January 9, 2012

Hiding in a parking lot and
Watching all the people fall to pieces



Darren Almond, Today, 2000

* A long conversation with Ed Sanders, whose memoir, Fug You, was recently published. Excerpt:

Ed: It was a very intense set of years. Of course, you get into your 70s, I’m 72, and you realize that you don’t have the energy to stay up three straight nights, party, publish, drink, smoke pot, forget about sleep ...

Alan: You mentioned that you knew you had entered the Beat inner circle when several things happened. Among these is that you were propositioned by Allen Ginsberg [respectfully unrequited] and were conned out of some money by Herbert Huncke, who was sort of the quintessential Beat, having provided that word to Kerouac, “beat”.

Ed: Yes to both of those.

Alan: But you were also given a rather harrowing ride by Mr. Neal Cassady, weren’t you?

Ed: Oh yeah ... he took Peter Orlovsky and I down to La Honda to Ken Kesey’s place --

Alan: Cassady always ends up behind the wheel! It’s just amazing …

Ed: Yeah, we had a Volkswagen bus that we, meaning the Fugs, were traveling around in, all five of us. Neal had stopped by my bookstore in September, just before the band went West on tour. He pulled up at the curb in front of Peace Eye Bookstore in a small Studebaker that only had a second gear.

Alan: What had he done to that poor car!

Ed: [laughing] I had a friend who had some amphetamine and Cassady traded the Studebaker for an ounce of amphetamine. Anyway, a couple months later, we were in San Francisco and Neal was there. He said he’d drive us down to Kesey’s commune in La Honda. Oi, oi! He was pretending he was like Sterling Moss, going into a power slides around hairpin turns along the coast.

Alan: Were you on Pacific Coast Highway, going through Big Sur?

Ed: Yes.

Alan: Holy shit.

Ed: Yeah ... hairpin turns on the outside lane ... no guardrails ... whew ... but you know Neal was a good driver and he got us there safely.

Alan: People tend to think that the Beat Generation just sort of petered out and was replaced, or subsumed, by the hippie generation. Which really wasn’t true, especially in New York. It seemed that all the same people simply walked forward into the hippie scene, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso, William Burroughts, etc., They were all there, just another wave of fashion … the best part is that the Beat sensibility brought an active rather than passive sensibility, or infusion, to the hippies.

Ed: They brought some good writing, too. Hippies could be pretty vaporous in their literature. You know, I figure it must have been around February 1967 that we began to see the changeover. Instead of someone sneering at you and calling you “a dirty Beatnik,” they were now calling you “a dirty hippie.” I remember when Allen Ginsberg came over to our house on Avenue A around this time and said, “Now I guess we’re going to have to be hippies.” Miriam wasn’t even sure what he was talking about.

It was a mysterious switch over. It went from tire-soled sandals to Merlin curved-toe shoes and gowns, and men wearing necklaces, which was a big deal for a man. Suddenly you have to wear a necklace, toe ring or go barefoot in the street, and burn incense. It was pretty strange. But the Beats ultimately prevailed. There are still conferences on the Beat Generation where young people come dressed all in black. It’s very interesting.''

* Tidbits:

-- The revolver with which van Gogh shot himself had been borrowed. Van Gogh claimed he wished to fire at crows that were annoying him as he painted.

-- Jackson Pollock once casually urinated into the fireplace during a cocktail party at Peggy Guggenheim's Manhattan townhouse

-- Benny Goodman once cancelled an engagement at the Hotel New Yorker on the very day it was scheduled to start -- when he was informed that all black musicians connected with his band would have to come and go through the hotel kitchen.

* "Baseball is what we were, football is what we have become." -- Mary McGrory

1 Comments:

Anonymous Jenna said...

Such a great article which there are still conferences on the Beat Generation where young people come dressed all in black. It’s very interesting. In which They were all there, just another wave of fashion the best part is that the Beat sensibility brought an active rather than passive sensibility, or infusion, to the hippies. Thanks for sharing this article.

6:02 PM  

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