Monday, May 31, 2010

Some memory serves well

A couple of years agoe we had a discussion, trying to remember encounter with Ginsberg and Dylan. We each remembered different things in different relief. Kind of like the four gospels, which diverge somewhat. I wrote a version down around 1976 or 1977, that Jan and Val Mazelis ran in Shoreline Erosion, which I have altered since then to be more a flat out prose poem. Because it was nearer the event I take it to be possibly accurate. Last summer when I saw Dave in NYC he'd just gotten note from late Allen Ginsberg via a friend who'd he told this story too. Al's advice at end same as start: First thought best thought! I have at times since then this to brood over : Read Chronicles. Where schmucks were parking out on Dylan’s roof - like raccoons - as no doubt he tried to sleep. We weren’t too different. Can’t take back lost time or call as a witness those Wheels on Fire. I wish I’d been less than dumb star infatuated fan. Wish I hadnt told Ginsberg I was 'looking for stardom" First thought is best thought only for pure of heart.

comicStripNYC71

Some Memory Serves Well

If your memory serves you well. We were going to meet again and wait.

i.

This Wheels on Fire. They used to play it on the radio in Milwaukee. And the all of us got excited about that and wanted to go to the East. Where it was Ka-boom! The Atlantic water coast. Turning sky fiery and firebirds ablaze. Where Dylan had been writing this stuff. Him and Allen Ginsberg.

So Jeff and me got a ride – at the college they had ride boards, maps of America, and you’d hook up somehow – in our case ride with a Physics major and was somewhat of the hippy hipster man of the era who ate a lot of candy and who said to us learnedly and secretly ‘in a group orgy whatever feels good: feels good.’ Who knew? We shared a glance and the Physics major eyed the road with hands on the Chrysler’s wheel.

And he drove us to New York and it was a bright day and then was turning toward outta-work time, and we were going down the subway as a million people were coming at us. Crazy working people! New York horde saying ‘get outta my way!’ Walked mistakenly into a then tough Tompkins Square Park. Got out of there. In Washington Square it was:“Here come the cowboys.” Somebody might say – since we did wear cowboy boots and had clear looks of innocence and lostness.

Started worrying about where we were going to sleep. With no place at the moment to stay, we got lost that night - almost stayed in a shelter - but here we were in the big appellation. Tore up our Free Clinic passes, and took our chances. We got lost that night and then found NYU. And it was about 2 am when some great floppy-hatted red-dressed girl met us and took us home. A garret grotto Village pad no less. All she asked was that we buy her pomegranates - something I’d never seen before. She called them Chinese apples. Next day to hook up with Dave and Jim. Who’d been reading the Rolling Stone excerpts of Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. We were looking for Dylan. All the time thinking we would find him.
Last night: We were in empty loft, sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor. Down the street from Teddy Roosevelt’s boyhood home. I remember. Heard Crash on the Levee. Dylan’s latest tome. Signal through the ether. It’s king for king and queen for queen the worst old flood anybody’s ever seen. This night, the guy who owns the loft – a photographer of kitchen scenes for advertising - tells us hip places to go. We’d asked. There’s such and such, MacSorley’s on 7th Street. And there’s the place where the factory crowd hands out on 42nd St by the Library. A Mulligans perhaps. So that’s where we go. And we get there. And there’s Allen Ginsberg! Our old friend.
ii.

Well we’d seen him in Madison. We chatted about the Velvet Underground. We saw him the very night just before too. Driving downabout 8th St in our International. I saw him on the sidewalks. I said Hey I just saw Allen Ginsberg getting in a cab.
Nooo! Couldn’t be

No I’m sure. I’m sure it’s him.

So we slow down and let his cab come upside us. Down on Flaming 8th St. - And when his cab is next to us, we speed up, align, and say:

Hey Al, you want to write a poem?

And he leans forward, opens front window of cab - back ones don’t open then. Yeah, he says whadya want?
We’re hipsters from Wisconsin and
We want to write a poem!

He says:
Driving
down
8th St.
red lights
blinking in my eyeballs

And Dave says

Hipsters
from
Wisconsin
Looking
for a break
And then Ginsberg asks what we’re doing.

And I say: Looking for stardom.
And he says: Look to your heart. And his cab takes a left .

iii.
Now Ginsberg is sitting on a chair. The only thing you see there down the long expanse of Irish stew and Miller beer bar. And we go in right past him. We must have been drinking beer on the way and thus it was straight –straight to the men’s room. But there in the booth with him more than a bit hidden is Dylan. I see him as we’re moving past. And as Dave is at the urinal, I hit him on the back, Hit him as hard as I can saying Dylan’s in there. And him and Jeff and him look at me .

Are you kidding?
No I am not.

We run of coursed into the booth next to them. Start looking over our shoulders some. Dylan and Ginsberg are talking with Russian poets just in town maybe at Carnegie Hall. Ginsberg as ever is talking about breath control and Dylan is laughing.

Dylan’s leaving, right? We all get up to leave too. As they leave – cant wonder why - we grab their beer bottles, and I peel off the Miller slogan for my collection.

Follow him to the door, with Ginsberg and the Russian poets. Dave says: Bob, you want to write a song? Dylan says: Nooooo…

So all a sudden we’re all getting waltzed out.
Ginsberg asks: You know who that was?
Uh-huh!
He embraces all. Except me. I shake hands. And he says: Boy I wish I was as smart as he is.
THAT WAS THE NIGHT and we saw Dylan in New York.

1 comment:

BochScore said...

Hi Jack,

Did I ever tell you this story? Went to Ginsburg reading at St. Peter's College in Jersey City back when I was in high school. Brought copy of Howl. At end of reading, approached AG with trepidation. Asked him for autograph. Did I have him sign my New Directions copy of Howl? Nope. Had him sign the back of a yellow ID card -- for what I don't remember -- that I was carrying.
Book still here, card long gone. Well, maybe that's more dharma anyway.

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