by Lory Kohn
Naropa is a memoir by Milkmen lyricist Lory Kohn.
Here's the complete (clickable) chapter list. Commentary follows below.
1 The Odd Crasher
2 The Great Unblessed
3 Zen Out or Zone Out?
4 Those Who Wait
5 Beat Central
6 A Happy-Go-Lucky Twenty Something
8 The Street Clown
9 Slow Dance
11 International Relations
12 Larry Baby
13 My Dad Sells Holes
In the early 1970s, Naropa Institute was founded in Boulder, Colorado by a Tibetan lama who ranked one step below the Dalai Lama in the Buddhist hierarchy. That lama, Chogyam Rinpoche, just happened to have a thing for Beat poetry ever since he came in contact with Jack Kerouac and friends in its 1950s heyday.
Rinpoche was a Buddhist first and an alcoholic second; Kerouac was an alcoholic first and a Buddhist second.
Close enough. The two went together like red robes and Scotch.
All through the seventies, Lory lived only a few short blocks away from all the vibey sanctums in Naropa's Rocky Mountain stronghold. For a variety of reasons explained in the text, he kept his distance from the whole scene. In the summer of 1980, that distance shrank, ultimately dissolving altogether. Naropa is his account of those halcyon days.
Naropa, Rinpoche, and the infamous Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics have been provided fodder for a slew of histories and exposés. This memoir does not aspire to add to an already established body of knowledge. Rather, it's its own thing, written from Lory's unique perspective. What perspective would that be? Think Charles Bukowski without the booze and the boils.
Naropa appears here, on a band site, because of Lory's rather audacious claim that he may be the Best Combined Songwriter And Prose Writer alive. According to him, Naropa is yet another exhibit in a convincing body of evidence proving that contention. Please note we didn't hear those kind of claims when arguably his strongest rival, Leonard Cohen, still roamed the earth. Apparently, Cohen's exit is what got Lory thinking about the mythical title in the first place. And about filling the void.
"If it's not me, then who is it?" he asks.
Fair enough. Well ... let's see ... there's ... uh ... um ... ah ... er ... Hmm. What if he's actually right?