Saluting Neal Cassady – The WFMU 1993 Neal Cassady Memorial Marathon

Neal Cassady

Neal Cassady is our focus this weekend (perhaps more accurately, the influence of Neal Cassady) and, via the incomparable WFMU (out of East Orange, New Jersey) and their audio archives, four-and-a-half hours of live radio! – the occasion, February 7, 1993, at the Fez under Time cafe in downtown Manhattan (on the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones) –Nicholas Hills show, “The Music Faucet” – a live broadcast (one day before what would have been Cassady’s sixty-seventh birthday) of their Neal Cassady Memorial, hosted by the super-ebullient and irrepressible Merry Prankster, Ken Babbs.

Ken Babbs in 2014 – “super-ebullient and irrepressible”

A word of warning, this is a singularly chaotic evening (though Babbs does a fine job, well, a pretty fine job, of m-c-ing, holding it together. The chaos is significantly compounded by a more-than-manic Peter Orlovsky exhorting the crowd to “vote for David Dinkins (“the best President of the United States outside of Peter Stuyvesant!” (sic) – Dinkins, the incumbent, lost to Rudy Guiliani who he had previously narrowly defeated, in the New York City mayoral race later that year). Peter’s hyper-activity is notably contrasted (complimented?) by a typically more measured set from Allen (“the invocation” from Allen, and “the sermon” from Peter, is how Babbs reverentially, and diplomatically, describes it). Aside from Ginsberg-Orlovsky, contributions from Janine Pommy Vega, Maggie Estep, Richard Hell, Vincent Katz ,Bob Holman, and a whole host of others, here.

The show opens to the sounds of Miles Davis (“So What“) and the voice of Ken Babbs rapping over it (“It spread out to the city, it was in a subterranean place just like this, and it spread out from there into the streets, the subways, all the carnage of World War II was left behind in the muck and the sludge and what came out of that was a bright shining star, and that star’s name was..Neal Cassady!”) – The first few minutes are introductory (Nicholas Hill introduces Cassady scholar (“oral historian and Beat..mendicant”) Kim Spurlock, and the evening’s back-up band, “The Angel-Headed Hipsters” (featuring, among others, Jeff Buckley) – At approximately five-and-a-half minutes in, Spurlock begins reading, from “the Gospel of Philip”,  “a Beat from the 2nd Century”, and then follows this with “a long lost poem of Neal Cassady” (“He wasn’t known as a poet, he blew free verse most of the time..but this is one, he wrote down, 1951”) – “I’m on the wings of Tanger-ian swells..” – At approximately seven minutes in, Spurlock introduces Ken Babbs. Ken Babbs introduces Allen  Ginsberg by way of an anecdote about him and Kesey attending a performance of Allen’s at Naropa and Kesey fiddling with a flash-light – “won’t someone turn that flashlight off before it gets to me.

Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg

[At approximately ten-and-three-quarter minutes in, Allen begins] – but, first, some friendly banter:

AG:  Alright Ken, Which mike am I using?
KB: You can have that one, yes. Would you like to discuss any of the things that have happened to us for the last seventy-six years or anything.
AG: Yeah. You were talking about something when we first came on.
KB: We sure were. We were talking about our health and the fact that..
AG: Oh yes.
KB: …you were looking so good, and being survivers..
AG: Yes.Macrobiotic the important thing, yes.
KB: Can you believe that? You talk about  the wheels going around, huh.. Here’s a guy in (19)93 doing macrobiotic..
AG: Probably if Neal and yourself had been on a macrobiotic diet you’d be as old as I am now!
KB:  Ha ha ha ha ha! – that’s true. I hope to be as old as you are some day.
AG: Well, I hope to be as old as my step-mother who’s eighty-seven now.
KB: Oh terrific.
AG:..and really good.   Longeivity has its virtues
KB: Look at (Richard) Nixon, he’s eighty
AG: It’s nice to sleep with younger people, but for wisdom you’ve got to go to the older people
KB: That’s right.
AG: So, wisdom, poetry – that’s my role – poet. So I’ll start with poems that I wrote, first poem that I wrote in Neal Cassady’s house, kind of a love poem. 1953, called “The weight of the (world)”, “Song”, actually is what it’s called  – [Allen reads “Song” in its entirety]  –  followed by “On Neal’s Ashes” – “Those are poems that are published, and then in homage to Ken Babbs and the later generation of Merry Pranksters who picked up and played with Neal and drove with him years later, in the ‘Sixties decade, I..  a.. a sort of visionary dream I had a few years ago, called “I Went to the Movie of Life”, dealing with the Merry Pranksters caravan. I don’t know, Have you ever heard this, Ken?
KB: No, No, I want to hear it
AG: Okay, it’s a dream
KB: Alright.
[Allen proceeds to read a long prose account (dream journal) (starting approximately sixteen minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-six minutes in – “I Went to the Movie of Life”

