My works have been online almost as long as there has been an online, or at least since analog telephone dial-up and AOL dominated the scene. During that period my works have grown from a few scattered pages to hundreds. Several years into that period a slight but growing audience continually came across what I've presented and written, with some staying, some returning on an on-and-off basis, some regularly, some after long stretches.
Many of those people agree with what I've presented, many don't. During that overarching period, continuing up through to even now, any number of unconnected and on their own serious readers have come forward drawing an analogy, some thick with reason, some emaciated and lean, but analogies nonetheless, between the what and how of the renowned Beat poet Allan Ginsberg has written generally, but more specifically what he has written in his "Wichita Vortex Sutra" and the overall adding-up context of what I present combined in a subjected conglomerate of my works.
Where what Ginsberg has written is what it is because Ginsberg wrote it, the same way it can be said of my works, the difference being Ginsberg was Ginsberg and I'm not. Nor does such a potential reality approach even a remote possibility of me being other than "not" considering any expertise or abilities I may or may not have, not to mention the content of my subject matter, delivery system, and the audience it is able to reach. That said, there are still those who read my works and familiar enough with Ginsberg's works, especially so his Wichita Vortex Sutra, to draw an analogy of what I have presented to that of someone of Ginsberg's stature, with his indepth observations, and innate creative talent and ability to reveal it from his mind and thought through to pen and paper, and once brought to my attention, with no intent to diminish Ginsberg in any way, for me in comparison is truly humbling.
WICHITA VORTEX SUTRA (1966)I'm an old man now, and a lonesome man in Kansas but not afraid to speak my lonesomeness in a car, because not only my lonesomeness it's Ours, all over America, O tender fellows-- & spoken lonesomeness is Prophecy in the moon 100 years ago or in the middle of Kansas now. It's not the vast plains mute our mouths that fill at midnite with ecstatic language when our trembling bodies hold each other breast to breast on a matress-- Not the empty sky that hides the feeling from our faces nor our skirts and trousers that conceal the bodylove emanating in a glow of beloved skin, white smooth abdomen down to the hair between our legs, It's not a God that bore us that forbid our Being, like a sunny rose all red with naked joy between our eyes & bellies, yes All we do is for this frightened thing we call Love, want and lack-- fear that we aren't the one whose body could be beloved of all the brides of Kansas City, kissed all over by every boy of Wichita-- O but how many in their solitude weep aloud like me-- On the bridge over the Republican River almost in tears to know how to speak the right language-- on the frosty broad road uphill between highway embankments I search for the language that is also yours-- almost all our language has been taxed by war. Radio antennae high tension wires ranging from Junction City across the plains-- highway cloverleaf sunk in a vast meadow lanes curving past Abilene to Denver filled with old heroes of love-- to Wichita where McClure's mind burst into animal beauty drunk, getting laid in a car in a neon misted street 15 years ago-- to Independence where the old man's still alive who loosed the bomb that's slaved all human consciousness and made the body universe a place of fear-- Now, speeding along the empty plain, no giant demon machine visible on the horizon but tiny human trees and wooden houses at the sky's edge I claim my birthright! reborn forever as long as Man in Kansas or other universe--Joy reborn after the vast sadness of War Gods! A lone man talking to myself, no house in the brown vastness to hear, imaging the throng of Selves that make this nation one body of Prophecy languaged by Declaration as Happiness! I call all Powers of imagination to my side in this auto to make Prophecy, all Lords of human kingdoms to come Shambu Bharti Baba naked covered with ash Khaki Baba fat-bellied mad with the dogs Dehorahava Baba who moans Oh how wounded, How wounded Sitaram Onkar Das Thakur who commands give up your desire Satyananda who raises two thumbs in tranquility Kali Pada Guha Roy whose yoga drops before the void Shivananda who touches the breast and says OM Srimata Krishnaji of Brindaban who says take for your guru William Blake the invisible father of English visions Sri Ramakrishna master of ecstasy eyes half closed who only cries for his mother Chaitanya arms upraised singing & dancing his own praise merciful Chango judging our bodies Durga-Ma covered with blood destroyer of battlefield illusions million-faced Tathagata gone past suffering Preserver Harekrishna returning in the age of pain Sacred Heart my Christ acceptable Allah the Compassionate One Jahweh Righteous One all Knowledge-Princes of Earth-man, all ancient Seraphim of heavenly Desire, Devas, yogis & holymen I chant to-- Come to my lone presence into this Vortex named Kansas, I lift my voice aloud, make Mantra of American language now, I here declare the end of the War! Ancient days' Illusion! and pronounce words beginning my own millennium. Let the States tremble, let the Nation weep, let Congress legislate it own delight let the President execute his own desire-- this Act done by my own voice, nameless Mystery-- published to my own senses, blissfully received by my own form approved with pleasure by my sensations manifestation of my very thought accomplished in my own imagination all realms within my consciousness fulfilled 60 miles from Wichita near El Dorado, The Golden One, in chill earthly mist houseless brown farmland plains rolling heavenward in every direction one midwinter afternoon Sunday called the day of the Lord-- Pure Spring Water gathered in one tower where Florence is set on a hill, stop for tea & gas
Most of the Beat poets, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Carl Solomon, Gary Snyder, Herbert Huncke, and Bob Kaufman had served in the merchant marines at one time or the other. A person I call my Merchant Marine Friend, who was sort of a prototype mentor for me during my first two years of high school, had met two of those eventual six or so Beats. One he had known for some time, the other mostly in passing. The one he knew was Bob Kaufman. Jack Kerouac he met through Kaufman. l met Kaufman a couple of times when he visited my merchant marine friend.
