Zen & the Art of Driving 100 miles per hour past Mayor Abramson & others from Twice Told Coffeehouse on Bardstown Road to the Airport

Part IV: Down & Out in Kentucky

By: Ron Whitehead

It’s not legal today to drive 100 miles per hour up or down Bardstown Road and it wasn’t legal midday October 2nd 1992 but I had a feeling ever since early morning when I picked Allen Ginsberg up at The Seelbach Hotel preparing to spend at least half a day roaming the backstreets alleys and riverfront of Louisville searching for Walt Whitman’s ghost plus hopefully a pair of khakis from Goodwill on Broadway for Allen since he’d somehow ripped the pair he had on, his only pair, at the University of Louisville reading the night before, reading and singing to an audience of 1,500 which was awed Ahed and often tear eyed electrified or maybe he ripped them at The Bristol Bar & Grille round 2AM anyway while waiting inside the door of Allen’s room ready to exit carrying his bags he said “just a minute” and took a leak and I, feeling a little uncomfortable, asked “what time does your flight leave” and for some reason I wasn’t satisfied with his answer so after lunch at Twice Told Coffeehouse after we looked in at Guitar Emporium for a left handed banjo for Peter Orlovsky but no one waited on us so Allen left his card we stepped back onto the street into the borrowed car with Kent and Mark climbing into back seats I prodded again “why don’t you just double check your airline ticket” and he did and yes his flight is an hour earlier than he’d remembered and we have less than ten minutes to departure and he has to be in Lowell Massachusetts tonight cause he’s the featured poet at the Annual Jack Kerouac Festival so I’m driving like a bat out of hell 100 miles per hour midday Bardstown Road my senses open employing maximum peripheral awareness watching for pedestrians cars cops surrounding our borrowed car and us with lightning electric white light white heat as we speed to the airport passing Mayor Abramson in limo and others all open mouthed gaping staring in disbelief and I tell Allen that we’re bringing Amiri Baraka in two weeks and Allen’s excited talking as fast as I’m driving telling all about Amiri and I look in the rear view mirror and see Kent and Mark mouths open wondering whether we’ll survive without getting arrested or killed or killing on this yet another insane trip and finally we arrive at the airport I hit the flashers and we’re off walking as fast as we can knowing Allen’s health isn’t great we jump onto the moving walkway still walking fast when suddenly Allen takes off running and Kent Mark and I look at each other scratch our heads and by the time Allen is ten yards ahead we leap into a run and when we’re within three yards Allen turns stops and just as we are mid stride airborne mouths ajar feeling like 3 stooges 3 monkeys 3 idiots Allen takes our photo then turns in stride and we’re all off running again arriving as the gate is being pulled to we yell “WAIT” then Allen turns gives each of us a hug and a kiss on cheek says sincerest “Thank You” and is gone.

Ron Whitehead

Copyright (c) 2014 Ron Whitehead