Post Number: 130
|Posted on Friday, May 20, 2011 - 10:42 am: ||
The Beat Generation, that was a vision that we had, John Clellon Holmes and I, and Allen Ginsberg in an even wilder way, in the late Forties, of a generation of crazy, illuminated hipsters suddenly rising and roaming America, serious, curious, bumming and hitchhiking everywhere, ragged, beatific, beautiful in an ugly graceful new way.
“Who were we? We knew nothing but the allure, the draw, the hope of safe haven, defiance, and the immediate utopia of resistance in zones of momentary freedom, negating boojy society.”
In these days of multiple media, history is seen and heard as much as it is read.
The audiences who have experienced Mary Kerr’s beautifully titled, powerfully edited documentary, Swinging in the Shadows have been enthusiastic in the extreme. The documentary, in two parts, “Venice West and the LA Scene” and “San Francisco’s Wild History Groove,” deals with the Beat Generation in, respectively, Southern and Northern California, and is far from being a rehash of familiar attitudes and opinions. Kerr—whose husband Les was a talented painter—was herself an intimate of the time and her interviews and comments give us fresh perspectives on a period that has become almost a cliché.
Kerr remarks, “What has kept me dedicated to doing the project, against all odds, is a realization that these Beat Era individuals were correct in resisting the commercial, mainstream world. Now, a younger generation of artists and poets is struggling with the same dilemma—how to keep the pressure to make money from destroying the freedom to produce what they really want to create regardless of acceptance. At screenings, young artists have told me how inspired they felt to know about the experiences of those individuals in the documentary.”
The making of films unfortunately requires money—often a great deal of money—and though Kerr has for the most part self-funded her grand project for the past fifteen years (with some contributions from others), she has now launched a campaign to raise finishing funds for her documentary through the crowdfunding site IndieGoGo.
I want to raise my tiny trumpet blast in celebration of Swinging in the Shadows and urge anyone interested in this period—anyone interested in film—to check out what has been happening at Mary Kerr’s website, www.beatera.org. Or go directly to http://www.indiegogo.com/Swinging-in-the-Shadows. You won’t be disappointed and you may well wish to help out in the finalization of a marvelous history project which is itself—history. Contributors may receive unique art objects as rewards. Many artists (or their galleries) have donated work. You’ll find pieces by Frank Lobdell, David Simpson, Saul White, Deborah Remington Lundy Siegrest, and many others. All the donated items can be viewed on Mary Kerr’s website. Her production company, CA Palm, is an educational 502c3 non-profit corporation. All contributions to Swinging in the Shadows are tax deductible.