Bill Manville: The Nice Thing About Tweeds


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April 1, 1959, Vol. IV, No. 23

Saloon Society

By Bill Manville

I ran into A.E. Kugelman walking down Greenwich Avenue the other day.

“Did you make it over to the International Salon last Sunday night? The poetry reading? I didn’t see you…I wasn’t going myself, you know. I’m no intellectual, no moving man. I ain’t even got a college degree. But I ran into Brigid Murnaghan, and she hips me she’s going to read some of her stuff, so I make it over there.

“I stopped at the White Horse first—empty, man. Quiet, you’d never believe it. I heard later all the universities on MacDougal Street, they’re empty too. Everybody’s making it over to the International to hear Brigid.

“When I get there, I immediately see it’s like a hip party. Everybody you know from all the Scenes are there — the moving men, of course, the Kettle group, the Chess Players, the Martiniacs, Sunday Night Husbands, and a lot of civilians. And there’s Brigid. You know how she looks like Greta Garbo? She’s in some kind of a white dress with a Buffalo Bill fringe. She’s so turned on by the camp of it all, it looks like there’s extra light on her, she’s shining, man. Shining.

“‘Well, some guy, someone told me he was famous, he reads first. He’s all right, I guess, he talked about ‘green afternoons,’ and ‘poets armed with visions of death,’ like that—beautiful stuff you know, but I don’t dig it. I even wonder for a while, is this guy putting down a big camp, fooling everyone, I mean, does it have any meaning? But then he reads one poem, it’s got a dirty word in it, so you knew he was an honest-to-God intellectual, all right, and it was OK. I mean, who would say a thing like that in a roomful of squares and people with glasses if it wasn’t Art?

“…So the intermission is over, and Brigid gets up and she says: ‘Can everybody hear me?’ And some cat in the back says: ‘No,’ so she yells back ‘then pay attention!’

“All the other poets, they read from big notebooks, you know, serious, typed stuff covering the whole page, no paragraphs, narrow margins, no white space, and long sentences. But Brigid, her stuff is on little pieces of paper, short and wild. She killed the people. They wouldn’t let her stop reading. At the end she’s got no poems left so one lady stands up and says: ‘Just talk to us.’ They didn’t want her to stop. Except some other poets in the back, ones who didn’t get to read yet, they’re in a murderous mood by now. They want to read their beautiful sentiments too, you see. So they make Brigid stop. We all left.

“You got another second? I’ll recite you one of Brigid’s poems. She said it was a Beat Poem and it’s called ‘Tweed.’ It goes: The nice thing about tweeds is you can eat in them, sleep in them, and even wet your pants in them, wear them the next day and have people say: How nice you look in them — just like a lady.

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