Ginsberg: don’t smoke


When I was 19 or so, I remember watching Allen Ginsberg in his corduroy jacket on the Today Show promoting his book Cosmopolitan Greetings which had just come out.  I had just come out too — at least to a few people — and had taken to wearing second-hand army jackets and carrying around a shoulder bag with a big pink triangle on it, at least while I was away at college.  Ginsberg just sat there, somewhat wild-eyed, cornered on the gaudy set, grandfatherly-but-suspicious, suffering through an interview with Bryant Gumbel or someone like that.  The distain and incomprehension on the interviewer’s face were lacquered over by politeness and a kind of forced reverence, but I knew as if by a sixth queer sense that the reason why this old dude was making Gumbel nervous was that at any minute he might rip off his frumpy jacket and the collared shirt underneath and run in madness and ecstasy around the studio banging together his wisdom sticks.  This began a so-far-lifelong affinity for the man, the beats, and all of that. Here he is banging those sticks, with maybe the most famous poem from his last collection… Put Down Your Cigarette Rag 

Ginsberg: don’t smoke

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