I'm always a sucker for stories about good college rivalries, especially when murder and the Beats are involved:
In 1924, in one of the first Crime(s) of the Century, [University of Chicago] students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb misread Nietzsche and murdered (chloroform, chisel) a random boy to prove that they were supermen. It was quite a big deal because a) it was 1924, and b) they were rich, smart, Jewish, and gay.
In addition to two good films (Rope, Swoon), the murder/trial spawned the film Compulsion, which suggests that all this unpleasantness could have been avoided if they had only talked to girls once in a while. There have been no films, however, about the Columbia murder, which is, quite frankly, bullshit, because whatever the 1944 killing of David Kammerer by Lucien Carr lacks in malevolence, it more than makes up for in sordidness and famous people.
Carr was 19, rich, straight, and, by all accounts, a hot piece of ass—oh-so-hetero Jack Kerouac describes him as both a “fantastic male beauty” and “a mischievous little prick.” He had already bounced out of Andover, Bowdoin, and, obviously, the University of Chicago, where he tried to kill himself (head in the oven). Apparently none of these were deal breakers for the Columbia College admissions office, so he came to New York, with Kammerer one step behind.
Kammerer was 33 and had been—enjoy this moment, because your mind is about to be made up forever—the leader of Carr’s Boy Scout troop in St. Louis, and he had “followed” Carr to each expensive school. But he had good qualities, too. Allen Ginsberg writes of the “wonderful, perverse Kammerer.” Kerouac notes that he was “not a bad guy in himself.” If nothing else, he introduced Kerouac and Ginsberg to his hometown friend, William S. Burroughs.