William Burroughs Conversation- 5

William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, New York, 1953 – photo: Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso on William Burroughs continuing from here

AG: Now get to the point, yes

GC: The point was in 1953, while he..  altho’ it didn’t come out well, the yage – he’s doing the machete thing…

AG: The yage is a vine that Bill brought back from..

WSB: It wasn’t any good

GC: It wasn’t any good.

WSB: It wasn’t any good at all!

AG: So it was…

WSB: It was dried and the principal was completely (off)

AG: Well we should describe that

GC: I made it a point saying it’s no good. See, I’m the new guy on the block. He looked at me and (thought) “Who the fuck is this guy? a friend of Allen’s?” – I  tell him that his yage that he’s taken from South American sucks

AG: Actually, now, my recollection of your first meeting with Bill was in the living room on East 7th Street…

GC: Right

AG: ….which you can see in all the photographs (sic) that are down at Naropa now –  with a sofa and couch and kitchen and.. . You came after..  came visiting after a long-time absence. I had been hoping that you’d come by to introduce you to Bill because Bill was then staying , visiting New York..

GC: I was (in the apartment)
AG; That was in the fall of (19)53
GC: I was (in the apartment)
AG: You were?
GC: I came down to (see him)
AG; The first day?
GC: Yes!

AG: Can you remember that?  because I don’t remember. Can you remember and describe that then?

GC: Yeah, okay. Knocked on the door. Opened. Right away, he got the yage out , I tell you, with the machete and started chopping and started cooking it

AG (to WSB): You remember him being there that first day?

GC (to WSB): But did you do that? Did you chop the yage up with a machete?

WSB: I don’t remember. I don’t think I brought any yage back with me from South America. I tried to dry some and then I made an infusion which.. turned that in, (it) was quite worthless, in Lima. No I didn’t bring any back.

AG: Well, Bill, your memory is not very good…
WSB: I might have brought some (dried plants)
AG: …because he brought some vines, some dried vines,
WSB: ..That’s right, you’re quite right.
GC: Fuck, you’re getting older, man.
AG: So.. to make it.. more..
GC: I remember you brought that bag of yage over, you were chopping it up.
AG: Hey Gregory. Let’s make it a little clearer. Yage is a vine that is thick, as, say,. three thumbs…
WSB: Very thick.
AG: …brown, dry and very hard. by the time we got (it). And it was, as I seem to remember, you had a burlap bag, or a burlap package, probably about ten pounds.
WSB: Well, I doubt if it was that much.
AG:  I think I have a photograph of it.
WSB: Well then it might be.
AG: A good-sized package about like that (shows approximate size)
Ted Morgan: How did you get it through customs?
GC: (Fuck that)
WSB: (It was just) a plant
AG: Yeah, it’s just a vine, just an innocuous vine…’
GC: They don’t care.
WSB: Yeah, but they’re usually very strict on vines, I don’t.. on any kind of plants, you know.
AG: Did (Richard Evans) Schultes give you any kind of a letter?
WSB: I don’t believe that for one second, no, but ..Bill (Ted Morgan) is here, maybe he can..?
AG: Because when I came back in 1960 I brought a whole bottle full of yage infusion.
WSB: Was it any good?
AG: That worked very well But I had a letter from the museum at Lima that was was like a botanical anthropological..
WSB: Yes I know, I know
AG: So I was able to get through customs. Anyway so there was this package of.. dried wood basically.. which we did (turning to WSB) chop and try to boil up?
WSB: I think so.
GC: I was right!
WSB: Yes you were, you were

GC: Alright, why don’t we jump the gun and bring Andy Warhol in
AG: No no, no later. I still.. I still want get (to) that…
GC: Come on, we met him on 42nd Street. Us three..
AG: ..the package of liquor,  the package of liquor… remember? remember that?
GC: Us three and what’s-his-face, Charles Henri Ford , was with Andy Warhol. We knew who the fuck Andy Warhol was.
AG: What year is this, I don’t remember?
GC; This is..Gregory…this must be.. (19)64?
AG: Well, ten years later. Okay.
WSB: Couldn’t be!
GC: (Well, could it be?)
WSB: …Well I was, in ’64..Jesus!.. Where the hell was I?.. I certainly wasn’t in…
GC: Well, we were on 42nd Street, and we met Charles Henri Ford, and he introduced us to Mr Warhol.
AG: Okay, now I don’t remember that. I’m sure it’s true, but I don’t remember it. So what was your recollection of the scene, Describe it?
GC: Dramatic! You see this is advertising, man. I mean, they were tired . The Beatniks  were on there, having a Generation, so they’re gonna put their own fucker in there – and that was how we met Andy
AG: Who’s”they”?  The Surrealists?  or the…
GC: No, Time magazine! – or all the fuckin guys that do that shit, man, advertising!
AG: I think Warhol..
GC: You can’t get four guys and call it a generation. Where are the rest of the people? That’s why Jack suffered. Jack suffered on that one. He didn’t get much joy out of that ten years of his literary life.  (to WSB) Most of your friends stranded here gave you good accolades yesterday. Where is he, that guy , that Jew guy, what’s his name, Larry? Larry what?
AG: Fagin
GC: What?
AG Fagin
GC: Fagin, Fagin, the Jew named Fagin. Fagin says the kids with music dig this fucker more than the literary people do. It’s a fact.
WSB: (Huh)
GC (to WSB): Well, You can give literature to the age of the punks today, that’s high class..
AG: Well it is odd that…
GC: … alchemy for you, Billy
WSB:  I acknowledge..
AG: …that a lot of the fall-out, the literary fallout of our activities came diffused to the culture through music , through (Beatles) and through Dylan.
GC: But dressstyle – remember? Here’s the man who said, You name the twenties, you’re gonna get a style, a certain kind of dress, a certain kind of attitude..

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately eleven minutes in and concluding at approximately sixteen-and-a-half minutes in

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