Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Cut Ups by William S. Burroughs

I was living in Seattle in 1991, a recent graduate from the University of Oregon. Patty, my friend, and I were living in a one-bedroom apartment on Capitol Hill. I believe it was on Summit Avenue, you know, just down the hill from that Safeway on Broadway.
One Friday night, we went to the showing of a few short films by William S. Burroughs. This was around the time of "Naked Lunch" and Burroughs was enjoying a resurgence of popularity. The films were showing in downtown Seattle, on Pine Street, I think, at a divey bar. We took the bus there, and, once there, got two mugs of Pabst at the bar before settling in to the "theater."
The theater was a back room of the bar, with big red booths.
Before we were allowed to watch the movie, however, we were subjected to a poem by Steven Jesse Bernstein. Not read by him, of course, as he was in jail or had been injured or something (he actually may have just died!). The person who read it, wearing his "poet" uniform, was trying to raise money to publish some of Berstein's poems. This poem was called "How I Met My Present Wife" and it involved some lewd acts I won't subject you to, but to suffice it to say that the poem involved Nixon's dead body, and there were several references to flatulence.
The poem was bad enough, but worse still were the audience members giving him the serious poetry nod and doing that "hmm"ing thing that drives me nuts. As I was suffering through this torture, I looked around and realized that all the doors, including the one we had entered through, were marked with little signs that said "This is NOT an exit."
Finally the movies started. I can't remember how many there were, maybe three, but one was "The Cut Ups." It involved a light machine, a man dressed as a doctor, and Burroughs intoning, over and over, "Does it seem to be persisting?"
For many months afterward, this was a little joke we had. If we were bored, or if a certain moment outlasted its entertainment value, Patty would turn to me and ask, in Burroughs' voice, "Does it seem to be persisting?"

3 comments:

Nik said...

One word: Mugwumps.

Sleepy E said...

Yes, hello. Yes. Hello. Thank you. Yes, hello. Yes, Interzone.

patty said...

Hey, was sleep e there? He's got the lines down.