COLUMN FORTY-ONE, JANUARY 1, 1999
(Copyright © 1999 Al Aronowitz)
PART 14: THE BEAT PAPERS OF AL ARONOWITZ
(Photo Courtesy Myles Aronowitz )
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: JACKS A KING AND I'M THE INVISIBLE MAN
I met Jack Micheline back in 1959, when I was researching my Beat Generation feature series for the New York Post. But by 1982, at the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the publication of On the Road, promoted by Allen Ginsberg at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Jack didn't remember me at all. The trouble was I had never pretended to be a poet and poets were the only creatures Jack ever bothered recognizing.
The way Allen had arranged things, I was supposed to introduce Jack at some panel on I now forget what topic. Allen figured that was a way to give each of his friends a shot at the spotlight, but Jack was insulted. Who the fuck was Al Aronowitz?
Allen tried to bullshit Jack that he should be honored to have me introduce him.
"He's the guy who introduced me to Dylan, Dylan to the Beatles and the Beatles to
marijuana," Allen told him. "He also introduced Billie Holiday to LeRoi Jones and he introduced lots of other people to lots of other people."
But Jack would have none of it.
"I never heard of 'im," Jack stormed. "Why pick on me to be introduced by some nobody just because he's one of your buddies? You introduce me yourself!"
So Allen did.
Afterwards, Jack got to know me better over a poker table in one of our rooms. I was dealing cocaine at the time and had brought along a stash to keep us up all night for the card game. I forget how Jack made out in the game, but Ken Babbs, one of the players, tape recorded the conversation (that is, I THINK it was Ken) and I have a cassette copy of the tape sitting on my shelf.
Jacks A King is marked on it in I forget whose handwriting. "Boulder, Colo. Poker Game."
I haven't listened to the cassette in years. Probably, I should have re-listened to it before I started writing this, but I'm a busy man at the age of 70, putting out my little one-man cyberzine, THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST. As for the other players, I remember Ken Babbs, Ken Kesey and Gregory Corso and I don't remember who else, if anybody.
The last time I was at Kesey's farm, I helped him bring in the hay and then everybody sucked on nitrous oxide. But then I had to leave and the two Kens, Kesey and Babbs, told me they were disappointed I didn't stay the night for another poker game.
Since than, I always had a dream that one day I'd make a lot of money and fly Jack, Gregory and myself out to Oregon for a reunion game with the two Kens. But Jack had to go and die and Gregory doesn't talk to me any more. Gregory gets too stoned, drunk and disruptive at poker games, anyway.
I forget how we all came out of that game in Boulder in 1980. I forget if Jack won or lost and I forget if I won or lost. But I'd bet that if Jack were still alive and saw me again, he still wouldn't know who I am. ##
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