Thursday, April 28, 2016

Haiku Revisited at The Beat Museum


The Beat Museum in San Francisco (540 Broadway) is holding a free special event this Friday, April 29, from 7-9 PM titled, "Haiku Revisited."

The event is closing out National Poetry Month and is titled, "A Celebration of Haiku & Its Relationship to The Beats & Zen Buddhism & a Book Release Party and Reading." For more information, click here: http://www.kerouac.com/beat_event/a-celebration-of-haiku/.

If you're in the SF area, it's a must-attend event! I wish I didn't live 3,000 miles away.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Big Sur, the movie

To keep my "at least once a week blog post" streak going, I thought I'd mention the movie version of Jack Kerouac's Big Sur. I just showed it to my Kerouac class at UMF, and they generally agreed it was better than the film version of On the Road. To be fair, they had read On the Road but not Big Sur, so they really had nothing to compare in the latter case. 

However, I have read both (several times) and seen both (several times), and I definitely appreciate Big Sur over On the Road as a film adaptation. I'm not sure one is more filmable than the other, but with Big Sur they seemed to capture the essence of the book more accurately. Maybe it was the casting (way better Kerouac, very good Neal and Carolyn, great Lew Welch), or the general ambience, or the voice-overs from the book, or the gorgeous scenery...

...or maybe it was just Kate Bosworth.

In any event, what did you think of Big Sur the movie? I liked it.

P.S. We have airline tickets for California this summer and a couple of nights in Big Sur is on the itinerary (if we can find an affordable place with available rooms).

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Tangential Kerouac: The future of travel

The below is from an April 2016 Esquire article by Colum McCann about bitcoin titled, "Would You Trust These Guys with Your Money?"
The future of money might look like this: You're standing on Oxford Street in London in winter. You think about how you want to get to Charing Cross Road. The thought triggers itself through electrical signals into the chip embedded in your wrist. Within a moment, a driverless car pulls up on the sensor-equipped road. The door opens. You hop in. The car says hello. You tell it to shut up. It does. It already knows where you want to go. It turns onto Regent Street. You think, A little more air-conditioning, please. The vents blow. You think, Go a little faster, please. The pace picks up. You think, This traffic is too heavy, use Quick.TM   The car swings down Glasshouse Street. You think, Pay the car in front to get out of my way. It does. You think, Unlock access to a shortcut. The car turns down Sherwood Street to Shaftsbury Avenue. You pull into Charing Cross. You hop out. The car says goodbye. You tell it to shut up again. You run for the train and the computer chip in your wrist pays for the quiet-car ticket for the way home. (p. 101)

What does that have to do with Jack Kerouac? Two things come to mind. One, he wrote for Esquire. Second, I wonder what he would have thought about where we've come and where we're going with travel.

Kerouac aside, this passage really struck me as a look into a definite future that is right around the corner, The technology exists: it's a matter of making it safe, scalable, etc.

Just wow.


P.S. I know how to superscriptTM in Blogger, but within block text it always forces a new paragraph and in the above example that was not acceptable.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Jack Kerouac in Sports Illustrated January 8, 1968


SI cover from January 8, 1968

A friend of mine, Gary Lawless (who lived with and was an apprentice to Gary Snyder in the 1970s and became an internationally known poet and environmentalist), mentioned today that he ran into a Kerouac article from Sports Illustrated in 1968. I wondered if it were on-line, and, sure enough, I found it here: http://www.si.com/vault/issue/40686/46/2. It's the January 8, 1968 issue (see above).

It's impossible to read (for me, at least), but I thought you'd enjoy seeing it. Here's a link to that issue's letter from the publisher, mentioning Jack, that you can read: http://www.si.com/vault/1968/01/08/542923/letter-from-the-publisher.

The very next issue was the swimsuit edition. Who knew they were doing it that far back?

SI cover from January 15, 1968


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Kerouac anniversary of sorts

Note the author's name in the original edition

If you've never read The Town and the City, Kerouac's first published novel, it is required reading for Kerouacians. According to the Cosmic Baseball Association's Jack Kerouac Chronology, a resource I recommend and which you can visit here, on this date in 1949 The Town and the City was accepted for publication by Harcourt Brace. Jack was to receive a $1,000 advance in monthly installments. I have not triangulated this date and event, so if someone has conflicting information, let me know.

Kerouac refers to money from this book in On the Road at the very beginning of Part 4 when he says:
I came into some money from selling my book. I straightened out my aunt with rent for the rest of the year.

As my great friend Richard Marsh would say, the beginning of the The Town and the City is a beautiful start to a book:
The town is Galloway. The Merrimac River, broad and placid, flows down to it from the New Hamsphire Hills, broken at the falls to make frothy havoc on the rocks, foaming on over ancient stone toward a place where the river suddenly swings about in a wide and peaceful basin, moving on now around the flank of the town, on to places known as Lawrence and Haverhill, through a wooded valley, and on to the sea at Plum Island, where the river enters an infinity of waters and is gone. Somewhere far north of Galloway, in headwaters close to Canada, the river is continually fed and made to brim out of endless sources and unfathomable springs. 

