Neal wheeled his '39, (maybe a '40, prewar, anyway, it had a gear shift on the steering column, which would be predominately used in syncopation to Neal's stream of consciousness) ... PONTIAC ... into the narrow driveway just before the sunset of 1963, jerked on the hand brake and was around to Annie's door while greeting, meeting, and kissing anyone who was nearby. It was San Francisco, after all, where spectacle was always the norm. With Gene Kelly's stride and Popeye's chivalry, he carried Anne across the threshold of their new pad at 1403 Gough St. I shared the long flat with them.
Neal spoke with lots of parenthetical asides, redundancies ... and emphasized SOME WORDS which became polymers to kinetic thought energy. He had a Hobo's luggage ensemble, a few cardboard boxes containing underwear and socks, and an extra pair of jeans and plain white T-shirts. Maybe an extra pair of Penny Loafers to make the shoe boxes look authentic. He kept them to clean the pot in; usually smoked in the morning after breakfast (Anne at the stove, disenchanted, trying to get things right), dinner time, evenings, (complicating the decision whether or not to walk over to the Family Dog or whatever the night was about to enfold), and smoked again into the wee wee hours of morning. He was paranoid over slight things, just like the benny head I'd been running with from K.C. to Denver and California, riding over western trails. His collection of belts caught my eye. They would leave pink welts on Annie's perfectly formed and firmed cheer leader's ass.
The tapes were unreeling to the sidewalks as Neal spoke of his medium in Palo Alto, who had a big body full of water in order to receive the messages of past lives, and so on. He stole something and later told Jesus about it on the way to the cross. He was the martyr for all pill-heads, sneaks, transients, pot heads, poor working class unemployed or working and those who are otherwise suspect to the state because they don't accept greed, commerce, and lies as American altruism.
He laid Annie down on the mattress on the floor and placed his boxes around the room, a grocery sack of Black Mota Weed on the shoe box lid. I had left a stepladder in the long, dark, hallway that ran through the flat with its high ceilings and seven rooms. Neal slid under the ladder, groping himself saying, "just like Playboy magazine, eh Charley?"
Anne resembled Shirley MacLaine, and the Bridie Murphy factor was also there. I suppose there are many people who have more than one personality and that one personality is pretty much straight ahead and could be tiresome in its expression, improved only through intellect, or mind altering drugs. Neal could be defensive in his need to be the story teller and center as he sped up his words and associations.
Having lived most of the time in the Northeast after living in San Francisco, I've grown used to art and poetry as a fetish, something those who read the New Yorker magazine wait to flaunt after the fad is over; but Californians tend to ignore high culture, live out their contingencies, and Neal responded to that flux by keeping several networks going at once.
His chivalrous task was to husband Anne's changes, especially the sexually aroused Lupine one that we saw through the keyhole. Neal, not an ounce of fat on his muscular body, and Anne on top, fucking 'til her knees are sore, nipples hard and erect, and incisors lengthening. His personality was fairly mainframed. It wasn't long before he a ran out of a fuck and slap session telling me to look at her cheeks in which he claimed more Lupine features transblended. Or he would point to her and say, "Look at her incisor growing longer and sharper." She did have "a look for each photo." Her teeth seemed to get more pointed.
At times Neal would act like it was all too much for him. a hard working stiff, a dumb blonde, a wife, a girlfriend, typically American, paranoid over who's going to rat you out for smoking pot, or being FREE IN AMERICA. Always the other man or woman waiting on his love. He just wanted them all. Underneath it all, Neal was fairly lovable, even in triangles, but he had to claim his girlfriend. Anne was lovable too, and her spell was her willingness to fuck the deserving. She had what all men love and fear: her love was her religion. The "argument" took place most all the time, sometimes while fucking or driving; any physical activity worked along the argument, in which Anne presented her case, something about never being able to work on her career, always hung up with a married man who won't leave his wife, never mind his homosexual lovers. The nebulous-affairs arguments that dominate the whole of American songs and life. Anne and Neal burned the American Ethos at both ends.
