’66 Frames

A memoir by Gordon Ball

April 1, 1999 • 5.5 x 8.5 • 230 pages • 978-1-56689-082-3

A sixties memoir and an intriguing slice of avant garde film history.

Part record of the New York underground art scene, part history of contemporary American avant-garde cinema—Gordon Ball’s vivid memoir lays bare the soul of a decade that redefined the photographic image.

Featured within ’66 Frames are encounters with Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, and many others as—in the words of poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti—“the young Southern innocent sets forth in all his whiteness to find himself among visionary New York poets and other flaming creatures.” Here are nights on Washington Square park benches and a week in the fabled Dakota. Here’s everyday life with film pioneer Jonas Mekas in his Third Avenue loft, at his Filmmakers’ Cinematheque and Filmmakers’ Cooperative; visits with Andy Warhol at his Factory; anti-war marches; tension and violence between flower children and long-time residents of what would become known as SoHo; everyday New York City scenes a generation ago, from St. Mark’s Place with its Gem Spa and East Side Bookstore, to the Central Park Be-In of Easter 1967. From the staccato camera movement of Warhol’s The Chelsea Girls to the hypnotic close-ups of Ball’s own Georgia, this author takes his readers on a tour of an era that stretched visual imagery outside the box, beyond the frame. ’66 Frames simmers with the sixties’ sense of possibility, even as it delves the wreck of the drug-culture and sexual-liberation movement with a post-Reagan generation in tow.

About the Author

Gordon Ball, author of ’66 Frames and grandson of a portrait photographer, was born in Paterson, New Jersey. He grew up in Tokyo, Japan, where he first took up photography. Also an award-winning filmmaker, he has made fourteen independent movies which have shown at such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Art Institute, Anthology Film Archives, and the Guggenheim Museum.

For 28 years Gordon Ball took informal photographs of poet Allen Ginsberg and other members of the Beat Generation, the literary and cultural phenomenon which has had a world-wide impact since its inception in the mid-1950s. As well as being exhibited at five conferences on Ginsberg and the Beat Generation, at one-man shows at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, and other venues, Ball’s photos have appeared in many books. He has taught in Poland (for USIA) and Japan (as a Fulbrighter) as well as the United States, and now lives in Lexington, Virginia, where he teaches at the Virginia Military Institute.


“From city and country communes, underground and avant-garde film and photography, Gordon Ball has been marvelously placed as participant and observer of many extraordinary art situations.” —Allen Ginsberg

“A unique perspective on a much analyzed but still elusive period—when one awoke every day feeling as if personal revelation and cultural revelation were fully attainable. Ball’s youthful intelligence and enthusiasm, and his willingness to labor for little money in musty lofts and tenement apartments, put him at the epicenter of New York’s downtown film/art/poetry/music scene.” —Village Voice

“This book made me want to take acid and have sex with lots of people.” —Andrei Codrescu

“Gordon Ball’s memoir is nothing less than an act of generosity, for he has not only captured, in vivid, striking detail, one of America’s most vital eras in avant-garde filmmaking; he has also allowed us to witness his own growing pains as he, like many baby boomers finding their way during the mid-1960s, took flight from the ordinary and dared to explore the extraordinary. Essential reading for those of us old enough to remember, and for all the curious, young and old, still searching for brilliant colors among the margins.” —Michael Schumacher