Friday, January 17, 2020

Remembering Gregory Corso

(L-R) Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, & Gregory Corso

Streetwise Beat poet Gregory Corso died this date -- January 17 -- in 2001 at the age of 70. An important inner circle Beat Generation figure (and youngest), Corso appeared in a number of Jack Kerouac's works: Yuri Gligoric in The Subterraneans; Raphael Urso in Book of Dreams and Desolation Angels (also as Gregory in the latter); and, Manuel in Beat Generation.

Corso had a tough upbringing and experienced foster homes, orphanages, prison, and even time in Bellevue Hospital. You can read a bio and some of his poetry by clicking here.

I glanced through my copies of Kerouac's selected letters and noticed that several times he wrote to Corso along with Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, but there is one lengthy letter written to Corso alone when Jack was in Northport on October 13, 1956. An excerpt follows:
I just read your latest letter to Allen about Zen-nutty and you're right, in fact I've not been able to "meditate" or make any buddhist scene now for a long time and have actually started writing catholic poems and sending them to Jubilee Magazine tho I'm aware that all the scenes are the same empty scene. Your criticism of buddhism in other words is fairly accurate but you mustnt let yourself be fooled every moment of your life into believing there's any special "reality" to either life or death, you say people die real deaths but in a few hundred years who's to remember or notice that it was real death? (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969, 1999, p. 178, Penguin Books)

RIP, Mr. Corso.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Happy Birthday to Alan Harrington

We remembered writer Alan Harrington back in May -- you can read that by clicking here. Today, January 16, is his birthday (1918 or 1919 -- I see conflicting dates on-line). He appeared in several Kerouac novels: as Hal Hingham in On The Road; Early Wallington in Book of Dreams; and, Worthington in Book of Dreams (expanded edition).

Harrington introduced Jack Kerouac to John Clellon Holmes, no small matter given the deep friendship that ensued between them -- "brother souls" as my great friend Richard Marsh would point out.

An interesting blog post with info about Harrington is available here. I haven't read any of his work, but it's on my list of things to do.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Harrington.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Happy Birthday to Lenore Kandel

We remembered Lenore Kandel back in October (click here) and today we wish her a happy birthday in Beat poet heaven (January 14, 1932). She appeared in Jack Kerouac's Big Sur as Romana Swartz.

Click here for Michael Dennis' poetry blog post about Lenore; it includes some of her poetry as well as analysis. Warning: It's not for the faint of sexual heart and it's most definitely Not Safe For Work.

Happy Birthday, Ms. Kandel.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Daily Beat hits ONE MILLION PAGEVIEWS!!!!

Some time in the last 24 hours, The Daily Beat hit 1 million total pageviews (since we've been counting using Google stats starting in May 2010).

I haven't received any ideas from readers on how to celebrate this accomplishment, and, not feeling particularly celebratory at this moment given the state of world affairs, we'll just leave it that persistence pays off. I started this blog in September 2008 in conjunction with self-publishing my book, The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions (which you can purchase here) and, while I haven't blogged daily, I have published 1808 posts, or approximately one post every 2.3 days.

Here's to looking ahead to two million pageviews, which might happen -- if the past is any indication -- sometime in 2030.


Remembering Bob Kaufman

Today we remember Beat poet Bob Kaufman, who died on this date -- January 12 -- in 1986.  He appeared as Chuck Berman in Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels.

You can read Kaufman's bio and some of his poetry by clicking here. Kaufman took a vow of silence the day President Kennedy was assassinated and didn't speak until the end of the Vietnam War. That's an impressive feat.

Kaufman was part of the Beat poetry movement in San Francisco. He started the journal, Beatitude, with Allen Ginsberg and others. His most recent collection of poetry was published by City Lights in October 2019 (available here).

Interestingly -- to me at least -- the couple of times that he is mentioned in Gerald Nicosia's Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, Kaufman is partying with Jack at significant transition points: once right after Gary Snyder leaves for Japan, and once right after Jack leaves Ferlinghetti's cabin in Big Sur.

I get the sense that Kaufman is generally underestimated as a poet -- you would do well to check out his work.

RIP, Mr. Kaufman.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

A Kerouac "two-fer" date

Herbert Huncke (L) and Amiri Baraka

Kerouac muse Herbert Huncke and noted writer Amiri Baraka share this date, Huncke having been born on January 9, 1915 and Baraka having died on January 9, 2014.

Huncke was Elmer Hassel in Kerouac's On The Road; Huck in Desolation Angels, Book of Dreams, and Visions of Cody; Hunkey in Lonesome Traveler; and Junkey in The Town and the City. Baraka appeared under his actual former name, Leroi Jones, in Lonesome Traveler.

Both of these Kerouac contemporaries led fascinating lives and I encourage you to read up on them if you are not already familiar with their stories. Kerouac is often credited with coining the phrase, "Beat Generation," and he likely got the term "beat" from Huncke (click here for bio). Baraka was an accomplished poet and activist -- click here for some biographical info on him as well as some of his poems.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Huncke and RIP, Mr. Baraka.

Monday, January 6, 2020

A Kerouac-related birthday: Alan Watts

Writer/philosopher and self-professed spiritual entertainer Alan Watts was born on this date -- January 6 -- in 1915. He appeared in two Kerouac novels: as Arthur Whane in The Dharma Bums and as Alex Aums in Desolation Angels.

We have written about Watts on this blog in the past -- click here. I don't have anything additional to say about the man other than that he influenced my thinking about Eastern religion significantly and I recommend his writings and recordings (many available on YouTube). There's even an Alan Watts app for your smartphone or iPhone. When is there going to be a parallel Jack Kerouac app? Kerouac estate, are you listening?

Happy Birthday, Mr. Watts.