The only break in the "nebulous-affairs arguments" was when Neal had to browbeat Anne into scoring a script for some speed, or doing whatever she had to do to get amphetamines or pot. Single-minded, strong-willed Aryans tend to like speed. My cabinet was well stocked with laboratory Mescaline and Lysergic Acid, but I don't recall Neal tripping...maybe a little mescaline. Anne, like many a bloomed flower child, liked wine and pot and probably hard booze, seems like she liked the bottle.
Neal would act like a choir boy when they visited Gavin Arthur, the Seer of San Francisco, who would peep on his visitors while jacking off in the kitchen, pretending to fix his drink. They would try to act like normal, new lovers, but soon the restlessness became a conversation of bullet-words. Sometimes they would hold hands, or he would vault over a parking meter while Gene Kelly-ing down Lark St. toward Van Ness Ave.
He got a job at a tire-center, changing tires all day. This was part of "Dr. Ginsberg's" program to rehabilitate this wayward Gentile to do all things normally/simultaneously, like a good husband, wife cheater and beater should, while being a good blow job for Allen.
I would sometimes take him to work on my motorcycle; he always wanted to be in control, so he was a little uncomfortable riding behind me. He had a fretting, worried mind and would tell me to look out for potholes, railroad tracks and every other potential danger. It was not long before he became a star at the tire place. He worked so fast and furiously, the others stood around and watched him. He always worried about getting to work on time, or Anne's having breakfast ready; he would take out his railroad watch and calculate the exact minutes it would take us to ride to work unless the light changed.
It was early one evening when Allen Ginsberg heard some noises from Neal's room. He motioned me over and we peeked through the key-hole. It was the "Argument" with Neal slapping Anne around while he rammed his cock into her like riding a bucking bronc. Then Anne would get on top of him and subdue him and become Lupine, try to suck the life from him. Upon hearing them slapping and arguing, Allen asked, 'Is he ACTUALLY hitting her?' I said it sounded real. It was pretty hard-core S and M, that's what it was. Both adults consenting.
Anne was primping in the car the next morning, checking her face for the slightest signs of a rough evening. Neal was checking the car's oil and tires. Allen was fumbling with his cymbals and camera. I got in the back seat with Allen. By the time we got over the Golden Gate, they were arguing about what happened the night before, "the night they argued." As we were wheeling around the narrow coastal highway, Neal was slapping Anne, downshifting, grabbing the hand brake, and trying to keep the car on the tight curves. Allen had been chiding from the back seat, like a mother, trying to reason with him to slow down. I felt like a Marx brothers extra, sliding into Allen, and him into me, Allen managed to load his camera and take the famous shot of Neal looking at Anne under the torn headliner of the Pontiac.
We got to my friends' house in Bolinas and Neal and Anne were being romantic again. Neal picked up a literary book and started reading dramatically from it. He sat reading while our host fixed some tasty guacamole. Just regular folks visiten...outpicknikin...Allen liked to be folksy and imagine what others might see.
I went with Anne to the S.F.V.D. clinic, which was one of the city's more thriving, grand atavistic social clubs, and I overheard Anne confessing to the doctor that her "husband" was "promiscuous." I wondered to myself if the Doctor knew the understatement. Neal was trying to put the make on any female, even mine, but I never knew how many he was poking. There seems to be a Catholic side to all this, and Neal wanted to be a "good" lad. If you take away AIDS, and violence against women, which were not issues in those times, Neal tried to be virtuous.
Neal was off and on with Anne. As the demand for Neal became more, he had to spread himself out. He had just returned from a marathon drive he had wanted me to go on, talking it up to a previous party in Berkeley with Ginsberg and Kesey. Neal had it all planned out how we would stop in Wichita, my hometown, He went to N.Y. to see Kerouac and in record time was back in S.F. He was panicked about something to do with his driver's license. He had, of course, been stopped somewhere. It was then I realized how fearful he was of the bureaucracy. I shared this fear but wasn't in his shape, so after his begging me, I went down to the California Motor Vehicle office with him. There might have been more to it, but Neal was terrified. Turns out it was just an insignificant detail like his signature or something, and he seemed relieved.
