Thursday, February 15, 2018

Curation #4 from my Kerouac bookshelf

My Jack Kerouac bobblehead in its original packaging (sorry about the plastic)

The back of my Kerouac bobblehead's box

Next in my curation project (#4) is my Jack Kerouac bobblehead. This was a promotion by Lowell's Red Sox minor league baseball team. the Spinners, in consort with the UMass Lowell English Department. It was given out to the first 1,000 fans at the August 7, 2012 Lowell Spinners game, but it was also available by mail (the latter being how I got mine). This is the second such Kerouac bobblehead -- I don't have the first one. The first one goes for about 90 bucks on eBay and was given out on August 21, 2003. Click here for a Spinners bobblehead history.

The second version (mine) goes for about 30 bucks. If you're interested in having one of your own, just search for "Kerouac bobblehead" and you'll get there. Or offer me $1,000 cash for mine and I'll think about selling it. I note that the second version has a bobblethumb as well as a bobblehead.

As you can see, in the first version Jack is writing. In the second he is hitchhiking. Both have him wearing a backpack.

The 1st Kerouac bobblehead

I should point out that I am still waiting for Richard to take me to a Spinners game.

Next? We work our way down through that pile of CDs and DVDs. However, that won't be for a few days as we are headed to visit Richard for the weekend.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my bobblehead on the day I started curating my collection.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Curation #3 from my Kerouac bookshelf

Charcoal rubbing from Jack Kerouac's grave made by Charlie and Chris in 2009

This is the third item from my Kerouac bookshelf curation project. It's that mysterious tube I teased about previously (see pic below). Click here for that reference.

Indeed, this is a charcoal rubbing from Jack Kerouac's grave in his hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts. When we visited the grave during Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2009, two fans from Michigan -- Charlie and Chris -- were there making charcoal rubbings and they gave us one! It adorned my office wall at work (tacked to my bulletin board) from 2009 until 2017 when I retired, and now it sits unfurled atop my Kerouac bookshelf. Why don't I display it? I don't know -- it's a hassle for one thing. It's gets everything around it dirty when it's unfurled. Plus, I don't have a good wall space for it. I took the above picture by weighting it down on my workbench using what I could grab -- a can of WD-40, a can of Liquid Wrench, a propane cylinder, and a pair of pruning shears (cropped from the photo) -- on the corners. Now you know the status of my workbench: cluttered. At least I had enough space to spread out the rubbing!

Click here for pictures of Charlie and Chris (scroll down when you get there) and the "rest of the story."

For kicks, here's a pic from my first visit to Jack's grave in December 2005. You can see that the symbol of the dove is actually to the left of the inscription, not underneath it as in the rubbing. Charlie and Chris had to get creative because of the limits of their paper size.

Rick Dale at Jack Kerouac's grave, December 2005
Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf as it existed the day I started curating it. The next post in this series? My Jack Kerouac bobblehead....

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf and the mysterious white tube

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Curation #2 from my Kerouac bookshelf

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

We are already at the second item on my Kerouac bookshelf in this curation series. As you can see above, underneath the pile of books on the left is an item labeled The Jack Kerouac Collection 3-CD Set (well, you can't read all of that in the picture so you'll have to trust me). It's still available from Amazon (see below) for $33.99. I don't remember what I paid for mine or how long I've had it (it's been years).

The cover

The CDs and the accompanying booklet

Sadly, CDs are just about extinct, as are CD players. Do new cars even have them anymore?

Nevertheless, this collection is audio gold for Kerouac fans, including  3 CDs: Poetry for the Beat Generation; Blues and Haikus; and Readings by Jack Kerouac on The Beat Generation. It includes a great booklet stuffed full of information about the set, starting with a reflection by Jack's daughter, Jan Kerouac, and moving through instructive pieces (some long, some short) by David Perry, Allen Ginsberg, Gerald Nicosia (2 pieces), Jerry Garcia, Stephan Ronan, Ann Charters, Steve Allen, William Burroughs, Michael C. Ford, Robert Frank, Ray Manzarek, Edie Kerouac Parker, Michael McClure, and Harvey Robert Kubernik. It concludes with a sessionography, bibliography, and a producer's note. It includes pictures throughout.

