23 April, 2014

I was pleased to see that that the 24 hours Happy Days Diner on Montague Street still did a traditional American breakfast of orange juice, scrambles two, hash browns, bacon and coffee for $8. If only we had such places in London at such prices.

I wanted to see the Degenerate Art show at the Neu Museum but when I arrived I discovered that it closes Tuesday and Wednesday so I went around the corner and spent the day at the Met, reminding myself of how brilliant Matisse is and doing some research in their library.

Dinner with Sara, my God-daughter, in Brooklyn. Lots of restaurants there only take cash, but they have ATM machines in their restaurants so you have pay a fee, usually $2 or $3 to withdraw the money to pay them. It is a clever scam. A rip-off in fact. Went to a local with her and met some of her friends.

Next day spent walking around Manhattan. I’ve been going there regularly since 1967 and it’s become like a palimpsest for me, with so many levels of memories. I passed Victor Bockris’s old place at 102 Perry where I stayed so often in the seventies, and 1969 girlfriend Betty’s place on the same street: she was the fire-eater at the Electric Circus. The shop where the 8th Street Bookshop used to be at the end of Bleeker, where I worked for Ted Wilentz cataloguing rare books, and finishing at Strand’s rare book section on the third floor but there are no bargains there anymore. There’s nothing like a long random walk to ground you back in a city. I finished up on the East Side for dinner with Paul Samuelson and Libby from my publishers.

The conference proved to be another occasion to meet up with the New York Burroughs gang: Jan Herman, Regina Weinreich, Charlie Plymell and Pam, Anne Waldman, Ann Douglas, Peter Hale from the Ginsberg Estate, Jed Birmingham, John Tytell et al. Alex Wermer–Colan was the organizer, an enthusiastic Burroughs supporter. I was interviewed onstage by Oliver Harris; two Brits talking about an American and sometimes the difference between British and American attitudes did emerge during questions from the audience. Burroughs was often described as an Anglophile by his friends and in many ways, such as his use of his knife and fork, his love of rare cooked offal and caviar, his views and manners, were often in contrast with his fellow Americans. Naturally there was a bit of socializing afterwards and we all finished up at Grand Central Station to see Jed off on his train to Baltimore.

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