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Review: Anchored by strong performances, ‘The Interview’ earns three stars out of four

The Interview is already assured of cinematic infamy. It will go down in history as the satire that provoked an authoritarian dictatorship, roiled Sony Pictures in a massive hacking attack and prompted new questions of cyber warfare, corporate risk-tasking and comedic audacity.

Thus the film became an instant legend, regardless of its merits. But what of its merits?

Though The Interview, directed by Rogen and Goldberg, never quite manages the duo’s calibrated blend of sincerity and over-the-top crudeness, it nevertheless usually pulses with an unpredictable absurdity and can-you-believe-we’re-doing-this glee. Its greatest charm is that it so happily brings the silliest, most ludicrous of knives (a preening James Franco, lots of butt jokes) to North Korea’s militarized gunfight.

Rogen plays Aaron Rapoport, a journalism-school grad who has found himself, ignobly, producing an Extra!-like entertainment news show, Skylark Tonight, hosted by his friend Dave Skylark (Franco). The show traffics in the fluff of celebrity with occasional scoops. (Eminem makes a funny cameo as himself with the out-of-the-blue confession that he’s gay.)

When it’s learned that North Korea leader Kim Jong Un is a fan of the show, they maneuver to land an interview for a kind of modern Frost/Nixon televised tete-a-tete, though one with the same penchant for ascots. (Franco’s Skylark is an extreme dandy who speaks largely in over-used slang and has a strange obsession with Lord of the Rings.)

Before their trip to Pyongyang, a CIA agent (Lizzy Caplan) recruits the pair with the mission to turn their big interview into an assassination. “Take him out,” she instructs before putting them through training.

Like another comedy about the wrong Americans sent overseas, Bill Murray’s Stripes, The Interview is better on American soil and on less sure footing once it lands in North Korea. This is partly logistical. Though The Interview obviously couldn’t have shot on location and had limited images to draw on for its sets, the movie fails to create even a half-plausible North Korean atmosphere and is left claustrophobically meandering almost entirely in palace interiors.

Their first meeting with Kim (Randall Park) isn’t a regal pageant; he just knocks softly on Skylark’s door and eagerly introduces himself as a “huge fan.” One of the real disappointments of the film’s cancellation is that people may never get to see Park’s performance. His Kim is more complex than the broad caricature you’d expect: He’s a jovial young leader haunted by daddy issues, having been called soft by his father for adoring American pop culture. He’s a surprisingly agile basketball player and a lover of Katy Perry songs.

Even in North Korea, Rogen and company are more at home in American pop: Western civilization is more the target of The Interview than the DPRK.

As Skylark’s interview nears, their assassination attempts fail and ethical quandaries mount. Skylark and Kim (“a cool guy,” pleads Skylark) become fast friends, palling around together and shooting off tanks. If anything, the film, written by Dan Sterling from the story by Goldberg and Rogen (their second time directing after the better This Is the End), verges on making Kim too likable.

And while the movie leads to a fiery end and a slow reveal of the famine Kim inflicts on his people, most who see The Interview will say to themselves: THIS is what prompted an international incident? There’s nothing scandalous about The Interview, unless you happen to believe Kim is a god who rides around on unicorns.

Despite the large presence of Park’s dictator, this is really Franco’s movie. Seemingly energized by his more outlandish performances (like his Alien in Spring Breakers), he’s here in full, grinning Jerry Lewis-mode, a rubber-faced infotainment parody. His chemistry with Rogen is predictably solid.

Charlie Chaplin, Ernst Lubitsch and the South Park guys have all tried before to find comedy in the shadow of evil and thereby do a little to disarm it. The Interview struggles to really illuminate anything about the stranger-than-fiction Orwellian nightmare that is North Korea, but its attempt is admirable. It deserves to be seen.

And, yes, having your film taken down by a totalitarian regime wins you an extra star.

The Interview, a Sony Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence.” Running time: 112 minutes. Three stars out of four.

What’s so funny about Sony and North Korea? Comedians proceed with caution

How do you joke about the Sony hacking story? After all, it was an attempt at comedy that launched this whole sobering mess.

