Wednesday, January 30, 2008


It (and All) is Vanity I suppose.
Here are a few pieces of Vanity.
They are my brushes with greatness and some name-dropping.
First, a short preamble of ramble.

I've had the good fortune to meet some interesting non-great (i.e. non-famous) persons in my life.
I have also been quite fortunate not to have died in the many scenes of my life where I have played a part and encountered:
A few peak experiences.

After I had gone to college for four years, I finally picked my major (I had been a distributed studies major...well, really just a lost liberal arts major).
If my philosophy professor Dr. Weir had not been walking down the steps of the university's library just as I was coming up them, I might not have become a teacher.
With his pure white beard, Dr. Weir glided down the stone steps with his usual nonchalant manner and inquired:
"What are you going to do?"
"What do you mean?", I asked.
Professor Weir replied,
"What are you going to do when you graduate?"
"I don't know", I said.
"Why don't you get paid to read books?"
And so in my fifth year I loaded up on Education and English courses.

Now to some name-dropping and brushes with greatness.

I met Anais Nin.
She was an aging but still beautiful woman when I met her.
She was dressed completely in white.
Either way she seemed a goddess in my eyes.
I had read her Diaries.
I told her that I had had a dream with her in it.
I think she said something like "I hope it was a good dream."

I went on a date with a girl named Joan Bliss to listen to Allen Ginsberg read his poems (and play his little harmonium).
When he was finished I walked with Joan Bliss to say hello to him.
I extended my hand to shake Mr. Ginsberg's hand, but he kissed it instead.
That was an embarrassing brush with greatness.

I got hit on my right knee with John Prine's guitar when he walked by me on his way to the stage.
That brush didn't hurt my knee.
That same year I went to hear Leonard Cohen in the same small nightclub.
He didn't hit my knee, but I still felt that I had been brushed by some greatness.

At a concert in Denver I bought one red rose for Bob Dylan.
I gave it (in its vase) to the person who accepted such things to forward to Mr. Dylan.
When I handed this person the rose (with a card) I asked,
"Will he be sure to get this?"
And I was assured that he would.
Years later Dylan's Shot Of Love album came out.
On the back cover is a photograph of Dylan smelling a rose.
My rose?
Not quite a brush;
not quite a bouquet;
just one red rose.ALL IS VANITY.

I actually met Allen Ginsberg three times.
Once while walking down Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado.
I wrote about this encounter and a publication called The Straight Creek Journal published it.
I have tried to locate my letter in archives without success. Maybe when I'm famous others will do it. In the letter I wrote how I was treated by this (in my humble opinion) not so great poet.
He accused me of having scrambled brains and of being just one more hungry fish who wanted his poetry to be recognized (and famous I guess) like Mr. Ginsberg's.
The other enounter was more mundane.
I had him sign a couple of his paperbacks. 


No comments: