This morning I had the displeasure of listening to bourgeois poets Anne Waldman and Jason Shinder misinterpreting the meaning of "Howl." About the famous "Moloch" rant-- "blood of money"-- they spoke in circles, refusing to acknowledge that Ginsberg's words had anything to do with his own time-- when the connection is obvious. At no time, of course, did they mention a major influence on the poem, Kenneth Rexroth's "Thou Shalt Not Kill," a poem which is just as strong yet is celebrated no place.
And what's up with Shinder, anyway? Before the ULA's spring "Howl" protest at Columbia University, eight months ago, establishment attack dog Phillip Lopate, in a letter to me, had Shinder dying, very ill, using this as a reason for us to halt our plans. Jason Shinder sounded fine on the radio, as he looked fine (except for his evil facial expressions) when we saw him earlier this year on stage.
What one can say about "Howl" is that the poem has been neutered. The cultural establishment, embodiment of this nation's upper classes, has the work well in hand. It sits politely on the coffee table in a large room in one of their airy houses, next to a tray of bon-bons. They look at it gratefully, knowing the work is now completely harmless.