is born of Spirit is spirit,"
9th, I attended a final farewell to old friend Lucien Carr, held at the Church
of St. Luke in the Fields, an old Anglican Episcopal place of worship since the
early 1920s, where Lucien's son Simon had arranged for a traditional service.
was determined to try and be as cheerful as possible, as a way of celebrating
as well as paying homage to Lucien's own boundless energy. Like Lucien, and Jack
Kerouac, who introduced us in the mid 50's, I was and still am also a firm believer
of living every precious moment of life to the hilt, and enjoying all the blessings,
and using all the set backs in a positive way, (as post graduate field research
for an eventual degree as a full fledged licensed and accredited Doctor of Hangoutology).
Lucien never needed a degree of this kind, because when I met him in the mid '50s,
he was already so sophisticated and worldly and so much fun to be with that even
while you always felt at home with him, you knew he was always a step ahead and
expected you to follow.
I arrived at St. Lukes and took a seat, I read a part of the program which was
given to us before the service. Reading through the various texts helped me to
put into perspective something about this great mystery and adventure that we
call life on earth.
service began, and during the Requiem Eucharist celebrating Lucien's life, I was
truly moved by hearing the reading of the following two excerpts from John 14:
1-6, which was printed as part of the program. It was a portion of the dialogue
between Jesus and Nicodemus, the Pharisee, when Jesus explained how it was possible
to be born again, after already having had an earthly birth.
is born of flesh is flesh, what is born of Spirit is spirit....The wind blows
where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes
from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit
what is born of Spirit is spirit," leapt off the page
i began thinking
not only Lucien but of all the amazing people I have been blessed to know in my
life, so many of whom had that special indefinable quality that has nothing to
do with physical beauty, fame, money, reputation, social position, possessions
or all the other superficial things which can be taken from you in a second. These
were the feelings which emanated from truly soulful people, spiritual reverberations
which you can feel, but which always remain unspoken, yet are still always powerful
and nourishing to be around.
I realized that the spirits of people liked Lucien whom I have met around the
world all had a presence that stays with you long after you meet them, and that
this strength of spirit has no differentiation due to religion, nationality or
race. It is simply a true level that has always been here for all of us. This
Spirit World (whom the Lakota people feel is the real one) is definitely a reality,
and one that we are ALL born into, but sometimes forget about, in which case that
spirit lies dormant within us, waiting to be nurtured.
in this beautiful old church, we were all together, celebrating Lucien's memory,
and suddenly I could feel his spirit, which transcended the ceremony, as it floated
around the room for all of us to share, and I could feel Kerouac and others also
join us in the room, as we all listened to the heavenly sounds of the choir up
in the balcony singing Bach.
the service, I flashed back a few years to Gregory Corso's memorial, at the huge
Catholic church in the Village where he was baptized, where Patti Smith and I
played a duet in his memory, and remembered Allen Ginsberg's wild series of memorials,
and the memorials of all the other people over the years who were drawn together
through the spirit as well as friendships with Kerouac himself. I felt that they
were also there with us for this afternoon, but realized that I couldn't go out
with them later that afternoon, and that now with Lucien gone, there was almost
no one left.
It was Lucien
who introduced everyone to everyone else, and kept up his friendship with Jack
to the very end when most of the old group had given up on him. very end, when
many of Jack's friends had given up on him.
I spent time with Lucien and Kerouac in the mid fifties, we would always end up
our evening adventures by going to Lucien's place whenever Kerouac was in town,
staying up till the sun rose, playing music, singing songs and telling stories
of our latest escapades, while his kids would stay up way past their bedtimes,
watching and listening to a bunch of crazy joyous hyperactive supposed grown-ups
celebrating being together, while Lucien's wife, like a true saint, put up with
all of us, making us feel at home and enjoying the merriment as well.
during the service, I realized that even if Lucien and almost everyone else from
that happy time are no longer here, his spirit will always be reflected in the
work of so many of us whom he brought together. Lucien always encouraged us to
pursue excellence, telling us to always strive do better than expected when creating
artistic work, and hopefully through that work, to enrich the lives of others.