If you’re Chris Rock, you joke about it cleverly but carefully. Promoting his new movie Top Five this week, he noted an added bonus: “My movie’s very Korean-friendly. There are no jokes about North Korea in Top Five. If you’re Korean, go out and see Top Five. You will enjoy it.”

Given that the fallout over an unabashedly silly movie — The Interview, which Sony shelved last week after a stunning cyber attack by hackers the U.S. has linked to North Korea — has escalated into a serious global situation, one would think comedy writers might be a wee bit skittish just now.

But they ARE in the business of satire, and this is one of the biggest entertainment stories in years.

And so, NBC’s Saturday Night Live didn’t wait long to bring up the scandal — in fact, it didn’t wait one second. The show opened with Mike Myers returning as Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies, taking jabs at Sony, North Korea AND Hollywood. Oh, and Republicans, and The Interview actor James Franco’s Oscar-hosting skills.

“There’s already a GOP,” Myers said, referring to the hackers who call themselves Guardians of Peace, “and they’re already an evil organization.” Referring to hackers’ threats of terrorism over the movie, he said that wasn’t necessary: “It’s easy to kill a movie. Just move it to January.” As for Franco, whose character in the film is tasked with assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he noted: “The man singlehandedly almost killed the Oscars!”

Later, though, the show played with the idea that maybe it’s all a little soon. Comic Bobby Moynihan appeared as Kim Jong Un on “Weekend Update,” declaring he wasn’t afraid. But then red target marks appeared on his torso, and he reversed course: “I’m Seth Rogen, everybody!” he said, trying to quickly mimic Rogen, a star and director of the film, before skedaddling off the set.

All in jest, but there probably IS a sense of “Is it too soon?” out there, says Janice Min, a veteran entertainment industry observer who oversees The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard.

“I would say we’re in an unprecedented era of fear right now,” she says, referring to the chilling cyber attack that saw thousands of Sony emails — some deeply embarrassing — and other materials posted online. Things escalated dramatically when hackers then threatened violence against moviegoers, leading theater chains to pull out and Sony to cancel the Christmas opening.

“There’s often a sense of schadenfreude in Hollywood, if something happens to a movie or an executive,” Min says. “But in this case the fear is so palpable, people are thinking, what if this were me?”

Even in campaigns for the upcoming awards season in Hollywood, Min notes, “every publicist in town will be coaching their stars on what to say and what not to say, or what to post on Twitter — everything will be very measured.”

And so naturally, she adds, there may be a chilling effect on comedy — one that might affect the sharpness of the jokes, for example, at the Golden Globes or the Oscars. “I’m going to venture that at least until the issues are resolved, everyone’s too scared, and you don’t want to be the one making that North Korea joke because you don’t want to be a target yourself,” Min says.

Given the magnitude of the events, of course, it’s hard to imagine they won’t be referenced at the awards shows, especially the early ones. “It’s the elephant in the room,” says Tim Gray, awards editor for Variety. “You can’t pretend it didn’t happen.”

But just how “safe” the subject may feel will depend on developments in the swift-moving story, which could, at this rate, change many times before sharp-tongued hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler take the stage at the Jan. 11 Globes, where the humor is generally more raucous — and boozy — than at the Feb. 22 Oscars. (Producers for both the Globes and the Oscars declined interview requests about plans for the shows.)

Glenn Schwartz, a longtime Hollywood publicist specializing in comedy, notes that awards shows are a combination of the funny and the serious, so he expects to see references to the Sony hack pop up both ways. “There will be some jokes in a monologue, and one or two activist actors using it as a platform to talk about censorship,” he predicts.

But Schwartz adds: “This is really uncharted territory. Nobody wants to be responsible for making it worse.” And that, he says, is a shame: “Comedy has been offending people for years. That’s what’s great about it.”

The censorship issue is a hot-button topic in Hollywood; George Clooney, in an interview with the trade site Deadline, urged Sony to “do whatever you can to get this movie out. Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I’m not going to be told we can’t see the movie.” President Barack Obama subsequently said he felt Sony had made a mistake in shelving the film. Jimmy Kimmel, in a serious tweet, called Sony’s decision an “un-American act of cowardice.” Filmmaker Judd Apatow said it was “disgraceful” that theaters weren’t showing the film.

