1989, Ginsberg and Corso – The Conversation Continues – 16

Hank O”Neal, 1995 – Photo – Esther Bubley

Allen Ginsberg and  Gregory Corso continuing from here 

AG: But it’s a losing proposition, I lose a lot of money on photography.

GC: Why?  I don’t understand.

AG: To hire an assistant to keep track of everything, label everything, itemize and catalog everything, to make prints, maybe.. you know.  Its very expensive to make prints.

GC: Are any of these going to be on-sale as they are they going around?

AG: Yes.

GC: Ah, well then you’ll make your money back!

AG: No, no, no, you couldn’t.  The cost of maintaining all this equipment,  and secretary, and office space, and printing,  and print-making,  is more than I get back from the, from the.. because, partly because, I took Robert (Frank)’s advice and didn’t go to a big gallery but stayed with modest and aesthetic galleries where we keep the price down, to about seven or eight hundred bucks.

GC: Right, that’s what it goes for.. One-thousand five-hundred..

AG: Rather than fifteen-hundred and..

GC: Okay I got it. ok. So..

AG: So that means that the..

GC: I mean, that one picture that you sell for eight hundred bucks, you’ve have have another picture of it, right?

AG; Yes, I can make another one.

GC: Okay

AG:   But then it costs me..

GC: That sounds like a racket to me, man!

AG: Well, ( (obviously)..

GC: I mean, you can make duplicates..

AG: Last year I spent twenty-seven dollars on photography and I got seven-thousand (dollars) back.

GC: What?  why twenty-(seven thousand) bucks?, but that’s because you bought good cameras, ha ha , right? You still got the camera?

AG: And also because I built up a stock of prints.

GC: Right.

AG: Also, paid salary, about three-quarters of a person’s salary, for a whole (year)

GC: You’re not going to  get that back.  Ok, that you put aside.

AG: Also had to rent space, also to pay for the print-making. It’s a very expensive business.

GC: Nice paper you need (it), on a good paper.

AG: Well, no (that’s the)  print-man, someone who makes the prints.

GC: Yeah, it’s got to be on good paper, and all that..

AG: Brian Graham, Brian Graham was assistant to Robert Frank.

Brian Graham

GC: Yeah that guy I know I like. O’Neal? what’s his name? [Gregory begins to confuse Brian Graham with Hank O’Neal]

AG: Brian Graham.
GC: The guy who likes jazz?
AG: Brian Graham?
GC That’s it. The guy who took a picture of you and me, a nice picture?
AG: (hesitant) I think so, yes
GC: He’s got a nice house …
AG: No, no, no , that’s Hank O’Neal

Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, New York City, 1985. Photo: Hank O’Neal

GC: That’s who I’m talking about, O’Neal
AG: Was O’Neal trained by Robert Frank?
GC: Was he?  I don’t know.

AG: No, Brian Graham, (who you do know), is a guy from Nova Scotia with a kind of  scraggly face, a young guy, who was a great printmaker. I’ve been working with him. (And that costs money).

GC: What about O’Neil, do you think he’s good?

AG: ( I don’t think he’s (especially) intelligent, but..)  [Editorial note – this is at the very beginning of the relationship. Allen went on to befriend him and greatly admired O’Neal’s work – see for example – here]

GC: I liked the paper he showed me, when he took pictures of us. He said, “this paper is very expensive, Corso”.  I said, “Ah!, now I see why they sell these things for eight hundred bucks and all that!”.  There it is.  See, Robert Frank sells his pictures for eight hundred bucks.

AG Is that all?   No, they’re a lot more.

GC:  Remember in Naropa when they had the sale on?

AG: I know, but that was an old photo that was all torn…

GC:  The Kerouac coming out of a car was beautiful. I never saw it before.

AG: And that was, you know, in a little auction for Naropa, it wasn’t a regular gallery sale.

GC: Well, it’s a great photograph. I never saw it before. It was Kerouac coming out of the car.       

Robert Frank, New York City, 1984 – photo: Allen Ginsberg, courtesy Stanford University Libraries / Allen Ginsberg Estate

GC:  Okay so you spend more money on it (your photography habit) than you get back on it.

AG Yeah.

GC: Nonetheless, you say it’s an education..

AG: It’s a hobby.

GC: ..and a hobby.

AG:  And sooner or later, it’ll pay off.

GC: And it will pay off, okay.

AG: It’s also part of my whole poetic activity.

to be continued

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