By: Carl Wilson
August 2, 2017

One in a series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars during 2017, on the subject of our favorite squads.



I am not a New York School poet, I’m a rock
though I think I’d rather not be. Why? Well,
      many days
as a young man, younger and more man
than I wished, I would go to the library on
      Colborne Street
with a series of questions that were the
      same question:
Where did this culture come from? This
the one I most cared about, with punk rock,
      late-night TV,
David Lynch, comix zines in it, though I also
about literature or jazz, e.g., which weren’t
      much in it,
except by rare invitation. If you were a
      young man
you mostly found out the answers were
the Velvet Underground, the Weather
      Underground, the
Beat Generation. If you were lucky maybe
      someone told you John Cage.
(Dadaists and surrealists, bien sur,
but that’s over in the other place.)
Around when you were catching on
that Andy Warhol’s banana pulled more
than John Cale’s viola, when you were not
as young a man, or if you never were a
the Beat Generation would be making you
      very tired,
in aggregate though not every particulate,
above all for the denouncing and
      pronouncing, which
the Republicans later heard about, and
      yelled GOOD IDEA.
Finally you found out, maybe from poems
      copied for you
by a woman you loved who was smarter
      than you,
about the New York School in the 1950s,
      who were
John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, James
      Schuyler, and Kenneth Koch
(pronounced Coke like the coke-bottle
      glasses). Optionally
also Barbara Guest, Joe Brainard, Ted
and Bernadette Mayer, et al. All
indifferent to denouncing and
      pronouncing, yet
(don’t tell the internet) not bored or evil
but rather so beautifully exhilarated about
      having washed up
on Manhattan-which-was-still-Manhattan
      from wherever
(who remembered?) on waves of splattered
      paint. In “The Morning
of the Poem,” Schuyler told this story about
      what it was like
for them to meet (I took the line indents
      out, it was too much):
“When I first knew John Ashbery he slipped
one of his trick test questions (we were
      looking at a window
full of knitted ribbon dresses): ‘I don’t think
James Joyce is any good: do you?’ Think,
      what did I think! I
didn’t know you were allowed not to like
Joyce. The book I suppose is a masterpiece:
      freedom of
choice is better. Thank you, ‘Little J.A. in a
Prospect of Flowers.’”
Joyce or no Joyce, their poems rejoice in
      letting in
brows of all furrinesses and their friends
as characters (poetry will be sociable
or not at all!), and exclamation marks,
      kangaroos and Cokes,
Kenneth or otherwise. If New Yorkers were
      Dr. Seuss drawings,
or Lana Turner were Popeye, or cherubs
      were epistemology,
Republicans never noticed and still don’t.
were seldom props for William Tell
      practice; mercy, some of the poets
were women, though more of their painter
      friends were,
and returning to figuration. A few were
      even heteros.
Granted, lots, whatever gender, were Ivy
      League valedictorians
and track stars for Mineola Prep. There are
      dodgy tales
about their dealings with LeRoi Jones, who
      fled them
into the arms of Amiri Baraka. Still, in some
time like 1952 or 1955 it seems they’d
      already known
not only about late-night TV and comix
      zines (collages!)
and that not as much literature would
      follow, but also that queer
shoulders would get sprung from the
      wheel. So they held
Stonewall some 15 years in advance, down
      the hall
from Uncle Wystan Auden’s apartment (he
      left early)
and celebrated all morning and mourned
      all night.
They were so sad that they wrote about
removing the transition between the two
so the straights couldn’t prosecute it. And
      wrote novels together,
and ridiculous plays, very fast, that they
each other star in. (Oh, the punishment
now inflict for the crime of having written a
      play! “Development”?
No, no. Do it like this.) They glowered drunk
at each other’s boy-and-girl-friends at
but always went to the parties (or not at all)
and borrowed typewriters there, if they
      weren’t over
in the other place, because Paris-which-
was their own time-travel destination. They
      were the last pack
of poets who wanted to be painters,
      instead of rock stars.
So if Frank O’Hara had lived past 40 (Fire
      Island, dune buggy)
maybe he would have run a Factory
that built a better Brillo box. But I didn’t
      come from that culture.
Even though now the palaces give my
      beloved little J.A.
all the crackerjacks for being
still here, so wistful and so bereft of blood
I came from this culture (notice my
where you can say James Joyce was bad all
      day long
and nobody gets mad or exhilarated or
      starts looking
at ribbon dresses. It’s called SARDINES.


#SQUADGOALS: Annie Nocenti on THE WILD BUNCH | Alice Boone on PRETTY LITTLE LIARS | Gordon Dahlquist on BOWIE’S BAND | Rob Wringham on THE HOME GUARD | Jennifer Krasinski on WATERSHIP DOWN RABBITS | Annalee Newitz on ROBIN HOOD’S MERRY PALS | Adrienne Crew on THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | Mark Kingwell on THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | Adam McGovern on KAMANDI’S FAMILY | John Overholt on THE CLUB | Greg Rowland on THE VULTURE SQUADRON | Sara Ryan on BETSY, TACY & TIB | Chelsey Johnson on VI ÄR BÄST! | Brian Berger on THE JOHN FORD STOCK COMPANY | Sherri Wasserman on THE WARRIORS | Jessamyn West on FAREYNIKTE PARTIZANER ORGANIZATSYE | Josh Glenn on DADA | Matthew De Abaitua on THE TIME | Mandy Keifetz on THE FOUNDING FATHERS | William Nericcio on ZOOT SUIT PACHUCOS | Deb Chachra on FIREFLY CREW | Matthew Battles on THE ANIMAL FAMILY | Ingrid Schorr on THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS | Joe Alterio on THE USUAL GANG OF IDIOTS | Dan Reines on THE BREAKFAST CLUB | Rob Walker on LES TROIS INSÉPARABLES | Devin McKinney on 1975 RED SOX | Steph Burt on DAMAGE CONTROL | Elina Shatkin on THE HOLOGRAMS | Chris Spurgeon on THE ALKALI METALS | Carl Wilson on NEW YORK SCHOOL POETS | Barbara Bogaev on THE MOD SQUAD | Franklin Bruno on THE AACM | Judith Zissman on THE FUTURIANS | Mimi Zeiger on ARCHIGRAM | Jacob Mikanowski on THE RATBASTARDS | Lynn Peril on THE DALY SISTERS | Anindita Basu Sempere on MEG MURRY’S FAMILY | Libi Rose on THE ENIAC TEAM | Gary Panter on THE TRIBE OF HIPPIES | Peter Doyle on CORNEL WILDE BOYS | Ken Layne on THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG | Molly Wright Steenson on BAUHAUS | Katie Hennessey on BEAT POETS | Mimi Lipson on THE RUNAWAYS | Jordan Ellenberg on BOURBAKI | Michael Campochiaro on THE SUICIDE SQUAD | Deborah Wassertzug on THE BLOODHOUND GANG | Colin Dickey on ACÉPHALE | Douglas Wolk on SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY | David Smay on THE MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO | Karinne Keithley Syers on BLACKLIPS PERFORMANCE CULT.


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