In one of Allen Ginsberg’s early photographs, on view now as part of the retrospective “Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg” at the Grey Art Gallery at New York University, the poet focuses his lens on a homeless man sitting on the edge of Tompkins Square Park. The man’s face is bloated and scarred and his belongings are piled in a shopping cart. Narrow lunch counters and hulking sedans along Avenue A date the photo to the 1950s. Four decades later, Ginsberg composed a short prose poem along its lower margin:
The first shopping cart street prophet I’d directly noticed, fall leaves scattered on Tompkins Park sidewalk, Avenue A & St. Mark’s Place, over 40 years ago, Leshko’s Restaurant was cheap and popular as at present on the corner a block south, I had my snapshots developed at a drug store near Park Center eatery across the street on S.W. corner, & was living with W.S. Burroughs a few blocks away 206 East 7th Street—working as copyboy on now defunct New York World-Telegram, my apartment rent $29.00 a month, three small rooms, October 1953.
Filming didn’t get off to a great start for On the Road star Sam Riley, who plays narrator Sal Paradise in the adaptation of the Jack Kerouac classic. As the movie opens, Paradise’s father has just died, and fellow Brit Tom Sturridge, playing Carlo Marx analogue Allen Ginsberg, comes up and whispers a Hebrew dirge in his ear, an attempt at comfort.
There they were, two English guys still relatively early in their careers, excited to be kicking off the making of a movie that took decades to realize. And things went well for a few hours—until suddenly the clouds rolled in, the sky went black and the rain started pelting them like marbles. They took refuge from the thunderstorm in their trailer, wondering whether they might simply be sent home.
“We were laughing that it was Kerouac and Ginsberg pissing on us because they didn’t want two English guys playing them,” Mr. Riley told The Observer, sitting across a coffee table at the Regency Hotel.
Letter from Cannes
Nicole Kidman pisses on Zac Ephron’s face! Eva Mendes cradles a Parisian sewer troll! A nude Kristen Stewart jerks off Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund—at the same time! Kanye West unveils the future of cinema inside an enormous white pyramid! Film festivals usually mete out their lunacy with more deliberation. This year, though, after a subdued week of world-class cinema, Cannes got weird fast.