Saturday, August 6, 2016

Jim Carroll - (1986 Naropa reading - including "The Poet and The Vibrator")

                                                          [Jim Carroll  (1949-2009)]

The feature this weekend - a July 3, 1986 reading at Naropa Institute by Jim Carroll and Anne Waldman. Jim is the focus for today. He reads, among other things, in its entirety, his hilarious prose piece, "The Poet and The Vibrator" ( on Allen's gleeful and subsequently panic-stricken discovery of that particular tool!)  ( - later published in Forced Entries), as well as other pieces (from The Book of Nods) - including several stunning poems.   

 The tape begins with Allen presenting some general announcements, in media res  

AG: …bardic celebrities. We'll have a few announcements of general interest for other poets  - 8 pm, this Sunday at BCVA…13th..right down the block, 13th between Arapahoe and Canyon - Todd Pinney, the hero of the summer session will be reading with Susan Noel and bodhisattva Michael Smith at BCVA and this Saturday..Saturday, Robert Creeley and Ed Dorn will be reading here. Also 8 pm. Tomorrow there's, beginning at 4 'oclock, outside on the greensward, there'll be a picnic and rock n roll groups and food and in the evening in here there'll be a dance from 9.30 to 11.00 celebrating the Bill of Rights..and..July 4th!..celebrating the Supreme Court's latest decision. They'll be sodomy on the lawn! - 

Jim Carroll: Allen, can somene get an ashtray for up here?

AG: Yeah. We'll need an ash tray on the stage for proper..spirit. 
So, the author of Basketball Diaries, which, everybody below the age of forty-five has read, Jim Carroll is reading tonight with his old friend Anne Waldman. He's also published Living At The Movies. a book, and more recently, from Viking-Penguin,  The Book of Nods, and he's preparing a new edition of further later adventurous diaries that Viking-Penguin will print. He hit the United States as a great poetic sensation, singing Catholic Boy, Dry Dreams, and I Write Your Name. He began his poetic career with the poetic community at the St Marks poetry workshop while Anne Waldman was around and so they were friends when he was seventeen (though I have the honor of meeting him first on the Yellow Submarine peace march in New York City, 1966 or 1967, when he sidled up to me, a little plumper than he is now but just as tall... 

JC: You tried..

AG: No, I didn't try, I didn't try a thing. I asked him to hold my harmonium so I could sing Hare Krishna!  - And so we walked about two miles together, chattering, and I was amazed that someone of high-school age actually took the peace march seriously, was interested in the older generation, and was strong enough to hold a harmonium!  So the odd thing is that, after working (at St Marks),  he wound up teaching at St Marks (at a) workshop, and finally has arrived here (having visited here before) (and) is now teaching at Naropa. So let's welcome Jim Carroll

JC: Actually, I remember that peace march, it was great, not only did I hold the harmonium but it was very cold, and everybody was holding candles, and Allen was cold and I lent him this scarf I had, and he got wax all over it (you got wax all over it!) and my mother thought it was like pecker tracks later on. 
[reaches for a glass of water -" It's not my hand shaking, the rest of my body is shaking, my hands are perfectly still"] 

Actually, I brought out a few of these diaries from the new book of diaries. I don't even know if I'm going to include these, (they're) kind of the earliest ones I wrote. There's one about Allen, which I did ask him about, if I should read it, because it might have been embarrassing for both of us, but, it's a funny piece and I do take some kind of (liberties) you know, I do exaggerate a bit in it. But I took out the funnier ones with… These are actually… A lot of the diaries, not like The Basketball Diaries, in this new book, are ones that pick up about three or four years after The Basketball Diaries end. And I..  rather than… I didn't.. I wasn't keeping a regular diary then. So I'm writing a lot of them now from notes I had back then, just remembering, but, a lot of these are kind of from that time, so they're in closer style to The Basketball Diaries. And the ones I've brought with me are kind of the funny ones, you know. There's a lot of despair in the other ones I just didn't bring. (It) might have been a good counterpoint but..    

This is called "A Day At The Races" ("The French call them 'papillons d'amour", that is "the butterflies of love", I call them crabs, the tiny parasites of the crotch…"….."We spent the next hour establishing the best of our stables and enjoyed the rest of the day at the races." "What a woman, who can turn an ailment into a viable recreation.")

