A poet, a priest and a political activist walk into a room…

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Religion distorted late twentieth century New York culture. For instance, I hosted a dinner party, and among the guests were the poet, priest and political activist, Daniel Berrigan, and the literary agent and retired epistemologist, John Brockman. John spoke nary a word. Afterwards I asked him about it, and he confessed: “I can’t help it. Maybe it’s growing up in Boston. But I hate Irish priests.” I didn’t think it would help matters to explain that Dan is more German than Irish; John is Jewish.

Andy Warhol screensaver, seen at Barneys Department Store, Madison Ave.
Andy Warhol screensaver, seen at Barneys Department Store, Madison Ave.

Andy Warhol and Allen Ginsberg hated each other. Allen was a windbag; Andy had a rapier wit. I met them both as interview subjects, and had prepared an hour’s worth of questions. Andy answered my questions quickly and wittily in about fifteen minutes; he then interviewed me. Allen somehow spent eight hours answering the same number of questions. It makes me wonder if Whitman, too, was a windbag. Warhol was a non-practicing homosexual and practicing Catholic. Ginsberg was an active pederast. Warhol uttered some hilarious remarks about Allen in my interview; it was only after Andy died that Allen learned Andy was a church-goer. He enlisted Burroughs to co-pronounce this ludicrous judgment: Catholicism invalidated Warhol’s art.

Allen Ginsberg, seen here in a picture from the 1960s taken from Ishmael Sundarban's website. http://ishmailsundarban.wordpress.com/2008/10/24/upon-reviewing-the-documents/
Allen Ginsberg, seen here in a picture from the 1960s.

picture from Ishmael Sundarban’s website

No one asked Gregory Corso. Some of Allen’s best friends were Catholics, but they daren’t express it in his presence.  I got Allen to sign a limited edition to raise money to pay some of Dan’s legal bills. But Allen would not appear on the same stage as Dan. Hannah Weiner hosted a Christmas Eve party many years ago. Gregory Corso, Erika Rothenberg and I went together. At a quarter to twelve, Erika and I got ready to leave. “I’ll come with you,” Gregory said. “We’re going to midnight mass,” I told him. A look of fear and revulsion passed across Gregory’s face. “I’ll stay here,” he said.

Tags

allen ginsberg, andy warhol, daniel berrigan, erika rothenberg, gregory corso, hannah weiner

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