Thursday, February 17, 2011

Researching, Prepping...

[Tom Sturridge at the Beat Museum, San Francisco. photo courtesy Beat Museum]

Tom Sturridge, the young actor, on playing the part of Allen in the up-coming On The Road movie:

Yeah, it was one of the most.., I mean it was the most, challenging thing I’ve ever done, it was extraordinary, but fortunately he, unlike a lot of the rest of them (sic), had a lot of recently-published material, so, for example, there is the Book of Martyrdom (and Artifice), which is his childhood poetry and diaries, and his letters to Jack, and his letters to Neal, and so there is a kind of map, that you can follow through the book of On The Road, and, literally, work out where… that this was, (say), probably sometime in the middle of June, and then, literally, go to June 4, 1947, to see what he was thinking, and what he dreamt about the night before, and what..tea? he was drinking... and so, I was very fortunate to have at least that safety-net, or an access into it.

June 4 1947 ? We asked Ginsberg biographer, Bill Morgan, about that date, and he couldn't come up with any tea or previous night's dreams, but he did write us:

"Here's what I know about June 4, 1947, (which might be a little bit of obscure Ginsberg trivia). Most people believe that Allen made one trip to New Waverly, Texas, to visit with Burroughs, Joan Adams, and Huncke on the unsuccessful marijuana farm. Everyone knows that Allen and Neal hitch-hiked there from Denver in late August 1947. But few people know that Allen actually stopped to visit Bill the first time on his way to Denver in June 1947. Now, I can't swear that he was in Texas as early as June 4 (and in fact he probably wasn't), but he might have been on his way there. It was then that he saw how run-down the farm was and realized that if he returned with Neal later in the summer, they would have no place to sleep. He commissioned Huncke to build a bed for them, and that was the reason he was angry with Huncke when they arrived in August and there was no bed"

Thanks Bill.

(and thanks, Tom, we're glad you're doing your homework!)

Bill, for reasons of humility, didn't mention his own recently-published The Typewriter Is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation, an essential book, tying it all together, if you're thinking about that time-line. His latest book from City Lights, Beat Atlas: A State by State Guide to the Beat Generation, will be out in the Spring.

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