matt power meets allen ginsberg

120x171x5764_power.jpg.pagespeed.ic.eH2w01EYFpA classic early piece from my dear friend Matt Power, who died earlier this week on assignment in Uganda. I attach a typical photo of Matt, which I can barely stand to look at right now. Matt smiled stupidly like this more often than probably anyone I've ever known.

The first time I went to New York, I took my girlfriend to visit Allen Ginsberg in his Lower East Side walkup. He was sick in bed with a blood clot in his lung. We were walking down 12th Street in the East Village to get to his apartment, and halfway between 1st and Avenue A, we came across a community garden. It was beautiful, growing from the ruins of a torn down tenement that still had structural elements left behind. The entrance to the garden was the building's original door frame, but the facade was gone, replaced by a wrought iron fence and rows of blooming rosebushes. A wall was grown over with morning glories, and a sink had found new life as a birdbath. There were winding paths under fruit trees and huge sunflowers nodding in the breeze. None of us had any idea that such a thing could exist amid the concrete swelter of a New York summer.

We went up to Ginsberg's apartment where he lay in bed, gaunt in blue pajamas, surrounded by piles of books and newspapers. He guided us by memory through his home, describing the artwork on the walls. “That Blake print is God giving life to Adam,” he said. “Notice that God has Adam's face and Adam has God's face. And that silk painting behind the veil, that's my girlfriend.” The veil hid a terrifying painting of a fanged Hindu deity. “It's Kali, the goddess of death.” He directed us to another silk painting. “That's the wheel of Samsara. Attachment to the illusion of existence. Everyone's trying to get to Heaven-the soldier realm by force, and those are the hungry ghosts with the distended stomachs. Only the bodhisattvas make it out, through enlightenment. It's love that keeps everyone else on the wheel.”

more here fron Heeb Magazine.