Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Kill Your Darlings


I just have to start out with my Alan Ginsberg story. Me and my friend Chris Kingsley set out to thumb our way west around New Year’s Day in 1967. Just outside of Fort Worth we got a ride with a discharged sailor who was coming from Atlanta, driving his really, really hot Chevy Nova. He needed drivers, as he was falling asleep. At speeds approaching or even exceeding one hundred miles per hour, we drove almost straight through, and arrived in San Francisco in about twenty-four hours.

We were let out at the corner of Haight and Stanyan, totally ignorant of what Time magazine had just christened “hippies.” There we met Jack the Rat, who asked us if we were hungry. We were, so he took us around the corner to a storefront of the group called the Diggers, who were providing free food to all the flower children who were flocking to the Haight. Soon we were sitting on the floor eating boiled chicken necks and rice, and this guy with a beard comes in and sits on the floor with this little hand squeeze-organ and starts chanting some mantra he learned in India. We all chanted along with him. This was Alan Ginsberg. Even two ignorant ex-shitkickers from Texas knew who this dude was.

Later, Ginsberg made a pass at Chris. My friend just always seemed to attract gay men. Chris politely declined. And that’s my Alan Ginsberg story. And now, back to our movie …

Daniel Radcliffe has been working very hard to divorce himself from Harry Potter, and has had some success at it. He has appeared on Broadway in Equus and the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. And he has made four films, with four more in the pipeline. All these things have been about as un-Potter as you can get.

Here he plays Ginsberg as a young man just getting into the poetry game. He becomes friends with Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs at Columbia and in the Village. Also part of the gang was Lucian Carr, a brilliant but unstable fellow who had a homosexual stalker, David Kammerer, following him around all over the country. In August of 1944, Carr stabbed Kammerer to death and dumped his body in the Hudson. That murder is the centerpiece of this movie.

Despite being such close friends with Alan Ginsberg, I’ve never really been all that interested in the beatniks, or the Beat Generation, if you prefer. I found On the Road unreadable, and the only beat poetry I was ever able to get into was {Howl.}} But this is a compelling story of the early days of these ‘50s icons, and well-acted by all. There are some surreal elements, and what is probably the most explicit homosexual love scene, starring young Mr. Radcliffe, that you will ever see outside of gay porn.