Tag Archives: Columbia University

5 Inexplicable Events from New York City’s Eerie Past

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Watch the series premiere of Damien, Monday, March 7 at 10/9c on A&E.

With its dark alleys, underground tunnels, and shadowy figures, New York City is no stranger to strangeness.

Here are five mysterious events that actually took place in New York City; they remain unresolved and unexplained to this day.

Martha Wright Disappearance From Lincoln Tunnel

In 1975, Jackson Wright and his wife Martha were driving through the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey to New York City when Jackson pulled the car over inside the tunnel to wipe condensation from the car’s windshield. To speed things along, he took to the front windshield while Martha worked on the rear window. Moments later, Jackson turned around to find his wife had vanished without a trace. Jackson reported no other cars in the tunnel at the time of her disappearance, and nowhere she could have run to or been snatched away in such a short amount of time. A police investigation ensued, but Martha was never found.

Manhattan’s Mole People

Beneath the hustle and bustle of the city lives an underworld of Gothamites known as the Mole People. The true and harrowing existence of New York’s homeless sub-population of pallor complexioned underlings has been documented by journalist Jennifer Toth in the book, “The Mole People: Life In The Tunnels Beneath New York City.” Based on her research and reporting, it’s believed that the Mole People have lived their lives in secret hovels in the undercarriage of the city’s subway system since the early 90s, free to do as they please away from the New York that rejects them above ground. Toth’s account is grim and shocking – these underground inhabitants forage, eat rats, and even take on creature-like physical appearances due to their sun starved plight, a la sci-fi populations like H.G. Wells’ Morlocks in “Time Machine.”

Toynbee Tiles

These messages of unknown origin are embedded in the streets of Manhattan (there are over 50), a flummoxing conspiracy that’s had curious followers scratching their heads for decades. Buried beneath the asphalt the tiles surface over time with wear and tear, becoming a naturally strange part of the landscape. The linoleum tiles, which have mysteriously cropped up in busy intersections in various cities across the world, all bear strange messages along the lines of:
TOYNBEE IDEA
IN KUBRICK’S 2001
RESURRECT DEAD
ON PLANET JUPITER
What does it mean? It’s a little philosophical, a little sci-fi, tiles touting bizarre political theories and ideologies, possibly referencing British historian Arnold Toynbee, or Ray Bradbury’s “The Toynbee Convector,” as well as Stanley Kubrick’s film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” There are theories, but no one knows for certain who is behind the tiles and what they mean. There’s even a documentary dedicated to the lore of the tiles, called ‘Resurrect Dead.’

Mystery Booming Noise In The Sky

Starting around 2011, multiple New York City residents across the boroughs have reported hearing unidentifiable “booming” or “rumbling” noises from the sky, and they all insist it is not thunder, construction work, or any other explainable phenomena. One man who uploaded a video to YouTube of the mystery noises in his Brooklyn neighborhood reported that people he knew “across the water in Jersey, and in other parts of Brooklyn,” had heard the very same booming noise where they were. It is uncertain what might be causing these sounds, leaving residents unsettled and determined to find answers. Is it UFOs? Sonic booms? No one is quite sure what the noises are or what they mean, and cases of these strange noises have still been reported as recently as June 2015.

Columbia University Tunnel Network & A Slain Security Guard

A vast underground tunnel system exists beneath Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus connecting several school buildings. The tunnels beneath Buell Hall measure only a few feet wide, and it is speculated that the building was formerly an insane asylum. Under Pupin Hall, scientists once used the tunnels as a meeting place in the beginning stages of the Manhattan Project. In an effort to keep rogue and nefarious tunnel travelers off the campus, use of the tunnels is now largely forbidden, with ramped up security to dissuade would be tunnel journeymen from stirring up trouble. One such security guard, Garry Germain, was slain execution style in 1988 while on his standard night security shift. Thorough investigations revealed no forensic evidence, no weapon, no discernible motive, and no viable entrance or exit for the killer. One of the only possible explanations is that the perpetrator might have entered the campus undetected via the tunnel system. To this day, Garry’s murder remains unsolved.

Set in New York City, Damien is a follow-up to the classic horror film, The Omen. The show follows the adult life of Damien Thorn, the mysterious child from the 1976 motion picture, who has grown up seemingly unaware of the satanic forces around him. Haunted by his past, Damien must now come to terms with his true destiny – that he is the Antichrist.
Watch the series premiere of Damien Monday, March 7 at 10/9c on A&E. View a sneak peek now at aetv.com/shows/damien.
#strange#new_york#past#mysterious#history#underground_tunnel#colunbia_university#mole_people#messages#streets#lincoln_tunnel#sky#noise

Where Death Shaped the Beats

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Where Death Shaped the Beats

John Cohen/Getty Images

The Beat writers, from left, Jack Kerouac, Lucien Carr and Allen Ginsberg in 1959. More Photos »

  • THE scene of the crime, Riverside Park at the foot of West 115th Street, is in full spring bloom, carpeted in the butter-colored flowers of lesser celandine. It was here 68 years ago, on a slope descending to the moonlit Hudson River, that Lucien Carr, 19, the Beat Generation’s charismatic, callow swami, buried a knife in the heart of David Kammerer, 33, his besotted, dauntless hometown stalker.
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A map of the Columbia University area with key locations involved in David Kammerer’s death. More Photos »

Carr is often characterized as muse to the Beats, but he was more than that. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were acolytes, captivated by Carr’s profane rants about bourgeois culture and the path to transcendence through pure creative expression — his “New Vision,” after “A Vision” by Yeats.

Carr’s “honor slaying” of Kammerer, as The Daily News called it, served as an emotional fulcrum forthe group a decade before Kerouac, Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs published their seminal works; the violent death in their midst lent credibility to the tortured-soul narrative they yearned for.