By the time the Beats reached any kind of prominence my merchant marine friend had died, passing away the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school. Hence, neither of the two Beat poets he met, or the others down the line, merchant marines or otherwise, didn't mean much one way or the other at the time as it applied to any Beat movement because at the time there was no Beat movement. Although seeds may have been sowed it was yet to be formulated to a point it bared fruit. It is the same as it applied to me. It was only after the fact that the names Jack Kerouac and Bob Kaufman rose to the level of having any meaning.
When it came to the merchant marines however, my friend was actually already a celebrity or sorts, at least in the loose knit west coast merchant marine community that existed in those days, carrying a certain high level of notoriety and prestige ahead of himself. That notoriety stemmed from the mysterious events surrounding his survival after being lost at sea and found alive out in the middle of the ocean months, and months later strapped to a piece of debris, hundreds and hundreds of miles away from the spot his ship was torpedoed. So said, because of the close proximity of his home with two major world class seaports, Long Beach and Los Angeles, both crawling with merchant marines and other seafaring folk, it wasn't unusual in those days for any number of merchant marines and fellow seamen to drop by his house and pay him homage.
Bob Kaufman, although no longer in the merchant marines, but with both he and my friend having known each other over a long period of time somehow through their service in the merchant marines, was one of those who stopped by regularly to pay him homage. Kaufman's home, from birth through joining the merchant marines was New Orleans. The same was true of his older brother George, who preceded him into the merchant marines by quite sometime and was instrumental in easing Kaufman's entry into the service. My merchant marine friend's home port was New Orleans as well. Matter of fact the port of disembarkation for the ship he was on when it was torpedoed off the coast of Florida, although oft cited as Corpus Christi, started from New Orleans. I think the initial connection between Bob Kaufman and my merchant marine friend was through his brother George.
On at least one of the days that Kaufman visited my friend I was there and met him. As it was, Kaufman was a minor celebrity in the merchant marines himself, having been a major union activist, even kicked out of the merchant marines because of it. Because of that activism being in his blood, he fought endlessly for the funds and health care my friend needed to survive. Although the specifics behind the out-and-out why of Kaufman's personal interest never came up that I recall, maintaining the merchant marine's health was a priority interest of Kaufman's and one of the reasons they stayed so close, especially so many years after they both had served. Kaufman was always getting in trouble with the law it seems, some infractions rather small, some falling into or on the more-or-less large side, a good portion of them as I read his history, perpetrated. It is my belief that my merchant marine friend stepped in one day and helped him out of a major bind of some kind and Kaufman never forgot it. Re the following regarding Kaufman's help toward the badly burned and heavily scared merchant marine as found in the link above:
"Because of the attack and the resulting injuries he was hooked up to some sort of breathing apparatus attached to an oxygen tank, plus, on-and-off throughout the day he had IVs stuck into his arms and wires attached in various places for monitoring equipment to record his heart rate, blood pressure and other vitals. So said, for the most part, because he was so hooked up to machines and couldn't move he basically just sat there all day long in a den-like room overlooking the street reading books, newspapers and staring out the window."
In those days Kaufman was kind of Itinerant, working in or in the process of getting a job with a major hotel in Los Angeles. The last time I saw him he had come by to tell my merchant marine friend he was planning to move to San Francisco, so he wouldn't be coming around much anymore. He said a couple of other similar poet-types were at the time in the process of heading up from Mexico, or soon would be, and together, they were all going to end up in San Francisco. It was on that day, for the very first time, I heard the name Allen Ginsberg, Kaufman mentioning Ginsberg as one of the "poet-types." Now, if Kaufman knew Ginsberg at the time when he mentioned his name I don't know, only that Ginsberg and others, according to Kaufman, were headed to northern California planning to settle in in the bay area and "practice their craft."
