Sometimes history is made simply by making the right introductions at the right time. And so it was for Lucien Carr boy whatzis who ambled off to New York City in the 1940’s accompanied by his tragicaly obsessed tutor Dave Kammerer. Young, handsome, wealthy,blonde, beautiful, and tasteful, Lucien in short order hooked up William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and a young Allen Ginsberg, who were then nothing but a bunch of unconnected loafers at Columbia University.
Ah but somewhere along the line this bunch had magic,louche perhaps, but sufficiently debauched to indicate the seeds of greatness. Truly, even as world war two thundered over the horizon they created the world’s first hippie commune and worked their way through the pharmacist’s desk reference when they weren’t spouting poetry.
Good times never last, Lucien for all his conviviality was desperate to escape the obsessive love of Dave Kammerer...a man who followed him through the streets of Manhattan quite literally like a puppy dog. With Jack Kerouac Carr attempted to enlist in the Merchant Marine hoping somehow to beat the US troops to Paris after D-Day. Alas a “big bastard” of a bosun’s mate ran the two of them off the ship and Carr was left high and dry in New York.
So Lucien ended up stabbing Dave Kammerer to death and enlisted Kerouac’s aid in ditching the murder weapon. Having a poetic disposition and realizing he’d dragged his crowd of sybarites into something serious, Carr confessed and did a long stretch for manslaughter. Burroughs high tailed it for Texas and the life of a gentleman farmer, Kerouac got hitched, and Ginsberg tried fruitlessly to live a straight collegiate life. Their time had not yet struck as the beat pantheon.
Still and all that, the Carr-Kammerer case had it’s artistic reprocussions, Kerouac and Burroughs would fitfull collaboate on a ultimately unfinished novel based on the murder. “And the Hippos were boiled in their tanks” was never actually published but it formed the basis for one of Kerouac’s better novels “The Vanity of Duluoz”.
Carr was eventually paroled, having gone mad like a character out of his beloved Rimbaud, he then chose a respectable life as an editor at U.P.I. And of course, last week, having buried the whole of the Beatnik Leadership, Carr died quietly after a long illness-his work in so many ways being done.