Columbia University was critical to that narrative, and its Beaux-Arts campus is featured in a film now in production, “Kill Your Darlings,” starring Daniel Radcliffe as Ginsberg. The university stood as a kind of crucible for the Beats, who were emerging “like a wild seed in a city garden,” wrote the Beat historian Bill Morgan. Many of their haunts in Morningside Heights remain (all within a few blocks of the 116th Street subway station on Broadway), including the venerable dorms where they lived — Hartley and what is now Wallach. Any pilgrim’s archeological Beat tour, inspired by the movie or not, must begin with the university itself, a useful antagonist in the iconoclasts’ quest for artistic self-actualization.

“They all loved to feel they were sleeping in the camp of the enemy somehow,” said Ben Marcus, a novelist and associate professor at Columbia’s School of the Arts. “As much as universities should be cauldrons of creativity and breeding grounds for new creative activity, the Beats needed to feel that they were being stifled by forces at the university.”

They seemed to enjoy the idea, he added, “that these forces were straitjacketing them, whether it was true or not.”

“Kill Your Darlings,” from Killer Films, an independent production company, tells a version of the story that can also be found in “And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks,” a roman à clef written in 1945 by Kerouac and Burroughs but unpublished until 2008. (The title was derived from an apocryphal story concerning a radio newscast about a zoo fire.) In addition to Mr. Radcliffe, shedding his Harry Potter guise to play Ginsberg, the film stars Michael C. Hall, the agreeable serial killer Dexter on Showtime, as Kammerer; Jack Huston, from HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” as Kerouac; and a relative unknown, Dane DeHaan, as Carr.

Kammerer’s pederastic interest in Carr began when Kammerer was Carr’s Boy Scout leader in St. Louis, where both came from privileged backgrounds, according to Mr. Morgan’s “I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg.”

Carr was a boy Aphrodite. In “Hippos” Kerouac called the Carr character “the kind of boy literary fags write sonnets to, which start out, ‘O raven-haired Grecian lad….’ ”

Kammerer, a whiskered redhead, taught physical education and English at Washington University. In about 1940, when Carr was 15, his mother, Marion, discovered a cache of “desperate” letters from the older man, according to James Campbell’s “This Is the Beat Generation.” She sent him to boarding school in Chicago, but Kammerer trailed him there — and then to Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.; Bowdoin College in Maine; and, finally, Columbia.

The Beats began to form during Carr’s first semester there. He and Ginsberg, a freshman from New Jersey, lived in an overflow dorm at the nearby Union Theological Seminary. At Christmastime in 1943, according to Mr. Campbell’s book, Ginsberg heard Brahms wafting from Carr’s room and knocked to find out who was listening to the music he loved. Ginsberg was smitten. In his journal, he called Carr his first love and “sweet vision.”

That winter Carr introduced Ginsberg to Kammerer and Burroughs, who had been schoolmates in St. Louis and were neighbors in Greenwich Village.

Kerouac, another Columbian, was ushered in a few months later when he met Carr at the West End, the saloon at 2911 Broadway, a 60-yard dash away from Columbia’s College Walk. (Kerouac initially found Carr to be pretentious and obnoxious, although he used a more vulgar description in “Vanity of Duluoz,” another of Kerouac’s gauzy autobiographical novels.)

By then Ginsberg and Carr were living at Lucien Carr  at 404 West 115th Street (now a parking lot). Kammerer was an occasional visitor, sometimes stealing in through the fire escape to watch Carr sleep, according to an often-repeated anecdote in Beat biographies, including Mr. Morgan’s “Beat Generation in New York: A Walking Tour of Jack Kerouac’s City.” Kerouac stayed with his girlfriend, Edie Parker, in Apartment 62 at 421 West 118th Street, a plaster-frosted walkup off Amsterdam Avenue.

In August 1944 Kerouac and Carr schemed a Merchant Marine adventure to France, where — in the midst of war — they had an irrational plan to retrace the Paris footsteps of the 19th-century poet Arthur Rimbaud, whom Carr regarded as a doppelganger.

The plan fell apart on Aug. 13, when they got drunk and were late getting to their ship, and the men rued their broken dream that night at the West End (now called Havana Central at the West End). Kerouac left Carr at midnight and crossed paths on campus near St. Paul’s Chapel with Kammerer, Carr’s relentless birddog.

Kammerer asked his usual question: “Where’s Lucien?”

Kerouac sent him to the West End.

“And I watch him rush off to his death,” Kerouac wrote in “Duluoz.”

Kammerer and Carr left the bar at 3 a.m. New York was sweltering, and they toddled downhill to Riverside Park for cool air.

An account of the crime in The New York Times at the time explained that Kammerer made “an offensive proposal.” The article continued:

“Carr said that he rejected it indignantly and that a fight ensued. Carr, a slight youth, 5 feet 9 tall and weighing 140 pounds, was no match for the burly former physical education instructor, who was 6 feet tall and weighed about 185 pounds.”

“In desperation,” the account added, “Carr pulled out of his pocket his Boy Scout knife, a relic of his boyhood, and plunged the blade twice in rapid succession into Kammerer’s chest.”

Had Carr run to the police, he probably would have been hailed as a hero against a pervert. But he did something quite different.

He rolled the body to the river’s edge, bound the limbs with shoe laces, stuffed rocks in the pockets, and watched his longtime lurker sink.

Carr hurried to Greenwich Village and reported his deed to Burroughs, who advised him to tell the police he was the victim of a sex fiend. Instead Carr woke Kerouac, who recounted that eye-opener in “Duluoz”:

“Well,” Carr said, “I disposed of the old man last night.”

He didn’t seem nettled. As much as anything, Carr seemed satisfied, by all accounts, that he had finally done something noteworthy. The two men walked up West 118th Street to Morningside Park, where Carr buried Kammerer’s eyeglasses, which he had pocketed as evidence of his feat.