As you can see, a year or so before or just after I started high school and unknown to me and most if not all of my high school peers, Kaufman, Ginsberg, and their semi-bohemian yet unnamed literary movement began taking root in various parts around the country, a movement that eventually grew to such a point that by the end of my second year in high school I had become more than peripherally aware of it. By then it had been given a name, The Beat Generation. Just as Kaufman said, in practicing their craft, it was mainly centered in and around San Francisco's North Beach, with some smattering in the Venice West area of Los Angeles, and Greenwich Village in New York City, depending primarily on where the main members were.
"For me however, by the time I reached my junior year on into my senior year I had long since morphed outside the fringes of high school haute cultures into more of a Maynard G. Krebs bohemian type, hanging out, at least after graduation, in places like the Iconoclast Coffee House on Wall Street in Redondo Beach or the Insomniac on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach."
HOPE SAVAGE: The Beat Generation's Missing Woman
Just around that same time, but mostly for me not until after graduation from high school, and, even though Ginsberg had read "Howl" in one of the two Beat coffee houses near where I lived, with me not really knowing a whole lot about it in those days and with neither of the two coffee houses ever reaching anywhere near the level as the other aforementioned Beat places --- to be part of it all I started hanging out at both, the Iconoclast Coffee House just a few steps east up the hill from El Paseo and the Horseshoe Pier on Wall Street in Redondo Beach and/or the Insomniac on Pier Avenue just across the street from Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach --- hoping to be or at least think I was "cool" and possibly even absorb or learn some of the movement trends. Betty Jean at the Iconoclast was cool, but of the two places, the best part for me was taking home to my place an extraordinarily fabulously beautiful young redhead, an Insomniac regular, regularly. Or at least once in a while, or on occasion. Or maybe just once or twice, by the name of Jolene. Unfortunately Jolene, who was highly polyamorous, loved speed even more, and sadly dead from bennies before having even reached the end of the 1960s. Up to the point in time I met Jolene I had never met anybody like her in my life, and for sure, up to that point in time she was the hottest babe I had ever met. So too, although particular in her selections, if she felt like it she could go like a bunny 24 hours a day, and if not with you with somebody else.
AND NOW THIS:
The so said analogies mentioned by me at the top of the page as drawn by others, and gratefully so as received by me, as to the comparison that is, between the critically acclaimed "Wichita Vortex Sutra" by Ginsberg and my works, can be divided into two semi broad general areas. One, a sort of physical analogy, the other falling into a more of a intellectual mental creative-consciousness stream analogy.
The physical aspect people see more or less focuses on three things, one, Ginsberg's opening line "I'm an old man now, and a lonesome man in Kansas" and the fact it was Kansas Ginsberg was writing about. People take the below, me being in Kansas only a year before Ginsberg in the exact same places he talks about, Junction City, the bridge over the Republican River, Wichita. It is all there in my works, even with me having a communication radio MOS at Fort Riley with all the Radio antennae ranging from Junction City, interpreted slightly different perhaps, but still there:
"After receiving a good conduct medal, an honorable discharge, and a small smattering of other medals, while in the process of taking and getting sufficiently high enough ACT and SAT scores to attend major prestigious east coast state colleges or universities, I began investigating the costs. Discouraged by the fees, but discovering even though I had been discharged from the Army in Fort Riley, Kansas, and had spent my last three months living there under their auspices in a holding company at Riley with not much to do but hang out full time in Junction City and Kansas State's Aggieville in Manhattan, Kansas, I was encouraged by the fact that you retain residency from the state you were drafted."
