Monday, October 1, 2007

Madame Blavatsky does the Marx Brothers

More on the Beat Hotel (9 rue Git-le-Coeur) where Burroughs and painter-restauranteur Brion Gysin "invented" the cut-up technique, where Corso wrote The Happy Birthday of Death, and so on. One walked up the stairs of this place to find a squat toilet hole, peeling walls, and a tilted landing. Rooms: bare floor, seedy furnishings, 40-watt bulbs on the ceiling. It cost $30/month to stay there. The landlady, Madame Rachou, didn't care what people did there and was highly selective about whom she rented to.

"It was like a Marx Brothers movie directed by Madame Blavatsky," Ted Morgan remembers.

Steven Watson, The Birth of the Beat Generation: Visionaries, Rebels, and Hipsters, 1944-1960 (Pantheon, 1995), p. 273. See also Barry Miles, The Beat Hotel (Grove, 2000).