He and Kerouac traipsed about Manhattan, dropping the Boy Scout knife in a subway grate on 125th Street. They visited the Museum of Modern Art, a hot dog stand in Times Square and a cinema where they watched “The Four Feathers.”

Carr finally walked into the district attorney’s office and announced the killing. Prosecutors thought he was crazy — “the imaginings of an overstrained mind,” The Times wrote. Carr sat there reading Yeats, to the bewilderment of police officers and crime reporters.

The police were convinced only when Carr led them to the buried glasses the next day, at about the time Kammerer’s body bobbed up off West 108th Street.

A week after the killing Ginsberg wrote the poem “Hymn to the Virgin,” which hinted at a complex relationship. Written to Carr in Kammerer’s voice, it begins, “Thou who art afraid to have me, lest thou lose me.” (Two months after the death Ginsberg took an apartment at 627 West 115th Street, about a hundred paces from the death site.)

Carr pleaded guilty to manslaughter. A judge had mercy on “young, good-looking Lucien,” as The Times called him, and sent Carr to the Elmira Reformatory, not prison. (Burroughs and Kerouac were confined briefly as accessories. While he was jailed Kerouac was escorted by the police to his courthouse wedding with Parker, and the newlyweds later moved to another Morningside Heights Beat pad, at 419 West 115th Street.)

Carr returned to New York after 18 months away and joined United Press (later United Press International), beginning a 47-year career there. (He had three sons with his first wife, Francesca von Hartz, including the novelist Caleb Carr.) He remained close to Ginsberg and Kerouac, even as he tried to scrub himself from Beat history. He insisted that Ginsberg remove his name from the dedication of “Howl,” and the publication of “Hippos” waited until after Carr died in 2005.

An archive of letters and postcards to Carr at Columbia’s Butler Library shows that Kerouac and Ginsberg continued to solicit his approval long after they became famous writers — Ginsberg in intimate, lyrical letters and Kerouac in wisecracking postcards.

Yet in his journal (published in his “Book of Martyrdom and Artifice”) Ginsberg wrote of Carr: “He must prove that he is a genius. He cannot do so in creative labor — for he has not the patience, says he, nor the time, says he, nor the occasion, says he. None of these reasons is correct. He seems not to have the talent.”

Carr certainly was a talented editor. A 2003 history of United Press International called him “the soul of the news service.” He did not talk about his life among the Beats or his crime, and former colleagues say Carr would have been livid about “Kill Your Darlings.”

Joseph A. Gambardello, a longtime newspaper editor, was a protégé of Carr’s at U.P.I. in the mid-1970s, when the news service was based in the Daily News Building on East 42nd Street.

“When I met him he was a hard-drinking, hardworking journalist,” Mr. Gambardello said. “He did not come across as a pretentious jackass at all.” He added, “The person I had read about with Kerouac and Ginsberg didn’t exist anymore.”

Carr occasionally sent Mr. Gambardello to Louie’s East, an adjacent bar, to fetch a “Lou Carr Special” — a lot of vodka, a little Coke.

He had gotten over Rimbaud.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 11, 2012

An article on Friday about the 1944 killing of David Kammerer by the Beat Generation figure Lucien Carr misspelled the given name of Carr’s mother, who discovered “desperate” letters from Kammerer to her son, according to “This Is the Beat Generation” by James Campbell. She was Marion Gratz Carr, not Marian. And a correction in this space on Saturday misspelled the surname of one of the two authors of a screenplay, “Kill Your Darlings” that is based on the killing. He is John Krokidas, not Krokidis. (Austin Bunn is his co-writer.)

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 7, 2012

An article on Friday about the 1944 killing of David Kammerer by the Beat Generation figure Lucien Carr misidentified the source of a screenplay based on the killing. The screenplay, “Kill Your Darlings,” now in production, was written by John Krokidas and Austin Bunn. They did not adapt it from “And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks,” a roman à clef written in 1945 by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs that tells a similar version of the killing.

LUCIEN CARR ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF THE BEAT GENERATION

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LUCIEN CARR ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF THE BEAT GENERATION
 

 

<nyt_headline type=” ” version=”1.0″>

Lucien Carr, a Founder and a Muse of the Beat Generation, Dies at 79

<nyt_byline type=” ” version=”1.0″> By WILBORN HAMPTON  Published: January 30, 2005

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Allen Ginsberg/Corbis

Three of the Beats: Lucien Carr, flanked by the writer William S. Burroughs, left, and the poet Allen Ginsberg in New York City in 1953.

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Lucien Carr, one of the founders – and one of the last survivors – of the Beat Generation of poets and writers, although one who never wrote poetry or novels, died on Friday. He was 79.

Mr. Carr died at George Washington University Hospital after collapsing at his home in Washington, said his son, the writer Caleb Carr. He had suffered from bone cancer in recent years.

A literary lion who never roared, Mr. Carr served as an inspirational muse to a bunch of college chums at Columbia University in the 1940’s: the poet Allen Ginsberg and the novelists William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, writers who a decade later changed the course of American letters in coffeehouses in San Francisco and New York.

It was Mr. Carr, for example, who introduced Ginsberg to the works of Rimbaud, a major influence on Ginsberg’s work, and then introduced Burroughs to Kerouac and Ginsberg. He introduced them all to Neal Cassady, a railway worker with literary ambitions who became part of the Columbia undergraduates’ coterie of “angel-headed hipsters.” Together they formed the nucleus of what became the Beats.

Any practical assistance Mr. Carr gave to the Beat movement came as an encouraging editor, the profession he pursued for nearly half a century at United Press and United Press International. It was Mr. Carr, for example, who gave Kerouac the roll of teletype paper, pilfered from U.P., on which the author wrote “On the Road,” and it was Mr. Carr who was among the first to read the novel and offer advice, which may or may not have been taken. As Ginsberg once said, “Lou was the glue.”

