Sonoma County’s own cartographer of the NorCal soul, Jonah Raskin, forever changed the local lit scene last week when he doffed his clothes whilst performing his poetry. The 71-year-old was cheered on during the BUMP Wine Cellars event. The striptease was, in part, inspired by Allen Ginsberg, about whose Howl?Raskin wrote the brilliant history American Scream. I found a bit about the nude Beat in Michael Schumacher’s bio, Dharma Lion, that recounts Ginsberg showing down a heckler by showing him the goods.
?? Allen left the stage and approached him. He accused the man of wanting to do something brave in front of the audience and then challenged him to take off all his clothes. As he walked towards the drunk, Allen stripped off all of his clothing, hurling his pants and shirt at the now retreating heckler. ?Stand naked before the people,? Allen said. ?The poet always stands naked before the world.? Defeated, the man backed into another room.?
Raskin wasn’t challenging anyone ? more like whipping them into a frenzy of adulation. In fact, before his briefs came off, a female fan inserted a dollar into the waistband thus making him the highest paid poet in Sonoma.