POV: You’re the building I grew up in—at 44 Horatio Street.
This is awkward. I’m the subject of a book, and the author asked me to write a piece about the characters, the themes, the murders! Why?
I’m a unique, red, brownstone on Horatio Street in the West Village. Why write the damn piece if she didn’t know what to say? She told me I’m the brick and mortar of her new book, so I should speak the Truth.
The author writes about four of the Beat Poets—Allen Ginsburg, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac—and the lesser-known, but very powerful center, of the group, Lucien Carr. All four men went to Colombia University in the 40’s. Carr didn’t graduate, because he went to SingSing Penitentiary for killing his mentor and his lover, David Kammerer.
I am not telling anything else except that Carr spent 18 months in prison, and then a brief was written that got him off completely based on an ancient law about “Honor Killing” and “Gay Panic.” Carr was set free because he claimed he had been sexually approached by Kammerer.
No comment. And let’s not even talk about Burroughs, who shot his wife’s head off in a game of “William Tell”—and got off completely—because he blamed the murder on his queerness and his frustration at trying to suppress it.
Well, one comment. Or maybe more a question: Are we living in a time when “Gay Panic” would play in Florida, Texas, and on and on as an excuse for a murder between two LGBTQ people?
After he got out of prison, Carr went straight. He became head of United Press International, he married and had kids, and most of all, to the author of this book, he moved himself and his boy friends of the Beat movement into me, the red house. His wife and kids had their space, but the four Beats were often there getting stoned, drunk, and getting way too much praise for what they were writing.
Looking out my windows, I see a world very different, and very much the same. That’s what I think we need to discuss.
That’s why my story matters.