Chroniclers of the era and biographers of its writers have always had as much trouble placing Mr. Carr in the group snapshot of the Beats as they have had in defining the movement. Both defied description. The one episode all seize upon came while Mr. Carr was still at Columbia. In repulsing the homosexual advances of a hanger-on of the Beat crowd, Mr. Carr stabbed his pursuer with a Boy Scout knife and killed him. Mr. Carr served a brief time in prison for manslaughter, but was later pardoned.

Born in New York but raised in St. Louis, Mr. Carr had boyish good looks that were only enhanced by a slouchy physique and sardonic grin hidden under a riverboat gambler mustache. A motorcycle enthusiast, who took up boating on his retirement, Mr. Carr was a great jazz aficionado and an avid reader for whom the greatest joys in life were in simple things like a long riff on a tenor sax or a well-turned dependent clause.

Shortly after leaving Columbia, Mr. Carr, to the consternation of his fellow Beats, took a job with United Press in New York and spent the rest of his career, until his retirement in 1993, with the wire service, mostly as the news editor supervising the agency’s report for morning newspapers. He remained in contact with the Beats, although Kerouac and Cassady died young. Ginsberg remained a close friend until his death in 1997 and often visited Mr. Carr at U.P.I.’s newsroom to lobby for coverage of whatever political cause he was pursuing at the moment.

If he had been more of a midwife to the Beats, Mr. Carr was an extremely vocal mentor to two generations of journalists who came up through the ranks at U.P.I. He was a great champion of brevity. “Why don’t you just start with the second paragraph?” was his frequent advice to young reporters overly fond of their own prose.

He guided U.P.I.’s coverage of the major stories of the second half of the 20th century from the cold war and the Kennedy assassination to Vietnam and the moon landing.

He was married twice, first to the former Francesca von Hartz, with whom he had three sons: Simon, of New York City; Caleb, of Cherry Plain, N.Y.; and Ethan, of Amherst, Mass. His second wife was the former Sheila Johnson. He is survived by all of them as well as by Kathleen Silvassy, his companion for the last several years of his life.

tumblr_lriq42JCfq1qcf3h4o1_500Real Name:

Lucien Carr

Bio:

Carr was central to the Beat movement. He was the embodiment of Beat – intelligent yet wild, well read but crazy. He introduced Kerouac and Ginsberg. “Lou was the glue,” Ginsberg quipped. He killed David Kammerer and sought refuge with Burroughs and Kerouac.

Aliases:

Big Sur – Julian

Book of Dreams – Julian Love

On The Road – Damion

The Subterraneans – Sam Vedder The Town and the City – Kenneth Wood

Vanity of Duluoz – Claude de Maubris

FEATURE

The Last Beat

A murder in Riverside Park changed the lives of a group of Columbia undergrads. Did it change literature as well?

by David J. Krajicek ’85JRN
Published Winter 2012-13 Comments (0)

© The New York Times, August 18, 1944

They would become legends — their names etched on the syllabuses of literature classes everywhere, their books reprinted and shoved in the back pockets of teenagers ripe with wanderlust, their words devoured, memorized, heeded, imitated.

But before the night of August 14, 1944, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg ’48CC, and William S. Burroughs weren’t the three principals of a literary movement — at least, not one that existed outside their own heads. They were simply roommates, friends, and confidants, who shared books and booze and sometimes beds. And, as history would largely soon forget, there was a fourth.

Lucien Carr was a recent transfer from the University of Chicago who seemed to attract admirers wherever he went. Uncommonly handsome, charismatic, and well-read, he was the force that initially united the group: he bonded with Ginsberg in a Columbia dorm over a shared love of Brahms, befriended Kerouac through his girlfriend at a nighttime painting class, and renewed ties with Burroughs, an old acquaintance from his hometown. Independent friendships formed between members of the quartet, but Carr was always at the center.

While his friends wrote books and became revered cultural and literary figures, ringleaders of the Beat movement, though, Carr lived most of the next sixty years in relative obscurity, quietly building a career and raising a family, and avoiding even the reflected glow from the spotlight on the others. Since his death in 2005, interest in the Beats has grown even more, at last illuminating the lost member.

This past March, Da Capo Press released Jack Kerouac’s previously unpublished first novel, The Sea Is My Brother, written when he was a twenty-year-old merchant mariner the summer before he met Carr. In April, the New York writer Aaron Latham debuted his play Birth of Beats: Murder and the Beat Generation. In September, Joyce Johnson released The Voice Is All, an intimate biography of Kerouac, with whom she had a long romance. A film adaptation of On the Road — the first, despite years of failed attempts — premiered at Cannes in May, with wide release in December. And in 2013, Carr will take center stage as the subject of Kill Your Darlings, a recent entry to the Sundance Film Festival, which was filmed largely on campus last spring and which stars Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg.

Carr was the last of the four to die, and with all of them gone, it seems like the world is finally ready to ask two questions: Had Lucien Carr not killed a man, would he have been the greatest of what we now call the Beat Generation? And, perhaps more important, had he not killed a man, would there even have been a Beat Generation at all?
It was just after midnight when Kerouac got up from his table at the West End, where he’d been drinking with Carr, and went out into the sweltering, sleepless night. With his athletic gait, he quick-stepped across Broadway, through the 116th Street gates, up the Low Library steps, and toward Amsterdam Avenue, on his way to his girlfriend’s apartment, when he saw a familiar figure walking toward him in the dark: a tall, bearded, auburn-haired man named David Kammerer, who asked after Lucien. Kerouac directed Kammerer to the West End.