This booklet is worth the price of the set, but it's really about the recordings. Below is a picture of the sessionography that you'll likely have to enlarge to read. As I intimated above, it's a Kerouac gold mine. Everything here is Jack reading Jack.


Hence, what are you waiting for if you are a Kerouac fan and don't have this collection? I know I need to revisit the insert and listen to the CDs again -- it's that valuable and entertaining. And I would go so far as to say you don't even need to be a Kerouac fan to enjoy the recordings. Jack reading Jack is a thing all unto itself. Mellifluous is a word that comes to mind.

While we don't have nearly enough audio of Jack, at least a chunk of it is in this collection.

Happy listening.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Curation #1 from my Kerouac bookshelf

Per my recent blog entry (click here), here is my first entry discussing what's on my Kerouac bookshelf. As I said, I'm starting at the top and going left-to-right. Below is the picture I'm using for this curation effort.

As you can see, the first item on the left of this uppermost shelf (the top of my bookshelf/case) is The Beat Handbook. I am going to treat that pile of 8 copies as one item. Since I frequently hawk my book on this blog, I'm not going to say too much about it.

This pile of 8 books comprises all the hard copies I currently have on hand (for selling or giving away). My book is an example of print-on-demand publishing. That is, when someone orders it on Amazon, a copy is printed in response to that order and then shipped. As the author, I can buy them cheaper than the Amazon cost (currently $14.99 and Prime eligible). FYI, my book was published in 2008 by BookSurge. Since then, the company was bought by Amazon and is known as CreateSpace. I recommend the company if you are interested in self-publishing. I've used the company since Amazon bought it. I self-published my friend Charlie's book of poetry and it won first place for poetry in the Writer's Digest 18th Annual Self-Published Book Awards -- see a link to purchase Charlie's book over on the right side of this blog.

Allow me to repeat the story of my book. In 2005, I visited Jack Kerouac's grave for the first time on my way from Pennsylvania to see my long-distance girlfriend in Maine, Crystal, who is now my life partner (and I live with her in . . . wait for it . . . Maine). At the grave, I met a couple who were there on their honeymoon. Of all things! The young man said he was an aspiring writer and that if he ever got a book published he was going to leave a copy on Jack's grave in tribute to him as well as in thanks for the inspiration.

That motivated me to get off my ass and write a book. I don't know if I had started The Beat Handbook at that time but I do remember committing -- in my mind -- to writing a book and leaving a copy on Jack's grave. That is something I have done numerous times over the intervening years and have discussed the repercussions here on The Daily Beat.

I suspect that if I pulled out some journals from that era I could identify when I actually started writing the book in earnest. If I end up doing that I will post about it. It seems odd that the book took me 3 years to write....

I wanted to write a book related to Kerouac, but I knew a biography was beyond my ability -- and it had been done . . . repeatedly. But no one had written -- to my knowledge -- a book answering the question: What would Kerouac do? The thesis of my silly little book is that to know what Jack would do -- and therefore know what a true Beat would do -- one need only look to the actions of the characters in his novels.

I was originally going for a year's worth (365) of entries, but I settled on 100 and focused only on On The Road and The Dharma Bums. In effect, my book is a companion reader to those two novels, providing a daily meditation of sorts on actions (I call them Kerouactions) the characters take. There are entries on everything from sex to eating to parking to courtship to partying. Every entry also includes a Kerouactivity: something concrete you can do regarding that day's Kerouaction. Sometimes these are writing assignments and there is plenty of white space in my book for that.

And I said I wasn't going to write too much about the first item on my Kerouac bookshelf! But there is more to say than even the above, and I am going to stop here.

As a teaser, the item I will discuss next is the 3-CD set called The Jack Kerouac Collection, and then it is on to that mysterious white tube. Oh, and if you want to buy a copy of my book, below is a link. Happy Monday!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

What's on YOUR Kerouac bookshelf?