                                                                             [Allen Ginsberg, Human Be-In, Golden Gate Park, 1967- Photograph © Lisa Law]

And this is one.. actually, yeah. this is the one with "The Poet and the Vibrator". I did take some liberties with this. There was this place, Ratners, where we used to go late at night (it was next to the old Fillmore East), and it was great, you know. I wish it was still open. It was open all night, yeah. And.. (I mention that because I refer to it later). And there was a scene.. but.. (And) Rodney Dangerfield had this club then (he was one of my favorite comics, he wasn't as popular as (he is) now, but he used to come down to Rattners to eat after his club closed and I kind of freaked him (out).. . There was a scene, later on, between Bill Graham and Jerry Rubin where they had kind of a fight over something that Rubin had said on tv, but I freaked them.. (You know, "Fuck Bill Graham, he pissed me off a number of times, anyway, so I decided to put Rodney Dangerfield in instead of Bill Graham, I thought that would be funny - Rodney Dangerfield and Jerry Rubin!)

[Jim Carroll then, (starting at approximately eleven-and-a-half minutes in), reads in its entirety. "The Poet and The Vibrator" [from Forced Entries] - "The Poet", and, indeed, the central figure in the story, is, of course, Allen]

"I was dancing with Ren at Max's tonight .. "Sympathy for the Devil " ["That was the only song I could ever dance to"] - waiting for Brigid to show with the ice in tow and the Velvets to come on at midnight - ["The Velvet Underground was playing every night of the week, twice a night then. I couldn't.. You know, it's unbelievable"] - when I got a cryptic message from Anne passed on by that blonde waitress who's always humming Amazing Grace and getting hit on by the parvenues of the quasi-Italian aristocrat set    ["that turned out to be Debbie Harry"]. Message read "Hope you have not forgotten that the Big G's in town for the night…."…"Of course the Big G was none other than Mr Allen Ginsberg…".."Who cares about drugs when The Poet is waiting at your doorstep"…"the hirstute master himself, leader of the pack.."…."Ginsberg getting the usual hippie cheers and blue collar jeers, half of America wants to look like him, the other half wants to see him dead…" …".. I think it was the night after Rubin said on the Dick Cavett show that every kid should sneak into their parents bedroom and kill them! - Graham aka Dangerfield took some difference to that notion)…. "Allen pressured to stick pure-assed to his fellow counter-culture honchos…"…."Allen begins to raise a finger pedagogue-style but I'm saved the dissertation by the arrival of cherry blintzes which Allen obviously considers more serious business than the defence of Jerry Rubin. Me too.…"… we run into none other than the abbot of Warhol-dom, Paul Morrissey, with his usual Bronx hand animation. He lays on Allen the outline of his newly planned project..He wants Allen to play the part of Walt Whitman, issuing aid and comfort, in every sense of the word, to the Union wounded and any rebels, for that matter, if they're cute enough…".. After heating up some tea and playing Allen The Who's new LP, I show him a new poem of mine in a recent issue of Poetry mag. He keeps mumbling things, like "You've got some great lines here, some really great "haikus" within the overall work, but what are you going to write when they throw us in the concentration camps?" Terrific. Real great  literary criticism , I could have gotten that from the fuckin' Leon Trotsky Institute, for god's sake"…"Well, he does go on and make some useful comments and they were quite generous too." "I love Allen. I like to break down the solemn facade and reach the goof heart." "I think he mainly thinks of me as..well, a junky.".. "As honored guest, he gets to sleep in the master bedroom…" -  [Allen's ordeal with the vibrator] - I hope it wasn't too much trouble. Hardly!"

And this is called  "The New Ordeal" - it's right after the pathos, it does have some pathos in it - ("Since Miguel got his head bashed in by the dealer we tried to rip off last night, I've had to reconsider my immediate plans for the future or non-future…"….."God, this place is a veritable bedrock of rehabilitation.")

