HOUR 1 (PAGES 1-6)

THE SUBTERRANEANS





ONCE I WAS YOUNG and had so much more orientation and could talk with  nervous intelligence about everything and with clarity and without as much literary preambling as this; in other words this is the story of an unself-confident man, at the same time of an egomaniac, naturally, facetious won’t do—just to start at the beginning and let the truth seep out, that’s what I’ll do—. It began on a warm summernight—ah, she was sitting on a fender with Julien Alexander who is … let me begin with the history of the subterraneans of San Francisco…
Julien Alexander is the angel of the subterraneans, the subterraneans is a name invented by Adam Moorad who is a poet and friend of mine who said “They are hip without being slick, they are intelligent without being corny, they are intellectual as hell and know all about Pound without being pretentious or talking too much about it, they are very quiet, they are very Christlike.” Julien certainly is Christlike. I was coming down the street with Larry O’Hara old drinking buddy of mine from all the times in San Francisco in my long and nervous and mad careers I’ve gotten drunk and in fact cadged drinks off friends with such “genial” regularity nobody really cared to notice or announce that I am developing or was developing, in my youth, such bad freeloading habits though of course they did notice but liked me and as Sam said, “Everybody comes to you for your gasoline boy, that’s some filling station you got there” or say words to that effect—old Larry O’Hara always nice to me, a crazy Irish young businessman of San Francisco with Balzacian backroom in his bookstore where they’d smoke tea and talk of the old days of the great Basie band or the days of the great Chu Berry—whom more anon since she got involved with him too as she had to get involved with everyone because of knowing me who am nervous and many leveled and not in the least on-souled—not a piece of my pain has showed yet—or suffering—Angels, bear with me—I’m not even looking at the page but straight ahead into the sadglint of my wallroom and at Sarah Vaughan Gerry Mulligan Radio KROW show on the desk in the form of a radio, in other words, they were sitting on the fender of a car in front of the Black Mask bar on Montgomery Street, Julien Alexander the Christlike unshaved thin youthful quiet strange almost as you or as Adam might say apocalyptic angel or saint of the subterraneans, certainly star (now), and she, Mardou Fox, whose face when first I saw it in Dante’s bar around the corner made me think, “By God, I’ve got to get involved with that little woman” and maybe too because she was Negro. Also she had the same face that Rita Savage a girlhood girlfriend of my sister’s had, and of whom among other things I used to have daydreams of her between my legs while kneeling on the floor of the toilet, I on the seat, with her special cool lips and Indian-like hard high soft cheekbones—same face, but dark, sweet, with little honest glittering and intense she Mardou was leaning saying something extremely earnestly to Ross Wallenstein (Julien’s friend) leaning over the table, deep—”I got to get involved with her”—I tried to shoot her the glad eye the sex eye she never had a notion of looking up or seeing—I must explain, I’d just come off a ship in New York, paid off before the trip to Kobe Japan because of trouble with the steward and my inability to be gracious and in fact human and like an ordinary guy while performing my chores as saloon messman (and you must admit now I’m sticking to the facts), a thing typical of me, I would treat the first engineer and the other officers with backwards-falling politeness, it finally drove them angry, they wanted me to say something, maybe gruff, in the morning, while setting their coffee down and instead of which silently on crepefeet I rushed to do their bidding and never cracked a smile or if so a sick one, a superior one, all having to do with that loneliness angel riding on my shoulder as i came down warm Montgomery Street that night and saw Mardou on the fender with Julien, remembering, “O there’s the girl I gotta get involved with, I wonder if she’s going with any of these boys”—dark, you could barely see her in the dim street—her feet in thongs of sandals of such sexuality-looking greatness I wanted to kiss her, them—having no notion of anything though
The subterraneans were hanging outside the Mask in the warm night, Julien on the fender, Ross Wallenstein standing up, Roger Beloit the great bop tenorman, Walt Fitzpatrick who was the son of a famous director and had grown up in Hollywood in an atmosphere of Great Garbo parties at dawn and Chaplin falling in the door drunk, several other girls, Harriet the ex-wife of Ross Wallenstein a kind of blonde with soft expressionless features and wearing a simple almost housewife-in-the-kitchen cotton dress but softly bellysweet to look at—as another confession must be made, as many I must make ere time’s sup—I am crudely malely sexual and cannot help myself and have lecherous and so on propensities as almost all my male readers no doubt are the same—confession after confession, I am a Canuck, I could not speak English till I was 5 or 6, at 16 I spoke with a halting accent and was a big blue baby in school though varsity basketball later and if not for that no one would have noticed I could cope in any way with the world (underself-confidence) and would have been put in the madhouse for some kind of inadequacy—
But now let met tell Mardou herself (difficult to make a real confession and show what happened when you’re such an egomaniac all you can do is take off on big paragraphs about minor details about yourself and the big soul details about others go sitting and waiting around)—
