Allen Cohen was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1940. Moving to San Francisco in the early 60s, he founded and edited the legendary San Francisco Oracle, the psychedelic, rainbow hued underground newspaper published in the Haight-Ashbury. He also helped orginate rites of passage like the Human-Be-In in the Haight.
He has published two books of poetry, Childbirth Is Ecstasy and The Reagan Poems. In 1991 he worked with Regent Press in Oakland, CA to publish a commemorative Facsimile Edition of the complete San Francisco Oracle in order to preserve it for posterity.
Since the early 80s he has been presenting his multi-image slide show The Rise and Fall of the Haight-Ashbury in the 60s in theaters and universities. In 1995 he authored a CD-ROM, The Haight-Ashbury in the 60s, that was sold worldwide. He has performed his poetry at music concerts, colleges, museums and coffeehouses. He has judged poetry contests for the San Francisco City Fair and the Bay Guardian weekly newspaper.
Now he is working on a political book that takes a shot at reconstructing American politics and a children's computer fantasy book, The Secret of Tomato Sauce, with illustrations by Ann Cohen.
Poem by Allen Cohen
THREE LIVES AND SOME HIPPIE TRUTHS.
For Jack McCloskey, Ron Thelin and Ambrose Hollingsworth
Sometimes I get the feeling
that I'm disappearing behind
the glaring spotlight of media-
the political circus, TV,
and Sports, and Movie heroes
In this world of 6 inch and 20 foot tall
images who do nothing for humanity
except sell sneakers or make empty speeches,
or appear in the dream world of sex and violence,
and get paid millions of dollars
despite their marginal and illusory existence,
in this world our own lives,
the lives of those whose acts
come within the scope of their talents,
their intelligent daily decisions,
their unrewarded kindness and love.
seem to dissolve in frustration and toil
against the silence of the calculus of history.
But look closely at those lives
with their true heroism of every moment,
fulfilled through the sustenance of friendship,
the love of the children and one another.
For each other they become larger than life,
far larger than movie screens,
in the singing of a song
the reaching out of a hand across the emptiness,
the drawing of a picture, the writing of a poem
even in the washing of a dish, the repairing
of a fence or car, the sewing of a loose button.
I am sitting at the memorial for Jack McCloskey,
at the Family Dog Ballroom.
Jack was the Vietnam Veteran counselor
whose life starting in that war
that so defined our era,
was given to reaching out to others.
First to their bodies when as a front line
unarmed medic, he gave aid to the wounded.
He would overcome the fear of witnessing
death's witless massacres each time
he hurled himself into the line of fire.
After the war, he learned
the necessity of healing the mind
that survived the broken bodies,
and then the souls that were left helpless
before the void of meaningless pain.
In this way he gave his heart away
to the veterans who needed it.
There was no People Magazine for Jack McCloskey
No "Jack McCloskey dies News at Eleven."
Country Joe McDonald is playing Sweet Lorraine.
The light show vibrates the air and his friends dance.
Now, my friend Ron Thelin
also has died at too young an age.
How we were tied together
by those mysterious threads
that pull us from life to life.
Two unheralded, trusting young men
traversed the Godhead, and a spark
ignited in that calculus of history.
Ron started the Psychedelic Shop
in the Haight Ashbury,
and a few months later
he gave us the money
to begin the San Francisco Oracle.
Our lights lit a small path for the world.
We learned in that cauldron
the integrity that kept our lives dedicated
to the unfolding of the mysterious heart
and the infinite depth of the moment
and place we live in.
Through the years the glowing diamond
of Ron's life was his wife, Marsha,
and their children, Kira, Jaspar Starfire, and Ace.
This was the longest running marriage
and family of our generation.
Yes, we also shared our lives with our mistakes,
with our excesses and our failures.
But our love, my brothers and sisters,
enters into the small molecules of our genes
and builds souls, and those souls
will create histories, and beings, and worlds,
and unite generation to generation,
and that love is at the beginning and the end.
Then Ambrose Hollingsworth, whose small light
also lit the path of our history, passed on.
Ambrose bound to his wheelchair
a writer, scholar, and occultist taught
the occult philosophies wherever he rolled.
