1989, Ginsberg and Corso – (The Conversation Continues)

Gregory Corso typing a poem at the Rare Book Room, New York City, 1989 – photo: Dario Bellini

Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso‘s September 14, 1989 interview (originally prepared for a proposed piece in Interview magazine), which we serialized last month, continues this week with tape two

GC: About the past. It was a beneficial thing you did when you said they’re treating the junkies like the Nazis did with the Jews  That’s when, if a junkie was in jail, and he was on a methadone program or something, they’d bring the methadone to him

AG Yeah.

GC: Okay. Not today any more,

AG: Cold Turkey?

GC: If a drug addict..  Cold Turkey.  (and, boy I’ve seen them cry and vomit and scream in there, Al),

AG: (Herbert) Huncke has stories,  in former years, of people dying in sickness..

Gc  Yeah, they died.. sure.  I think Billie Holiday died same way..

AG: Yeah.

GC:  …in a hospital, they wouldn’t give her anything.

AG:  And under surveillance, by the cops!

GC: Yeah, by the (cops)..  Isn’t that awful?  Some big fat detective, drunk Irish cops out there, well, she ain’t gonna get no drugs, and she dies! – a beautiful bird  –  (a) bird, that lady, right?

AG: Yeah.

Billie Holiday on her death-bed

GC Dammit! . Alright, let’s get off the drug angle.

AG: We’ve come to the conclusion that the drug wars are an absolute hype, a phony, a hypocritical exercise..

GC:  Yeah,  And sad…

AG: …and that will only make things worse.

GC: And sad that Mr. Bush doesn’t have anybody around to wake him up, that he could look at the other side of it, (maybe many sides of it), and maybe find a sharp way for it.  Did he really think, and (feel), that drugs is going to destroy America?

AG: No, I think he’s..  Well, it does disturb the city streets at the moment.

GC: Granted, granted, Al, ok, but is that really the big problem that’s doing it?

AG: That’s not the real problem, no. I think what’s really disturbing (in)  city streets, is the fact..  it’s  homelessness..

GC: That’s a big one.

AG: Lack of…lack of federal funds, cut off of low-income housing, long ago under Reagan.

GC: That’s where the more money is required..

AG: The deliberate shifting of money into military as a way of bankrupting the welfare economy, which was Reagan’s conscious effort (according to David  Stockman)

GC: Oh yeah, he hated, he hated the welfare people. He would always have one story for the welfare people. “Well, this welfare queen, you know, she was riding in a Rolls Royce and getting these welfare cheques..”  – He’d always say that to people.

AG: Yes.

GC: And then you’d look and say, “Wait a minute You’e picking one thing. I mean,  there are people out there who have nothing.”

AG: Yeah, yeah, And then it turns out that with the housing program (HUD), which was supposed to be for the low income housing…

GC:  A big rip-off, of course..

AG: The Republicans, primarily.. were in charge of it..

GC:  Right.  Rip-off, rip-off.

AG: So they had a sort of deliberate indifference and animosity toward the poor.

GC: Right, well the poor, they’re always a pain-in-the-ass, but when you really look at it, they’re all black and then they’re not a pain-in-the-ass. When you realize that all the homeless that I see, when I stay at Port Authority, or Grand Central (Station), they’re black…

GC: Oh, you know the new law in Grand Central now?

AG: What?

GC:. You can go to the bathroom and wash yourself. You can no longer..

AG: Travelers can’t do that anymore.

GC:  Right.   You can no longer kiss anyone in Grand Central below the neck.

AG: Yeah?

GC: Anywhere below the neck, right?  You can’t..

AG: No more blow-jobs in Grand Central!

GC: Right, no more blow-jobs in Grand Central!

AG:  No more sodomy..

GC: In other words, it’s stupid. So people have no place to go. They could at least try to get to wash up.. Who wants to kiss anybody if they can’t wash themselves in the bathrooms there? So I say something is wrong..

AG: Really wrong.

GC: …and  the black people.. So the blacks have not been treated right. Period.   Period. Period. Period.

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