“And I watch him rush off to his death,” Kerouac later wrote in his autobiographical novel Vanity of Duluoz.
Where Death Shaped the Beats
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John Cohen/Getty Images

The Beat writers, from left, Jack Kerouac, Lucien Carr and Allen Ginsberg in 1959. More Photos »

By DAVID J. KRAJICEK

Published: April 5, 2012

THE scene of the crime, Riverside Park at the foot of West 115th Street, is in full spring bloom, carpeted in the butter-colored flowers of lesser celandine. It was here 68 years ago, on a slope descending to the moonlit Hudson River, that Lucien Carr, 19, the Beat Generation’s charismatic, callow swami, buried a knife in the heart of David Kammerer, 33, his besotted, dauntless hometown stalker.

A map of the Columbia University area with key locations involved in David Kammerer’s death. More Photos »

Writings of a Generation (April 6, 2012)

A map of the Columbia University area with key locations involved in David Kammerer’s death.                            More Photos »

Allen Ginsberg/Corbis
Three of the Beats: Lucien Carr, flanked by the writer William S. Burroughs, left, and the poet Allen Ginsberg in New York City in 1953.

30carr184

Carr is often characterized as muse to the Beats, but he was more than that. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were acolytes, captivated by Carr’s profane rants about bourgeois culture and the path to transcendence through pure creative expression — his “New Vision,” after “A Vision” by Yeats.

Carr’s “honor slaying” of Kammerer, as The Daily News called it, served as an emotional fulcrum for the group a decade before Kerouac, Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs published their seminal works; the violent death in their midst lent credibility to the tortured-soul narrative they yearned for.

Columbia University was critical to that narrative, and its Beaux-Arts campus is featured in a film now in production, “Kill Your Darlings,” starring Daniel Radcliffe as Ginsberg. The university stood as a kind of crucible for the Beats, who were emerging “like a wild seed in a city garden,” wrote the Beat historian Bill Morgan. Many of their haunts in Morningside Heights remain (all within a few blocks of the 116th Street subway station on Broadway), including the venerable dorms where they lived — Hartley and what is now Wallach. Any pilgrim’s archeological Beat tour, inspired by the movie or not, must begin with the university itself, a useful antagonist in the iconoclasts’ quest for artistic self-actualization.

“They all loved to feel they were sleeping in the camp of the enemy somehow,” said Ben Marcus, a novelist and associate professor at Columbia’s School of the Arts. “As much as universities should be cauldrons of creativity and breeding grounds for new creative activity, the Beats needed to feel that they were being stifled by forces at the university.”

They seemed to enjoy the idea, he added, “that these forces were straitjacketing them, whether it was true or not.”

“Kill Your Darlings,” from Killer Films, an independent production company, tells a version of the story that can also be found in “And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks,” a roman à clef written in 1945 by Kerouac and Burroughs but unpublished until 2008. (The title was derived from an apocryphal story concerning a radio newscast about a zoo fire.) In addition to Mr. Radcliffe, shedding his Harry Potter guise to play Ginsberg, the film stars Michael C. Hall, the agreeable serial killer Dexter on Showtime, as Kammerer; Jack Huston, from HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” as Kerouac; and a relative unknown, Dane DeHaan, as Carr.

Kammerer’s pederastic interest in Carr began when Kammerer was Carr’s Boy Scout leader in St. Louis, where both came from privileged backgrounds, according to Mr. Morgan’s “I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg.”

Carr was a boy Aphrodite. In “Hippos” Kerouac called the Carr character “the kind of boy literary fags write sonnets to, which start out, ‘O raven-haired Grecian lad….’ ”

Kammerer, a whiskered redhead, taught physical education and English at Washington University. In about 1940, when Carr was 15, his mother, Marion, discovered a cache of “desperate” letters from the older man, according to James Campbell’s “This Is the Beat Generation.” She sent him to boarding school in Chicago, but Kammerer trailed him there — and then to Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.; Bowdoin College in Maine; and, finally, Columbia.

The Beats began to form during Carr’s first semester there. He and Ginsberg, a freshman from New Jersey, lived in an overflow dorm at the nearby Union Theological Seminary. At Christmastime in 1943, according to Mr. Campbell’s book, Ginsberg heard Brahms wafting from Carr’s room and knocked to find out who was listening to the music he loved. Ginsberg was smitten. In his journal, he called Carr his first love and “sweet vision.”

That winter Carr introduced Ginsberg to Kammerer and Burroughs, who had been schoolmates in St. Louis and were neighbors in Greenwich Village.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 11, 2012

An article on Friday about the 1944 killing of David Kammerer by the Beat Generation figure Lucien Carr misspelled the given name of Carr’s mother, who discovered “desperate” letters from Kammerer to her son, according to “This Is the Beat Generation” by James Campbell. She was Marion Gratz Carr, not Marian. And a correction in this space on Saturday misspelled the surname of one of the two authors of a screenplay, “Kill Your Darlings” that is based on the killing. He is John Krokidas, not Krokidis. (Austin Bunn is his co-writer.)

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 7, 2012

An article on Friday about the 1944 killing of David Kammerer by the Beat Generation figure Lucien Carr misidentified the source of a screenplay based on the killing. The screenplay, “Kill Your Darlings,” now in production, was written by John Krokidas and Austin Bunn. They did not adapt it from “And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks,” a roman à clef written in 1945 by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs that tells a similar version of the killing.

A version of this article appears in print on April 6, 2012, on page C25 of the New York edition with the headline: Where Death Shaped the Beats.