THE WANDERLING AND HIS HIGH SCHOOL CHUMS
Then, combined with the above, although not showing up specifically on a one-on-one individual name basis in any of my works, are the litany of Indian guru-types Ginsberg runs off in his poem. Where most of my works when it comes to guru-types concentrates almost exclusively around the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi with some backup homage afforded toward Swami Ramdas, there are gurus nonetheless. Ginsberg rattles off close to a dozen mentioning Shambu Bharti Baba, Khaki Baba, Dehorahava Baba, Sitaram Onkar Das Thakur, Satyananda, Kali Pada Guha Roy, Shivananda, Srimata Krishnaji, Sri Ramakrishna, Harekrishna, Durga-Ma, none of who I really mention. Two I do mention are Neem Karoli Baba, who was the guru of a person I do pay more than lip service to, and one of Ginsberg's top guru-like acquaintances, albeit not of Indian descent nor mentioned by Ginsberg because at the time he was yet to come on the scene, but heavyweight nonetheless, Bhagavan Das. Das was actually an American from Laguna Beach, California. He had lived and traveled in India for months and months and later deep in the thick of it after Ginsberg got into all of his India stuff. A lot of people would say, and even out-and-our argue, because of lack of stature between the two, there is no connection between Das and Ginsburg. Actually, they were close enough that Ginsberg was asked, then most willingly wrote the forward to Bhagavan Das' book It's Here Now (Are You?) (1997)
Das rose to fame on no account of his own, but because of the prominent role he was given in the groundbreaking and ultimate life style changing books, Be Here Now by the LSD guru Dr. Richard Alpert, a book that had a major impact on thousands and thousands of would be Enlightenment seekers back in the day, including Apple's Steve Jobs and more more recently Mark Zuckerberg.
On the other side, the more intellectual mental creative-consciousness stream side, you have the overall adding-up context of what I present combined in a subjected conglomerate of my works that ebbs and flows making for a nearly Ginsberg like stew. The following is written by an internet personality almost as controversial as Ginsberg:
"It's organic and sprawling, but intricately interlinked, linking also to outside sites. One of the most fascinating aspects of this interconnectedness is that his collection is not very systematic in the usual sense. Forget site map, there is nothing for it when visiting but to wander from one page to another without much sense of where you're going, and usually without completing the page you're on, which you may return to only after a long garden path. In reading, you become a wanderer.
"One more tidbit is the domain structure. The Wanderling has undertaken to create his project in free website places, assembling a myriad of apparently different sites, but all interwoven. As the free website places fold and merge and change their rules, he shifts accordingly, thus a migration happens on this level as well."
By scrolling down the page a bit and clicking the Collected Poems of Allen Ginsberg book cover graphic that comes up you will reach a free, online, with no sign-up, complete and unabridged, access to Ginsberg's poems from 1947 to 1997. By going to page 410 you will come to the actual or very start of "Wichita Vortex Sutra." If you scroll through to page 420 you will come to the exact part of his poem that is presented above, starting with the line, "I'm an old man now, and a lonesome man in Kansas." Just above the Ginsberg book cover graphic is a link that, if you access it, will take you to one of the best if not the best pages on Bob Kaufman that can be found anywhere on the internet.
The question is forever coming up about how could I, a purported man of Zen, as found in Dark Luminosity, so linked below and elsewhere, could or would be willing to and actually point out or make any comparison in relation to Allen Ginsberg considering how he conducted himself and his lifestyle. Those same people think there is a much different side, a darker or debauchery side, an underbelly so to speak and cite numerous examples from books and articles by both Ginsberg's friends and foes alike. If that is what they got out of what I've presented, then they have missed the point.
Besides, anybody who has read any of my works knows I am not diametrically opposed to underbellies or similar type entities, neither casting aspersions on them nor adversely judging or particularly seeking out or participating in them. All one has to do is visit my page on The El Rey Club or go into the depths of what I've written surrounding Phyllis Davis to find connections with brothels, prostitutes, and even Asian warlords, not to mention me knowing Hollywood's most infamous madam Brenda Allen, the South Bay's onetime top madam Fifie Malouf, or onetime major mob heavyweight and Las Vegas kingpin Johnny Roselli who I met for the first time when I was a ten year old boy through the auspices of my Stepmother, even visiting him in prison years later as an adult.
"Hui-k'o, the Second Patriarch of Zen passed on the bowl and robe to his successor, the Third Patriarch, Seng-ts'an, signifying the Transmission of the Dharma. Hui-k'o, who had received the seal of approval from Bodhidharma himself, then went everywhere drinking and carousing around like a wildman and partaking in the offerings of the brothel districts. When people asked how he could do such a thing, being a Patriarch of the Zen school and all, he would respond with: 'What business is it of yours?'"
HUI-K'O: The Second Patriarch of Zen
(please click image)
THE EL REY CLUB: RESORT, CASINO, BROTHEL
FIFIE MALOUF: ENTREPRENEUR, SOCIALITE, MADAME
BRENDA ALLEN: MADAME, PROSTITUTE PAR EXCELLENCE
THE NORMANDIE CLUB
(please click image) BOB KAUFMAN
Again, if you may be so interested and haven't done so already, by clicking the Collected Poems of Allen Ginsberg book cover graphic above you will reach a free, online, with no sign-up, complete and unabridged, access to Ginsberg's poems from 1947 to 1997. By going to page 410 you will come to the actual or very start of "Wichita Vortex Sutra." If you scroll through to page 420 you will come to the exact part of his poem that is presented above, starting with the line, "I'm an old man now, and a lonesome man in Kansas."
