Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Naked Lunch and I [sic]

Was typing up my notes for my next article when, as a procrastinatory maneuver, I checked the TV listings.

At 10 pm, oh, I was so tired, Independent Lens on PBS was showing a doc about William S Burroughs.

It was 10:11 now.

And I was eating popcorn generously sprinkled w/nutritional yeast.

Caution: This snack food is highly addictive, speaking of Wm S., who was a lifelong junkie, traveling the world trying to give up his opioids.

Truthfully, this doc was painful to watch. Burroughs had an awful life. While he's considered a great writer - Time Mag called Naked Lunch one of the best novels of its era - one look at Burroughs' face tells a mournful story.

When I was about 20 or 21 I moved to San Francisco. Lived for a while with my Aunt Hy and her two sons Dan and Ray on Clinton Drive in Redwood City till I got my own place in SF.

What a wild and wonderful time I had.

All the while I earned my living as a secretary for Cal/Ink. D.R. Garrett was my boss. In his youth, this lovely sedate man who never called home during work hours, had been a drummer.

Set free from the constraints of home and family in Shaker Heights, Ohio, I roamed the streets looking at worlds I'd never imagined.

I loved looking in used furniture stores. Our home in Shaker was furnished with all sorts of fancy furniture which gave me a taste for beauty.

How I loved those seedy little shops and indeed the seedy side of life which I viewed for the first time.

One day I looked in the window of a porn shop. How exciting for a girl with everything from Shaker.

I went in and looked around. The owner welcomed me.

My eye lit on Naked Lunch and I began leafing thru it.

Take it, said the owner, it's yours. Since you came in, lots of men followed you inside. You're a good advertisement.

And that's how I got my copy of Naked Lunch.

I only regret that several months later I went into a huge warehouse of a store where books were on sale with their covers torn off. Junkie by Burroughs was in one of the bins.

I wanted terribly to buy it - 99 cents - but did not wanna read a book with no cover. So I passed it by and regret to this day I've never read it.

You read a book not only for its words but for the whole aesthetic experience.

Have you seen the cover of my daughter's book?

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