What Hollywood Gets Wrong About Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation and a trailer from the movie “On The Road”

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untitled (42)What Hollywood Gets Wrong About Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation

A new crop of films portrays their lifestyle as rebellious, adolescent fun. But what made the Beats so influential in the first place was that they were radical, free-thinking adults.
Jordan Larson
Oct 16 2013, 1:54 PM ET
Sony Pictures

John Clellon Holmes, author of the seminal Beat Generation novel Go, wrote in 1952 that for the free-spirited rising stars of American literature known as the Beats, “how to live seems to them much more crucial than why.” In those years, young people in the U.S. were in the process of inheriting both economic prosperity and stifling societal mores from their parents. So for many, the Beat Generation of writers—with their stupendous refusal of social and cultural norms and their way of life governed by the pursuit of pleasure, belief, and truth—was a godsend.

Today’s young people experience problems of a bit of a different ilk. Feeling free and adventurous won’t avail you of your student loan debt, poems penned in the days between drug-fueled nights probably won’t make it into your favorite lit mag—and, if they did, you’d probably be asked to write for free anyway, you know, “for the exposure.” But this hasn’t stopped a veritable resurgence over the last few years of Beat obsession, beginning with the film Howl (2010), and continuing with On the Road (2012) and two new films, Kill Your Darlings, in theaters today, and Big Sur, opening November 1. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg—the authors of On the Road and Howl, respectively—have been the focus of two films each.

Given what the Beats meant to young people of the 1950s, perhaps it isn’t so surprising that their culture has been revived for millennial consumption. What teenager or 20-something doesn’t long to drop everything and take a road trip to wherever, with friends and booze and drugs and sex? And in an age when many young people are discovering that young adulthood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, we could use some fun, right? But the current Beat revival arguably goes too far with its re-imagination of the Beat writers’ livelihoods as simple adolescent goofing around—its most prominent writers were, after all, well into their grown-up years when they wrote many of their most notable writings. This crop of films diminishes what was so radical about the Beat Generation in the first place: their iconoclastic approach to life, which extended far beyond their 20s and into adulthood proper.

Conspicuously absent from the latest revival is the third heavyweight of the movement, William S. Burroughs, whose Naked Lunch was adapted into a disturbing and gritty film by David Cronenberg in 1991. The omission perhaps isn’t so surprising: Burroughs credited his awakening as a writer to a 1951 incident in Mexico when he accidentally killed his wife while playing “William Tell,” a bar trick Burroughs invented that involves shooting a glass off someone’s head, so his legacy would likely be a bit harder to spin as one of harmless and youthful adventure.

In casting the authors as eternally and fundamentally adolescent, the recent revival tones down their behavior—both revolutionary and repulsive—as a sort of passing teenage phase.

The exclusion of Burroughs from the Beat revival isn’t the only way the movement has been crafted for optimal consumption, though: Howl and Kill Your Darlings focus on Allen Ginsberg at his most youthful and promising. Kill Your Darlings, in which a baby-faced Daniel Radcliffe plays Ginsberg, tells a little-known tale of murder in the Beats’ group of friends at Columbia University, which ends up bringing the group together. The appeal of the story seems to be that it’s about a set of famous people who may have been involved in a possible murder during their youths, the occurrence of which may or may not explain their genius, or art, or something. In Howl, however, Ginsberg’s collection of poems are the subject of an obscenity trial, and though you’d never guess from James Franco’s youthful appearance as Ginsberg in the film, the author was actually 30 years old when Howl was published.

On the Road, published when Kerouac was 35, seems most susceptible to being reimagined as a series of youthful whims. A recollection of Kerouac’s mid-20s, which he spent traveling with Neal Cassady (known as Dean Moriarty in the book); Neal’s wife, Luanne Henderson; and other Beat figures, On the Road is a paean to recklessness and discovery. Significantly, the film replaces the famous opening line of the book, “I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up,” with “I first met Dean not long after my father died,” likely because it interferes with the viewer’s image of carefree and unbridled youth. Scrubbed from the film is any mention of Sal’s age at the time (25) or his stint in the military before attending Columbia. However, the film doesn’t balk at Luanne’s age: characters make numerous references to “Dean’s 16-year-old bride,” known in the book as Marylou.

Sal Paradise, Kerouac’s character in the book, describes Marylou as being “awfully dumb and capable of doing horrible things.” In the morning after Sal’s first all-night meeting with the couple, Dean “decided the thing to do was to have Marylou make breakfast and sweep the floor.” Shortly after, Dean and Marylou have a fight, and Marylou kicks Dean out of their shared apartment. According to Sal, “Dean said she’d apparently whored a few dollars together and gone back to Denver—‘the whore!’” This is all within the first three pages. While Marylou’s character in last year’s film adaptation of On the Road, played by Kristen Stewart, is spared some of the nastier epithets, the story’s misogyny largely lives on unchallenged and uncut. Marylou plays a tiny role in the story, mostly as a “dumb little box” whom Dean and Sal trade around until she gets pregnant and they tire of her.

In casting the authors as eternally and fundamentally adolescent, the recent revival tones down their behavior—both revolutionary and repulsive—as a sort of passing teenage phase, something that young people just sort of do. And in that way, the latest cultural reincarnation both nullifies and excuses the behavior of its leaders. In the end, I’m not sure what’s more offensive—the film’s rampant and unapologetic misogyny or Stewart’s interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, in which she claimed that On the Road told her “that you have to use every second in life. You can’t get complacent and let life pass you by,” as if fathering children and abandoning them is just an essential part of what it means to be free, man.

Pretending Kerouac’s life was some sort of consequence-free dream not only does a disservice to viewers, but to the Beats, as well.