Thanks, Harcourt Brace. Thanks, Jack.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Spontaneous prose on a lowery afternoon

Sitting here without a breath to my name it seems ludicrous to avoid any insurgent uprisings volcano-like but brown not white even so they call me by a number not a name lord lord gotta do my time song lyrics bluegrass but then who cares about it even in the middle of the oceanic gateway to the stars. So what? he said and I told him so what but he went ahead and finished anyway saying no time like the present despite your protestations to the contrary Contrarian Blues seems like a good name for a band or maybe a song. Or both. Not to wax musical in a Kerouac blog but this is my lame effort (is that politically incorrect?) to post something spontaneous in keeping my streak alive with at least one blog entry per week which I've done for a number of weeks now, inspired by Kathleen Thompson whose book The Project-Driven Life you should really buy from Amazon but then you should buy a lot of books from Amazon not the least of which is Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, a beautiful book I am re-reading along with All the Wild That Remains by ??? about Abbey and Wallace Stegner. I can fill in those question marks later but then is it spontaneous so maybe I'll add the author's name as a post-script for those interested enough to find out. I've been reading more lately than lately than lately and one of the books I am reading isn't even a book it's a bunch of ones and zeros in my phone: You Can't Win by Jack Black 1922 or something a big influence on Burroughs but I'm also reading Victor Wooten's The Music Lesson (a birthday gift from TG) initials for confidentiality for no particular reason I don't think Tom would mind my invoking his name here on The Daily Beat perhaps it would be a good thing, I don't know, sort of like cheesecake when it goes bad and the cedar waxwings won't stick around long enough to do anything about it. I tell my students when I assign a spontaneous write to use a pen because the temptation to edit on the fly while typing gets in the way but I am typing this and yes editing on the fly for spelling because I cannot stand to let a misspelled word stay on the screen for more than the time it takes me to backspace and fix it and yes, I know there are grammatical issues afoot but I can live with them for some reason. Spelling is different. I can't abide misspelled words, even if they are in a draft and I can fix them later. I suppose there are two types of people: those who care about spelling and monsters. I saw that on a meme on Facebook about some other behavior and found it funny. That's probably enough for now and at least it keeps my streak alive and if you stayed with me throughout this ramble, I apologize, I apologize, I apologize: Deadwood was a great show and fans will get the reference. Ian McShane needs to be in more movies or maybe he is and I just need to seek them out. Richard and I learned about a film titled Next Stop: Greenwich Village that we both want to see. I need to see if it's available from the library. Wouldn't be hard to ascertain that what with the Internet and all. This hasn't seemed all that spontaneous but trust me it's the words that spewed out of my mind with as little conscious interference or interferon as possible. Don't judge me because it's not as profound as you wish or as shallow as you hoped for. Nothing is impossible if you live in a dream state and sleep outside on a ledge in a sleeping bag at least once a year. That's it I am done and done and done and plum ran out of dried prunes wait a minute I got that backwards funny what goes through the mind. Teaching about Buddhism next week a little bit in preparation for reading The Dharma Bums am I a bad person if I go back through this free write and italicize book titles? If so, let me be a bad person in that regard or any regard for that matter meter metier metronomic Kerouac riff raff Ginsbergian soliloquy amaranthine (new word my friend Vick taught me today) and a beautiful soul-stirring word it is at least to me and that's the first person to please where new words are concerned. I'm off to the races now so keep my seat warm and run the engine a little bit every day to make sure you keep the battery charged - my battery - filled with gasoline, too (spelled that gasoling and fixed it on the fly - told ya). Oh well, not every free write is a success wait a minute define success did I write endlessly for several minutes or not (the answer is yes although I forgot to consult a timepiece watch clock digital or analog or otherwise) random words are floating down the hallway like "primary care" and I don't want to know more than that but I can guess. What will you do with your one wild and precious life thanks to Mary Oliver? So be it.

P.S. David Gessner wrote that Abbey/Stegner book....

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Happy 97th Birthday to Lawrence Ferlinghetti



Poet and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti turns 97 today. Co-founder of San Francisco's City Lights Books in 1953 with Peter D. Martin, Ferlinghetti was instrumental in getting Beat literature into print, not the least of which was Allen Ginsberg's Howl, over which a famous obscenity trial was held in 1957 (and the good guys won!). Click here for the website of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.

Perhaps most notably for Kerouac fans, Ferlinghetti was Jack's publisher and friend. It was Ferlinghetti's cabin in Bixby Canyon that Jack retreated to in 1960, an experience about which he wrote his desperate 1962 novel, Big Sur, about the dark night of the soul he experienced there.

Jerry Cimino, founder of The Beat Museum (on Broadway, literally within view of City Lights Bookstore on Columbus Avenue), wrote a great piece today in honor of Ferlinghetti's birthday. It contains some essential biographical information as well as links where you can read and listen to Ferlinghetti read his poem, "Sometime During Eternity..." (click here). (A poem -- and this is very tangential -- that reminds me of what my poet friend Charlie James told me was the Beatnik trinity: Daddy-o, Laddy-o, and Spook.)

If you're ever in San Francisco, you absolutely have to visit City Lights Bookstore. While you're at it, make it a three-for-one and visit Vesuvios's across Jack Kerouac Alley and The Beat Museum across Columbus and Broadway. It's a required Beat pilgrimage.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Ferlinghetti. May you live to be a hundred and a hundred more!