gregory corso, l'infant terrible of the beat generation, would have been 79 years old today, march 26, 2009. born right here in new york city (on bleeker street, amazingly) he was the last surviving member of the "original" beats. corso died from prostate cancer in 2001. gregory corso came the closest, of any other self-styled member of the beat generation member (other than, perhaps, herbert hunke), to that holy trinity of kerouac, ginsberg, and burroughs.
it was corso who preceded ginsberg and burroughs to paris in the late 1950's - and introduced them to the wonderful accommodations of the "beat hotel" on the smallest street on the left bank. ginsberg wrote a portion of "kaddish" when he lived there. burrough's delved into his infamous cut-up technique (of which corso also tried, but rejected) the above photo is of corso in his tiny garret at the beat hotel. again, it was none other corso himself who "stole" jack's girlfriend in keroauc's "the subterraneans."
while corso was involved in their lives, he was a serious poet in his own right. while it was ginsberg who often laid claim to having "discovered" corso and his work - and ginsberg did a great deal to promote his work - corso was a voracious reader (his favorite poet of all time was shelley) and writer (to the point where he composed his own epitaph). his most recognized poems were probably the late 50's "gasoline" and "bomb" - but his cannon of material was much more diverse and extensive.
late in his life gregory corso was the subject of a feature length documentary; "corso - the last beat." while researching it, the filmmakers made an astonishing discovery - that gregory's mother was still alive and well (who corso believed had been dead since his childhood). that led to their reunion and reconciliation!
happy birthday in heaven - gregory corso!