William Burroughs Conversation – 11

Ted Morgan (sic): What was it like in ’58 when Gregory snuck into Paris?

WSB: Oh, well,  yes, there was the whole Beat Hotel scene in Paris at 9 Rue Gît-le-Cœur where we all stayed for many years..  It was rather…

AG: Now Gregory must be given credit for having discovered that hotel

WSB: Did he really? I thought it was you. I thought it was Guy Harloff that discovered it and then turned you onto it.

AG: No, turned Gregory onto it.

GC: No, (it was) Guy Harloff who introduced the Beat Hotel

WSB: Yes – This is this incredible hotel, that was very cheap, I remember my room was twenty-six dollars a month.

AG” Yeah. Peter (Orlovsky) and I had a double-room for thirty a month/

WSB: Yeah. and had a gas grill and everything

AG: One. two. We had a little two-burner gas stove so  every room was equipped for, like for cooking., which was amazing, and it was right half a block from the Seine on the Left Bank

GC: And then we had Henri Michaux, the poet up there, the first fucker who had mescaline in Paris, writing about it. Henri Michaux, he comes to our house, and what do we do? – we piss in the sink! – we don’t go out in there hallway to have a piss in the john (alright, that’s the lazy man’s way – to piss in the sink).  So he gets very bourgeois, up-tight, this top-class poet. Remember?

WSB: He thought we were doing this to amaze him,

GC: Shock him.

WSB: Shock him..

AG: Bill, I don’t remember you pissing..

WSB: Well, it was a judgment. There was even a curtain around the bloody thing.

AG: I don’t remember you pissing in there sink.

WSB: I didn’t piss in the sink!

GC: I remember.

WSB: Somebody did, somebody did.

AG: And I don’t remember Gregory particularly pissing in the sink. I think I was pissing in the sink when he came and knocked.

WSB; No, it was during the meal.

AG: During the meal?

WSB: Yeah.. or after the meal, I don’t know.

GC: Hey Al, I wonder if you remember this one..Michaux..

AG: Now wait a minute let’s.. stay with Michaux

GC: Michaux. Michaux. – You and I and Michaux and Peter are talking. Across the street, there’s a woman with a camera, taking a picture of a guy in front of a church. Michaux thinks we set that guy up to take picture of him with us. When he found out it wasn’t, he went “Pardon!” to us, like this (GC mimics Michaux). You remember that?

AG: Yes. Yes I do. [Editorial note – Ginsberg and Corso discuss the story againhere] Actually a very funny scene, because we were,.. Gregory and I and Michaux were standing on the corner of Rue Gît-le-Cœur, and what? Saint-Jacques?

GC: Rue de Saint-Lazare

AG Rue de Saint-Lazare, talking with Henri Michaux who was at this point very aged, very old, and a very well-respected survivor of Surrealist days, and, as we were standing talking by a big wooden door (there was a big wooden door, the portal to an interior behind a wall of an apartment house)

GC: Did he bite the dust?

AG: One moment, let me finish.

GC: I asked you did he bite the dust?

AG: Yes he did. Let me finish the narration of it properly –  While we were standing before this wooden door a lady came up and started taking our picture. And he got very upset – that we were taking advantage of him to have picture taken with him and so he turned his back ands looked at him and us and said, “Would you people, please move aside?”

GC: I was there, right?
AG: Yes.
GC: My god, I thought you were talking about a second photograph!
AG: No I’m trying to recall the exact thing.
GC: Alright.

AG: She said, would you please move aside, and Michaux heard that
GC: He was so embarrassed.
AG: Embarrassed.
GC: Terribly embarrassed.

AG: And it turned out she was trying to take a picture, (an) architectural picture, of the door!
GC: Yeah, she didn’t want his ass.

GC: You know his wife went a terrible fuckin’ way,  man. She had what?
WSB: Hair curlers.
GC: Hair curlers.
WSB: Hair curlers caught fire.
CG: Hair curlers, dry out your hair, and .. zappo! – the whole brain went! – so, like, dreadfully, going.so.. because, when the hair is wet…

to be continued

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-seven-and-three-quarter minutes in and continuing to approximately forty-two minutes in

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