Karen Wright, my friend we had visited in Bolinas, brought a record to Gough St. She wanted Allen, Neal and Anne to hear it. Neither Anne nor Neal seemed much into music. Allen seemed unmoved, but interested when we listened to Bob Dylan for the first time.
Soon, visitors from Hollywood arrived, Dean Stockwell attended some poetry readings. There was a lot of traffic through the historic flat. Ginsberg had lived in this flat in the '50's. He returned to it after a long stay in India, and a short stay at Dr. Radar's down the hill in the '50s, just when the hippies were at full tilt. Soon there were parties thrown for the old garde, Don Allen's "anthology of poets" and the new garde, Leary, and of course the burst of the new sound of Rock and Roll. Ravi Shankar, whom some called the Lawrence Welk of India, suddenly awakened in the heart of Rock'n'Roll in the Renaissance Revival.
I had just sat down in the front room at 1403 Gough when Neal and Bryan came running in. "Turn on the T.V. Charley, the President has been shot." We watched the news a while and agreed simultaneously, that Oswald was a patsy. It was soon after that a double conspiracy theory evolved, that would have had Oswald as a player. Ex-cons are usually right about such things anyway. Gavin Arthur was quoted as saying he voted for Nixon. Since Gavin was a known seer, astrologer, and from a political background, he had forecast the assassination. That event pretty much ended the fun for a while. Little did we know what cynicism had begun.
I was in City Lights one day and told Ferlinghetti that I was going down to a garage where the Merry Pranksters had parked their bus. He was uninterested. He only partied when a literary event was going on. He liked the saloon more, where one could bang a tambourine and expatiate on expatriate canons. I bought a pair of driver's leather gloves for Neal. He was at the cockpit of the bus "FURTHER." Anne was nowhere in sight. There were lots of pretty girls and boys on the bus. Neal swung the door open and took me to meet Tom Wolfe who was standing by with Ken Kesey, ready for a trip.
I didn't hear much from Neal after that; we had spent a good Thanksgiving Day together, Neal, some of his friends, Allen, some of his, and my older sister and her husband Frank, with whom I worked on the docks. Anne helped prepare the meal. It was some years after I visited Glenn Todd. Glenn had stayed at Gough street after we left. Some junky or souvenir hunter had torn off the front door. Glenn put up some crates and cardboard and stayed on. He scored big time, though. The redevelopment office gave him a great Victorian in a good neighborhood. I asked him if he ever saw Neal. He said "Yeah...Neal came around a few months ago, I made him some coffee. He looked gone in the face."
When Neal fell on the tracks in Mexico, he took the fall for a lot of us. We, who in the 50's (like now) abhorred conformity, liked some reefer, popped pills, drank and cruised, had a healthy distrust of the system we were part of, and put freedom above repression. Historically, we were politically correct in that the system proved to have its own perpetual institutionalized criminality. Those outside the system always understood the police as an instrument of the state. Smoking reefer in a wholesome and tribal manner meant that you were real, and for a moment, Love ruled. You were a Johnson, not a shit, to put it in a Burrough's hobohemian phrase. After all, Neal was ratted out and did hard time for what most would consider an innocent, if not generous act*. The system's propaganda picture would immediately bring in the playground, our children, etc. But those who saw and lived the whole picture knew who was real, who could be trusted, knew that after having been ratted on, the natural choices are to become a rat, or to keep friends with characters who know the sin of ratting.
*Hitchiking to work Neal Cassidy was picked up by two plainclothes police officers. He gave them three joints in thanks for the ride and was arrested shortly afterward. He was sentenced to two years in prison.
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