Two other North Korea-themed films have suffered collateral damage: Team America, which was set to show as a replacement at a handful of theaters, was pulled, and a Steve Carell project in development was shelved.

On late-night shows, Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Seth Myers have all poked fairly innocuous fun. Letterman on Friday joked that North Pole emails had been hacked. He displayed one from Blitzen, the reindeer, asking to take Hanukkah off. It was marked with a big red “HACKED” sign.

Kimmel quipped last week that if the North Koreans were going to stop a movie being shown, “Why couldn’t it be Love Actually, which my wife and her friends have in our living room every Christmas?”

And Fallon chose to lightly lampoon the U.S. government, noting that when Amy Pascal of Sony apologized for some embarrassing emailed jokes involving President Obama, the president replied: “Don’t worry. I secretly read those emails months ago.”

James Franco to receive ally award at Miami LGBT film fest

The Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival will honor actor-author-director James Franco with an ally award on April 27 at the Olympia Theater in downtown Miami.

The festival runs April 26-May 5.

Franc Castro, executive director of the MGLFF, said Franco’s “multi-faceted talents coupled with his contributions to LGBT film both in front of the camera and behind the scenes have helped shine the spotlight on LGBT cinema and a filmmaker’s right to free expression.”

Franco’s metamorphosis into the title role of the TNT biopic “James Dean” earned him career-making reviews, as well as a Golden Globe for best actor in a motion picture made for television.

Franco earned an Independent Spirit Award, as well as nominations for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award and recognition from numerous critics’ associations for his starring role in Danny Boyle’s critically acclaimed drama “127 Hours.”

His performance alongside Sean Penn in Gus Van Sant’s “Milk” earned an Independent Spirit Award and he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in David Gordon Green’s comedy “Pineapple Express.”

Franco is currently starring in Sam Raimi’s “Oz: The Great and Powerful” and Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers.”

Franco’s next film, “Interior. Leather Bar.” recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will make its Southeast Premiere at the MGLFF on April 28 in Miami Beach. Franco’s co-director, Travis Mathews, will be in attendance at the screening and accept the HBO Latin America Vanguard Award for his innovation as a filmmaker who pushes the boundaries of conventional story telling.

Disney takes viewers on a return trip to Oz

Returning to the mystical land of “The Wizard of Oz” took more than 70 years and several hundred millions dollars.

Disney released its highly anticipated prequel to the 1939 movie classic on March 8. Directed by Sam Raimi, “Oz the Great and Powerful” explores the origins of the wizard (James Franco) and the witches (Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz) in a three-dimensional Oz.

The $200 million production, not counting another $100 million in estimated marketing costs, is a huge gamble for everyone involved, considering “The Wizard of Oz” is among the most enduring and beloved films of all time. Even Raimi, director of the first three “Spider-Man” movies, described the project as “daunting.”

The risk is compounded by a general box-office slump and a poor showing for last weekend’s $200 million big-screen take on another popular tale, “Jack the Giant Slayer,” based on “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

“The plus side is that there’s such incredible awareness of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ that it’s going to translate into a mammoth opening weekend for ‘Oz the Great and Powerful,’” said Dave Karger, chief correspondent for Fandango.com. “The danger is that many people’s natural tendency will be to compare this to ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and there’s no film that will ever live up to that.”

According to a survey done by the site, nearly all those buying tickets for the new “Oz” film have seen the original, and the film is far and away the most popular of the week, comprising almost 80 percent of tickets sold.

Franco has loved the world created by L. Frank Baum since he first saw the 1939 movie on TV as a kid. It inspired him to read all of Baum’s books, which led him to other fantasy fare such as “Alice in Wonderland” and the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. But the notion of revisiting the Land of Oz with an A-list director wasn’t enough to lure Franco to the leading role.

“I already had a lot of faith in the movie because Sam was attached, but as an Oz fan, I wanted to be sure that the approach was sound,” the actor said. “They very smartly did not just do a boy version of Dorothy and have the same trip through Oz.”