I'll assume, since you are reading this blog, that you have a bookshelf or two dedicated to Jack Kerouac. In my case, it's an entire 5-shelf bookcase (plus I use the top). There are also various Kerouac or related books strewn throughout the house at any given time (next to the bed, on the bookshelves upstairs, etc.). For the most part, though -- I'd say 95% -- my Kerouac and related books are on what is affectionately known in my house as my "Kerouac bookshelf" (albeit it is a bookcase).

Before we get to pictures, I want to share an idea to spur future blog entries. As with all ideas, I don't know where it came from, but I think it's a pretty good one. What if I go through my Kerouac bookshelf in order -- top to bottom and left to right -- and discuss each book? One per blog entry per item. Such entries might be critiques of said book (or item -- there are a couple of non-book items), a story about how I acquired it (if I can remember), a quote from within, meaningfulness, copyright details, and so on. In other words, I will riff a little about each item on the bookshelf.

I plan to get started with this project soon, maybe tomorrow. It will last a while as there are approximately 160 discreet items! That will give me blog fodder for months.

And that was really the genesis of my idea: What the Hell do I have to write about that hasn't already been said? The answer was to write about my collection of Kerouac and related books. It's a curation of sorts, more for my benefit than anything else, but it may generate some interesting posts.

The pictures will drive the order -- whatever the order was when I took the below pictures is the order in which I will discuss the items. This is because the actual physical order might change. For example, when Richard visits he usually borrows a book or two to read during his stay and it's not necessary that it goes back exactly where he got it. Or, I might add some books along the way (I'm trying not to do that so much anymore, being on a fixed retirement income and thinking about having less stuff, not more). The few relevant books in other parts of the house I can add on at the end or at some point along the way. I know, for example, that The Unknown Kerouac and The Holy Barbarians are on my bedside table, as is Pomes All Sizes. I think there's a book of Ferlinghetti's poetry floating around upstairs somewhere (and it might belong to Crystal -- I've lost track).

So, without further ado, herewith are pictures of my Kerouac bookshelf as of 10:30 AM on February 10, 2018. I did not fancy it up or organize it in advance. This is the actual state of the situation as I found it this morning. Please note: The position of a book on the shelf is irrelevant to its importance and has more to do with whether it is Kerouac-authored or related as well as where it happened to physically "fit" at a given point in time. I know you can't read each title very well (maybe you can if you enlarge the pic), so stay tuned and I will get to it in time.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf -- Miscellaneous items

Shelf #1 -- All Kerouac-authored

Shelf #2 -- Some Kerouac-authored plus Kerouac-related books

Shelf #3 -- Biographies and Kerouac-related books

Shelf #4 -- Biographies and Kerouac-related books

Shelf #5 (bottom shelf) -- Kerouac-related books and items

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Happy 92nd birthday to Neal Cassady

We just acknowledged Neal Cassady's death date (February 4) and now it's time to remember his birthday. He would have been 92 years old today. While it doesn't seem that much of a stretch to live that long these days, keep in mind that life expectancy for those born in 1926 -- like Neal -- was 55.5 for men. For those born this year it's close to 80. Big difference!

But longevity is not the only factor in a life well-lived. Quality matters. And one must admit that Neal, to borrow from an old bluegrass standard, lived a lot in his time. From Beat Generation muse to Merry Prankster bus driver, Neal crammed a lot into his 41 years of life.

So here's to Neal Cassady, fast-moving Western hero of the ages, on his birthday. In his honor, read his autobiography, The First Third, today. Or watch the documentary, Neal Cassady: The Denver Years.Or read his letters in Neal Cassady: Collected Letters 1944-1967 

Yass. Yass. Ahem....