In spite of his vast knowledge
of literature, Lucien was not only interested in the work and spirit of his friends
who were authors and poets during the amazing era of the 1950s which later received
the dubious catch-all cliche of Beat.
was also interested and knowledgeable in the enduring work of the musicians, composers,
painters, actors and all the artists who were part of a much larger community,
all of whom were united by a merging of each other's spirits, with each one of
us contributing something of our own. Being with him made you sense that community
that he also celebrated...open, inclusive and life-affirming.
the same time, even in his most gregarious moments, he could spot a charlatan
with a special radar that he possessed, which seemed to from his great innate
honesty, a quality which helped him to become a great editor for most of his professional
life. I am sure that part his legacy will remain in hearts of the young people
with whom he worked as a master editor at UPI News Service for several decades.
His fellow workers always held him in high esteem, just as his old friends always
I looked to my right
as the processional came down the aisle, and sitting across the aisle in the church,
held in the arms of his beautiful mom Miia, was Dody Muller's grandson, only nine
months old, staring and checking out everyone with his dark eyes. a few years
ago, Lucien and his family had all been at Dody's 70th birthday party, and during
a break in the long afternoon, Lucien, Dody and I all hugged each other and marveled
at how lucky we were, in spite of our wild younger days, to have such incredible
children, who were all there at the party to celebrate Dody's life.
said to Lucien and to me......" Whatever they say about us in the future,
we must have done something right. Look at our fantastic children."
the service, when his sons spoke, I was reminded again how remarkable his own
Four nights before
the service for Lucien took place, Dody's daughter Miia, her husband and her nine
month old son had come down to the Cornelia Street Cafe in the Village to hear
me play, and, in addition to the music we played, we had readings with music of
Kerouac's work, as I had done at Lucien's house for years after the last public
performances Jack and I gave together. Dody enjoyed these times at Lucien's as
Miia and I talked
about Lucien, and how we would be together at the Service at St. Lukes to honor
his memory, and I told her again how we all hung out with her mom and his then
baby-aged kids before she was born. During this, her son seemed to be checking
us out as we spoke.
told me at the church that when she and her husband went out to the country after
coming to be with us in the Village that the next morning when they woke up, their
son was sitting at the piano for hours playing.
I greeted him at the reception after the memorial service at the church, he stuck
out his hand, as if he was signaling me to play, and I not only saw Dody's spirit
in his eyes, I also felt HER spirit, right in the room with Lucien's, all while
eating some cantaloupe and grapes and talking to Lucien's relatives and old friends.
decided right then that when he gets a little older, i will tell him stories about
his grandmother Dody, and how she, Lucien, Kerouac and I all hung out on those
very same streets a half a century ago, so that in the year 2079, when he is 74
as I am now, he can tell his grandkids what happened way back in the mid-1950's,
as well as what happened to him during his lifetime in this new Millennium.
I know that I can't ever visit Lucien in Washington to go sailing with him, as
we had often planned to do, or talk to him on the phone from some funky motel
or airport when I am on the road, to tell him about what is happening in 2005
in a far off place that I know he would love, because he would see the hidden
beauty of whatever was there that would be overlooked by everyone else.
wherever I am from now on, I know that I will always be able to still feel his
spirit, and somehow communicate with him in that special way, as I increasingly
do with many others no longer here, who like Lucien, will always will have a special
place in my heart.
most of the remaining hyperactive workaholic but still fun-loving members of our
Era, I always share with young folks the importance of Charlie Parker's immortal
recording of his composition, "Now's the Time." When kids tell me that
they wish they had been around in the 40's and 50's, I always remind them of the
title of Charlie Parker's classic, and that this is the perfect time to be here.
Just as Lucien always did, I try to avoid being stranded in the quicksands of
the memorial for Lucien, and all that transpired on that lovely spring afternoon
at St. Luke's Church, I suddenly became conscious, when reading that phrase, "What
is born of Spirit is spirit," may have been said two thousand years ago but
would always remain modern.
it is a timeless truth, it is always right on time, as Lucien himself always was,
because in that living spirit world, Now is always the time.
April 13, 2005
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