University of Maryland, Baltimore County
The Beat Museum on Wheels Arrives at UMBC
|Driving the Beatmobile into Maryland was a pretty terrific experience.
I grew up in Baltimore and later, as an adult, lived for many years
in the Washington, DC suburbs. We didn't have a gig near the Baltimore/Washington
Corridor last year as we literally skipped the Mid-Atlantic states
by driving from Ohio to Kentucky and then down into North Carolina.
This year was different. A professor I'd had at my old college,
Ken Baldwin, was retiring as the Chairman of the English Department
and he agreed to have us come to UMBC as one of his last official
I was thrilled! We drove to my friend Ronn's house in Annapolis.
When we arrived on campus at UMBC I was giddy. What a joy to drive
the Beat Museum on Wheels on to my old college campus! The first
thing I did was take a victory lap around the loop - a circular
road that runs completely around the campus. People were waving
and we were honking. I drove by my old dorm and saw the kids sitting
on the ledge of the concrete overlooking the scenery - the same
way I did so many years ago.
Piotr was our contact with the faculty - he arranged everything
with security to get us the most el-primo spot on campus - right
in the center of the Quad - the very Quad where I used to play
football during our pick-up games of yore.
After getting settled into place we hiked up to the English Department
to meet some folks and found a copy of Ginsberg's 'America' tacked
to a bulletin board. It was a facsimile showing where someone
had once defaced the verbiage - they'd crossed out the word 'fuck'
in the line, "Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb".
The professor who'd posted the story commented on how it was interesting
to see how a poem from a book (Howl) that had been at the very
center of the major obscenity trial of the 20th Century was being
defaced because someone didn't agree with the language.
Later that night we made our way out on the town. We went to
Sorrento's, one of the greatest sub places in the history of the
world. Sine, who drove us, said, "No, that place sucks, I
can't take you there," but it turned out she was a vegan
and had an agenda. John came back with emergency supplies and
the evening was a big success.
The next day big crowds came by, even when it rained, and that
night we did the show. Jenny had one of the snappiest comeback's
to the famous John Cassady marriage proposal ever - When John
commented on her raven hair and immediately followed by saying,
"You're beautiful. Will you marry me?" Jenny responded
without missing a beat, "You'd mount me and hang me from
your chamber door," a double entendre alluding to 'The Raven'
by Edgar Allen Poe.
That night, after the show, Allen, who is on the mailing list,
came by with his daughter Laura, arriving too late to see the
show. We all hung out for a while and Ronn discovered he knew
Allen's wife Vicki - they grew up right across the street from
each other in Pikesville. Ronn was shouting in to the speakerphone
trading names with Vicki of mutual acquaintances.
Of course John asked Laura to marry him - this time it was captured
in writing. Her dad insisted she wait a few years.
The next morning we met with Tom in the Special Collections Section
of the Library where he showed us signed copies of some of Ginsberg's
books - signed at the very event Ronn and I attended at UMBC where
we saw Ginsberg read for the very first time.
All in all a very fine Homecoming indeed!
Taking a Victory Lap Around the Campus
My Old Roommate Ronn was Thrilled to See us
My Old Dorm - I Spent a Lot of Time Sitting on Those Ledges
The Physics Building Where We Would Do Our Show
Piotr is in the English Department and Arranged for Our Arrival
Wheeling Our Way Through the Tight Turns on Our Way to Our Prime Parking
A Copy of a Defaced America on Display in the English Department
Sine drove us to Sorrento's Sub Shop, One of My Favorite Old Haunts
John Returning with Essential Supplies
People Were Pounding on Our Door All Night Long
The Beatmobile at Dawn's Early Light
The Beatmobile is All Set Up Just as Students Start to Come to Class
Discussions Begin as Soon as People Arrive on Campus
Jerry & Erin with the Pink Hair - Leary & Neal Approve
The View from Inside The Commons Building
'Trust Me, Girls, I Really Am a Photographer'
Cutting Classes for a Photo Op
Raven Haired Jenny Had the Quickest Comeback to John's Proposal in
Stepping Away from the Beatmobile to Prepare for the Show
Ronn Had Ken for English a Year After I Did
Ronn Talking to Alan's Wife Vicki on the Speakerphone
Laura Got John's Proposal in Writing - Her Dad Nixed the Deal
Tom Shows Us Signed Ginsberg Books in The Special Collections Department
Ronn and Jerry Attended This Event at UMBC in 1977
'So Long, UMBC! Thanks for Having Us!'