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
30 MINUTES TO ENLIGHTENMENT
ON THE RAZOR'S
AN ANALYSIS OF THE CONCEPT OF TIME OF ST. AUGUSTINE
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
Wichita Vortex Sutra (1966)
I’m an old man now, and a lonesome man in Kansas
but not afraid
to speak my lonesomeness in a car,
because not only my lonesomeness
it’s Ours, all over America,
O tender fellows–
& spoken lonesomeness is Prophecy
in the moon 100 years ago or in
the middle of Kansas now.
It’s not the vast plains mute our mouths
that fill at midnite with ecstatic language
when our trembling bodies hold each other
breast to breast on a matress–
Not the empty sky that hides
the feeling from our faces
nor our skirts and trousers that conceal
the bodylove emanating in a glow of beloved skin,
white smooth abdomen down to the hair
between our legs,
It’s not a God that bore us that forbid
our Being, like a sunny rose
all red with naked joy
between our eyes & bellies, yes
All we do is for this frightened thing
we call Love, want and lack–
fear that we aren’t the one whose body could be
beloved of all the brides of Kansas City,
kissed all over by every boy of Wichita–
O but how many in their solitude weep aloud like me–
On the bridge over the Republican River
almost in tears to know
how to speak the right language–
on the frosty broad road
uphill between highway embankments
I search for the language
that is also yours–
almost all our language has been taxed by war.
Radio antennae high tension
wires ranging from Junction City across the plains–
highway cloverleaf sunk in a vast meadow
lanes curving past Abilene
to Denver filled with old
heroes of love–
to Wichita where McClure’s mind
burst into animal beauty
drunk, getting laid in a car
in a neon misted street
15 years ago–
to Independence where the old man’s still alive
who loosed the bomb that’s slaved all human consciousness
and made the body universe a place of fear–
Now, speeding along the empty plain,
no giant demon machine
visible on the horizon
but tiny human trees and wooden houses at the sky’s edge
I claim my birthright!
reborn forever as long as Man
in Kansas or other universe–Joy
reborn after the vast sadness of War Gods!
A lone man talking to myself, no house in the brown vastness to hear,
imaging the throng of Selves
that make this nation one body of Prophecy
languaged by Declaration as
I call all Powers of imagination
to my side in this auto to make Prophecy,
of human kingdoms to come
Shambu Bharti Baba naked covered with ash
Khaki Baba fat-bellied mad with the dogs
Dehorahava Baba who moans Oh how wounded, How wounded
Sitaram Onkar Das Thakur who commands
give up your desire
Satyananda who raises two thumbs in tranquility
Kali Pada Guha Roy whose yoga drops before the void
Shivananda who touches the breast and says OM
Srimata Krishnaji of Brindaban who says take for your guru
William Blake the invisible father of English visions
Sri Ramakrishna master of ecstasy eyes
half closed who only cries for his mother
Chaitanya arms upraised singing & dancing his own praise
merciful Chango judging our bodies
Durga-Ma covered with blood
destroyer of battlefield illusions
million-faced Tathagata gone past suffering
Preserver Harekrishna returning in the age of pain
Sacred Heart my Christ acceptable
Allah the Compassionate One
Jahweh Righteous One
all Knowledge-Princes of Earth-man, all
ancient Seraphim of heavenly Desire, Devas, yogis
& holymen I chant to–
Come to my lone presence
into this Vortex named Kansas,
I lift my voice aloud,
make Mantra of American language now,
I here declare the end of the War!
Ancient days’ Illusion!
and pronounce words beginning my own millennium.
Let the States tremble,
let the Nation weep,
let Congress legislate it own delight
let the President execute his own desire–
this Act done by my own voice,
published to my own senses,
blissfully received by my own form
approved with pleasure by my sensations
manifestation of my very thought
accomplished in my own imagination
all realms within my consciousness fulfilled
60 miles from Wichita
near El Dorado,
The Golden One,
in chill earthly mist
houseless brown farmland plains rolling heavenward
in every direction
one midwinter afternoon Sunday called the day of the Lord–
Pure Spring Water gathered in one tower
where Florence is
set on a hill,
stop for tea & gas
GINSBERG'S WEAPONIZED DEBASEMENT
AMERICAN STEAM TANKER S.S. HALSEY. TORPEDOED OFF FLORIDA
MAY 6, 1942 BY GERMAN SUB. MY FRIEND WAS ONBOARD WHEN HIT.
