Friday, August 6, 2010

The Howl! Generation!

Howl! is everywhere these days.  Of course, there is the Howl! Festival, the main attraction every summer in New York City’s East Village (  Then there’s HOWL, the movie, starring James Franco, which centers on the obscenity trial Allen Ginsberg faced as a result of publishing the poem "Howl."
The tag line for the movie is:
The Obscenity Trial That Started a Revolution -The Poem That Rocked a Generation.
We beg to differ here at the Howl! Festival.  The poem is still rocking and this is a new generation.

What exactly is a generation?  How many years is a generation?
There is no straight answer to that question. Firstly, there is the familial generation, meaning grandmother-mother-daughter, etc. According to Wikipedia, the length of a familial generation is 25.2 years in the United States as of 2007 and 27.4 years in the United Kingdom as of 2004.  But who really provides this information to Wikipedia, why should we believe it, and why are the U.S. and the U.K. the barometers for the rest of the world? How long is a familial generation in every other country? Isn’t there a worldwide average of familial generations we can refer to? Preferably an up-to-date 2010 calculation?

Cultural generations are a lot easier to define than familial generations. 
Tom Brokaw wrote a book called The Greatest Generation, referring to people who came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to build modern America. 
There is the post-World War II “Baby Boomer Generation” (people born 1946-1964), which somehow seems to combine a familial generation of 18 years with a cultural generation which seems to have no end in sight.  Some members of the Baby Boomer Generation also belonged to the Blank Generation, which is how this all starts to get fuzzy and confusing.  The Blank Generation technically only lasted a few years or so until the post-Vietnam punk angst wore off and Generation X kicked in, followed by Generation Y and Generation I, also known as the Internet Generation.
Somewhere between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomer Generation was the Beat Generation, which brings us back to the cultural phenomenon known as a cultural generation, which produced Allen Ginsberg, who created "Howl." Sheesh.

Howl the Movie will be in theaters on September 24. Howl the Movie spawned a graphic novel, animated by Eric Drooker and including art from Howl the Movie. Howl the Graphic Novel will be available in paperback by Harper Perennial on August 31.  Howl the Festival will be in Tompkins Square Park in New York City’s East Village on September 10, 11, and 12. Howl the Festival  will also take place throughout the month of September in a variety of downtown New York venues.  Keep checking the schedule at for further info.

All we need is Howl the Broadway Musical, and then I think we can safely say that this is officially the Howl Generation. Heck, let’s say it anyway. Welcome to the Howl Generation. Let’s hope it lasts as long as the Beat Generation, which will last forever, no matter what they say at Wikipedia.

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