Ginsberg on Kerouac (Columbia Days – 3)

Allen Ginsberg at Columbia with fellow-students, Riverside Park, New York c.1948

Ginsberg on Kerouac and Columbia  continues from here 

AG:  The day Kerouac had come to see me I had noticed that the windows were dirty. We had a blue-clad uniformed scrub-lady that would come, an old Irish lady (that I thought was a little anti-semitic, I was a little sensitive about it, but why I thought so I don’t know) .  And she hadn’t cleaned the windows in my room so I had decorated them with finger-painting, with “BUTLER HAS NO BALLS” (Nicholas Murray Butler was the President of the school at the time). So “Butler has no balls” – which was…  I think there was a song of that kind, or.. (Allen begins singing) – “No balls at all, no balls at all, she married a man who had no balls at all”  That was a local campus song, of various campuses, I’m sure. So there was some sort of jejune college humor. I was the editor of the Columbia Jester, review,  which is like college humor, shot. And I’d also written “FUCK THE JEWS” (to get the attention of the washer-lady) and then a skull and a cross-bones (you know, the outline of a skull with dots and teeth, and then a couple of cross-bones under it) , thinking she’d wipe it off. But she didn’t wipe it off apparently, she had reported it to the Dean.! –  (or the Assistant.. or the Dean of Student Faculty, or the Office, and they reported it to the Student-Faculty Relations guy, whose name was Furman (the same coach that Kerouac had been working with and had a cool scene with). [Editorial note, Allen actually misremembers the name here, Bill Morgan has subsequently discovered, “Dean Furman” was, in fact, one Ralph J Furey]   So that morning, when Kerouac and I were sleeping off the poetic night like innocent lambs in bed, there was a banging on the door and then the door opened and in walked the Director of Student-Faculty Relations, Dean Furman, who saw us in bed! – sleeping. So Kerouac opened one eye, saw the situation instantly, jumped out of bed in his underwear, ran through the door into Bill Lancaster’s room (because Lancaster had gone to class), got into Lancaster’s bed and pulled the covers over his head and went back to sleep!  And what reminded me of that was this thing about – “and besides, dang blast it, I was just sleeping all the time!” (when he pulled the covers over his head during the bombing, the depth-charge bombing – (in Vanity of Duluoz)). So he pulled the covers over his head and I got out in my skinny legs with my big..underwear.. pants hanging down, and Dean Firman said, “Wipe that off the window!”. So I grabbed the towel and wiped it off the window. And I…But I didn’t know how to explain it because I didn’t want to say, “Well, we weren’t doing anything in bed” – that would have been bringing up the subject. And I didn’t know.. We hadn’t done anything.  I was, actually, literally speaking, I was a virgin. I hadn’t made it with a man or a woman, or anything. I was just jacking-off since I was thirteen. Here I was ..I don’t know it was nineteen forty-five or six, so I was twenty, (which is pretty…). No wonder I was telling Burroughs a year later, “Nobody loves me”! – Nobody had! –  I suppose that’s why I’m so.. so, sort of eager now, trying to make up for lost time!  So..

Then Furman, Dean Furman said, “The Dean would like to see you later today”. And so then.. and so I got..  And he left..And Kerouac just slept on! I got all dressed, getting ready to face some kind of music. Kerouac got up and went home, went back to his mother (which I thought.. he wasn’t sticking with me in this crisis, to stick around to explain that we hadn’t made it, or something, in case his testimony was necessary, I didn’t think they’d believe me but they might’ve believed both of us or him because he was a jock). And then I went downstairs and found a note in my mailbox, in Livingston, Livingston Hall, saying, “For Guest – Overnight – Two dollars and seventy-five cents” (so that was officially registered that somebody had stayed there overnight), and then a note saying “the Dean would like to see you at ten forty-five a.m”

to be continued

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

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