Photo courtesy of the Mariners Museum, Newport News VA
During World War II the merchant ship my friend was serving on was queuing up for a convoy and given an early position amongst the other ships in the rear corner on the starboard side that he called "coffin corner," said by experienced hands to be the most easy picking location for submarines in a convoy. Everybody on board was nervous, not only because of the position and the known prowling of German U-boats in the area, but also because previously another crew member, an able-bodied seaman by the name of Olguin (possibly Holguin) had always been with them. Word had it that any time Olguin was part of the crew and the ship was in coffin corner, because of his karma or good luck or whatever they would not be attacked. The legend was alive because not one of the several voyages he had been on and traveling in coffin corner had his ship been hit or even come under attack. On this trip Olguin was either not in the convoy or assigned to another ship. Even before the convoy really got underway a wolfpack started picking at the edges and my friend's ship torpedoed. In order to save himself he had no choice but to jump overboard, landing in an area with oil burning along the surface of the water, the fire scorching his skin as he plunged through and returned for air. He spent months in recovery and rehabilitation.
On the same day he told me about being found floating in the middle of the ocean on a piece of debris he showed me a delicate gold necklace that had what looked like a small Chinese character dangling from it. He said one day in the hospital while being given a sponge bath he was looking in a hand mirror at his burn marks when he noticed he had the necklace around his neck. He never had a gold necklace in his life. When he asked the nurse where it came from she said as far as she knew he came in with it as it was found among the few personal effects he had with him. She said typically they would not put any jewelry on a patient but some of the staff thought that since he was so scarred by the burns that he might like a little beauty in his life so someone put it around his neck. He told me he had no clue where it came from or how it came into his possession, but for sure he didn't have it on before he was torpedoed. He said everybody always admired it and it appeared to be very ancient.
Several years after I saw the necklace for the very first time found me in the Cholon district of Saigon gulping down a large amount of a seemingly never ending supply of of alcoholic beverages. From out of the smoky milieu of mostly horny and inebriated GIs, unsolicited, what was affectionately tagged in those days as a Saigon Tea Girl, attempted to sit on my lap and tried to put something around my neck. Pushing back I could see she held what appeared to be a gold necklace stretched between her hands. Hanging midway along the necklace was a small Chinese character. Basically grabbing the necklace from her hands I asked where it came from and how she got it. She turned facing a general group of barely discernible figures sitting and drinking toward the back of the barroom in the shadows along the darkened wall, telling me that one of the men, a burnt man, had paid her to put it on me. When I asked what she meant by a burnt man, using her hands in a swirling motion in front of her face combined with a sneering facial expression to indicate scars while gasping for air as if the man had a tough time breathing, said in broken English, "burnt man, burnt man." In just the few seconds it took me to work my way through the crowd to the back wall pulling the tea girl with me the burnt man, if there ever was a burnt man, was gone. Nor could anybody at any of the tables remember seeing or talking to a heavily scarred man, burnt or otherwise, sitting at any of the tables --- although some of the GIs were fully able to recall the girl.
The necklace, which I still have and continue to wear to this day, from what I could remember, looked exactly like the one my merchant marine friend showed me and said to be mysteriously wearing out of nowhere the day he was found floating in the sea after his ship was torpedoed. The only problem is, by the time the incident in the Saigon bar occurred my friend had already been dead some ten years, having passed away during the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school. At his memorial service I was told by family members, following a death bed request on his part, that in an effort to rejoin his fellow seamen he wanted to be cremated and his ashes tossed at sea near where his ship was torpedoed and, along with the ashes, the necklace returned to the sea as well. As far as I know those wishes had been complied with.
Regarding that same necklace and any importance it may or may not have: After having been secluded for months and months in a Buddhist monastery high in the rarefied air of the Himalayas and the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, some distance later down the mountains during my return trip, somewhere in Burma, I came across the encampment and private army of the Burmese warlord and strongman Khun Sa, with the following results as found in the source so cited:
"Khun Sa motioned me closer, almost immediately dropping his eye contact from my eyes to that of the the small gold Chinese character dangling around my neck. Reaching forward he softly took the tiny medallion between his thumb and index finger, looking at it very carefully and rubbing it for what seemed the longest time. The background noise and the overall din of the soldiers in the camp became quiet and the air stilled. As a man who could have and take anything he wanted I thought he was going to yank the chain from my neck. Instead he allowed it to gently fall against my skin and stepped back and the sound returned to normal. Basically a tribal person seeped in superstition, Khun Sa, and no doubt along with a good part of his camp as well, knew that for the necklace to have the intended power vested in it, it had to either be given freely and without malice or found after having genuinely been lost. Otherwise, if taken or stolen, its intent would be reversed and what would befall the person so involved would be quite the opposite of the protection it provided."
