Joyce Johnson, Jan Kerouac, Ray Bremser, Corso & Orlovsky at the Kerouac Conference

Jan Kerouac in 1989 – Photograph by Allen Ginsberg

Last weekend we featured Carl Solomon and Jack Micheline from the legendary 1982 Jack Kerouac Conference at Naropa, this weekend, another reading from that occasion, a reading dominated, perhaps, by the ever-feisty Gregory Corso, but featuring strong readings by Peter Orlovsky and Ray Bremser, and, most significantly, by two of the important women of the Beat Generation – Joyce Johnson and Jan Kerouac (Jack’s daughter)

listen to this five-part group-reading –  here

The audio begins with a series of public announcements (typically, Corso is heard, indiscreetly, both on and off mic.)

Female Announcer: We’ve got a hot night. After the reading the Nature Theater of San Francisco presents “The End of The Fallen Poe” at 1111 Pearl Street at 11 o’clock tonight, with Kush, – that will be from 11 to 11.35, and at 11.35 there’ll be a showing of more Kesey films with Ken Kesey, more Frank films with Robert Frank, bus footage, 1111 Pearl Street, same place – they’re going to charge you a dollar, at Naropa, 1111 Pearl Street, on the mall, they’re going to charge you a dollar..doesn’t matter what the name of the events, it’s Frank films and Kesey films, 11.35 – Alright, here’s what we need, we need someone who knows the projector room at Naropa Institute to go set up a screen and projector. If there’s anybody here that can do that, meet me in the back of the auditorium as soon as I can get out of here. Okay. Jack Micheline reading tomorrow, (sic) 1 to 2 o’clock at Chem.140 with Carl Solomon. The money goes to the poets.
Gregory Corso: That’s weird to hear – “The money goes to the poets?”
Announcer: (to Gregory Corso) Yeah. Do you want to do an extra reading? 
GC: If the money goes to the poets, you’d better believe it! – Jack Micheline worked that one out, that’s him, man, that smart fucker.
Announcer: He worked it out well, Gregory.<
GC: Excuse me?
Announcer: He worked it out well..  No smoking!
GC: No, we’re going to smoke.
Announcer: You guys, no you can smoke.. 
GC: So, they’re going to smoke, but just play it cool. [to Ide Hintze] – How are you doing, Ida? You expect me to pay you back that money you gave me?..I’ll talk to you about it later.
Announcer: Benefit concert for Nicaragua now.. We’ll do the benefit concert. There have been floods and disasters recently in Nicaragua, 70,000 homeless, crops ruined, etc. It’s a $5 benefit in the UMC ballroom – all the beer you can drink, three bands – it’ll go on after this, so if you want to go over there afterwards, you’ve got your choice of going here or to Naropa.. repeat it again.. Cassette tapes are on sale for the Conference events at room 216 during the Conference. A list of tapes is available on the yellow paper at the door. We encourage you to order your tapes early so that they’ll be ready when you leave the Conference. Don’t forget to pick up your arrest tape
Noon Sunday at the Boulder Center For the Visual Arts at Arapahoe and 13th, there will be an auction of art works. Examples – photos by Robert Frank, paintings by (Lawrence) Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Jack Michelene, sculpture by William Burroughs, and much much more. It’ll be a great auction. Here comes Allen

AG: Rare works by Robert LaVigne are on sale at the UMC in the Communications Room next to the Bowery Bookstore
Announcer: (What time?) Noon. Sunday. (Is there a minimum price on the items before they (go up)? – Yes 
Okay, Bob Fine, who created the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane light shows in the ‘Sixties will be performing a multi-media show with Gary Peacock, Julian Priester and Jerry Granelli, in the Boulder Theatre, August 5th at 8.30 … how much is it? – six dollars – okay.
Don’t forget, we’ve got a picnic on Sunday and we’ve all got to figure out how to get there. We’ll talk about it later.     

