Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Points of Interest

I was poking around and found a site with the photographs of Larry Keenan, who did a lot of work in the San Francisco area during the Sixties, when the Beats were active and during the Haight-Ashbury period. And after, as well, which is worth saying because, even after looking through the galleries that captured a moment in history with particular resonance for me and moving into his later work, I continued to find myself enjoying some really remarkable photos.

Really, if there were only one picture there, this photo of Michael McClure, Bob Dylan and Alan Ginsburg would still be awfully cool.

But Keenan's portfolio is full of many other faces with names -- Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Judy Collins and Peter Coyote and Wavy Gravy and Stewart Brand and on and on, and he also captured a lot of anonymous people who were there at the right moment.

I've always felt that I arrived at the party late, after the right moment had come and gone and things were beginning to wind down, the energy beginning to dissipate. It was a lot of fun, but I knew that, if I'd just been there a little bit earlier, I'd have really seen some amazing things and talked to some amazing people. Of course, arriving late was better than not getting there at all and I did see some pretty amazing things and talk to some pretty amazing people.

And, in any case, you really couldn't have seen everything anyway, no matter when you got there.

Except that Larry Keenan seems to have seen -- and photographed -- an awful lot of it.

Wander through and enjoy.


Sherwood Harrington said...

I was absolutely captivated by your links in this post, Mike, and especially so by the one for Judy Collins.

Two notes concerning the wonderful Keenan photo gallery: 1) Photos of great poets always make them look like they haven't had enough sleep, and 2) Oh, Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland! (See the second photo on the linked page.)

I recognize a lot of the places and people in Keenan's photos, of course, having lived in the heart of the SF Bay Area from 1969 to 1989 (and on its fringes since then); I frequented Ferlinghetti's City Lights bookstore -- and the great Vesuvio saloon across the alley -- frequently during the years I taught at City College of San Francisco. But the ones in the collection you link that bring the greatest shots to my heart are the ones of Oakland and Alameda from Keenan's days at the California College of Arts and Crafts. Those are from the part of Oakland that I think of as "home," the area centered on Piedmont Avenue.

My son, Adam, lives on Piedmont Avenue now. His place (and my old studio apartment) is within a very short stroll of the site of Keenan's "FOLKWAYS AT MT. VIEW
Oakland 1964"
shot of the girl with the guitar among the graves. Adam jogs there daily, and it has always been one of his and my favorite secluded places.

Entries in my blog that feature the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland include this one and this one (in the latter, the cemetery is featured in the first three and the last three photos.)

Thank you so much, Mike. Wonderful, wonderful post.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Gah. I wish Blogger made it easier for comments to be edited by their originators.

I didn't "frequent" City Lights frequently, I "hung out" there a lot. Also, Adam's current place, while close to my old place, isn't the same place, as my fourth paragraph might imply.

ronnie said...

These are wonderful photos. Thanks for the link and I've forwarded it to Husband. Sherwood, thanks for adding some context and 'local history'.