A few days ago a good friend of mine called early in the morning to tell me that he saw me in a documentary called The Beat Hotel. What? The Beat Hotel? I watched it a few months before and noticed nothing. You joking, I said. Imagine how I felt, he said, I was watching the documentary late at night when all of a sudden I see your big-ass head on the screen. I jumped out of bed, he continued, to rewind the film in order to take a closer look. Yeah, he said, you're sitting at a table near the Shakespeare & Company Bookstore entrance.
That's when it all came back to me. A few summers ago my wife and I were visiting Paris and of course I had to stop by the famous bookstore. I remember obsessing over Jack Hirschman's The Arcanes printed by an Italian publisher. I wanted it so bad but the price was a little too high for me at the time. While there I maneuvered around a film crew but didn't think much of it. A man was leading them through the store discussing something or another. I never heard the word Beat. I sat at a table and fingered through a copy of Le Monde which was addressed to George Whitman and enjoyed the rest of the beautiful day with my wife.
It turns out that the film crew was there to interview Sylvia Whitman and to look around the shop to discuss its place in Beat history. A place where Corso, Ginsberg and the others dropped in to feed on books. Funny as hell to think that I somehow fell into this universe. The shot is brief, probably not even a millisecond, but it's there in the film and will remain so.
Below is a still from The Beat Hotel shot on my homeboy's cell phone off his tv. Hilarious.