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University of Maryland, Baltimore County

The Beat Museum on Wheels Arrives at UMBC

Driving the Beatmobile into Maryland was a pretty terrific experience. I grew up in Baltimore and later, as an adult, lived for many years in the Washington, DC suburbs. We didn't have a gig near the Baltimore/Washington Corridor last year as we literally skipped the Mid-Atlantic states by driving from Ohio to Kentucky and then down into North Carolina.

This year was different. A professor I'd had at my old college, Ken Baldwin, was retiring as the Chairman of the English Department and he agreed to have us come to UMBC as one of his last official acts.

I was thrilled! We drove to my friend Ronn's house in Annapolis. When we arrived on campus at UMBC I was giddy. What a joy to drive the Beat Museum on Wheels on to my old college campus! The first thing I did was take a victory lap around the loop - a circular road that runs completely around the campus. People were waving and we were honking. I drove by my old dorm and saw the kids sitting on the ledge of the concrete overlooking the scenery - the same way I did so many years ago.

Piotr was our contact with the faculty - he arranged everything with security to get us the most el-primo spot on campus - right in the center of the Quad - the very Quad where I used to play football during our pick-up games of yore.

After getting settled into place we hiked up to the English Department to meet some folks and found a copy of Ginsberg's 'America' tacked to a bulletin board. It was a facsimile showing where someone had once defaced the verbiage - they'd crossed out the word 'fuck' in the line, "Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb". The professor who'd posted the story commented on how it was interesting to see how a poem from a book (Howl) that had been at the very center of the major obscenity trial of the 20th Century was being defaced because someone didn't agree with the language.

Later that night we made our way out on the town. We went to Sorrento's, one of the greatest sub places in the history of the world. Sine, who drove us, said, "No, that place sucks, I can't take you there," but it turned out she was a vegan and had an agenda. John came back with emergency supplies and the evening was a big success.

The next day big crowds came by, even when it rained, and that night we did the show. Jenny had one of the snappiest comeback's to the famous John Cassady marriage proposal ever - When John commented on her raven hair and immediately followed by saying, "You're beautiful. Will you marry me?" Jenny responded without missing a beat, "You'd mount me and hang me from your chamber door," a double entendre alluding to 'The Raven' by Edgar Allen Poe.

That night, after the show, Allen, who is on the mailing list, came by with his daughter Laura, arriving too late to see the show. We all hung out for a while and Ronn discovered he knew Allen's wife Vicki - they grew up right across the street from each other in Pikesville. Ronn was shouting in to the speakerphone trading names with Vicki of mutual acquaintances.

Of course John asked Laura to marry him - this time it was captured in writing. Her dad insisted she wait a few years.

The next morning we met with Tom in the Special Collections Section of the Library where he showed us signed copies of some of Ginsberg's books - signed at the very event Ronn and I attended at UMBC where we saw Ginsberg read for the very first time.

All in all a very fine Homecoming indeed!

 

Taking a Victory Lap Around the Campus

My Old Roommate Ronn was Thrilled to See us

My Old Dorm - I Spent a Lot of Time Sitting on Those Ledges

The Physics Building Where We Would Do Our Show

Piotr is in the English Department and Arranged for Our Arrival

Wheeling Our Way Through the Tight Turns on Our Way to Our Prime Parking Spot

A Copy of a Defaced America on Display in the English Department

Sine drove us to Sorrento's Sub Shop, One of My Favorite Old Haunts

John Returning with Essential Supplies

People Were Pounding on Our Door All Night Long

The Beatmobile at Dawn's Early Light

The Beatmobile is All Set Up Just as Students Start to Come to Class

Discussions Begin as Soon as People Arrive on Campus

Jerry & Erin with the Pink Hair - Leary & Neal Approve

The View from Inside The Commons Building

'Trust Me, Girls, I Really Am a Photographer'

Cutting Classes for a Photo Op

Raven Haired Jenny Had the Quickest Comeback to John's Proposal in History

Stepping Away from the Beatmobile to Prepare for the Show

Ronn Had Ken for English a Year After I Did

Ronn Talking to Alan's Wife Vicki on the Speakerphone

Laura Got John's Proposal in Writing - Her Dad Nixed the Deal

Tom Shows Us Signed Ginsberg Books in The Special Collections Department

Ronn and Jerry Attended This Event at UMBC in 1977

'So Long, UMBC! Thanks for Having Us!'

For more information about The Beat Museum On Wheels click here