Joyce Johnson

I want to introduce Joyce Johnson, an old friend of Jack Kerouac’s, author of a novel called Bad Connections, and Come Join The Dance – two novels. She’ll read from her new book, Minor Characters, a memoir of the (19)50’s – Joyce Johnson

JJ: I’m going to read from a book about the first time I met Jack. The date was 1957. (“Hello. I’m Jack, Allen tells me you’re very nice, Would you like to come to Howard Johnson’s..”….”I could feel in my own warmth absolute proof of my existence”)  [Joyce Johnson concludes reading at approximately sixteen-and-a-half minutes in]
GC (to JJ): I’d just like to add to part of that history. I aways thought that I was your (boy)friend first before Kerouac.
JJ: Yes
GC: Well then how the hell did Ginsberg get into the act of introducing you to Jack. You know, he’s always there introducing people to other people, you know..  but I was your (boy) friend, I was the one who introduced you to Jack, not..
JJ: No, that’s not true, Gregory. It was Allen.
GC: Well, then where do I come in? I was your boyfriend, right?
Audience-Member: Why would you want to introduce..?
GC: Why would I want to introduce? Because I had once before took a girl from him, and
so I thought, in relating, here Jack you? want to meet a girl
JJ: “Here –  I’m your daughter!
GC: What does that mean? That’s not putting down women. It’s not selling off women. I’m making an introduction – and he liked her, right? [turning to JJ – isn’t that what you say?] – he liked her. So I did a good shot. Who’s hissing me?  Probably some dumb broad, you know, that just sticks on a..  Yeah, see what I mean? – you can’t even call them a “broad” (in New York, a “broad” means an endearing term for a woman!) – Right, to get the history straight, then, [turning to Allen Ginsberg] – how did you meet her? (see, you don’t even remember!)
AG : Well Columbia was Helen Elliott
JJ: And Elise Cowen 
GC: Elise Cowen
AG: John Hollander
GC: How did I meet her?
Ray Bremser: Allen introduced you to her!
GC:  And that’s the game! Alright, that’s all clear, that’s all.. thank you.But you shouldn’t hiss me on words like “broad”. See what I mean, look at that. Women don’t understand, still, man (if you call them “baby”, they like it).

Ray Bremser

At approximately eighteen-and-a-half minutes in, the second reader begins – Ray Bremser.

RB: I’m supposed to be next? Okay. It took me a long time to decide to read something old, which my older friends probably won’t like because they heard it so much. But this is a Kerouac-inspired conference here, and I would like to read this poem because it’s one of the most obvious poems that.. obvious that Jack had influenced my composition and that the music of (Dizzy) Gillespie and (Charlie) Parker and (John) Coltrane was coming in the poem. It’s an old one. It’s called “Blues For Bonnie” ( take one – January 1960) – [Ray Bremser reads/performs “Blues For Bonnie” (concluding at approximately thirty-three-and-a-quarter minutes in)] –  “these blues broke out in a gallery “…”The dark is enough to those who would see”.

Jan Kerouac

The next reader up (beginning approximately thirty-three-and-a-half minutes in) is Jan Kerouac

Jan Kerouac: You can hear me?
GC: You can hear me, right?
RB: Anywhere!..

Jan Kerouac begins with two sections from her recently-compiled memoirs –  First -“The date was set and at the appointed hour, I hurried to the new address to see how things were going…”…””If you do go out, Jack, please lock up, I have to get back to work”, “don’t worry about it”, he said, “my manuscript’s in there”” – followed by “..this one other thing about when my mother had just met Jack’s mother..Gabrielle Kerouac, who is French-Canadian, who was French-Canadian..they were having dinner at her house and.. (oh dear, don’t tell me I lost it, ok, (no) there it is).. their conversation was about all sorts of things, and they happen to mention Allen Ginsberg’s name, and it failed to escape her notice” – “You know Ginsberg?, she asked me, almost accusingly. Yes, I admitted..”
… “…”Anybody whose grandparents weren’t born in the USA, he imparted reluctantly…or Canada, she prompted – or Canada, he obliged”

At approximately thirty-nine minutes in, Jan Kerouac turns next to some poems – “Well now I have some poems here, that I wrote, let’s see.. “On the dust-laden black desk.. “…”..a light scrawl like Key Largo would tear off this jargon”
and here’s another one – “Broken crocodile tears……”…wearing a strange yellow sweatshirt with different childhood memories”
I’ll read a few (one) more – aha! – The monthly delirium has set in…”….”.. you stalk the wild insignias, whilst I horde pyjama lint”

“I have some dreams here”. [ she continues] – “This is going to be the second Kerouac Book of Dreams  – “I went to England with no money and was starving…”….’that was where the combination of melon and prosciutto originated.”
and this is another dream – “May 22nd and I don’t know what year, Hollywood. Very cosmic feeling dream…” – “…In this dream I could actually sense the movement of earth and planets in ratio to each other and understood completely what true time is.”

