woody Allen, Poking the Jews

by Debbie Burke   AMID THE MANY films, stories, and scandals for which Woody Allen is famous and infamous, one question persists: When he writes and portrays Jewish characters, there is always the undercurrent of biting sarcasm, pointing inward, which leads one to ask if his shtik is a function of self-loathing, or is he just putting stock […]

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January 5: The Attorney of Free Speech

Al Bendich, an attorney who in 1957 defended Lawrence Ferlinghetti against obscenity charges for publishing and distributing Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” and in 1962 defended Lenny Bruce in his first of four obscenity trials, died on this date in 2015 at age 85. Bendich was only two years out of law school when he wrote the […]

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