Bob Rosenthal on Gelek Rimpoche & Allen’s Ashes

Gelek Rinpoche and Allen Ginsberg, at the reception after a Jewel Heart Benefit, Chicago, November 9 1991. Photo c. Jennifer Girard

Bob Rosenthal recently attended and performed at a celebratory reading honoring Allen and Gelek Rimpoche at Tibet House in New York and delivered this anecdote (not, somehow, included in his wonderful 2018 memoir  Straight Around Allen)

“Allen Ginsberg and Gelek Rimpoche both have a strong sense of humor. Here is an example:

After Allen dies we have several memorials. One is in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for Gelek Rimpoche’s Jewel Heart. I bring Allen’ ashes carry-on to the plane and am asked at security carry-on what I am carrying in my bag, I have the certificate of creation with me. I say “Human Remains”. “What?” there guard asks, “Human Remains”, I repeat. I offer to open up the can to show him. I see him hesitate so I insist, :”Let me show you!” He waves me through without looking at Allen.

At a dinner that night we are assembled at a large table, Rimpoche is half way down the table. Peter Yanowitz (Natalie Merchant‘s drummer and boyfriend) is next to me, I place the can storing what Allen is reduced to, next to me on the floor. Peter whispers to me that we should put the guest of honor at the table. Peter pops up and gets another chair to put between us. I take the can out of its bag and put Allen on the chair Rimpoche gets interested in what we are doing. He questions me directly, “What did you do?”  I pipe up, “I didn’t do nothing!”  Rimpoche gets my double negative and breaks out laughing – relieving all the tension around the table.”


  1. Picture was taken in my mother’s house in Wilmette, Illinois. Beside Moses, an Allen Ginsberg photograph of my family is visible on the wall. Bob

  2. I remember that evening at your home so well, Bob. Thank you for this memory, and the gifts of lightening and enlightening the mood and minds by both Allen and Kyabje Gelek Dorje Chang. Hope all is well with you!

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