Musician David Amram knew Jack Kerouac. He wrote the title song for and acted in the film, Pull My Daisy, written and narrated by Jack. Here's a picture of him (his hand by his mouth) with Kerouac on the immediate left and Allen Ginsberg on the right.
Well, as part of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!, happening all weekend, Cafe Paradiso hosted a reading last night with David (and some others) providing back-up music. People read Jack Kerouac or original poetry or prose. There was a sign-up sheet. Crystal - thankfully as it turns out (I'm so glad she has more guts than I) - convinced me to read from The Beat Handbook. My ego and fears tried to get the better of me, but I decided to sign up. I got slot #23! How mystical is that? When I signed up a guy tried to give me his slot, #10, and I refused, bowing to the power of the number 23 (see the Jim Carrey film).
While waiting, Crystal was working the crowd, handing out my bookmarks (they feature the book cover and the website and the teaser, "If you've ever wanted to know the answer to the question, "What would Kerouac do?'..."). She even gave one to the producer of the documentary film, One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur, shown at UMass-Lowell earlier in the evening and chronicling Jack's 6 weeks at Big Sur (title of his very dark book). (Sidebar: what an awesome documentary film!)
During a break in the readings Crystal gave a bookmark to David Amram and got his business card! Soon after that I was on. Late. So the crowd had thinned from earlier, but I think I represented myself well and got some good feedback during (you know, body language and such), and after (you know, handshakes and such), and, well . . .
. . . it was a major highlight (in more ways than one thanks to the Manhattans we'd been drinking in honor of Jack) night in my author journey to date.
Wow! Plus, I haven't yet regaled you about our trip to Jack's grave. We have pictures and video and stories about that coming soon. Not to mention the beat character from NH at last night's reading who was sending around a petition to save the "Jack Kerouac Bridge" from destruction, who sat next to us at the bar, who with his beat friend who played guitar and sang just awful stuff were counting out their bills and change trying to make their tab, who finally looked at me and asked for $10! "Sure," I said. "Just make sure you buy my book" (thrusting bookmark into hand). He said he would. We'll see.
Today is the pub crawl to Jack's old haunts. YAIR!