Great Good Places

Hangouts on the Upper West Side


I chose Dodge Hall, McMillan Theater as the "most worthy" place as far as beat hangouts for our class web site based on the first section of Morgan's walking tour and the sites he mentions. The roots of the Beats and the socially deviant movement named after them lie here. On February 5, 1959 Corso, Ginsberg, and Orlovsky after just returning from Chicago where they read in support of the editors for the censored Chicago Review/Big Table magazines, held poetry reading on the campus of Columbia University. From the onset they were denounced by not only Columbia, but by the media as well. Their negative public image was created by the press. This reading the first public acknowledgment, in this case Columbia University it because the English department sponsored the event, of the Beats.

Many of the groups fundamental members were introduced to one another the living quarters Morgan mentions throughout his section on Columbia University. However, in terms of Oldenburg's definition of a third place, or hangout, these places would not meet the criteria.

So if we were to follow his definition I would pick the West End Bar where Ginsberg, Carr, Kammerer, Young, and Kerouac were regulars. Although Morgan's guidebook does not go into great depth about event actions that transpired here, I'm sure there were many happenings or occurrences, most of which were influential or noteworthy in our study of the Beats and their respective movement at the West End Bar. They came to such places because they knew they could be themselves, it was one of many "Great Good Places" that housed the youth counter-culture of the forties and fifties.

Lynette Erbe


"That dim waystation of undergraduate debauchery on Morningside Heights."-Diana Trilling.

During the 1940's, the West End Bar served as a gathering place for the students of Columbia. It was the social hangout of the campus. After a long day of studying, students would visit the West End for its food, drinks, and fun. (If it had been a particularly hard day, one could even drown their sorrows away in a cold glass of beer.) Unlike the Columbia campus, the West End was open to females. As a result, the Bar became a meeting place for students from Columbia and Barnard (Columbia's sister school). Despite the fact that the West End served as the hangout for the entire campus, it was also frequented by the Beats throughout much of the forties and fifties. Not only did some of their most crazy antics occur at the West End, Lucien Carr rolling Jack Kerouac down the street in a barrel, but it was also their meeting place. In fact, the importance of the West End showed up in Jack Kerouac's The Town and the City. Most of his characters were based on regulars at the bar.

Sarah Doran


St. Paul's Chapel

This is one of the few original campus buildings not designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White. In Vanity of Duluoz Kerouacās fictional; alter-ego says: Iām passing St. Paulās Chapel on the campus, and going down the old wood steps they had there, here comes Mueller [David Kammerer] boundering eagerly, bearded, in the gloom, up my way, sees me, says: ĪWhereās Claude ? [Lucien Carr] Īin the West End.ā ĪThanks. Iāll see ya later!" And I watch him rush off to his death.ā This is one of the many references in Kerouacās work to the murder of David Kammerer by Lucien Carr. Nineteen-year-old Lucien Carr was a brilliant, bold, sophisticated, and rebellious student at Columbia who was a mentor to Kerouac and Ginsberg. David Kammerer, a thirty-three-year-old former St.Louis P.E. instructor, had become obsessed with Carrās physical beauty and hounded him across the country, from Missouri to Maine to Illinois to New York. Michael Schumacher writes in his biography of Allen Ginsberg. "To people who knew[them], the situation was sad pathetic :Lucien was decisively heterosexual, and the tall, bearded Kammerer,[was obsessed] with Lucien to the point of forsaking his life and self-respect in his hopeless pursuit ..." His harassment of Carr intensified until one night after everyone had drunk far too much in the bars, Kammerer and Carr walked alone to Riverside Park, quarreling all the way. There, Kammerer made a drunken threat against Celine Young, the woman Carrr was living with, and then jumped on Carr, telling him he loved him and demanding sex again, and threatening to kill him and take his own life. Lucien pulled out his Boy scout knife and stabbed Kammerer and then weighted his body and threw it into the Hudson River. Lucien shaken, went to Burroughās apartment and then to Kerouacās for advice. He and Kerouac talked it over. They drank a few beers, went to Times Square for hot dogs, watched Kordaās The Four Feathers in a movie house, and then went to the Museum of Modern Art. Two days later, Carr turned himself into police. Kerouac and Burroughs were arrested for failing to report the crime; Burroughs father bailed him out, while Kerouac went to jail. Carr was charged with second degree murder and served time in a reformatory. Kerouac and Burroughs collaborated on a mystery novel, And the Hippos Were boiled in Their Tanks, that was based on Kammererās murder.

******reprinted from Bill Morgan's The Beat Generation In New York******

Ryan Westervelt


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