KB: I hadn’t realized it until right now that that man (Allen) is our rabbi, and gave us our invocation for our celebration..

[Ken Babbs continues with a little history] – (“Neal Cassady, I met him back in about (19)60, when I was running around in Stanford there with Kesey and the gang and we put the bus together and Neal had just got out of the penitentiary for doing two joints..”) and a little drug “performance”

KB: Do you smoke the noxious weed ?

PO (Peter Orlovsky) : No I can’t. I’m getting too old
KB: Yeah, but this is a performance. This can’t really be the thing. You heard what happened to Lenny Bruce
PO: I already got enough bad habits. You want me to get more?
KB: Yeah! – no, I just want to keep up the ones I already got.
PO: Give me five.
KB: Okay, okay, I only got two but..
PO: Now give me a kiss.
KB: I never done that before! This is a first, But he sprayed me with his cologne, I mean, what’s a guy gonna do? – Do I smell good, Peter? do I smell good?
PO: Let me blow you again!
KB: No, once is enough, one blow is enough, I’m wilted!
PO:Turn the other cheek, turn the other cheek.. I got twenty, twenty cheeks.
KB: Alright – hey, [to audience] you girls come up here one at a time,don’t be cheap,>let him spray you with this stuff, like a cat, a male cat does, civet – he comes around, he’s got to spray everything..Come on up here, one at a time, ladies, don’t be shy, first one up here gets a hit on this fake joint ..  Spray her,  Peter, Spray her, Peter
PO: Wait a minute..
KB:Everything is so symbolic tonight!
PO: It’s forty dollars a bottle perfume. It says “For Men” but ladies can have it too – cheek to cheek, cheek to cheek
KB: Cheek to cheek..[to audience-member]. No, you gotta go round me. She can go round me. What the hell..  Somebody’s got to talk. Reason is, you know, we’re on the radio. This is going out to New York and..
PO: Anyone else want a spray?
KB:’s going up to Maine They got a line all the way to Oregon, so my kid at home, sitting at home tonight, can hear this programme..
PO: You wanna smoke a cigar?
KB: I’d love to! – but, as that young lady said.
PO: Give me a match
KB: A match? I haven’t had a match since..
PO: Give me a match..
PO: I got a Mont Blanc pen that cost four hundred dollars you got a match for it?
KB: I do yes. Wait a minute, that’s the wrong match, we’ll get the right match, we’ve matched out here before..
PO:Babbsy, it’s a four hundred dollar pen,a Mont Blanc, you got a match for it?
KB: No, I don’t, I don’t. The only thing that I have, would even consider close wouold be this flute, which I’m playing tonight is actually Neal Cassady’s flute
PO:Good for you!
KB: Yeah, well, because Neal Cassady, when he became the driver of the bus in 1964 he drove us to New York City
PO: That’s right, Neal was the greatest driver..
KB: He was…and he drove us to New York City and he met up with Allen and Allen went and got Peter and Peter’s brother had just gotten out of the nut house – Julius..
PO: My brother was in a mental hospital, Central Islip, for 13 years!
KB: Yeah, and his first night out he got on the bus and he did not want to get off, and Peter comes up to him and says, “Julius we gotta go” (he’d pooped in his boots)
PO: He didn’t have boots, his pants!
KB: I’ll never forget Peter there. It’s always been the most endearing thing, He cleaned that up and was so sweet and nice, he never yelled, I mean, if that had been me, I would’ve killed the guy! – no, I would not really.

