They’re celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of “Howl”. I’m waiting a few more years to start partying. I was only twelve in 1956 . . . I might have been precocious but not that precocious. I was most likely around 18 when I bought, read, passed out, came to, re-read and started memorizing that epic masterpiece. (I’ve pretty much got the first four lines down, now.) So look for your invite in the mail for my own 50th anniversary celebration sometime in 2012.
I believe Ginzy’s next book was “Reality Sandwiches”. In the summer of 1963 I was 19, in San Francisco hanging out at City Lights bookstore daily. It’s where I got my mail, caught up on my reading, and generally just soaked up beat culture and befriended a few of the best minds of my generation, including Robert Scheer who worked there at the time. Scheer had recently published “Tragedy in our Hemisphere”, book on Cuba where I’d been myself the year before, and later co-founded Ramparts Magazine. I was chatting with Scheer when a truck pulled up out front on Columbus Avenue with a shipment of newly printed, hot off the press copies of “Reality Sandwiches”, arriving from British printer because U.S. printers would not print Ginsberg – that’s how great America is and was! I helped Scheer lug these cartons inside and when he opened the first one I grabbed a copy off the top and bought it. I said, “Not only a first edition but this copy is the first one sold, ever. Write that inside and sign it, okay?” “Don’t be ridiculous,” Scheer explained.
A month later I was comparing sneakers with Allen Ginsberg.
I no longer have either book.