“I always ask for Cocoa Puffs”


From The Morning News:

I was nine years old in 1983, when my father, a professor at Rice University, invited Allen Ginsberg to Houston to give a poetry reading with the promise of financial assistance from the dean of humanities. Ginsberg asked for a $300 honorarium and economy airfare, which must still rank as one of the greatest entertainment bargains of the modern era.

I wasn’t along for the raucous trek to the airport to extract Ginsberg. Initially, my father insisted the welcoming committee be a “class operation”—just he and the dean of humanities—but word of the poet’s itinerary got out amongst the students. (We lived on the Rice campus, my parents serving as “masters” to one of the residential colleges. From what I could tell, masters were responsible for talking down drug-addled students and assuring them their parents would not disinherit them if they switched majors from mechanical engineering to French.)

“Goddamnit, you’re going to get the boy high!” roared my mother, as throngs of Beat poetry enthusiasts, adjunct professors, incapacitated English majors, and sundry other ne’er-do-wells spilled into our house.

“Richard, get this merry band of walking felonies out of our living room and into some kind of van, please!” My father did his best to herd the felons toward the curb.

“The Karma Bum”,  Tyler Stoddard Smith, The Morning News