William S. Burroughs
What do rich people do when they have too much money? Get pissed. So, it was for Conrad Rooks, who by the age of 15 was a full-blown alcoholic. Money may give you many things, but apparently not self-control or a conscience.
Rooks’ pappy owned Avon. Ding Dong, no need to worry about quitting the booze or getting a job, instead Rooks started a new hobby - drugs. He jumped from booze to dope, to coke, to LSD, to peyote, to heroin, then decided to get clean. Off to Switzerland, where he was given a new treatment - the sleep cure.
This is what happened to Rooks, and his story formed the basis for a 1966 movie Chappaqua, which Rooks produced, directed, wrote, and starred in. It is a mess of a film, though it picked up a Silver Medal at the Venice Film Festival, and became a “legendary” underground hit due to its association with drugs and the Beat Generation. And this is where its importance lies today: in the appearance of William S. Burroughs as Opium Jones, the brief cameos from Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovksy, and the beautiful, quite stunning cinematography by Beat film-maker, Robert Frank, who made Pull My Daisy and went on to make Cocksucker Blues for The Rolling Stones. Add to this performances by Ravi Shankar, Ornette Coleman, The Fugs, and a score by Philip Glass, there is enough going on to keep interest, and the finger only occasionally on Fast Forward.
The whole of ‘Chappaqua’ with Rooks, Burroughs and Ginsberg, after the jump…