William Burroughs Conversation – 7

William S Burroughs, at Naropa Institute, Boulder, Colorado, July 1985. Photo by Allen Ginsberg, courtesy Stanford University Libraries / Allen Ginsberg Estate/Getty Images

GC: (to AG) …What about him, this one (William Burroughs)? – Now I was told he was lizard-like in life, that there was something very cold about this man. And yet, one night, when I slept on his bed (I had no place to stay, and you had gone to Paris), the hand falls on my body… And that’s it. The guy… You could say.. maybe to look at the face? who the fuck knows? – I look simian, he looks reptilian.

AG: What do I look?

GC: Like a guppy. Allen!

Allen Ginsberg

Gregory Corso

AG: Do you remember this situation with Gregory having to share your bed?

WSB: Certainly

AG: And your hand draping over him affectionately? and chastely? in the middle of the night?

GC: That was his bed, he can move it any way he wants.

WSB: I don’t recall exactly, but it probably…

Student: (Can you speak a bit louder?)
AG: Well..
GC: Loud and no feed-back..
AG: Closer to the mic… (ok)..  – Did we have.. Have we clearly got the Jerry Newman situation going?

GC: Fuck Jerry Newman!  Let’s get down to the intelligence of the man (Burroughs)

AG: No no no. Because I remember… Bill remembers, and I remember, Bill falling down, and Bill, I remember saying, “I got laughing so hard I almost. fell out of my chair!”

WSB: Yes

AG: ..at the drunken newscaster

WSB: The drunken newscaster was one of the early cut-ups. As I say, you always, you do a double-take. Suddenly you realize, “Why heavens! what in god’s name is the man saying?” And it’s very very funny indeed.

AG: Because in what I saw of it.. It was like.. These were unofficial bloopers. You know, they now have television shows for that, don’t they? (but in those days it was rare private stock – any kind of public broadcast in which there was a crack in the façade). And Jerry Newman as a sound engineer had collected a huge archive of these, and actually it was a revelation of what human life was like behind the façade of mass media. And I think that’s what turned Bill on so much.

WSB: Yes. Laughter is rejection when the thing suddenly cracks, you see.. and that was, that was…

AG: What else did he play? I think you said (someone) and their rendition of Danny Boy?

WSB: Well that was not then, So..

AG: That was not the funny stuff. – Jerry Newman also worked with Robert Frank in 1958 recording Kerouac for a soundtrack for Pull My Daisy that Kerouac had written (sic – improvised) and Gregory and I and Peter Orlovsky, Larry Rivers and others acted in. And then …

GC: How did Bill get in the shot? Bill wasn’t in Pull My Daisy.

AG: No but Bill was a friend of Jerry Newman in 1953 – or Bill and Jerry Newman met

GC: Kerouac had the first book published
AG: Yeah, before anyone
GC (to WSB): Allen said it was after Junkie
AG Town and the City is before Junkie. Town and the City is 19..
GC: Before Junkie?
WSB: Yes, definitely
AG: Published 1948 or 49
WSB: ’48 yes
GC: Oh my god!
AG: ’50?
AG: Ok
WSB: I’m sure it was earlier,
AG: It was written earlier, but published by 1950.
GC: Books of poetry, I was published first.
AG: Yeah, 1950 when?
GC: Four
AG:  ’54 Vestal Lady on Brattle?
GC: I beat you out, right? You came.. when?

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

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