16 August 2020

Hollow-Eyed and High [1991]

[A retrospective passage from my journal, written 23 September 1991.]

Mid-August 1991. At Powell’s Books, downtown Portland. It’s the end of an exhausting day, and I’m looking for Steckmesser’s Western Hero in History and Folklore, as the library copy has been stolen. Powell’s is unusually crowded, for some reason, and the crowd seems to be going where I’m going. Somehow or another I get turned around and have to retrace my steps—it’s easy to get lost in Powell’s even without a crowd—but I finally make it to the Rose Room, where the Western Americana hang out. Here the crowd gets downright nasty, and I am told to stand in line and wait my turn, but I’m not having any. I bull my way through, and then hug the walls, where for some reason there are no people. I turn down my aisle and there, directly in front of me, is Allen Ginsberg, signing autographs. Now all is clear, but—unfortunately—Powell’s has no copy of Steckmesser’s Western Hero, and I really have no reason to stay and stand in line, having left my copy of “Howl” at home, so I fight my way to the street again and catch a bus.

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