PO He had a prolapsed rectum, you know what that is?
KB: Yeah, sure, I got one myself.’
PO: Well you’ve got to go to the hospital and have an operation.
KB  Wrecked him, hell, nearly killed him.
PO: Well my name is Peter A. Orlovsky.
KB: It sure is.
PO: And I want you..
KB: You all know him as a poet and a mandolin.. and a banjo player, right?
PO: I want everyone now to kiss everyone on the lips for the next ten minutes.
KB: This is too nasty for radio, they’ll cut us off the air, I know.
PO: I also want you to do one more thing, I want you all to vote for Mayor Dinkins to make sure that the fascist (Rudy) Guiliani does not get in any more. I’ll say it again
Say it again Peter
PO: Vote For Mayor Dinkins!

David Dinkins and Rudy Guiliani

[Audience-member] – Who’s he?
PO: Forget the fascist Giuliani. Vote for Mayor Dinkins. It’s very important.
KS: I will.
PO:Mayor Dinkins is the best President of the United States that the United States will ever have, outside of Peter Stuyvesant
KS: It was (Bill) Clinton not (David) Dinkins..
The best Mayor New York City ever had was Peter Stuyvesant. Second best Mayor New York City ever had was David Dinkins. Let’s have a round of applause for David Dinkins. Anybody in here who doesn’t vote, raise your hands if you don’t vote I want to pick your eyes right now! – [to Audience-member]  You got a problem with Dinkins – why?
KS: He can’t vote he said.
PO: You’ve got to. Do you want Bush and Reagan [Editorial note – Republican nominees] instead of  [Bill] Clinton?
KB: Ok.
PO: We just got rid of Reagan and Bush. You want him to come in again right away? Don’t be stupid.
KB: Now you may wonder how this guy got this information, He works on the railroad so you can see all his pens, railroad pens..
PO: No this is Police Department, I’m Secret Service Police Department, these are all police..see the handcuff one here?
KB: Oh, no wonder he don’t smoke.
PO: Oh no, I can’t take any drugs. I used to shoot coke!
KB: Coca-Cola?- a hard-liner..
PO: No! Cocaine! I used to shoot amphetamines in the ‘Sixties
KB: Hey, I shot a bunny rabbit once!
PO: That’s no good.
KB: You’re telling me, I was dead drunk and..
PO: Don’t you do it again or I”ll spank you.
KB: I turned out.. about twenty three kids in a week.. This is a public service announcement ..okay, without further ado, let me introduce my old friend here, who was one of the original Beat guys that passed the torch on to us psychedelic orphans, Mr Peter Orlovsky, in case you didn’t know.
PO: Give me a kiss, give me a kiss. He’s not a homo like me.. You know the.. I would have bought my book of poems, but nobody told me this was a poetry reading. I’m a famous international poet. I’m a very rare poet. You only see one of my type in a thousand years. The first name of my book is Clean Asshole Poems (and Smiling Vegetable Songs). The reason it was called Clean Asshole Poems” was because I went to the only farming high school in New York City in the early (19)40’s, and when you work on a farm up-state which I had to do (and I have a farm upstate New York and I worked on it for five years, in the early ‘Seventies, the late ‘Eighties and the ‘Seventies, after Neal died because he drank too much tokay and he was also on some downers. The combination is very deadly, The same thing that happened to (Elvis) Presley
KB: I was there for both of them
PO: Right, right . and so ..your cheeks get raw and dirty – and sores, You have to keep yourself clean in-between,and I wrote a song just for you, and it’s called “Keep It Clean In Between”
KB: Ok we’ll follow your lead

[Peter at approximately thirty-six-an-a-half minutes in, begins singing] – “Keep it clean in-between/You know exactly what I mean/Keep it clean in between…” Said the lady in blue to the gentleman in green”…Keep it clean (with) cold water protein”
Louder louder! – (I) should’ve bought my banjo – I got a low-neck banjo, it’s worth eight thousand dollars, anybody wanna buy it ? – it’s a Gibson banjo – made in 1929 – I learned how to yodel from the radio, 1949. You can do it too – Song number two now, lets stop it – [Peter addresses the band] –  this is gonna yodel, boys, get our instruments to yodel now – [Peter yodels]  –”I learned how to yodel from the radio in 1949″

