Archive for marc olmsted

Beat Memoir # 9: The Punk & The Lama By Marc Olmsted

Posted in Beat Memior, Marc Olmsted with tags , on November 25, 2012 by Scot

gaps in suffering

  sometimes

big as Mt. Fuji

 chatting with

  the Buddhist nuns

      over tea

 

Now I was a punk writer, age 35, living with a Tibetan lama, recovering from Hollywood and alcoholism in a San Francisco late 80’s landscape of rock clubs, tattoos, piercings, 12-step meetings and personal ads.

I came back to my room after a visit to the nearby Haight.  Christiane had shoved a note under the door, another resident of the Center who was French, into Burroughs – really sharp Buddhist student.  Allen Ginsberg, was coming to town for a book signing!  This seemed incredibly auspicious, it was just two weeks since I was back in town and three years since Allen had been in San Francisco.  Made me feel confident in my move out of Hollywood and my efforts to restore myself as poet, for Allen had helped get me published in a few prestigious journals and had been a longtime champion and teacher.  I had nearly stopped writing poetry at all age 20 when I met him, frustrated with a college scene that wasn’t particularly supportive of the shaggy aesthetic I was offering, directly out of the tradition of writers like Jack Kerouac, but without the refinement that would come with Allen Ginsberg’s tutelage.

And now Allen was coming into town, our sexual relationship over for 8 years, our friendship intact.  I had broken off sex when I moved in with Gretchen and never resumed it in the horror of AIDS.

Above all, he had taught me Buddhist meditation, awareness of the outbreath dissolving into space.  We had sat together naked in his San Francisco room.  It began my interest – I was at the Meditation Center because of him.  Bill Voigt was in 3 year retreat because of him, though never slept with him, but studied poetry at Naropa, the Buddhist writing college Ginsberg helped found in Boulder.

Ginsberg would be reading at the Jewish Community Center and I got Christiane the French writer to accompany me.  First thing I saw was author Michael McClure, who looked remarkably fit after his last boozy appearance.  Turned out he’d quit coke and had either stopped the drinking or cut back considerably.  McClure was amazingly handsome – even James Dean might not have made such a stately appearance in his 50s if he’d survived.  “You look great,” I said, having met him a number of times.  “So do you,” meaning he liked my ninja flattop.  I briefly talked to Ginsberg beforehand and he saw that I got into the event free.  As usually, people swarmed him.  What a good feeling to see his bald pate again, like an emanation of the writing muse come to reassure me – it’s o.k. to be a poet – fuck Hollywood – we’ll work something out.
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