William Burroughs Conversation – 8

Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso at Naropa at the 1985 William Burroughs Conference continues from here

AG: What about the ..what about the burnt toast? (sic) What is this about burnt toast? I never heard about.. Somebody…
WSB: Oh well, nothing.  Gregory burnt the toast. That’s all.  I said “Gregory, you’ve burnt the toast“ And he was very offended.  He said, “Hey, you guys, what are you complaining about?”  I said, “You’ve burnt the toast.”
GC: Burnt the toast? – alright. That doesn’t make me very wise, man. I’ve got to keep my eyes on what I’m doing, right?  (It) gives you guys great joy coming to tell one of your peers, ”You burnt the toast!”,  you know, I mean..
AG: So, but what was the business about the toast anyway? You were trying to eat breakfast or something?
WSB: Yes. That’s all.  None of us were published at that time.
AG: What sticks in people’s minds is amazing!

Allen Ginsberg

AG: What sticks in my mind about the first meeting between Gregory and Bill was that Gregory brought a suit case full of liqueurs..

GC : Oh that.

AG: Remember that?

WSB: Yes.

AG: … wanting to sell it to me, or to Bill, or some aspect of it, (to GC) Now where did you get a suitcase full of liquor?

WSB: I think it was very suspect.

GC: I stole it.

AG: Yeah, what I thought.

GC: I slept in this nightclub, this faggot nightclub. 1950 – I slept, no, (19)53, slept there, and they closed the joint, and everything. I went to the cash register and I got myself a lousy twenty-five dollars (I did wrong, I should’ve known where they put the box, where they take the bags the next day, then I would’ve got a thousand or something). But I thought ”fuck it” and took a suitcase down there and filled it up with what I thought was the best whiskey (I didn’t know shit about whiskey!)

AG: It was Drambuie you picked.

GC: Bols garbage, Bols, you know, like liqueurs.  I thought I was taking Rémy Martin

WSB: Yeah well I remember you making.. you made a very bad selection.

GC: Bad selection!

AG: Sweet liqueurs instead of…

WSB: Oh, wow yeah. Nothing you could drink in the whole lot. Bols is blue, for gods sake!

AG: So then, Gregory came over to my house. This was the great moment I’d been waiting for to introduce Gregory and Burroughs. And I’d been telling Bill that Gregory was this really beautiful young kid who was a great poet, and who’d been in jail, and was an exemplar of a whole new angelic order of human beings, and that Bill should pay very careful attention to him. And Gregory came in, but all Gregory was preoccupied with was selling to Bill an old suitcase full of liquor!

GC: Oh shit, man.

AG (to GC): That’s all you would talk about!

GC: Not talking to him!

AG: You opened it up on the living room

GC: Right. And he’s chopping his yage away, chopping his motherfuckin’ yage away. Literature had nothing to do with it!

AG: Yes, true.  So what was the result of it? (to WSB) We didn’t buy any.

WSB: I don’t think there was anything there that we wanted to buy.

GC: But I sold it… to..

AG: Who do you sell it to?

GC: …Jerry Newman!

AG: Yes, he liked that kind of (thing). Jerry Newman also had a… (he) introduced us (Kerouac and myself) to what Rimbaud drank (which was absinthe with wormwood). Jerry Newman actually had some wormwood and so we all experienced “knock-out drops” (which was what it boiled down to)

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

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