Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kill your darlings...

Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg. Image credit


Hot off the back of the film "Howl" (2010), "On the Road" is scheduled for release this year, and next years Beat film is already in post-production: "Kill your darlings". It is a film about the Carr-Kammerer murder in 1944 when Ginsberg was at Columbia University. Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs' novel (unpublished until 2008) And the Hippos were Boiled in their Tanks is also based on the murder.

Lucien Carr wasn’t a writer, but he was an important catalyst for Ginsberg and the Beat generation as he introduced Ginsberg to a number of future Beat writers, including Jack Kerouac (arguably the most well-known figure of the Beat generation, he named the generation and wrote one of its defining texts, On the Road) and William S. Burroughs (who wrote Junkie and Naked Lunch and coined the phrase “Heavy Metal”). These three writers formed the inner circle of the Beat generation.

A quick sketch of the murder (more detailed accounts can be found elsewhere). Carr was from St Louis and moved to New York to escape the attentions of David Kammerer (his boy-scout leader), but he followed him to New York. Kammerer had gone to school with William S Burroughs and Carr was friends (despite the unwanted sexual advances from Kammerer towards Carr) with Kammerer and Burroughs. In 1944, after a night of drinking together near Columbia University, Kammerer apparently made unwanted advances towards Carr and Kammerer tired to overpower Carr who responded by (ironically) stabbing him with his boy scout knife. Carr paniked and weighed Kammerer's pockets with stones and rolled him into the Hudson river.

Carr then went and saw Burroughs, who flushed Kammerer's bloody cigarettes down the toilet and told Carr to get a lawyer. Instead Carr went and saw Kerouac, who helped him dispose of the knife before going to see a movie together. Eventually Carr did turn himself in, but couldn't be charged immediately as the body had not yet been found. Kerouac and Burroughs were arrested as accessories. Carr was sentenced to 20 years in prison, of which he served only the minimum 2 years.  He went on to have a successful career in editing and died in 2005.

There are also some new Beat documentaries on the way, more information on Another Lost Shark.

1 comment:

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