Word went flying:
RIP .... that coney island of the mind...thanks for the bookstore and world-changing poems Lawrence.
What a run.
It was always the first place I found myself navigating toward from the SFAirport, through the Bart, up to Market Street and toward the water.
Past Post Street and then Chinatown, I’d walk past Brandy Hos on Columbus Ave to that magic place, to peruse the stacks at the bookstore.
told me about the place years ago.
He’d go there on trips out West.
We’d meet there in the early 1990’s.
I drafted notes for books, White Nights and Illuminations on Market, sitting on the second-floor next door at Vesuvio, looking at the poets moving to and from, ideas bubbling between here and there, with the cigarette smoke., dancing in the air.
Looking at snapshots of interviewees, talking about Miguel Unamuno with Dad, magical conversations with Bobby, menacing moments with Kelly, disappointments, hopes, love affairs crumbling.
Out to the Lusty Lady up the street, back to the bookstore, up to the poetry room to sit and dream, or pick-up copies of the owner’s newest novel or poetry collection, each year they got better.
I’d read them with Rev Jim on World AIDS day, two decades later.
Or with Ron, meeting me there.
Walking on the beach, with one of the books we picked up, or down the street in the park.
Sitting in the trees, at El Jardin Paraiso, Sarah read “I am waiting” after Dad died.
We’re all waiting for “that rebirth of wonder…”
It’s a circle of stories.
Dad going to the store after it opened.
Picking up Howl.
Reading it over and over.
To us in Dallas,
Me reading it in Brooklyn.
Dodi reading recalling Sunflower Sutra, recalling Blake, tracing more adventures with Jack and company.
Lawrence published them all.
Harold Norse, another Brooklyn beat, who resided at the Beat Hotel with Allen and William, before he settled near the magic bookstore.
The collective mythology brought us all into a space in the poetry room upstairs, where I spent all day.
Dad arrived five years after Lawrence got there, 36 before I showed up.
We were all invited into that abundant story he traced:
“When I arrived in San Francisco in 1951 I was wearing a beret,” said Lawrence. “If anything I was the last of the bohemians rather than the first of the Beats.”
Kenneth Rexroth and Harold and the rest traced those old stories, that we cherished.
And then we wrote about them, narrating our own tales of the city, reading about the Coney Island of the Mind, sitting looking at the Hudson, not far from your Yonkers, looking at paintings of your dreamboat in Chinatown with Keegan,
Learn to be a journalist from outer space looking at the world.
See poetry as insurgent art… you implored.
I tried to, walking from San Francisco, through your home in the streets of Brooklyn, picking up a used copy of Starting from San Francisco in Red Hook.
And thinking about what poetry could be,
Searching for that space Dad longed to understand between poetry and the subline,
God and the unknown, inside us all,
“I am signaling you through the flames…” wrote Lawrence.
Your words screamed from the page, reminding us, pointing us toward a story we could all be part of.
Thanks for supplying us with the zine rack and the poetry room and the pocket poet series and the collected works and Little Boy.
We toasted to you on your birthday at Judson memorial during the book launch for my San Francisco novel.
Your stories pointed us toward an ever-expanding vortex, waves making their way, taking us, surfers coasting, riding out, that dreamboat taking you there, taking us there, beyond North Beach into the forever.