Monday, October 27, 2008

Genius Caught in Conversation


Thought I'd start modest and put up this nice little snap of a couple of last century's major artists, two authentic bohemians, Ginsberg and Monk, having a quiet moment. Naturally, it peaks my curiosity about what they're conversing about, but it also reinforces my belief that Ginsberg looked simply splendid in a suit and that Monk in profile is deserving of a statue the size of Mt. Rushmore. And were they preparing to leave, or was this an attempt on their part to get away from something, if only for a minute? At the present time, Monk is the more universally acclaimed "genius" of the two, perhaps due to the fact that he was eccentric but not particularly confrontational. Ginsberg, on the other hand....well, "Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb", and that's just for starters. Which gets me me to thinking that the jazzman most comparible to Old Allen isn't the one in this photograph, but rather Charles Mingus, composer of "Oh Lord, Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me". Mingus was an agitator, at least as much as he could get away with since he was a working musician who had mouths to feed and a band to employ, and Ginsberg was often a flat-out instigator, the sort of guy for whom the term "commie-fag" was invented and obscenity trials were undertaken. It's far more difficult for me to come up with a comparison from literature for Monk. Suffice to say that he's as enigmatic now as he was totally baffling to many listeners during his heyday. But that's the nature of genuis, I guess. Over time it often gets accepted but not understood. And sometimes it gets denied because it had a foul mouth and didn't like girls. It's nice to have them both in this photo, with their guard down and their interest up, two touchstone examples of the diversity of modern brilliance.

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