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Jack Kerouac: The Duluoz Legend

In his preface to Big Sur, Kerouac writes:

My work comprises one vast book like Proust's except that my remembrances are written on the run instead of afterwards in a sick bed. Because of the objections of my early publishers I was not allowed to use the same personae names in each work. On the Road, The Subterraneans, The Dharma Bums, Doctor Sax, Maggie Cassidy, Tristessa, Desolation Angels. Visions of Cody and the others including this book Big Sur are just chapters in the whole work which I call The Duluoz Legend. In my old age I intend to collect all my work and re-insert my pantheon of uniform names, leave the long shelf full of books there, and die happy. The whole thing forms one enormous comedy, seen through the eyes of poor Ti Jean (me), otherwise known as Jack Duluoz, the world of raging action and folly and also of gentel sweeness seen through the keyhole of his eye.

On February 1, 2018 in the Forest Lake Times, Brad O'Neil wrote a piece in which he recommends reading the books in The Duluoz Legend in order (click here for article). I agree with the recommendation, but I have a question about his list. He includes the following 13 books (in order):

1. Visions of Gerard
2. Doctor Sax
3. Maggie Cassidy
4. Vanity of Duluoz
5. On The Road
6. Visions of Cody
7. The Subterraneans
8. Tristessa
9. The Dharma Bums
10. Desolation Angels
11. Lonesome Traveler
12. Big Sur
13. Satori in Paris

There are arguments that all of these books can be seen as part of The Duluoz Legend, and they are in the correct chronological order for the narrative of Jack's life.

I wonder, however, if there is not a book missing from O'Neil's list:  The Town and the City. This is included in the list appearing at DHARMA beat (click here), with Lonesome Traveler omitted (there is a note that it is sometimes included along with Book of Dreams, but neither is a novel). You'll note that they also include Atop an Underwood, which is not a novel).

Here is what DHARMA beat's list looks like (and it comports with the one on

1. Atop an Underwood
2. Visions of Gerard
3. Doctor Sax
4. The Town and the City
5. Maggie Cassidy
6. Vanity of Duluoz
7. On The Road
8. Visions of Cody
9. The Subterraneans 
10. Tristessa
11. The Dharma Bums
12. Desolation Angels
13. Big Sur
14. Satori in Paris

I don't want to open up a can of worms here, but am simply pointing out that there is not 100% agreement on which Kerouac books comprise The Duluoz Legend. David Barnett in The Guardian (click here) identifies 13 books, basically the same list as O'Neil, arguing that it makes sense to only go with novels (which Atop and Underwood and Book of Dreams are not).

I can go with that argument, in which case one could argue that The Town and the City should make the list but not Atop an Underwood and Book of Dreams). Such a list would look like this:

1. Visions of Gerard
2. Doctor Sax
3. The Town and the City
4. Maggie Cassidy
5. Vanity of Duluoz
6. On The Road
7. Visions of Cody
8. The Subterraneans 
9. Tristessa
10. The Dharma Bums
11. Desolation Angels
12. Big Sur
13. Satori in Paris

Dave Moore, Kerouac scholar extraordinaire, posted the below list of 12 books in the Jack Kerouac Facebook group as a reaction to the O'Neil piece. His list comports with O'Neil's except he omits Lonesome Traveler.

What is the definitive list of Kerouac books in The Duluoz Legend? Who knows? Jack's dead and he's not going to weigh in short of conducting a seance. It's a matter of opinion, and everybody's got one. It depends on the parameters one sets. Novels only gets you one kind of list. Going beyond novels gets you another. Etc.

Personally, I think we are close enough to agreement to say that we know which books are definitely on the list (Dave Moore's 12-item list, e.g.). Going with the "novels only list," Dave's list only omits The Town and the City.

I own and have read all the books mentioned -- most more than once -- and now I have a bucket list goal to read each book in The Duluoz Legend back-go-back and in order. I just have to decide which list to use. I'm leaning toward Dave's, given that Kerouac himself doesn't list The Town and the City in his 1960 notebook. But he does list Railroad Earth (whatever that is) and Book of Dreams and Lonesome Traveler, so confusion remains. Maybe using Jack's list is the way to go.

What are your thoughts on the matter? I'd like to know.

By the way, I think it's pronounced dew'-lew-oz (3 syllables).