Big Sur, it’s worth noting, is remarkably different from the other films. The film, to its great credit, largely avoids the pitfalls of the others by tackling subject matter that’s less inherently glamorous. An adaptation of Kerouac’s 1962 novel, his first after the publication of On the Road, Big Sur shows Kerouac suffering from the burden of fame and lamenting the fact that he’s no longer young. The film opens with a lightly adapted quote from the novel: “All over America high school and college kids thinking ‘Jack Kerouac is 26 years old and on the road all the time hitchhiking’ while there I am almost 40 years old, bored and jaded.” (Jack Kerouac is known as Jack Duluoz in the book.) The film follows Kerouac as he wanders from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s cabin in Big Sur to San Francisco and back again, usually in the company of several Beats and lady friends. The film crescendos with Kerouac’s alcohol-induced nervous breakdown, accompanied by a sudden epiphany and strangely chipper ending. Though Kerouac behaves much the same way as he did in On the Road, he doesn’t feel the same way: He becomes obsessed with death and drinking, and the narrative seems to comment on the binary of blessed youth and damned old age.

The misogyny of On the Road also figures into Big Sur, and it gets a little harder to stomach as it becomes clear that it’s not just a phase of adolescence, but rather, it’s seemingly central to the life of a Beat writer. A significant portion of the plot revolves around Neal Cassady’s mistress, whom he introduces to Kerouac. Kerouac, in turn, becomes her lover, promises to marry her, and introduces her to Cassady’s wife. He later calls off the marriage, or any form of commitment, leaving his lover to wonder how she’ll take care of herself and her four-year-old son. Unlike in On the Road, these actions finally begin to reflect upon Cassady and Kerouac in negative ways. Their casual womanizing no longer seems like something fun and rebellious to partake in, but like a deep-seated and decidedly unfortunate character flaw.

Overall, while these films are supposed to offer some vintage escapism, their takes ring hollow. Kerouac may have been a tremendous writer, but the enormity of his art is largely left out of the film adaptations. Even for all the dramatic voiceovers of Kerouac’s prose, On the Road and Big Sur are mostly left to work with muddled and problematic plot points. Still, what’s most problematic about these films isn’t their artistry but their authenticity.

Yes, to some extent, the real Kerouac and Cassady will always be remembered as somewhat youthful. Seven years after the publication of Big Sur, Kerouac died of cirrhosis of the liver, nearly 30 years before both Burroughs and Ginsberg died; Cassady died the previous year at the age of 41. But despite the fact that they “died young,” both of them were said to look far older than their years. One could argue that these films are only trying to honor the spirit of the Beat Generation, but can you separate the “essence” of a story or a movement from what its progenitors really said and did, and at what point in their lives? Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac were grown men who were also alcoholics, misogynists, and womanizers who killed themselves with substance abuse. Pretending Kerouac’s life was some sort of consequence-free dream not only does a disservice to viewers, but to the Beats, as well.

Even at its best, the idea of a revelatory and sensual Beat adventure is rather clichéd, but especially so when divorced from the movement’s great and lasting achievements: Their rebelliousness paved the way for the counterculture of the sixties, and artists from Patti Smith to Thomas Pynchon have hailed the Beats’ style of jazz-like improvisation as an influence. The Beats deserve to be celebrated for the way they lived and what they created, not just for how fun and sexy their escapades may have looked.

TRAILER FROM THE MOVIE “”ON THE ROAD”

http://youtu.be/WlZZntvJ8Q4

THE BEAT GENERATION

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The Beat Generation

By Levi Asher on Monday, July 25, 1994 12:36 pm

Like the French Impressionist artists of Paris, the Beat writers were a small group of close friends first, and a movement later. The term “Beat Generation” gradually came to represent an entire period in time, but the entire original Beat Generation in literature was small enough to have fit into a couple of cars (at times this nearly happened).

The core group consisted of Jack KerouacAllen GinsbergNeal Cassadyand William S. Burroughs, who met in the neighborhood surroundingColumbia University in uptown Manhattan in the mid-40’s. They picked up Gregory Corso in Greenwich Village and found Herbert Huncke hanging around Times Square. They then migrated to San Francisco where they expanded their group consciousness by meeting Gary SnyderLawrence FerlinghettiMichael McClurePhilip Whalen and Lew Welch.

Most of them struggled for years to get published, and it is inspiring to learn how they managed to keep each other from giving up hope when it seemed their writings would never be understood. Their moment of fame began with a legendary poetry reading at the Six Gallery in San Francisco.

After the first wave of Beat writers became famous, a second wave followed. Some later arrivals to the crowd include Bob KaufmanDiane DiPrimaEd SandersAnne Waldman, Ray Bremser and Ted Joans. The “latter day beats” added some much needed cultural diversity, as well as an infusion of new ideas and talent, to the core of white male friends that were the “classic beats”. The ranks of legendary Beat poets continues to slowly evolve; recently more attention has been paid to other talented writers who had gathered at the fringes of earlier Beat scenes, including Charles Plymell, Jack Micheline, Herschel Silverman,Marty MatzRon Whitehead, Jim Carroll, Janine Pommy-Vega and countless others.

It is not likely that today’s generation-defining machinery will ever again allocate so much “cultural influence” to such a small and odd group of individuals. Defining generations is big business these days, and you’ve got to look good on Total Request Live to even have a chance. If today’s “Generation X” (or “Gen Y” or whatever it’s called) is like Woodstock, the Beat Generation was like a small dark tavern at two in the morning, with a bunch of old jazz musicians jamming on stage and Jack Kerouac buying rounds at the bar.

The phrase “Beat Generation” was invented by Jack Kerouac in 1948 (for a discussion of the origin of this and other labels, check out Lost, Beat and Hip). The phrase was introduced to the general public in 1952 when Kerouac’s friend John Clellon Holmes wrote an article, ‘This is the Beat Generation,’ for the New York Times Magazine (click here to read the complete original text).

Literary Kicks will hopefully evolve in many directions in the future, but the site began as a series of pages on the Beat Generation and this legacy will always provide the site’s guiding spirit. I did not experience the Beat era firsthand, and would probably find it less fascinating if I had. If you’d like to know why I care about the whole mess, here’s something I wrote about it, Why I Like The Beats.