 I'd like to read this piece to...Well, I'll read this first piece in The Book of Nods . It's a kind of prose-poem - 'With Van Gogh" - ("I am sitting on a park bench in the neighborhood where I was raised as a boy. Van Gogh approaches me in the dark A wide blue gash lay down his luminous cheek. There are some thin papers folded beneath his arms secured by a ribbon. He is wearing a cheap[ irridescent suit. Beneath it a yellow polo shirt with the image of two small green alligators copulating sewn on above the pocket. Over his spiked red hair is a felt hat, its wide brim covered with twelve thick candles -  [that's a bit baroque, I think, but cool] - They are burning rapidly in the wind but give off the scent of a cathedral. There is no reason I should know who he is but I do…"… "So many contradictions, so many contradictions, so many contradictions"…  "I throw my arms around him and lay my head on his shoulders, continuing to laugh until my tears begin to fall down the lapel of his suit which is glowing in the fluroscent light in the lamp post above us" )
That's actually from the old.. (the line) "Now you really have something to cry about" (is) from an old Buddhist thing that (Jack) Kerouac told Ted (Berrigan) in the interview in The Paris Review, I think.

[At approximately thirty-five-and-three-quarter minutes in] - This is called "Hommage… " I haven't read this piece before. It's a bit long but I'll move fast and I like it -  "Hommage to  Gerard Manley Hopkins"  -  ("Passing through customs was a fast and pleasant experience not at all what I anticipated…. "….…" mantained in the detection of a flawed meter and messages of coercion and betrayal are delivered in iambics")

[There's a brief gap in the recording before the tape picks up Jim in media res continuing, reading from The Book of Nods]

…."(nodding in a chair from some bygone court) in the hotel lobbies, with its back so high and its velvet arms. I'll sit beneath the sweet chandeliers that reflect my dreams off them and I'll give it all back. Across the cathedrals of Paris the sun is bending, weary, like the eyes of their marble saints who blow cracked trumpets to the water birds at dawn.."..."Dressed neatly with hair combed straight back. Do you know them? Do you know the place where I saw them last? where the words have finally waited, and light in the eyes? and it's not France")

[and continuing - five short poems]

This is called "For Elizabeth".  ("She was a woman I knew who was really beautiful and I really cared for her a lot, I didn't understand really, who died of hepatitis from doing junk when she was about sixteen.  ("It is winter ending on earth.."…"it is a cursed season, an awkward line, a flawed circle, a snake on fire devouring what tomorrow it will itself become")

This is called "Heroes" (for Phil Ochs) - ("Fallen one, your private ghosts are/stepping on you from the heights/where you left them off. Their necks are/tiered like a noose…"…"the restoration of an old old crown")

This is called "Nightclubbing" ("This generation from "My Generation" /affected with too many antidotes,/there must be a balcony, a height/where one may ne lifted up/beyond the timorous grip of glamour/of glory without rage"…."I'm talking about a very slow first move, and carefully/as you reach, as I reach too,/Through a wheel of thorns/To pump new air into the stray rose.")

This is called "A Child Growing Up With the Sun" - ("The sun sits back, watches the streets like an informant for the junta…"…."And I chose, instead, the dark dance of the moon./In the face of two, I have always sought the lesser majesty") 

This is called "In The Gears" ("In The Gears/ Of the jungle.In the desecration of the iris in bloom for images juxtaposed in the quasar mist, the mitre/Of white dwarves, the bishop's claw in the conclave of authority/Among straining stars/I abjure all velocity…"…. "In the end/just pretend/ you hear me") - Thank you
Thanks a lot. Good to be here.

[Jim Carroll's reading concludes approximately fifty-seven-and-a-half minutes in]

[Allen Ginsberg then (briefly) introduces Anne Waldman, the second reader of the evening]

 AG: Anne Waldman, who is a major orator in the field of American poetry and now has been experimenting with music (always willing to take a chance, and always willing to put herself out for some new frisson, will be performing tonight both solo and with accompaniment, an innovation (with drums, actually) . Author of First Baby Poems, Makeup on Empty Space, (the) fabulous three-note Skin Meat Bones, the 45 rock n' roll social apocalypse scream Uh-Oh Plutonium! (inspired by her child) and the early City Lights book, Fast Speaking Woman will be the next on our program. Anne.. Anne, for those of you who've wandered in naively, is also the director of the present Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute, Director Anne. 

continuing (with Anne Waldman's reading) tomorrow 

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at the beginning of the tape and concluding at approximately fifty-nine-and-a-quarter minutes in ]

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