08 June 2012

Old gossip

On Tuesday night I went to a lecture sponsored by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation about gay writers in Greenwich Village. The speaker, Christopher Bram, just wrote a collective biography of several gay writers including Truman Capote, Allen Ginsberg and James Baldwin, and he led us on a virtual walking tour of the Village by the places where these writers lived and socialized.

One of the sites he singled out was the bar where Gore Vidal and Jack Kerouac met before their maybe-one night stand uptown at the Chelsea Hotel. The confusion, as Bram explained, lies in the fact that Vidal wrote three different versions of that night - in his diary, in his memoir, and in fiction. And for his part, Kerouac told Allen Ginsberg one version (possibly to make Ginsberg jealous) and William S. Burroughs, Vidal's friend, another.

Writers are famous for their indiscretion in print, but maybe dating one of them is a way to maintain discretion. After all, only you know the real story. Seems like a way to cultivate the mystery without doing much work.

It was a great lecture and I'm looking forward to checking out EMINENT OUTLAWS, particularly for writers like James Baldwin who I didn't have much exposure to in my education. (Same with Vidal, actually; he seems to be one of the writers most referenced by the ones I read, that I haven't actually read.) The night ended with several men in the crowd volunteering their memories of the old Stonewall Inn, which for all its historic importance was apparently a little stuffy with a high cover charge for the neighborhood.


Anonymous said...

On the Stonewall Riots - check out this interesting post on the Allen Ginsberg blog with links to David Carter's important historical research

Anonymous said...

...oops! forgot toprovide the URL, it's