Steve's beat play/Seen at Howl Arts: A Gathering


Old: hey you, you looking for something out here. Seems like you're lost

Young: oh no I'm just new to the neighborhood. I'm feeling my way around.

O: well where you livin at and where are you from?

Y: I’m from New Orleans. I moved into a tiny apartment on 3rd st last month.

O: so why choose dear old lower east side?

Y: I came here because I love the beat poets. I've been reading them since high school and I want to be a writer

O: oh wow yeah they were down here back in the 50s. I knew all of them. Quite a bunch of characters. Hell raiser.

Y: what was the scene the like?

O: completely different from what it is now. You know we got all these yuppies around. But we still got these poor ass blacks and Puerto Ricans mostly In The housing projects. And a hand full of drug addicts here and there, selling their regular shit.

Y: what'd you say your name was?

O: they call me old timer, I've been down here so long. This is my bench.

Y: pleasure to meet you Ol timer, I'm Virginia.

O: yeahhhh it was real different down here back in the 50s. It was long before rock us if and all that folk stuff. The music scene was jazz.

Y: is that right? Who are some of he musicians who played down here.

O: people like miles at the Jazz gallery, Mingus at the five spot, and even Trane played down here sometimes with miles or monk.

Y: the beats were into that kind of music

O: you see that guy over there. He was one of them.

Beat: what's your name sister, where you from

Y: I'm Virginia. Im from the south.

Beat: you want a hit on this joint?

Y: no thank you

B: for some reason they call me low life. See that place over there? That's where the five spot was located. On Saint marks and 3rd ave. want me to show you around.

Y: but where did the poets hangout? Just at the Jazz clubs? We're there any coffee spots they went to? Cheap places to eat?

B: I still know those spots. I'm certainly not paying these high rents. Hey Hellen get your but over here. Let me introduce you to Virginia. She's new to the hood.

V: I love Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and I can't get enough Henry Miller and Walt Whitman.

H: you must be some kind of existentialist.

V: I guess maybe yes, maybe no.

H: you're talking to someone who lives in the moment.

L: the scene was like,, I guess back in the day, everyone was cool.- hip.

H: give it to her straight low life. what do you mean?

L: you know what I mean woman. Everybody was relaxed easy going.

V: what do you mean everybody was relaxed? And why was that the case?

L: well look at it everything was cheap the rent?

H: you could sit in bar all night and only pay $5. And don't even talk about going hear music. You'd never spend more than $10

V: yeah but the poets didn't spend all their time in bars did they? Where did they get together to discuss books and art and film.?

Low life and Hellen laugh

H: all over the place

V: like where? All over where?

L: coffee shops cheap diners and each others pads.

H: you meAn their cribs?

V: did they work? What did they do for bread?

L: they worked in bookstores, waitress, paint people's apartments. Whatever. They didn't need much money cause everything was cheap.

V: you guys makin it seem like it was an artists paradise down here.

L: you gotta meet jimi.

V: who's jimi?

L: he's around your age you'll like him. His father was part of that scene.

H: let's go over to smokey joes on the Bowery. Hell fill you in about back in the day.

Guy: say you guys, anyone got spare change. I gotta get me something to eat.

L: just ignore people like that Virginia. I don't care how yuppified we've become down here it's still full of those characters. Ain't never gonna change.

L: tell me about some of your favorite writers. How bout filmmakers?  And are you into the art scene at all? How about Andy  Warhol?

V: pop art? That was late. It was about abstract expressionism,  Jackson pollock, and the, actors studio.., Brando, tony Curtis, isn't that right?

H: don't forget the bomb! (Laughing)

V: what bomb? And where are we going anyway?

H: the bomb they dropped on Japan during the Second World War.

V: didn't the war end in 1945? And we’re talking about 50s aren't we.

H: yeah and everything wS absurd. With Albert kamus the stranger, Harold pinter, Ionesco and Beckett. Like waiting for Godoy and all that kind of stuff

V: I'm just dying to meet jimi now cause guys aren't really tellin me that much

L: hey jimi! Look what we got.

J: hey mr cool, what's up? And hey Hellen! Long time no see

L: everything's fine and dandy. Give me five

J: it is what it is. And who you?

V: well it's Virginia, but if I stay down here long enough maybe I'll end up with a nick name

J: I'm jimi. Min d if I call you V?

H: she's into poetry jimi so be nice

J: you're a writer? What kind of stuff you write?

V: stuff

J: yeah but what kind of stuff? You got somethin to share with us. You wAnt a coffee, tea, glass of wine? It's on me. Have a seat. I just made a bunch of money helping this guy move into his apartment.

V: no I'm cool.

J: aside from writing do you dance sing paint draw? Just writing that seems boring to me.

V: I do a little acting here and there. And in my spare time, I draw. well what about you? What do you do?

J: well fancy that. What are you doing later on tonight. We’re gettingone actors together to put on a play. Maybe we could use a little fresh meat.

V: a play? A play about what?

J: mysticism? You're from New Orleans. Know anything about voodoo?

V: I know about the book of changes and I know how to cast spells.

H: what's your sign?

V: Aquarius.

L: you read poems? Bein from New Orleans you must be some kind of fortune teller. You ain't no gypsy are you?

V: you're askin me all these questions, I wanna know more about the Beats. Tell me about the scene.

H: fuck the establishment! You get it. That was it! If you were anti establishment. You were down

V: is that where Alan got all those lines in howl from. Angel headed hipsters draggin themselves through the negro streets at dawn lookin for an angry fix.

H: you nailed it

J: like the man says, everything is everything. You ever heard of Ferdinand celine?

V: yeah I told you I read all that stuff? That's why I'm here. I came to be part of the scene.

H: you're in the right place babe

L: yeah but as duke says “ things ain't like they used to be”

J: like I said before “it is what it is”. We gotta get started on this play. Wanna know what it's about. We can really use you.

V: have any of you ever used drugs? Like peyote? You ever had visions? I heard the beats used to see visions all the time. At least that's what I heard.

L: you better go back and read Naked Lunch

They all laugh

V: y'all sound like y'all are trying to put me on

J: ain't nobody trying to put you on babe. We just wanting to be hip and not square

V: well let's get to it what this play about

J: I'm writing it right now. I got all the information from Pops. He was part of the scene and I was a little boy when all that was happening. That's when I was learning to play the drums and the trumpet.

L: well who's gonna play what role?

J: you be you. And Hellen be yourself.

H: and what about you

J: I'm gonna play pops. When he was sleepin around, cheating on my mom

L: and what about V.

J: vs about my age so she can play my lover. How does that sound?

V: I guess I'm down w that as long as we don't get physical

J: no way jose

H: then let's get down

V: go for it