Peter Orlovsky

At approximately thirty-nine-and-a-half minutes in, he continues
PO: I wanted to read you a poem. Would you like a little short poem?
KB: Yes
PO: The kind of poetry I write now is called dohas – have you heard of dohas? – it’s a four-line poem, my guru, my Buddhist meditation master .Chogyam Trungpa taught me how to write dohas. Doha is an ancient form of writing poetry that’s 2000 years old. The first great doha writer was Saraha – and you can buy the book and study it in your literature classes here (because everyone here goes to Columbia and Harvard here right?)
[Audience-member] – NYU (New York University)
PO: Well that’s just as good, but not as good as Harvard or Columbia – sorry! You gotta speak the truth when you hear it – but it was called the Royal Song of Saraha Saraha was a Buddhist and also a Shambhala-ist . Now you don’t know what the word “shambhala” means, and you barely know what the word “Buddha” means – I’m trying to give you an education here. I’m trying to send you to Harvard in your seats…Saraha first learned to make arrows from a lady in the village square, then he got so hot he was …finally the King and Queen at that time heard about his behaviour, and, to distract him, they asked him to write some royal songs and he wrote the royal songs of Saraha, and those..the form that he wrote it in was called the doha Doha is a four-line short poem . The first three lines are very fast and rapid. The fourth line is the rainbow ribbon that ties the three lines and is like the punch line. And now I’ll give you a spontaneous example of a doha “Just because your eyes are green, that’s good/Just because your eyes are red, that’s sweet /Just because your eyes are white, that’s neat/ But remember, when you cry, you cry just to your feet.”

[Ken Babbs wraps it up] –  “Thanks a million and all because you (Peter) sprayed me with that stinko perfume, that’s whatdoes it – ok – Hey, [to audience] what a man, huh? – Have you ever heard him do that thing about the blackberries and the raspberries..”(“Feeding Them Raspberries To Grow“)
“So you see what the connection line is when those guys talk about being old goofs and  everything, Well, they’re only ten years older than I am, They all came through that generation that Cassady did – about 1926, born, up to the World War II, and then out into America after World War II, to spread the word that..we’re ok, we’re not brutal killers and sneakers and cheaters, and tryin’ to get that dollar out of his pocket so it can go into my pocket – no, that isn’t what it’s about –  We found that out, right? Ok, now it’s coming round again.”

“Okay so that’s the sermon. We’ve had the invocation, we’ve had the sermon now. We had Peter doing the little dance step that led us into the thing. And now we got a young man coming up … ” –Ken Babbs, with an introduction initially confusing Otis Redding and Lou Reed, introduces (at approximately forty-six minutes in), Victor Bockris, who reads from his “Punk Sex” (dedicating it to Neal Cassady) before being drowned out by piano music (approximately fifty-three minutes in) followed by a station announcement, followed by Babbs introducing the next reader, Christian X Hunter  – Babbs again: “The neat thing about Neal Cassady, you heard these guys read his poems and anthologize his body and the parts and all that, but the guy was so straight, I mean, he never even swore. He’d tell all these stories and that, and he always had a message too…”

Marshall Efron

At approximately sixty-five-and-half minutes in, Marshall Efron is introduced – (Efron to Babbs – “We met in nineteen hundred and sixty-four in California..’) – Efron comments on the ‘Sixties and the  search for a ‘higher high”, tells adventurous tales of drug days (buying peyote), catching Lenny Bruce on an amateur talent show, the first time he saw Neal Cassady

ME: The first time I saw Neal Cassady was at the first Acid Test at Muir Beach. I came in late, most everybody was unconscious or semi-conscious and there in this large wooden brown reddish room I saw this guy and I’ll never forget him, December of (19)65. It was Neal Cassady, tho’ I didn’t know his name at that time.
KB: Is that right? the first time you ever saw Cassady?
ME: First time I ever saw Cassady and he was pushing a brown chair across the room.
KB: That was Owsley! , that was Owsley!
ME: Oh that was it ..Well, I didn’t know I thught it was him. Cassady (Owsley) had just found this washing machine, an old dish-washer back in the kitchen and he came out and he was playing the hoses and getting this dish-washer going on this big long cord, spouting water out all the time…Well I’m destroyed. All these years I thought that was Neal. You come out here and you get wiped out
KB: That’s what this is all about.We’re straightening the record.
ME: I’m just so glad I’m high right now
KB: Me too

Mike Golden comes next (publisher of Smoke Signals), who recounts (at some length!), an account of post-Beat activities, “the Unbearables”