in any case, therefore, also there was Fritz Nicholas the titular leader of the subterraneans, to whom I said (having met him New Year’s Eve in a Nob Hill swank apartment sitting crosslegged like a peote Indian on a thick rug wearing a kind of clean white Russian shirt and a crazy Isadora Duncan girl with long blue hair on his shoulder smoking pot and talking about Pound and peote) (thin also Christlike with a faun’s look and young and serious and like the father of the group, as say, suddenly you’d see him in the Black Mask sitting there with head thrown back thin dark eyes watching everybody as if in sudden slow astonishment and “Here we are little ones and now what my dears,” but also a great dope man, anything in the form of kicks he would want at any time and very intense) I said to him, “Do you know this girl, the dark one?”—”Mardou?”—
“That her name? Who she go with?”—”No one in particular just now, this has been an incestuous group in its time,” a very strange thing he said to me there, as we walked to his old beat 36 Chevvy with not backseat parked across from the bar for the purpose of picking up some tea for the group to get all together, as, I told Larry, “Man, let’s get some tea.”—”And what for you want all those people?”—” I want to dig them as a group,” saying this, too, in front of Nicholas so perhaps he might appreciate my sensitivity being a stranger to the group and yet immediately, etc., perceiving their value—facts, facts, sweet philosophy long deserted me with the juices of others years fled—incestuous—there was another final great figure in the group who was however now this summer not here but in Paris, Jack Steen, very interesting Leslie-Howard-like little guy who walked (as Mardou later imitated for me) like a Viennese Philosopher with soft arms swinging slight side flow and long slow flowing strides, coming to a stop on a corner with imperious soft pose—he too had to do with Mardou and as I learned later most weirdly—but now my first crumb of information concerning this girl i was SEEKING to get involved with as if not enough trouble already or other old romances hadn’t taught me that message of pain, keep asking for it, for life—
Out of the bar were pouring interesting people, the night making a great impression on me, some kind of Truman-Capote-haired dark Marlon Brando with a beautiful thin birl or girl in boy slacks with stars in her eyes and hips that seemed so soft when she put her hands in her slacks I could see the change—and dark thin slackpant legs dropping down to little feet, and that face, and with them a guy with another beautiful doll, the guy’s name Rob and he’s some kind of adventurous Israeli soldier with a British accent whom I suppose you might find in some Riviera bar at 5 A.M. drinking everything in sight alphabetically with a bunch of interesting crazy international-set friends on a spree—Larry O’Hara introducing me to Roger Beloit (I did not believe that this young man with ordinary face in front of me was that great poet I’d revered in my youth, my youth, my youth, that is, 1948, I keep saying my youth)—”This is Roger Beloit?—I’m Bennet Fitzpatrick” (Walt’s father) which brought a smile to Roger Beloit’s face—Adam Moorad by now having emerged from the night was also there and the night would open—
So we all did go to Larry’s and Julien sat on the floor in front of an open newspaper in which was some tea (poor quality L.A. but good enough) and rolled, or “twisted,” as Jack Steen, the absent one, had said to me the previous New Year’s and that having been my first contact with the subterraneans, he’d asked to roll a stick for me and I’d said really coldly “What for? I roll my own” and immediately the cloud crossed his sensitive little face, etc., and he hated me—and so cut me all the night when he had a chance—but now Julien was on the floor, crosslegged, and himself now twisting for the group and everybody droned the conversations which I certainly won’t repeat, except, it was, like, “I’m looking at this book by Percepied—who’s Percepied, has he been busted yet?” and such small talk, or, while listening to Stan Kenton talking about the music of tomorrow and we hear a new young tenorman come on, Ricci Comucca, Roger Beloit says, moving back expressive thin purple lips, “This is the music of tomorrow?” and Larry O’Hara telling his usual stock repertoire anecdotes. In the 36 Chevvy on the way, Julien, sitting beside me on the floor, had stuck out his hand and said, “My name’s Julien Alexander, I have something, I conquered Egypt,” and then Mardou stuck her hand out to Adam Moorad and introduced herself, saying, “Mardou Fox,” but didn’t think of doing it to me which should have been my first inkling of the prophecy of what was to come, so I had to stick my hand at her and say, “Leo Percepied my name” and shake—ah, you always go for the ones who don’t really want you—she really wanted Adam Moorad, she had just been rejected coldy and subterraneanly by Julien—she was interested in thin ascetic strange intellectuals of San Francisco and Berkeley and not in big paranoiac bums of ships and railroads and novels and all that hatefulness which in myself is to myself so evident and so to others too—though and because ten years younger than I seeing none of my virtues which anyway had long been drowned under years of drugtaking and desiring to die, to give up, to give it all up and forget it all, to die in the dark star—it was stuck out my hand, not she—ah time.
But in eyeing her little charms I only had the foremost one idea that I had to immerse my lonely being (“A big sad lonely man,” is what she said to me one night later, seeing me suddenly in the chair) in the warm bath and salvation of her thighs—the intimacies of younglovers in a bed, high, facing eye to eye, breast to breast naked, organ to organ, knee to shivering goose-pimpled knee, exchanging existential and loveracts for a crack at making it—”making it” the big expression with her, I can see the little out-pushing teeth through the little redlips seeing “making it”—the key to pain—she sat in the corner, by the window, she was being “separated”

0 notes, November 30, 2012