UNDER THE PROTECTION OF
THE LORD BUDDHA
On one of the days Kaufman was visiting he noticed the necklace around the neck of the merchant marine. After asking him about it, then asking if it was OK to look at it, my friend, in that his hands were not nimble enough, had him remove it. Kaufman examined every minute detail. When he was done he handed the necklace back and told the merchant marine he was sure he had seen the exact same necklace once before. The merchant marine, so stunned it took what little air he had anyway away, gasping while searching for more air to respond, told Kaufman that was impossible because as far as he knew it was one of a kind, there was no other like it on our side of time. Kaufman told him some ten years before, during the early part of 1944, with the war still raging, he had sailed out of Philadelphia on board a Liberty ship headed toward India, ending up in Calcutta. He was stuck in Calcutta for about a month before being shipped out, sometime he thought, around the middle of May, 1944, albeit on a completely different ship than he came in on, called the S.S. Harold L. Winslow.
Kaufman said he had arrived in Calcutta on the S.S. James E. Eads, but missed shipping out because of a toothache. However, even before the toothache and the Eads leaving he said a man around 25 years old claiming he was an American soldier, although dressed in civilian clothes, came to the ship looking for him. The man that claimed to be a soldier told him he knew that he, Kaufman, would be arriving in Calcutta onboard the Ead. Kaufman also said the soldier told him that the two of them had a mutual friend, another merchant marine, which just happened to be the same merchant marine he was visiting. Since Kaufman missed his ship and was stuck in Calcutta for who knew how long, he and the soldier, who he said, was waiting for a CNAC flight out over the "hump" to China, got together several times. It was during one of those times Kaufman first noticed the necklace and during one of those times he asked to see it, examining it very closely. He said, even though many years has passed since he had been in Calcutta and seen the necklace, it was so unique that there was no doubt that the one he saw that the soldier had and the one that he, the merchant marine was wearing, were exactly the same.
"When I first met Kaufman it was at my merchant marine friend's home in Redondo Beach while I was in high school and Kaufman had only just left the merchant marines some time before. In Calcutta I was in the military and a ten year older G.I. while Kaufman was a ten years younger merchant sailor. I remember well the day he was at the merchant marine's house. I had only just started high school by a few months and working for the merchant marine when Kaufman showed up for maybe the second time and truly took notice of the the necklace my friend always wore. Kaufman went over it the same way he went over it the day I was wearing it in Calcutta. It was easy to see as carefully as he marveled at the necklace in the second case that from both cases he determined it to be the same necklace, although from his perspective it couldn't possibly be."
RETURN TO THE MONASTERY
CHINA NATIONAL AIR CORPORATION (CNAC) DOUGLAS C-47 CIRCA 1944
(please click image)
MY MERCHANT MARINE FRIEND
AH, BHAGAVAN DAS SINGING
Bhagavan Das gets in and out of taxis with his giant body carrying a tiny baby
Bhagavan Das sits on floors to sing, closes his eyes, and groans to God for hours
Bhagavan Das says Tah Dah Nah into the microphone hole talking Gandarva loka babytalk
Bhagavan Das sings the blues in Yogic Sanskrit like a perfect Virgin
Bhagavan Das sat on the street with beggars in Allahabad and Almora weeping Raaaam! half a decade crying all alone
Bhagavan Das kisses the feet of his teachers and wanders around the planet like a big yellow-robed dope
If I thought I had nothing better to do I'd follow Bhagavan Das around the equator singing Bloop Bloop Bloop Bom Shankar till I had something better to do
Bhagavan Das never had anything better to do than call up Mystic Mama on the Mantric Telephone
Bhagavan Das does nothing better than sit on the ground and close his eyes and sing to his Guru
Bhagavan Das is my mother that's why I kiss Bhagavan Das' feet singing Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah!