She reads next “something about New York City, growing up in New York City – “Baby Driver”, – yeah, “Baby Driver” (taken from a Paul Simon song – it wasn’t my idea) – ok – “Manhattan, so secure in such an improbable way…”….”like a tuft of mould, tucked in the groove of a boulder.”

“Is my time up?” [Jan Kerouac concludes]  “In that case, I’ll read about the first time I ever met Jack, my father that is (I like to call him “Jack” because I like that name) – I was nine years old –  “The day was nearing when I was to meet my father for the first time..”…  “…every once in a while, I’d take out the souvenir of his visit, the cork from the bottle of sherry, and stare at it, wishing it would hurry up and be January.

JK: You going to have enough time?
GC: Yeah, fine, fine. I think the ten minutes thing has caused it to be too tight, but “Beat poets”, we go over the time-limit..Okay.

Gregory Corso

Gregory Corso is next

GC: This poem was recently written. It’s for Jack Kerouac, spontaneous, without change (I usually make changes). It’s also got in it, for the hissers, an awful lot about women, ergo, don’t let them distract you from the poem (those hissers will do it on this one, but the rest of you, just let it pass, man, you go to the poem, alright?) – This one is called “Having Fun With Myself at the Expense of Others” – It’s called “Things in Life I Know (that) Most Others Don’t Know”– [At approximately fifty-three-and-a-quarter minutes in, Gregory Corso begins reading – “Some know the blue whale to be the largest creature ever to have lived on Planet Earth…” – (and), (at approximately fifty-six-and-a-quarter minutes in – “this is for the hissers”) – “Women – I know why women are the way they are. Ninety-nine percent of men don’t know and fifty percent of women don’t know…”

Peter Orlovsky is next
GC (to Peter Orlovsky: You go. We’ve got another trip around, right?

Peter Orlovsky

Peter Orlovsky (beginning off mic) begins by reading four poems – “America, Give A Shit!“, “My Mother’s Memory Poem“, “Good Fuck With Denise“, and “And The Tea Will Seem Golden” – followed by the following observation – “I was traveling with Allen Ginsberg on a poetry tour in California in the wintertime and coming to a lot of.. reading a lot about the horrors of the American military enterprise in Guatemala, in the Akwesasne News, and there’d be a lot of horror stories in there, and one horror story that was interesting was that with American helicoptors there they can shoot two thousand rounds a minute, and they go on these raids at..six in the morning, and they can kill, they can wipe out, a whole Indian village – and I somehow got it into my head that I was married..that I wanted to marry an Indian girl in Guatemala. So I thought (Alexander) Haig was killing my wife, my future wife. So I felt very hateful towards him and wanted to kill him on the spot. So, at a poetry reading in California, in L.A, I said. if I had a gun, I’d kill Haig, and I said that if Haig… the reason that this kid who shot (Ronald) Reagan (Brinkwater? Hinkley? – (John Hinckley))..the reason Hinckley shot Reagan (was) because he thought (that) Reagan was  going to drop the atom bomb in Europe, and that would have an atom bomb in America, the United States ((a) chain-reaction of atom bombs) and that’s why he shot Reagan. And if fifty million people had a gun, they’d shoot Haig right this second  ((or) that second in January). And so, Allen said, “Someone’s going to… If someone shoots you…?” – And so I said “Goodbye, Allen”. And so I re-thought it out, and realized it wasn’t a very Buddhist attitude to go around shooting people, or having a gun, (or) stuff like that.  I write this –  “Aney Haig who thinks of/ starting a Vietnam type War/ in El Salvador/will be cooked in the Heart Attack/Supe Pot tomorrow/morning at 6.A.M//So says My Mont Blank Pen”.

PO (to GC): Another poem that you haven’t read?
GC: Yeah, I think I can do it…. but…  [tape ends here] 

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