For one, Franco notes the wizard is a con man and his trip through Oz is very different than Dorothy’s was. “He’ll be getting into awkward situations, basically kind of bouncing off of Oz in ways that Dorothy didn’t,” the actor said.

While the new “Oz” has plenty of familiar elements – the yellow brick road, Emerald City, witches, munchkins – “the ways they’re interacting with the protagonist (are) completely different,” Franco said.

As the film opens in sepia-toned 1905 Kansas, Franco’s Oscar Diggs is a carnival magician who dreams of fame and fortune at any cost. When a twister whisks him to a fantastical land bearing his stage name – Oz – whose inhabitants believe him to be a wizard sent to save them, he can’t believe his luck. Power and riches are practically his for the taking.

But first, he faces three witches, none of whom are exactly as they seem. Oz befriends a few locals, including a flying monkey (Zach Braff) and a china doll (Joey King), and eventually makes the plight of the people of Oz his own.

Like Franco, Raimi grew up loving the original “Oz” film.

“I remember it being the scariest movie I’d ever seen in my life and also the most touching movie, the saddest, sweetest thing I’d ever seen,” he said. “It was that spirit of sweetness, of characters becoming complete by the end of the story – that was the most powerful thing I took away from the 1939 classic and the thing we tried collectively to put in our picture.”

Some critics have questioned the casting of Franco as the wizard. The AP’s Christy Lemire wrote that he’s “too boyish for the role … neither charismatic nor self-loathing enough.”

Yet Raimi believes Franco was the perfect actor to portray the wizard: “He was born to play the part.”

Franco and Raimi are personal friends, and the director said he’s seen the actor’s growth as a performer and an individual since they first worked together on 2002’s “Spider-Man.”

“I knew James was a moody dreamer, and that’s who Oz is,” Raimi said. “He dreams of being this great man, even if he doesn’t know what greatness is.”

The director knew Franco could embody both the selfishness – which Raimi had seen in the actor when he was younger – and the heart of the wizard.

“Because James had, in his life, been all of these things, I knew that if he could grab a hold of them and recognize them and hold up a mirror to himself – however actors do that – he could channel everything he was through this character and really bring him to life like no one else,” Raimi said.

Franco said playing the role “was really like I was stepping into the imaginative world of my childhood.”

And coming into Oz through the wily wizard, whose origins were never fully explored in the Baum books, is an inspired way to revisit the world, he said.

“It’s a great way to return to Oz through a character that you sort of know but not really,” the actor said. “Because of that, it’s a great entry that feels familiar and new.”

Black, blue and broken

Franco takes on Hart Crane

“The Broken Tower,” writer/director/star James Franco’s non-traditional biopic about the late gay poet Hart Crane, is overly ambitious but admirable. It follows Franco’s impressive turn as gay poet Allen Ginsberg in “Howl.”

Franco seems to want “The Broken Tower” to be a visual poem on par with Crane’s work. Shot mostly in black and white, it is nice to look at, especially the New York scenes involving the Brooklyn Bridge.

For a film about someone so conflicted toward his family (Crane kept his homosexuality hidden from his parents), “The Broken Tower” is a family affair, with Franco’s brother Dave playing the younger Crane and his mother Betsy playing Crane’s mother Grace.

Franco is brave in his frank and sometimes graphic depiction of Crane’s gay life, including dalliances with truck drivers and sailors, as well as his relationship with Emile (Michael Shannon). Franco’s appreciation for Crane’s poems, whether they’re being read aloud in the background or at poetry readings given by the poet, is a valuable addition to the film.

Although the audience never gets a clear picture of Crane, Franco does what he can to inspire viewers to explore the poet’s work.

DVD bonus features include Franco’s Skype interviews with literary scholars.

The dark side of gay life

The six “Black Briefs” referred to in the title of this compilation are all of a dark nature. For instance, Hong Khaou’s “Spring,” the DVD’s first film, involves a 20-year-old university student negotiating an intense sexual scene with slightly older man. There’s a noose, a blindfold and commands to bark and fetch like a dog. There’s also respect and a sense of release and relief.

