Monday, December 23, 2013
Allen Ginsberg & Bob Dylan at the Grave of Jack Kerouac
This little excerpt, this classic excerpt, from Bob Dylan's lost epic, "Renaldo and Clara"
(courtesy of the essential "The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg", Jerry Aronson's deluxe two-disc DVD set).
Bob and Allen, in 1975, in Lowell cemetery (Edson cemetery), on the occasion of a stop-over on the legendary Rolling Thunder tour, famously standing together, beside Jack Kerouac's grave, musing, (Allen's certainly taking the lead), in memento mori.
Allen (gesticulating towards the grave):"So that's what's gonna happen to you?"
Dylan: "No, I want to be in an unmarked grave."
The clip begins with Allen reading from Kerouac (from the conclusion of Mexico City Blues' "54th Chorus")
"Once I went to a movie/ At midnight, 1940, Mice/ and Men, the name of it, the Red Block Boxcars/ Rolling by (on the Screen). Yessir/ life/ finally/ gets/ tired/of/ living -. On both occasions I had wild/ Face looking into lights/Of Streets where phantoms/ Hastened out of sight/ Into Memorial Cello Time"
AG: You know what's written on (John) Keats' grave?
AG: "Here lies one whose fame was writ in water"..writ in water, yeah, all his fame was writ in water [Editorial note - Allen, actually, mis-quotes here - his "name" was writ in water, not his "fame"]
[Photograph - Rebecca Price Butler]
BD: Where's he buried?
AG: He's buried in a beautiful cemetery in Rome, the American cemetery [Cimitero Accattolico (the A-Catholic Cemetery - the Non-Catholic Cemetery)] - in a Pyramid, next to (Percy Bysshe) Shelley [Editorial note - well, not in the Pyramid of Cestius, and not, strictly, next to Shelley, but, yes, in the cemetery, close by]
BD: We have to read this?
[The two read, in collaboration, from Kerouac's Mexico City Blues - ". Allen begins, reading, at random, from towards the end of the "230th Chorus"]
AG: "..frozen /and sliced microscopically/ In Morgues of the North" - [Editorial note - The complete line is "Pieces of the Buddha-material frozen/and sliced microscopically/ In Morgues of the North"]
BD: "Quivering meat of elephants.."
AG: "of kindness" - [Editorial note - The complete line is "The quivering meat of the elephants of kindness/being torn apart like vultures"]
What I liked actually was (the next line) "Conceptions of knee-caps" - [Editorial note -"Conceptions of delicate kneecaps"] (and the concluding line) "Like kissing my kitten in the belly/The softness of our reward". It's like a Shakespeare sonnet that ends funny.
He quit football because he wanted to study Shakespeare.
So Sebastian [Sampas] went off to war and got killed in Anzio beachhead in World War II, and just before he died, he sent Jack a litle phonograph record with Shelley's Adonais, saying "I weep for Adonais - he is dead!"
[Sebastian "Sammy" Sampas (1922-1944)]
BD: Ever been to (Anton) Chekov's grave?
AG: No, but I've been to (Vladimir) Mayakovsky's in Moscow
What graves have you seen?
BD: Victor Hugo's grave
[Photograph - David Conway]
AG: I used to haunt graveyards in Paris. I went to see (Guilllaume) Apollinaire's grave.
[photo: Scott Michaels]
AG: So, that's what's gonna happen to you?
BD: No, I want to be in an unmarked grave
AG: I laid a copy of Howl on (Charles) Baudelaire's grave....