He told me once during the time
he was choosing the astrologically
correct date for the Human-Be-In
what the hidden secret was,
"We are not just the broken body," he said.
"We are one infinite soul
vibrating, expanding, contracting -
one being, one God."
Watch out now we are heading here
for the basic hippie truths -
Like the swirling vibrating colors of the light show
we are rocking with the galactic winds.
Brothers and sisters, we are the galactic winds
and all the burning suns rolling
toward the end of the universe,
which we are also,
or the endlessness of the universe,
which we also are
or the turning mobius strip of the universe
which we are.
And our love,
the inner and the outer love,
that is our true nature, our contribution
to the calculus of history.
Sensual love and the love
that binds us to All of It,
to the oneness, that smiling,
joyful, peaceful love that makes
each step, each motion, each breath
so real, so eternal and so momentary,
the carrying water and chopping wood moment
the marrying through moment,
the merging into your lover moment
the moment when death and life are one.
(c) 1997 Allen Cohen
Email Allen Cohen
Thanks to Michele for the picture
(the Hep Kats Ball was a benefit for Allen Cohen
who gottaliver andahquiver).
"Allen Cohen" - firstname.lastname@example.org
Intimations of the future?
POST CONSTITUTIONAL AMERICA
The city of Racine, WI has agreed to drop all charges against 442 people who
were ticketed at a benefit electronic music concert simply for being in
proximity to a drug arrest on the premises. Graham Boyd, Director of the
national ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project, said the raid marked a first
in the so-called war on drugs. "Recently, the ACLU successfully challenged
the arrest of innocent business owners simply for promoting electronic music
concerts, but this is the first time that an audience was targeted. We
sincerely hope it will be the last. However," he noted, "with the
reintroduction in Congress of an anti-Rave bill that targets music
promoters, we are likely to see more, not fewer, unconstitutional attempts
at prosecution of innocent people."
"Electronic music concerts are a legitimate cultural event just like rock
concerts, art exhibitions and film screenings, and are an important outlet
for youth culture today," Boyd said. "This kind of raid is tantamount to
targeting rock concerts in the 1960s or jazz clubs in the 1920s because some
people were using drugs or drinking liquor."
Last November, the Racine police raided an electronic music concert held by
the Uptown Theater Group, Inc. to aid its efforts to restore an historic
landmark theater in downtown Racine. The police department had claimed that
the mere presence of these concertgoers in a location in which four persons
were arrested on drug charges violated the city's "inmates of a disorderly
house" ordinance. The citations were originally issued with fines of $968 each.
The ACLU of Wisconsin, with the assistance of volunteer attorney Erik R.
Guenther, an associate in the Racine firm of Hostak, Henzl & Bichler, S.C.,
challenged the citations. The ACLU charged that ordinance violated the First
Amendment right to freedom of association since it was imposed on
individuals whose only actions were peaceably assembling to hear electronic
"The ACLU and I welcome the city's decision to dismiss these citations, and
their commitment to amend this ordinance to ensure that an incident like
this does not occur again," said Guenther. "The city's decision to provide
guidelines to police officers in future enforcement of this ordinance will
help ensure that the Constitutional rights of attendees and performers at
electronic music events are respected in the future."
An Eye For An Eye Makes The Whole World Blind -Poets on 9/11 features poems by over 100 poets from all over America, including the former Poet Laureate of the United States. This important book creates an alternative poetic response to the din of collective madness that has characterized our national dialogue since 9/11/2001. Many of the poets have projected themselves into the minds and bodies of the victims of 9/11, the firemen and policemen who were searching the wreckage of the buildings, those who threw themselves from the World Trade Center's heights and even the hijackers. They express deep emotions and profound thoughts with the severe attention to detail that makes poems revelatory. Upon reading these poems written by so many diverse poets one sees a deepening of perception, of renewed seriousness about the human predicament and about the necessity to evolve into our full humanity. We hope the poems will help readers feel more deeply, and think about our future, and ultimately act to achieve a more peaceful and just world.
Edited by: Allen Cohen and Clive Matson
Foreword by: Michael Parenti