Michalis Limnios, 2012
Michalis Limnios is a Greek journalist who has a website Blues@Greece. He interviewed me by email in November of 2012. At the end of our interview, I told him that I had a special place in my heart for Greece because it was there, on the island of Lesvos, in a little fishing village called Molivos, that I had my spiritual awakening in 1962. In Mike’s next email he informed me that he was from Lesvos and was living in Molivos! There are over 300 islands in Greece. What are the odds?
Michalis Limnios: What’s the legacy of all your legendary adventures? Mostly spiritually.
Helen Weaver: Yassou, Mike!
I hope the legacy of my adventures with Jack, Allen, and Lenny IS a spiritual one: that my story may help readers to understand that these men were spiritual seekers, not just bad boys out to get kicks. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg are both highly respected in Buddhist circles as important figures in the American Buddhist lineage. They helped to bring Buddhist teachings to America. Lenny fought and died for freedom of speech. He told truth to power, and every major American comedian is aware of their debt to Lenny Bruce. If my book has helped to shed light on the legacy of these men, that is my honor.
Michalis Limnios: Which is the most interesting period in your life and why?
Helen Weaver: The most interesting period of my life is the present: what is happening right now. I’ve had a great life, but I don’t live in the past. Getting old is a trip: a challenge and an adventure. It brings home the truth of Jack’s statement “Life is holy, and every moment is precious.”
Michalis Limnios: Which memory from Allen, Gregory, & Jack makes you smile?
Helen Weaver: Allen: A party at Richard Howard’s in the sixties, where I wore a flaming red chiffon dress that was much too dressy for the occasion, and Allen literally fell at my feet. Peter Orlovsky took off his cap and his hair fell down to his butt and he danced with Allen (which was a big deal in those days). I remember that Peter asked a stuffy Columbia professor named Eric Bentley if he was getting any.
Gregory: Seeing him at the Beat Generation conference at New York University in 1994. Thirty or forty years had rolled by, and he looked exactly the same, plus a white wig that made him look like a founding father.
Jack: Most of my memories of him are sad, because he had a sad life and even though we loved each other, we couldn’t make each other happy. I’m happy now that his work is finally receiving the respect and attention it deserves, but sad that he didn’t live to see it happen.
Michalis Limnios: Do you remember anything funny from Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg & Lenny Bruce?
Helen Weaver: Gregory: The night I made him sleep in a big leather chair in the living room of Helen Elliott’s and my apartment. I felt guilty because I had cheated on Jack by sleeping with Gregory. I also felt guilty toward Gregory for rejecting him, but he wrote poems all night and never held it against me.
Allen: Whenever we got high at a party, we always sang “O Moon of Alabama” from Kurt Weill’s Three-Penny Opera at the top of our lungs. Once we did this while lying down on the street waiting for the bus.
Lenny: His early records, before he got busted for narcotics in 1964, especially the bits “Father Flotsky’s Triumph,” “Marriage, Divorce, and Motels,” and “Religions, Inc.” Also, the time I made Lenny Bruce laugh. You’ll have to read The Awakener for that one!
Michalis Limnios: What is you favorite Zen Koan?
Helen Weaver: I don’t have a favorite koan, but my LEAST favorite one is “Does a dog have Buddha nature?” Because koans are supposed to be riddles, and the answer is obvious. Dogs are among the greatest Buddhist teachers on the planet! They live in the present and give unconditional love.
Michalis Limnios: If you go back to the past, what things would you do better and what things would you avoid doing again?
Helen Weaver: I have no regrets! OK, I do regret not reading more of Jack’s books while he was alive, especially Doctor Sax.
Michalis Limnios: What MOTTO of yours, would you like to stay forever?
Helen Weaver: Optimism is a moral duty.
Michalis Limnios: In your opinion what animal can offer with its behavior to the human civilization in a positive way?
Helen Weaver: Dogs, of course!
Michalis Limnios: What would you like to ask Antonin Artaud?
Helen Weaver: What was it like dying? Have you had any other lives?
Michalis Limnios: What advice would you like to give to the new generation?
Helen Weaver: Read books! Recycle! Work to save the planet!
Michalis Limnios: If Jack Kerouac was among us nowadays, what do you think he would tell us?
Helen Weaver: Be kind.
Michalis Limnios: Jack, Allen, and Lenny’s astrological map (signs) inconsistent with their lives?
Helen Weaver: Consistent!
Thank you for your questions and for giving me this opportunity to talk to my Greek readers. Before we say goodbye, I would like to tell you how special Greece is to me. In the first place, as you know, my name is Greek: Helen means “light” or “bright as the sun.” And as you also know, if you have read The Awakener, it was in Greece that I had my spiritual awakening. It was something about the light. The light and the colors: the color of the Aegean and the color of the sky, the two different shades of blue.
On the island of Lesvos, where I spent the summer of 1962, there was a limited amount of electricity. It was there that I first had the experience of going to bed with the sun and waking up with the sun. It was on that Greek island that I first felt connected to all of nature. It was there that I realized that I believed in God. So I have a special place in my heart for Greece.