You have until April to go see "Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg" at NYU's Grey Art Gallery.
A vast array of Ginsberg's black-and-white, hand-inscribed photographs, many were taken in the East Village where the poet lived first on 7th Street and later on 12th. (In the above photo, he's on the 7th Street rooftop, the steeples of St. Brigid's in the background.)
On one wall, a quartet of views from his 12th Street apartment show a
ragged backside in winter, spring, and summer, scenes of ailanthus
trees and chimney pots. Allen died there in 1997. Now someone new occupies that renovated kitchen, looks out that window, and does what with it?
Among the many photos, there are also artifacts in vitrines--letters,
books, and other ephemera. In one hand-written letter to Carl Solomon,
Ginsberg tells of visiting Ezra Pound, to whom he
gave a Beatles record as an 82nd birthday gift. I keep trying to imagine crotchety old Ezra Pound listening to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Allen mostly took pictures of his friends, so detailed city scenery is rare. But there is one shot in the show that does the trick, a rarely seen photo of Avenue A between 7th and 8th along Tompkins Square Park. Taken in 1953 of a "Shopping Cart Prophet," it shows the long-lost businesses of that time--the Volga Inn, a Bar & Grill, a Soda Ice Cream Candy Luncheonette, and the Park Center Restaurant (now the "new" Odessa, a photo lab, a bodega, and Sushi Lounge). Writing on the photo, Ginsberg recalls: "Leshko's Restaurant was cheap and popular as at present." That's gone, too.
A little more Allen Ginsberg: