I had truck with Allen Ginsberg in 1977 & 1978. I was about twenty-two and shortly thereafter wrote this short book as part of a longer “novel.” Now, aged thirty, an associate offered to publish the work – the Are You Cute? A Visit with Ginsberg section. So I took the old MS – weeks to dig it out of all my other unpublished horseshit, some pages missing or trashed – and edited, spruced the original piece.
I thank AG for not proffering libel suit against me.
John Langsdorf, August 1986
John Langsdorf was born in 1956 and died in 1996 from a heroin overdose. While a prolific and talented writer, his afflictions – agoraphobia, drug addiction and alcoholism – got in the way of Langsdorf fully realizing a career as a writer. Details of his life are sketchy – he was born in 1956 in West New York, New Jersey, a working class community across the Hudson from NYC. For many years Langsdorf lived in Hoboken, NJ. Even while his writing grew stronger, his life spiraled down and there’s conjecture that his death was an intentional OD – a successful suicide attempt. He published little in his lifetime, most notably a selection of poems and prose in City Lights Anthology #4. Mark Rogers, the publisher of Tar House Books, was a close friend of John’s. In the months to come, Tar House will publish four titles by Langsdorf: Are You Cute: A Visit with Allen Ginsberg; Johnny of West New York; Hoboken Comedy; and Champagne Blowjob. Langsdorf’s writings also feature in Mark Roger’s memoir of their friendship: Down at 410.
John Langsdorf was a polarizing figure and I’m sure Are You Cute? will also be polarizing. I expect some readers will take issue with John’s portrait of Allen. Maybe they’ll pick apart John’s renditions of Allen’s speaking patterns. Maybe they won’t see Allen in this book. When I read it, I see an Allen Ginsberg who has a huge heart – a person who is compassionate, impassioned, patient.
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