Peter returns (this time, interviewed by Nicholas Hill), about 92 minutes in

NH: Peter Orlovsky, sitting across the table, Greetings and Salutations!
PH: “Peter Orlovsky the famous interational poet”, say it.
NH: Peter Orlovsky the famous international poet.
PH: Married to Allen Ginsberg for forty years..
KS: Forty!
NH: That’s Biblical! – and Kim Spurlock.
PO: And Neal Cassady’s…
NH: Ghost
PO: Lover
KS: That’s right
PO: Boyfriend, Worshipper and Adonis.
NH: It’s good to have you here Peter.
PO: Thank you sweetheart
NH: Truly a welcome performance
PO: Thank you Mr Gem.
NH: I’m Nick
PO: Well Mr Diamond
KS:  Ok, “call me Nick Diamond”
PO: Just let him have it, come on Kim, just let him have it.
NH: There’s a bleep in the air for you.
PO: More than that. Diamonds in the air for you. For you, I didn’t say for me.
NH: Peter, tonight you were talking you were talking politics..
PO: Yes
NH: Do you remember a guy in the ‘Sixties Free Speech movement in Berkeley named Stew(art) Alpert?
PO: Well, of course.
NH: One of the things he said was, “After the Revolution, we can go back to being Beats”, What do you think about that?
PO: I think that Mayor Dinkins.
NH: Yes, Mayor Dinkens.
PO: the best President the United States will ever have. The first one was Peter Stuyvesant. The second is Mayor Dinkens, and its very important for all the voters and the non-voters to vote for Mayor Dinkins, because he’s against the fascist Mussolini-Guiliani,  you understand? It’s very important now that we have a good mayor in New York City, I’m not speaking like Jesse Jackson because Dinkins is better than Jesse Jackso by a million-fold . No comparison between Jesse Jackson and David Dinkins. Dinkins is our sweetheart, Jesse Jackson is a foreigner, so to speak, he’s a hot-headed..
NH: Peter, Dinkins  is.
PO: I met Martin Luther King. I met Martin Luther King.
NH: What was he like?
PO: We went.. We were at a party together with Eleanor Roosevelt. Me and Allen Ginsberg
NH: Right. She was cute! a wonderful woman.
PO: She was better than that
KS: Gregory (Corso) saw her on the subway once.
PO: She was like Hilary Clinton. Hilary Clinton is trying to imitate, to be like, Eleanor Roosevelt.
NH: In her sexuality as well?
PO: No, no, no, Eleanor Roosevelt was above sexuality.
NH: That’s right, she was a virgin.
PO: She was above, she was above sexuality. She saw the suffering that America was going through. She saw the bloody wars that were going to come up in America.
KS: Saint Eleanor.

Eleanor Roosevelt

PO: She was the first real heroine of America, You must not degrade Eleanor Roosevelt  but remember her name and bring out everything good from her..because she is the hero of American politics.
NH: And you met her with..?
PO: I met her with Martin Luther King.
NH: What were they doing together?
PO: And I asked .. we were up in a very expensive party for Martin Luther King  to raise money for his movement
NH: Right
PO: Up at Dorothy Norman’s house, on East 70thStreet the Museum of…Metropolitan of Art. After the party (and I saw Martin Luther King there)..
NH: What did you think of him?
PO: He was surrounded by his workers, secretaries, who were very.. astute.  After he.. I saw him.. I looked.. he had Buddha-lips.
NH: Buddha lips?
PO:Then we went to a Chinese restaurant amd had a big meal. I asked him, Martin, did you have a dream last night? Yes, he had a dream. The dream was that he was nailing the nails to his coffin. He was in the coffin and the nails were being nailed on the top of the coffin. He knew he was going to die..
NH: It turned out..
PO: He knew it.
NH: Yeah.
PO: And I asked him – Did you have a dream last night? – because I’m a poet and when I was eighteen, I used to read Franz Kafka. Kafka used to write his dreams down and Martin Luther King, Martin Luther King..
KS: That’s a beautiful story, man.
NH: One second please..  [to Ken Babbs] – Hey Babbs, we’re talking to ya back here from the booth
KB: And I’m on the stage
PO: Hi Babby, it’s Peter Orlovsky here. Its “Peter Orlovsky world-famous poet”! International world-famous poet”
NH: International world-famous poet!
PO: And I’d like to give you a new fresh poem since everyone is standing on their head  – “Ice cream is blue/Blue cheese is green/Vote for Mayor Dinkins he’s the best President of the United States outside of Peter Stuyvesant!” (otherwise you’re gonna get the fascist-like Guiliani (like Mussolini) – have you ever heard of a fascist?

