Yesterday I was sitting outside Cafe Trieste with a beer. Because, you know, if you're a “poet” in San Francisco, that's where you go to drink your beer. Actually, you're supposed to drink wine or some complicated coffee drink, but, rebel that I am, I drink the beer.
Anyway. Lawrence Ferlinghetti was inside talking to some old poet guys. At the table next to me was a young man drinking a glass of wine, reading a book of poetry he just bought from City Lights. He looked to be the hippie/bohemian type, probably from somewhere else, he just didn't have that San Francisco vibe about him.
Eventually Ferlinghetti walked out of the Cafe with a younger woman. His wife, daughter, caretaker, I don't know. The young man's table was right outside the door. I believe this was the moment he had been waiting for.
“Mr. Ferlinghetti?” The young man said, as Ferlinghetti came out of the cafe, “Mr. Ferlinghetti?” Ferlinghetti was just inches away , but he chose to ignore the young man and continue on his way. The young man called out to him one more time, and the lady who was with the old poet kind of stopped him, turned him around and pointed out to him that the young man was trying to get his attention. Ferlinghetti paused, turned around and looked at the young man with a blank face and perhaps an air of slight annoyance, then turned around and kept walking.
The young man and myself exchanged glances, shrugged, and he said something along the lines of, "Oh, well. That's' the way it goes."
Now, I realize I am not as famous or as old as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and may well never be as famous or as old as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, but it seems, even if he didn't want to take the time to talk to the young man, he could have, at the very least, acknowledged his presence with a wave, a nod, a smile, something. But just to completely ignore him seemed more than a little rude. The poor kid probably just wanted to sheepishly mumble something like, "Mr. Ferlinghetti, I really like your work.." and maybe quickly shake his hand or something equally harmless.
Ferlinghetti wasn't being mobbed by a bunch of people, and the young man was very respectful and not in his face or anything. He just seemed a bit disappointed that someone he admired turned out to be kind of a jerk. And, admittedly, perhaps I shouldn't judge too harshly. Maybe the old boy was having a bad day. Whatever. But some kind of acknowledgement doesn't seem like it would have been too much trouble.
Anyway, whilst I is on the subject, for all his fame, Ferlinghetti was never that interesting of a writer. He has had a lot of books published, sure, because he started the freaking' publishing company and all, but he, to my knowledge, has never written anything particularly groundbreaking or profound. He is famous for opening a cool bookstore and having a lot of famous, more talented friends. Anyway. Those are just my thoughts on the matter.
Don't even get me started on Jack Hirschman.
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