Tuesday, February 18, 2014

George Plimpton and the 1980 Moscow Olympics

George Plimpton Obituary Mail Art (front)

Gratitude to Grantland.com for posting George Plimpton's report from the 1980 Moscow games. The United States boycotted those games in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December, 1979.

Moscow Games by George Plimpton

Plimpton was the perfect journalist for the event. A participatory journalist first and foremost, Plimpton was a sports enthusiast of the highest order. An intelligent and witty observer, fearless in his own inimitable way, Plimpton's observations and commentary eschew the normal re-hash of events and instead pick out the quirky, the humorous, the incongruous from those games.

Ah, the Cold War, what a time it was. And to think of the events that transpired either directly or indirectly from that Soviet incursion. In no time we had the CIA arming the mujahideen (the Islamic anti-Soviet resistance). Of course, some eight years later, once the Soviets had cut their losses and fled that unconquerable country, the "freedom fighters" (thanks, Mr. Reagan) turned their sights on other targets. And voila, Al Queda emerges from the smoking ruins, still armed with stinger missiles and various kinds of destructive hardware courtesy of the USA.

Fast forward to today. Sadly, Mr. Plimpton has departed this corporeal world. Not so sadly, so has Mr. Reagan. But Al Queda remains.

And now we have the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, another bizarre Russian fiasco. Whose idea was it to hold the winter Olympics at a summer resort on the Black Sea? A classic Russian farce. Mikhail Bulgakov would have something to say, no doubt.

George Plimpton Obituary Mail Art (rear)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Allen Ginsberg Photographs to the University of Toronto

A giant collection of some 7,500 Allen Ginsberg photographs have been donated by the Larry and Cookie Rossy Family Foundation to the University of Toronto, which announced the gift in January. They now reside there in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and some have been made available online.

According to the University's press announcement:

"The Ginsberg prints provide visual insight into New York urban landscape from the 1950s to the 1990s. They also document Ginsberg’s international travels to Canada, France, India, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, the USSR and many other nations."

Here's a photograph that is not in their collection, taken January 21st, 1986 upon arriving at the Sandino International Airport in Managua. Ginsberg, Pedro Pietri and a group of North American writers and artists (myself included) had been invited to participate in an "invasion of poets" for the 1986 Ruben Dario Festival.

Pedro Pietri, Ernesto Cardenal, Allen Ginsberg
Sandino International Airport, Managua
January 21, 1986