Who, What, When, Where Why & Howl

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The Library of Congress has added 21 sound recordings to its National Recording Registry.

That registry, now totalling 225 recordings, "showcases the diverse beauty, humanity and artistry found in the nation’s sound heritage," which the library wants to "preserve for all time." Just don't let the kids near it.

Among the new additions is "Howl," Allen Ginsburg's beat anthem that was originally banned as obscene.

"The Library describes it this way: “Howl,” Ginsberg’s most famous poem, was an experiment in the invention of a new style of poetry, one based not on “little short-line patterns,” but one using “the formal organization of the long line” and employing vivid visual impressions and chaotic phrasing to be delivered in one long breath.  Particularly effective were Ginsberg’s relatively unemotional delivery of the passionate language and the frequent anger of a literary work that describes the history of the Beat Generation as well as his personal history, filled with anti-establishment rage.  When 'Howl' was first published in 1956, it was banned for obscenity and became a celebrated legal case among defenders of the First Amendment."

Unfortunately, that recoring could not be played during the day on any broadcast station in 2007 without risking a government fine because it contains a couple of profanities, which we all know are damaging to the social fabric and must be scrubbed from the airwaves when the delicate ears of our children are nearby.

Except, of course, that they aren't a threat to anything but the curious sensibilities of regulators. They're only words–and, no, I won't break into a 70's song–and words whose synonyms we get to use with impugnity to mean the exact same thing.

The inanity of the indecency crackdown makes me want to just, well, howl.

By John Eggerton