In “Remission,” directed by Greg Ivan Smith, Sam (Michael Fitzpatrick), a gay man, weekends in a Maine cabin awaiting the Monday results of a biopsy. Accompanied by his Boston terrier, Sam finds his trip to the country quickly goes off the rails. His cellphone is dying and he can’t find the charger. Then he begins to hear, see and smell things. Is it just his anxiety or his meds? Or is there really a shadowy figure lurking outside the window and in the cellar? Prepare to be horrified.

The other shorts follow a similar path to the dark side. “Video Night,” the shortest work in the collection, manages to horrify viewers at warp speed. The most exotic short on the DVD, “Communication,” features an Orthodox Jewish character in New Zealand.

As this kind of compilation goes, this one rates better than average.

Lavender and blue

The six shorts compiled on the DVD “Blue Briefs” are more of a mixed bag. The best of the series, Sal Bardo’s “Requited,” deals with Nicholas (Christopher Schram) and Gregor (Max Rhyser), a couple in New York facing issues of commitment and separation. Nicholas and Gregor are spending their last weekend together before Gregor relocates. Their time is not their own, as the weekend also includes a going-away party for Gregor and the wedding of Nicholas’ best friend Aaron (Matthew Watson), with whom he is in love. Good writing and acting make this required viewing.

“Boys Like You,” starring and directed by Sal Armando, examines the complicated relationships between gay men and straight men and the dangers of drinking and flirting. Alain Hain’s “The In-Between,” “based on true stories,” incorporates interviews with men about infidelity while a story of infidelity is depicted on-screen.

Something to ‘Howl’ about | an interview with Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman

In their latest film, award-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (“The Times of Harvey Milk” and “The Celluloid Closet”) take a dramatic detour away from documentaries. “Howl” (Oscilloscope Laboratories) stars James Franco as gay poet Allen Ginsberg. The movie, filmed both in black-and-white and color, as well with live action and animation, is a composite of sequences involving the creation of the classic, but controversial, poem “Howl.” Ultimately it is through that poem that Ginsberg is able to express his feelings for his friend and fellow writer Jack Kerouac (played by Todd Rotondi), and Franco’s effortless portrayal of the poet is nothing short of poetic.

Gregg Shapiro: Were you readers of poetry before becoming involved in the “Howl” film project?

Jeffrey Friedman: I read a little poetry, not much. Emily Dickenson, Walt Whitman. I had read “Howl” in high school, but I wasn’t an avid poetry reader.

Rob Epstein: No. … Most of it goes over my head.

GS: What was the impetus behind the film?

RE: I think it was Allen as an artist … trying to figure out the source of his creative self, particularly with this poem. It was the “treasure hunt” aspect of this project that attracted us.

JF: It was what Allen had to go through, as a man and as an artist, to write this poem. A lot of it was a coming-out process, which we discovered doing our research on the film.

GS: What was it like working as co-directors?

RE: Like this: We kind of look at each other and say, “Are you going to do this, or am I going to do this? OK, you do this.”

JF: (Laughs)

RE: So (there is) a lot of back and forth. (Then) going off and having your own reflective time and then coming back together with new ideas and fresh approaches and hashing it out again.

GS: The film is sort of a cinematic quilt with panels representing different parts of the film’s history. Why did you decide to present it this way?

JF: We knew we were making a film about a poem, so we looked for different ways of looking at the poem. One of the ways was Allen’s story and (his creative process). We told Allen’s story using his own words in the recreated interview and with flashbacks from scenes from his life.

We wanted the poem to live on its own … in different ways. We recreated the first reading of the poem at the Six Gallery and imagined how it might have been to be there that night. We also recreated it as an imaginative ride through the poet’s mind, using art from Eric Drooker, who had collaborated with Ginsberg and had a good understanding of (him).

Then we wanted to see how the poem was received by society at large. That was what the trial represented for us. Those people were trying to make sense of it and trying to suppress it in some cases.

GS: Is “Howl” recited in its entirety?

RE: It’s about 80 percent of the poem. …That’s about as much as we thought the film could hold.

GS: James Franco has Ginsberg’s cadence down pat, as if he was born to play the part. What was involved in his process of becoming Ginsberg?

RE: James is the same age as Allen was when he wrote the poem. He grew up reading the beats and hanging out at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.

