Thursday, September 19, 2019

Remembering Jack Kerouac's sister

Caroline "Nin" Kerouac Blake died on this date -- September 19 -- at age 45 in 1964. She appeared in several of Jack's works: Nin Duluoz in Doctor Sax and Visions of Gerard; Nin in Book of Dreams, Maggie Cassidy, Visions of CodyVanity of Duluoz; Ruth Martin in The Town and the City; and, Carolyn Blake in Book of Sketches. The excellent Character Key to Jack Kerouac's Duluoz Legend lists her twice for Maggie Cassidy (as Nin and Jeannette Bissonette). I need to research that little wrinkle and I'll get back to you on it.

P.S. This was posted from the road on my smartphone so forgive the brevity and any errors.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

On the road and mobile blogging

We'll be "on the road" tomorrow and for a few days. Some Beat birthdays/death dates are coming up in September. I will try to blog about them via my phone, but no promises as mobile blogging is tough on my little Android.

Here they are in case I miss a post:

September 19     Caroline "Nin" Kerouac died in 1964
September 20     Edie Parker was born in 1922
September 30     Carolyn Cassady died in 2013

Those are the ones coming up in September that I know about. Drop me a line if you can think of another Beat-related birthday or death date

Happy Birthday to William Carlos Williams

Dr. William Carlos Williams

Poet William Carlos Williams was born this date -- September 17 -- in 1883. He was a significant influence on the Beat generation writers, especially Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg discusses a 1957 visit he and Jack Kerouac and Gregory Corso and Peter Orlovsky paid to Williams here. Ginsberg says Kerouac romanced up Williams' wife, Flossie, in the kitchen. According to Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia, when the visitors asked him to impart some wisdom, the 73-year-old Williams pointed out the window and smiled, saying, "'There's a lot of bastards out there'" (Memory Babe, 1994, p. 541).

You can read a little bit about Williams on the Friends of Kerouac site here. And, of course, you can Google him for more. Williams wrote the introduction to Ginsberg's most famous poem, "Howl."

Williams was Doctor Musial in Kerouac's The Dharma Bums. In Memory Babe, Gerald Nicosia says Kerouac's writing style was influenced by Williams' "attempt to write with the 'measured pauses' of speech" (1994, p. 453).

Before presenting one of Williams' more well-known poems, I want to point out that he was not just an acclaimed poet, but also a practicing physician in his hometown of Rutherford, N.J.

I love the following poem by Williams. This version is from Poetry Foundation, a comprehensive poetry site where you can read a bio of Williams here.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Williams!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

You never know . . . .

In college, I had a professor who was also the wrestling coach. Wrestling was a big deal at Lock Haven State College (now University), and Coach Ken Cox was well-known for screaming "Shooooot!" from the edge of the mat when he wanted his wrestler to "shoot" in and perform a takedown on his opponent.

Another thing he was well-known for, at least by those of us who had him for classes, was him saying -- frequently -- "Y--y-ou never know."

And you don't. You may think you do, but you are just fooling yourself by holding onto certainty when, in fact, there isn't any. The only thing for certain is we are going to die. Some day, humans -- if there are any -- won't even be able to say the sun will come up in the morning.

To wit, last night we were out and about in our usual Friday night rounds in Hallowell, Maine, taking in some live music, and an acquaintance we hadn't seen in a while came in the bar. In our conversation he mentioned how much he appreciates my Kerouac ramblings on The Daily Beat. I never suspected him to be a regular reader or even a Kerouac fan, but as Coach Cox said, "You never know."

It's gratifying to know that when I go to the trouble of spinning some Kerouac or Kerouac-related yarn here in my blog that at least one person takes the time to read it. Pageviews don't mean someone has read a post, only that they clicked to the page.

Don, you made my night so here's to you for sharing unsolicited and positive feedback in a world too full of people who only point out the worst of things. If you read this and don't already have my Kerouac book, send me an e-mail ( with your mailing address and I'll send you a signed copy to show my appreciation.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

His name was Robert Frank.

I just learned from our daily newspaper that famed photographer Robert Frank died on Monday in Inverness, Nova Scotia. He was 94.

Frank is perhaps best known for The Americans, his 1959 book of black-and-white photographs taken on cross-country road trips in the mid-1950s. After those trips, Frank met Jack Kerouac, who wrote an introduction for the U.S. version of The Americans:
That crazy feeling in America, when the sun is hot and music comes out of the jukebox or from a nearby funeral, that’s what Robert Frank has captured in tremendous photographs taken as he traveled on the road around practically forty-eight states in an old used car (on Guggenheim Fellowship) and with agility, mystery, genius, sadness, and strange secrecy of a shadow photographed scenes that have never been seen before on film.

Kerouacians may best know Frank for being the co-director, with Alfred Leslie, of the avant-garde Beat film, Pull My Daisy, which was adapted from Kerouac's play, Beat Generation. Kerouac narrated the short film -- you can watch it in its entirety on YouTube here

Frank and Kerouac were friends. Frank helped him house-hunt in Northport and then helped Jack move Jack's mom and their two cats, Tyke and Timmy, to Northport from Orlando. An essay about that trip, "On the Road to Florida," was published in Evergreen Review in January 1970 (after Jack's death). Frank appears in that essay under his own name. In a letter to Ginsberg in July 1958, Kerouac said that Frank thought Gregory Corso was the greatest poet. Jack met his lover Dody Müller at Frank's NYC Bowery loft in October 1958.

Read Frank's NY Times obit here.

RIP, Mr. Frank.

P.S. This post's title is a movie reference. Can you figure it out?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Happy Anniversary to Crystal

Regular readers of The Daily Beat see references to Crystal, so I thought it would be appropriate to give her a shout-out on our anniversary. We met 14 years ago today (online via Cupid). She's put up with my Kerouac obsession for that long, one of the many things about her that make her a "keeper."

Happy Anniversary, sweetie! YAUTMIATW! 143!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Food seriousness: A random quote from Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums

Herewith I present you with a random quote from my favorite Jack Kerouac book, The Dharma Bums:
. . . I wished the whole world was dead serious about food instead of silly rockets and machines and explosives using everybody's food money to blow their heads off anyway. (Penguin, 1976, p. 217)

Perhaps this passage was not chosen totally at random. As I was thumbing through, it spoke to me, remdinding me of Bill Maher's "New Rules" segment on Friday night's show and his lament that our current eating habits in this country, which lead to obesity, are a major cause of our health problems. See