Kenneth Rexroth on the ‘Madison Avenue Pismires’


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May 7, 1958, Vol. III, No. 28

‘Sometimes I Come On Real Sweet’

By Alan Bodian

Kenneth Rexroth, reluctant father of the Beat Generation, was staying with a friend on Sixth Avenue near 56th Street. It was just past 11 a.m. when I arrived, and he was breakfasting on black coffee.

“All this stuff about me and the others in San Francisco is mostly from articles in Playboy and Esquire. In Playboy, I’m supposed to have said at a party: ‘Anarchists must unite.'”

“Did you?”

“No. I’ve been an anarchist all my life. All these Madison Avenue pismires have invented this stuff. Can you imagine? I once said that wine should be chilled to be enjoyed. Now they stand around–everyone at these New York parties–drinking iced wine…

“I think that article was typed with the left hand while the right hand, well…Imagine that Madison Avenue mob standing around drinking iced wine (ha, ha, ha) because they think it’s bourgeois to drink it at room temperature, they turn up their hi-fi’s at full-blast with nothing more Dixieland than Thelonious. Girls come to these parties in cashmere sweaters and at midnight take off the sweaters and walk around, well…nothing happens. They’re mostly PR girls, anyway…”

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]