JF: (James) is a poet himself.

RE: He also studied literature at UCLA. It was a whole confluence of circumstances that made him right for the part. He is also a great actor. We were really impressed by what he did with the James Dean story on television. He wasn’t afraid of taking on a living icon and personifying, rather than impersonating.

JF: We had a long time to work with James. He came on the project very early. He was very excited about it and very committed to it way before we had financing. We just had a first draft of a script. So we had several opportunities to work with James on the script and to really explore what the words meant to Allen, where these experiences came from. James had a long time to think about that.

Then we asked him to listen to Allen’s readings and we gave him an interview he did with Studs Terkel. He looked at some early film of Allen, saw how he walked, how he moved and how he used his hands.

GS: The film also has a cast of terrific actors, including Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels, John Hamm and others, in much smaller supporting roles.

RE: Because those (characters) are on the screen for such a short period of time, we really wanted actors that would make an impression. For example Mary-Louise Parker, playing a 1950s English teacher who was appalled by the language in the poem, is on screen for maybe 5 minutes, but she makes such a strong impression as that character. …(The supporting parts) really help to create this composite impression of the period.

Allen Ginsberg: portrait of the gay poet as superstar

Name a poet, any poet. Now name a rock star. Picture the thousands of people who wait in line to buy tickets to Lady Gaga, Dave Matthews Band or U2. But no one imagines a poet as a superstar with the crowd-drawing power of today’s celebrity musicians.

The gay/bi/Jewish Beat Poet Allen Ginsberg, however, was an exception. A celebrity among poets, he commonly drew huge crowds to his reading, notably 7,000 people to his “International Poetry Incarnation” at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1967.

“Howl,” a feature film chronicling the life of Ginsberg as the young poet, could introduce a new generation to the electrifying Beat master. Directed by Rob Epstein (“The Times of Harvey Milk”) and Jeffry Friedman (“The Celluloid Closet”), the film stars James Franco (“Milk”) as Ginsberg, along with a supporting cast that includes Jon Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker, David Straithairn, Jeff Daniels and Treat Willism.

Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival will present a special advance screening of the film on Sept. 15 as a prelude to “Banned Books Week” (Sept. 25 to Oct. 2). The screening is co-sponsored by the UWM Union Theatre and Equality Wisconsin, and co-presented by Milwaukee Film, Woodland Pattern Book Center, the Milwaukee Public Library, UWM Libraries and the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation.

Ginsberg (1926-1997) was considered by many to be a ringleader of the 1950s Beat Generation, an association he constantly denied. His work reflected his take on life in a postwar society, characterized by the aimlessness of his generation. He protested militarism, censorship, materialism, the “war on drugs,” right-wing politics, conventional thinking, and later the wars in Vietnam and the Middle East. He condemned orthodoxy of any kind – even the orthodoxy of the left.

Ginsberg was thrust into celebrity with a reading of his groundbreaking poem “Howl” at the Six Gallery in San Francisco in 1955. His opening lines are among the most famous in world poetry:

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix;

Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection

to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.”

Ginsberg stunned audiences with his frank and shocking language, not expected in the medium of poetry. His open descriptions of sexual acts broke all 1950s societal conventions. His descriptions of gay sex were considered beyond obscene at a time when homosexual acts were virtually outlawed in every state.

With the publication of “Howl,” Ginsberg was charged with obscenity, sparking a world famous trial and the banning of his book. His description of those same best minds “who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy” was specifically referred to in the trial.

The verdict, however, exonerated Ginsberg. The judge declared, “Would there be any freedom of press or speech if one must reduce his vocabulary to vapid innocuous euphemisms?”

Ever an advocate for gay rights, Ginsberg insisted that his lifelong companion Peter Orlovsky be listed as his “spouse” in “Who’s Who in America.” Prolific even at the end, Ginsberg’s heartbreaking last poem, “Things I’ll Not Do (Nostalgias),” was written a week before his death from liver cancer:

“No more sweet summers with lovers, teaching Blake at Naropa …

Any visits to B’nai Israel graves of Buddha, Aunt Rose, Harry Melzer and Aunt Clara, Father Louis

Not myself except in an urn of ashes.”