[Babbs concludes the first half of the evening, introducing Richard Hell] (“he lives a floor above Allen Ginsberg, and he’s promised to keep this down under four minutes”). Richard does – (“I gotta say that Neal Cassady didn’t really mean all that much to me. When I think of him I think of Jack Kerouac who wrote some books that moved me”) – he reads Ted Berrigan‘s short poem, “Telegram” – (“Bye-bye Jack/See You Soon”) – [The final reader/performer of the first half is Emily XYZ, who (along with Myers Bartlett on drums) performs a version of Allen’s “Hum Bomb”.]

[Part two opens with Matthew Courtney (it’s his birthday – rambling, and not particularly funny, about gays in the military)]. [At approximately seven-and-a-quarter minutes in, Janine Pommy Vega, takes the stage] (“Is Peter still here?..Well, anyway, I’ve known them for a long time, Allen and Peter and I have to say that, in the ‘Fifties and the ‘Sixties, the women didn’t only be the Muse, and the women didn’t only wash the shirts – You know Diane di Prima? – She didn’t wash shirts..”) – Janine performs a set of three poems (two, with accompaniment – “Mushroom” and “Earl the Pearl” and one unaccompanied – “Witchcraft”)

Janine Pommy-Vega

Janine Pommy-Vega

[Matthew Courtney, at approximately nineteen-minutes in, introduces Jennifer Blowdryer, who is followed (again introduced by Courtney), at approximately twenty-seven minutes in, by Vincent Katz] (noting that Neal Cassady was “more of a philosopher than anything else”, Katz reads from the third-century-BC Greek philosopher, Diogenes, followed by a section from Cassady’s autobiography, The First Third (the section where he describes the way he felt when his brother got trapped inside the family’s fold-away bed!).

[Next up is the poet Reg E Gaines (who reads “Jamaica to Roslyn”), “the reigning champ at the improv slam at the Nuyorican“, Bahia Watson  (who reads “As if somehow, being a poet, could deny..”,) Tsaurah Litzky (“Hangnail Blues” – “In the ‘Sixties we women took off our bras, because we wanted to hang with each other..”), at approximately forty-nine minutes in, Maggie Estep (“I’m Not A Normal Girl” – “Panty Economics”), and, following her, Seth King, David Huberman.. (and circa sixty-eight minutes in) Edwin Torres)]

[At approximately sixty-six-and-a-half minutes in (returning again at approximately seventy-five-and three-quarter minutes in, Nicholas Hill interviews Kim Spurlock]

NH: I understand you spoke with Father Harley Schmitt. Who is Harley Schmitt?
KS: Well Father Harley Schmitt is Neal’s godfather. He baptized Neal at Camp Santa Maria
NH: When?
KS: When Neal was twelve, which must have been in 1938.
NH: He must be ancient.
KS: He’s seventy-eight years old. He’s in great shape.Mind sharp as a tack    He said a special mass for Neal on the 4th, which was the day that Neal died, which was..what? Friday?
NH: Friday?
KS: This last Friday Just the fourth day of.
NH: ..or was it Thursday?
KS:  Or one of those days,  it was (on) the 4th of February…