And here’s an intriguing article by Don Carpenter about a significant poetry reading he arranged in 1964 at the Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco.

The photo at the top of this page was taken by Diana Church at the Cafe Trieste in North Beach in 1975. Guests at the table include Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Minelte Le Blanc, Peter Le Blanc, Allen Ginsberg, Harold Norse, Jack Hirschman & Bob Kaufman.

THE BEATS -LUCIEN CARR

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Lucien Carr

By Levi Asher on Tuesday, November 8, 1994 08:43 am
Lucien Carr was one of several fascinating real-life characters, like Neal CassadyCarl Solomon, and Herbert Huncke, who became legendary through their association with the Beat writers. Lucien holds a special position here: he introduced Jack KerouacAllen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs to each other.

An extraordinarily bright and adventuresome tousled-blond intellectual from St. Louis, he enrolled at Columbia University in the early 1940’s. Living in the dorms at the Union Theological Seminary, he put on a Brahms record one day, thus earning a knock on the door from another eager young intellectual, Allen Ginsberg. They became close friends, and Carr introduced Ginsberg to the brewing Bohemian universe of 1940’sGreenwich Village. Lucien had a female friend, Columbia student Edie Parker, who was dating the recently-expelled Jack Kerouac. Lucien and Edie decided to introduce Kerouac and Ginsberg, figuring (quite correctly) that the two would find much in common.

Carr was heterosexual but prone to adoration from men, and an older man from St. Louis, David Kammerer, had come to New York to pursue him. One day Kammerer introduced Carr and Ginsberg to another visitor from St. Louis, William S. Burroughs. Burroughs and Kerouac and Ginsberg had finally found each other, and began the weird escapades that would soon exhaust even Lucien Carr’s energy and interest. Carr had his own problems, too. David Kammerer’s obsessive pursuit of him had become so overbearing it was ruining his life, and Kammerer had begun to physically threaten Carr. One day Carr impulsively stabbed Kammerer to death by the Hudson River in Riverside Park, near the Columbia campus.

Terrified, he enlisted Burroughs and Kerouac to help him evade the law, and then after consulting his family turned himself in to the police. The episode disgraced Columbia University, and Keroauc and Ginsberg would both suffer for their association with the crime (Burroughs had already been associated with enough crimes for this to have much less impact on him). Kerouac would write about this episode in both his first novel, ‘The Town and the City‘ and his last, ‘Vanity of Duluoz.’

Carr served two years in jail, and afterwards did something that completely violated Beat ethics and disgusted his friends. He got a job. He joined the United Press wire service as a reporter and remained with them through his life, advancing over time to increasingly senior positions. It is believed to have been a roll of Lucien’s teletype paper from the United Press that Kerouac used to type his legendary unbroken-sheet early draft of ‘On The Road‘ (although other accounts say it was a roll of wallpaper).

Lucien never sought a public identity as a literary figure, though he was extremely well-read and had introduced many of his Columbia friends to the works of Rimbaud. Carr stayed in touch with Kerouac and Ginsberg, but did not like it when they wrote about him or included his name in dedications.

Lucien Carr died of bone cancer in Washington D.C. on January 25, 2005, having outlived virtually all the members of the New York circle of Beat writers he had befriended decades earlier.

Lucien’s son Caleb Carr is the author of the acclaimed murder mystery ‘The Alienist.’ Caleb Carr met many of the Beats as a young man, though he claims to have received no literary inspiration from them or from his father. There may be more to this than meets the eye, however; ‘The Alienist’ is about a series of murders that take place on Manhattan’s waterfront in the distant past.

by John Weir on Sunday, February 3, 2008 04:53 pm

It’s not true that Kerouac wrote *On the Road* on a roll of Western Union typing paper that he got from Lucien Carr. My source here is Isaac Gerwitz’s *Beatific Soul: Jack Kerouac on the Road*, published by Scala Publishers in London and essentially the catalogue for an exhibit currently at the Main Branch of the New York Public Library (the exhibit is there until March 2008). According to Gerwitz, Kerouac found rolls of architectural tracing paper in the apartment he and his new (second) wife Joan Haverty moved into shortly before Kerouac began writing the 1951 “scroll” version of *On the Road*. Kerouac cut the paper to size and scotch-taped together 12 pieces to make his 120-foot-long scroll. The Western Union myth makes a nice story, but it seems not to be true.

Plus, I would like to dispute this passage in your text:

“David Kammerer’s obsessive pursuit of [Lucien Carr] had become so overbearing it was ruining [Carr’s] life, and Kammerer had begun to physically threaten Carr. One day Carr impulsively stabbed Kammerer to death by the Hudson River in Riverside Park, near the Columbia campus.”

First off, we don’t know, and never will know, exactly what happened between Carr and Kammerer that day in the late summer of 1944 when Carr stabbed Kammerer to death and dumped his body in the Hudson River. Carr later claimed he didn’t remember anything. This much is clear, though: Kammerer was pals with all the “beats,” with Kerouac and Burroughs and Ginsberg and Carr and Edie Parker and etc. They hung around together. It wasn’t as if Kammerer showed up from St. Louis only in order to stalk Carr. He wasn’t exactly a stalker, he was a member of the gang, and though he was 10 – 12 years older than most of them, they included him in their fun and games. It’s not like he was this weird guy following 20 feet behind them at all times in order to track Carr and never speaking to anyone. He was himself on of the “beats,” if by “beat” we mean everybody in that group who hung out in Edie Parker’s and Joan Vollmer’s Upper West Side apartment. And so when Carr killed Kammerer, it was as if one member of your gang of friends had murdered the other. It was very weird for everybody, and I’m not sure any of them got over it – especially Kerouac, who was still writing about it in his last book, published a year before he died.

 

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