>Went to see two Peter Whitehead films at the I-House, Wholly Communion and Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London. They were both fantastic documentaries that gave you a feeling of what it must have really been like in the 60s in London.
Wholly Communion (1965) shows when the US and English Beat poets got together in front of a crowd of 7,000 in Royal Albert Hall to read poetry. First of all, I’m amazed that they filled Albert Hall with poetry fans. The beautiful stylish guys and girls in the crowd were smoking pot, drinking wine from the bottle, and doing bizarre proto-hippie dances to the poems. It was a lot of the usual cast of characters from the US– Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. But I had never heard (or even heard of) the English Beat poets so I was kinda interested in them. I thought of them, Adrian Mitchell gave a particularly good reading of his anti-Vietnam War poem, To Whom It May Concern.
The highlight of the film (for all the wrong reasons) was Harry Fainlight. Harry got up in front of 7,000 people and started to read his poem, and got interrupted by someone in the crowd (I feel like this person is probably famous as well). Harry proceeded to completely lose his shit and breakdown on stage, people started yelling at him, “READ YOUR POEM!!” and he’s like, “This reading is all messed up now.” And he asked the organizers to read another, and he did, and then he felt like he needed to “explain” it but the organizers were like, “Harry wants to explain his poem to you folks, but I say, nahh, the poem’s great, we don’t need to hear any more from you.” Haha! Oh, it was like watching a train wreck. Every once in a while they would put the camera back on Harry and he looked absolutely shell shocked. Poetry is hell.
Ubuweb has a good writeup about the film here.
Next was the main feature, Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London (1967) which was a profile of swingin’ London around 1966. The psychedelic aesthetic of the shots of the streets at night were perfect, but the interviews with younger versions of still famous people were excellent. A young, dapper Michael Caine talking about the freedom of the mini-skirt, mod heartthrob Julie Christie bathed in window light, The Small Faces and Pink Floyd playing, and The Rolling Stones being practically torn limb from limb by ravenous fans. I realized I haven’t heard an unsung word from Mick Jagger ever, and it was really interesting to see his smooth face predicting the future from 1967. I’m doing this from memory, but it went something like this:
People never thought about morality surrounding war, because before our generation people were worried about having food in their mouths. It’s because we have food in our mouths that we can think about these things. In the future machines will be doing our work for us, it’s already starting to happen, so we will have more and more time to think about these things. Eventually we’ll only have to work 4 hours a day so the rest of the day will be filled with other things, but it won’t be what you think. We won’t be slagging off and going to the cinema. I don’t think we’ll know what we’ll be doing, but hopefully it’ll be good, and good will come of it.
That was probably my favorite part of the film. Overall it was fantastic, I’m really glad I ventured out to see it. Inspired by the hot mod broads in the film, I think I might go see if I can find some crazy tights on my lunchbreak.
Today I am EXHAUSTED. So glad that I get out of work at 3. I’m going to this benefit thing at 4 though, so I’ll be running around no matter what. Think I might need a shot of espresso or some crank or something. OK just the espresso.