Summer and Smoke; or, the Muppets of Tangier

NB: Paper Cut Flophouse was a group blog that ran in the late aughts. Most posts were written by two contributors: me, using the pseudonym Roman Briton, and my friend Pompeston, the mastermind of the endeavor. This is a cross-posting of a post I originally wrote for PCFH; here’s a link to the original.

Remember that party back at the beginning of the summer, or maybe it was the end of the spring, the party where at one point I was talking about how I misremember facts, get details fogged and discombobulated, maybe especially when it comes to the biographies or writers, like how I remember the story of Carson McCullers out on Nantucket in the summer of 1946 with Tennessee Williams and his companion, Pancho Rodriguez, and the two writers would sit every morning, all summer long, on opposite sides of the dining-room table, kitty-corner to one another, Tom with his typewriter and Carson with hers and a bottle of whiskey between them, during which stay she wrote The Member of the Wedding and he wrote The Glass Menagerie—except, reading McCullers’s biography I realize I’ve got it wrong, that summer she wrote a play based on her third novel, and he, rather, was working on Summer and Smoke (in a year when Menagerie was still running on Broadway); except, come to think of it, I might not have mentioned that story at all at that party (and I might actually be accurately remembering an old, pickled creative writing teacher’s inaccurate recounting of the story), but I think I did talk about my memory of Allen Ginsburg showing up at William S. Burroughs’s house in Tangier, finding Bill anesthetized and inconsolable, sprawled on his bed like a lovesick nihilist with a monkey on his back, pages upon loose pages, stained and trampled typescript, strewn about the apartment, which Allen picked up and started to read, and maybe Jack Kerouac was there too, and somehow, in the retelling, Jack and Allen took on the voices of Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear, if I’m remembering right, and Bill had the voice of Sam the Eagle, and Kermit and Fozzie thought some of Sam’s pages were pretty good, maybe they could put them together in some kind of order, like a novel, and Sam said no, no, it wasn’t worth it, life was misery and romance was a crock and boys were fickle and besides, there was no more decent hash to be had in all of Morocco, but Kermit and Fozzie gathered all the pages together and put them in an order that made sense and took them to a publisher in Paris, and that became Naked Lunch (although maybe I didn’t mention that story at the party either, maybe it came up that afternoon back at the beginning of the summer when we were talking on West 4th Street, not far from the library, while a bum sang variations on the old jingle our city used to use to advertise itself to the world, “I Love New York,” at us)? Anyway, that was a fun party.