First Party At Ken Kesey’s With Hell’s Angels

A classic Ginsberg poem from the ‘Sixties, first published in the collection, Planet News

First Party At Ken Kesey‘s With Hell’s Angels

Cool black night thru redwoods
cars parked outside in shade
behind the gate, stars dim above
the ravine, a fire burning by the side
porch and a few tired souls hunched over
in black leather jackets. In the huge
wooden house, a yellow chandelier
at 3 A.M. the blast of loudspeakers
hi-fi Rolling Stones Ray Charles Beatles
Jumping Joe Jackson and twenty youths
dancing to the vibration thru the floor,
a little weed in the bathroom, girls in scarlet
tights, one muscular smooth skinned man
sweating dancing for hours, beer cans
bent littering the yard, a hanged man
sculpture dangling from a high creek branch,
children sleeping softly in their bedroom bunks.
And 4 police cars parked outside the painted
gate, red lights revolving in the leaves.

December 1965

“Back in (19)66 or (19)67, we took the bus up to Berkeley for Vietnam Day. The day before the big rally, the Hell’s Angels said they were going to protest Vietnam Day by pounding the shit out of the protestors, and they were serious. Since we kind of knew the Angels, we went over to Oakland, to Sonny Barger‘s house. Ginsberg went with us, right into the lions mouth with his little cymbals. Ching, ching ching. And he just kept talking and being his usual absorbing self. Finally they said, “OK, OK, We’re not going to beat up the protesters’. When he left,one of the Angels, Terry the Tramp, says, “That queer little kike ought to ride a bike. From then on, he had a pass around the Angels. They had let all the other Angels know. “He’s a dude worth helping out”. They were absolutely impressed by him and his courage.”  (Ken Kesey on Allen Ginsberg)

Ken Kesey

Ken Kesey

Allen Ginsberg

Sonny Barger

“Terry the Tramp”

logo – “Hell’s Angels”


Merry Pranksters and Hell’s Angels. For more on this unlikely and potentially volatile commingling see here.

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