Most of that inundation of seekers, both known and unknown, rather they be Jobs or Zuckerberg or some other slug of an Inconsequential being because of lack of notoriety or billions in their pockets, without being significantly aware of it, owe their trek or knowledge thereof of Neem Karoli Baba in some manner to Ginsberg, or perhaps maybe even more so of an extent to the missing woman of the Beat Movement, Hope Savage, in whose footsteps Ginsberg followed and who later simply just disappeared or vanished during her travels in India. As found in the above Hope Savage link:
"Six months prior to his departure from India, sometime after midnight December 11, 1962, Ginsberg boarded the Doon Express at the Howran Station in Calcutta headed toward Benares. Standing on the platform and waiting to the last second to get on the train before it pulled away, Ginsberg squeezed out every moment of time he could bidding adieu to a young woman ten years his junior he had been crossing paths with on-and-off over the years since his early days as a struggling poet in New York. After the train station goodbyes neither Ginsberg nor any of his ragged band of Beat Generation followers would ever see her again, she apparently disappearing into the hinterlands and milieu of the sub-continent and lands beyond.
"The young woman on the platform was Hope Savage, a magnetically charismatic and fabulously beautiful American said by those around Ginsberg to be the onetime girlfriend and love of his life of Gregory Corso, a major member of the Ginsberg coterie."
In March of 1961 Ginsberg, following Hope's long since earlier departure, on extended travels, left the United States, eventually ending up in India in February, 1962. Ginsberg spent the next fifteen months traveling throughout India, leaving May of 1963. After Ginsberg returned to the U.S. he and one Ron Zimardi crossed paths, becoming in Zimardi's words, his poetry mentor. Zimardi, born January 3, 1943, in the Bronx, New York. writes the following in his book The Sacred Wanderer: An American Devotee's Story (2010):
"As background, one of the first post 1950s westerners to really delve into the mystery that was India, Allen Ginsberg, my poetry mentor, had been to India in 1961 in Calcutta and Varanasi with Peter Orlovsky. He was instrumental in making me wait to I finished my BA at CUNY and gave me his original backpack as a blessing to return to India."
Of course, I have my own take on the whole Neem Karoli Baba thing as well as all the westerners beating a path to his door:
By the time the 1960s rolled around and vast numbers of westerners were assaulting India for Spiritual prowess, etc., the absolute top dog in all the Maharshi stuff, theBhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi had long since departed his earthly paradise. Of the high profiles floating or climbing to the top, basically only Sri H.W.L. Poonja or Neem Karoli Baba remained, the two of which most downstream eastern religious types in the U.S. currently hang their hats on. Neem Karoli Baba died in 1973 effectively ending the flow of direct disciples. Poonja, however, didn't pass until 1997, in turn releasing on society a whole slew of Poonja clones that have, like protozoa and amoebas, gone off and split and re-split so many times there are more of them, with a few exceptions, than there are recruits to be under them.
When I told Ginsberg's aforementioned one time fellow traveler Hope Savage that I had been doing study-practice at the monastery and as a young boy done darshan under the auspices of the venerated Indian holy man Sri Ramana Maharshi she shrugged it off almost as being unimportant. Unlike most of the others that followed in her footsteps such as Bhagavan Das and Ram Dass, et al, she viewed most of the esteemed holy men she had crossed paths with as being either charlatans, phonies, or looking for a quick marker not unlike Paul Brunton wrote about in his travels in India in the early 1930s. Re the following:
"One heard so much of certain so-called holy men who possessed repute of having acquired deep wisdom and strange powers; so one travelled through scorching days and sleepless nights to find them, only to find well-intentioned fools, scriptural slaves, venerable know-nothings, money-seeking conjurers, jugglers with a few tricks, and pious frauds."
PAUL BRUNTON: A Search In Secret India (1934)
The last time I saw Ginsberg was in 1994, three years before his death in 1997. He did a fabulous poetry reading and audience interaction at a bookstore in La Jolla, California called D.G. Wills Books owned by a man by the name of Dennis Wills. Over a period of time, although totally unrelated to Ginsberg, Wills and I have had a certain level of contact through our individual research and a mutual exchange of information regarding a man by the name of Guy Hague a onetime follower and disciple of the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Hague had stayed at the Ramana ashram in 1938 around the same time and period as Mercedes De Acosta and the British playwright and author William Somerset Maugham. Although there has been some fairly high level speculation that Maugham might have used Hague as the role model for his main character Larry Darrel in his book The Razor's Edge it has proved to be not so mostly through the work of myself, Wills --- a major expert on Hague --- and the writer David Godman, another fairly adept expert on Hague, primarily through his extensive authorship of things Ramana.
GINSBERG'S POETRY READING AT D.G. WILLS BOOKSTORE, 1994
THE BEST OF THE MAUGHAM BIOGRAPHIES:
SPIRITUAL GUIDES, GURUS, AND TEACHERS INFLUENTIAL IN THE RAZOR'S EDGE:
ALLEN GINSBERG, 39TH BIRTHDAY, JUNE 3, 1965