William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg in conversation 1991 – 5 (“Kowloon”)

[Kowloon Walled City]

WSB: And then they have the..

AG: Kowloon

AG: Have you been there ever?

WS: No, no, I didn’t go to to Hong Kong. It’s too long a trip, but…

AG: Overcrowded and hell?

WSB: ..James went and Michael (Emerton) went [James Grauerholz’s boyfriend] and Bill Rich went [James Grauerholz’s Lawrence ex-college friend and co-organizer of the 1987 River City Reunion].  So they had an interesting time.           We saw the last of Kowloon.

AG: Well, how could they have raze the entire Kowloon?

WSB: Well, get everybody out of there, and knock it down.

AG: Well, Kowloon’s a big city.

WSB: No, it’s about six or seven city blocks.

AG: Oh that’s all.

WSB: Yes.

AG Oh that little area.

WSB: Yes, that area, the walled city, the old walled city of Kowloon. The people packed in there. (When there) I saw just a tangle of electrical wires, cubicles with padlocks and all these crossing wires. I’m sure that everything is always out of order. There no one is responsible for anything. Imagine trying to get something done in Kowloon! Now they have a butcher, a butcher’s shop, and a.. what’s-it, take-out soups, and sit down – And, of course, plenty of heroin – and opium, opium and heroin up the ass.  I imagine people, you know… Some people would spend their entire lives in there. They wouldn’t have to go out even – sell a little heroin, have a bowl of soup

AG: Did they raze the entire place?

WSB: I think so, yes. They’d been saying they were going to do it for a long time. It was supposed to be an eye-sore. It’s right up by the airport..

AG: Is it an old walled city or something recent?

WSB: No, I don’t know, it’s pretty old, I guess, but probably overlaid, you know, something new, something old, down there. It was just this whole city in itself, self-sufficient city..

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty-two-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-five minutes in]

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