NH: Kim, you got this tape from Father Schmitt that I want to hear
KS: Oh you do want to hear it?
NH: I do want to hear it at some point but I also want to talk about the general nature of radio, words..
KB: ..(and) The exact quotation on the stock-market this morning (well, we’ll be getting to that presently), but first, as Nick was saying..
NH: That’s right, “peace on earth and good will towards all men” – remember that. What we’re doing is celebrating many things. We’re celebrating the fifth anniversary of this radio programme, we’re selling.. we’re selling the Brooklyn Bridge, and we’re celebrating the general happiness brought on by the death, twenty-five years ago, of Neal Cassady
KB: That’s right. This is a super-good wake, wouldn’t you say, Kim?
KS: Absolutely, degredation leads to joy, in some instances.
NH:Yes, it does
KS: Neal kind of abides somehow, you know, and we’re kinda honoring his bones tonight.
KB: He came across the border, you know, for his thing, on the soul of a wet-back migrant worker, that you.. he was carrying this virus, it’s the Cassady virus, and it was spread through America, after his death down there.
KS: Yes that’s right. I believe it’s Father William Burroughs who speaks of the “language virus”
KB: He sure does.
NH: And Cassady, his virus –
KH: What exactly..
NH: And the virus is language.
KS: We’ll hear it too, it’s a letter to Neal Cassady, from Neal Cassady to his priest
Well what we got here tonight know, Father Schmitt is still alive, he’s seventy-eight years old, and a Monsigneur in Denver and he said mass for Neal on the 4th.
KB: That’s terrific. This is the man Neal wrote to when he was in prison
KS: That’s right, that’s right. It’s a book, that’s being published in April (1993), called Grace Beats Karma – Prison Letters of Neal Cassady, (coming out from Blast Books).
KB: And I’ve read it and it’s super-good. It’s the best thing.. It fills in the years, (19)58 through (19)60 of Neal Cassady for you aficionados out there.

So for the next three minutes, we’re going to try to see if the roof can be raised up another three feet – the ambient air, right at this level, has started to solidify, so we want to get it up just a little bit more so would you mind pumping that thing over there for a minute, Kim [Babbs is referring to the tape-recorder here]
KS: I’m going to key up this thing right?
KB: Okay, there it goes, wham, see..

[At approximately 78 minutes in, Father Schmitt is heard on the line (pre-recorded), calling from Denver, Colorado – “Today, I believe is the twenty-fifth anniversary of Neal Cassady’s death, so I said a mass for him. Just wanted to let you know, I don’t know if you wanted to tell his wife Carolyn about it or not. I believe he died on February 4th 1968, which would be twenty-five years ago today! – hard to believe! – I just thought I’d share that with you – Bye-bye”]
NH: That was Father Schmitt who baptized Neal Cassady many years ago
KS: I called him back and I asked him a little bit about how you can pray for somebody when you’re dead  and he explained it to me. Do you want to hear that part?
NH: I would.
KS: That’s a good part.
NH: You know.. I think.. let’s let this band..the band is Huge Voodoo and they’re about to do something on their own..and we’ll mix Father Schmitt in a little bit…(Huge Voodoo play “Nigger-town”, Nicholas Hill mixes in, at approximately eighty-two-and-a-half minutes in, Father Schmitt
KS: How does it work exactly? Where’s Neal’s soul right now? Do you have any idea?
Father Schmitt: Where’s Neal’s soul?
KS: Uh-huh
Father Schmitt: That we do not know. That..that’s the purpose.. We hope he’s in Heaven, but there is.. do you know about Purgatory?
KS: Just a little bit
Father Schmitt: Purgatory is where the souls go that are not bad enough to go to Hell
KS: Uh-huh
Father Schmitt: ..and yet not good enough yet to go to Heaven, and where we can help them by our prayers, and, especially by Holy Masses, saying these, helping them out, and I do not know, just what condition he was in   condition he was in. Some souls do go straight to Heaven upon their death, others they have to linger in Purgatory a long time. I think in my own case, I’ll be lucky if I get to Purgatory!

KS: Half-liars are worst than full liars. At least the person who lies all the time, you know that they’re a liar, but a half-liar’s got your trust, so in a way they’re worst, so half-sinners?, you know, sin or get off the spot!

[Fez live performance continues at approximately eighty-four-and-a-half minutes in, with performance poet, Tom Burnett]

William S Burroughs Jr.jpg

William Burroughs Jr.

[At approximately eighty-eight-and-a-quarter minutes in, a recording is played of William Burroughs Jr (“I wrote “patience” four hundred times and then I said “damn it all”) – from 1979 – “For Neal Cassady” – “Older buddy, on the bridge..crossing the Denver tracks, you knocked me down so hard off the sidewalk onto the pavement..” – followed by Ken Babbs performing – (“Neal Cassady, Neal Cassady, say his name, say his name, Who was he?, Who was he?…”),Bob Holman, (“Neal Cassady”), Pedro Pietro  (at approximately ninety-nine minutes in, reading “Reheating the Cold War”) and Matthew Benedict.

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