Berkeley Beats Poetry: Audio Tour App – Interpretive Plan
We envision an iPhone (and/or Android) application that presents an audio tour encompassing the three main Beat Poetry heritage sites in Berkeley: Allen Ginsberg’s House, Sconehenge Café, and Trader Joe’s. The three sites, all within three miles of each other, would be incorporated into one two-hour walking tour, in which a visitor would listen to an audio narration while walking to each of the sites. The app would be modeled after the layout and function of the app “DeTour” (shown here), which provides pictures at each location, a GPS component to guide visitors, and an audio narration.
The app would first navigate tourists to Allen Ginsberg’s Berkeley residence (1624 Milvia Street), which is now an apartment complex, and begin with a reading of Ginsberg’s “A Strange New Cottage In Berkeley.” The visitor’s iPhone would display pictures of Ginsberg’s house. The applications’ navigation and narration would then direct visitors to the Trader Joe’s. During this walk from Milvia Street to University Avenue, the narration would provide a short biography of Allen Ginsberg and briefly explain the Berkeley Beat Generation. This explanation would touch on many important themes pertaining to the Berkeley Beat Movement – activism, free speech, anti-censorship, and personal expression. There would be audio clips from Ginsberg, such as one of him on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” in 1994 (this audio clip can be heard here), in which Ginsberg reflects on his role in the Beat Generation and fighting censorship.
When the visitor arrives at Trader Joe’s the narration would play a recording of Ginsberg reading his poem “A Supermarket in California” (this audio clip can be heard here), and visitors would be invited to compare the sights and sounds of the supermarket to the description in Ginsberg’s poem. The phone would provide pictures of the original U-Save Market, which stood in the place of Trader Joe’s during Ginsberg’s time in Berkeley.
Next, the narration would lead visitors to Sconehenge Café, and explain that this was the site of Ginsberg’s first recorded reading of “Howl.” On the walk to the café, there would be a discussion about the role of performance in beat poetry. The narration would introduce the slam poetry showcases that the Cafe hosts and invite users to attend or perform at the showcase. There would be an audio clip of Ron Loewinsohn, a professor of American Literature at UC Berkeley, providing an analysis of the literature of the Beat Generation (this audio clip can be heard here). Upon arriving at the Café, the app would discuss the lasting impacts of the Berkeley Beat Generation on American culture and poetry. The audio tour would close with a recording of Ginsberg reading “Howl.”
It is our hope that the tour would provide an interesting juxtaposition between the current state of the heritage sites and these same locations in the 1950’s . We expect that this audio-based tour would be used long-term, as there are few plans for the sites to change aesthetic or location. This app would attract tourists, local visitors, and community members who wish to learn more about the Berkeley Beat Movement through this audio tour.
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