Sam Kashner applied to college through an advertisement in the “Village Voice”. The admissions postcard he received in response was penned by no ordinary dean, but by preeminent Beat bard Allen Ginsberg, who invited Kashner–now a writer and Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair–to matriculate as the first student in the then-unaccredited Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. While enrolled, Kashner forged an especially powerful bond with wordsmith Gregory Corso, an orphan, an ex-con, an autodidact, and an outsider among outsiders.
On the cusp of Valentine’s Day, Kashner honors his mentor with a recitation of Corso’s ode to nuptial indecision, “Marriage”. Romance in fact precipitated Corso’s imprisonment; at age seventeen, Coros burgled a tailor’s shop of a suit in preparation for a date. Stolen clothes also account for the overcoat in which Kashner delivers “Marriage”. While employed at vintage boutique in Denver, Kashner allowed Corso to to walk out of the shop wearing the garment, which the poet gifted to his protégé years later. Now, lofted above the Bowery–one of Corso’s favorite haunts–Kashner weighs the pros and cons on tying the knot, cinched snugly in the superlative artist’s presence.
Shot on location in the Bowery Hotel. Image: National Gallery of Art.