Saturday, November 8, 2008

An excerpt from The Beat Handbook

Day 28
Today’s Kerouaction: On Clothing

In Jack’s kindness to Eddie, a fellow hitchhiker, we get a hint at a piece of clothing one might choose in order to follow the beat path: wool plaid shirts. In other places Kerouac calls them “lumberjack shirts.” You know the kind: red, plaid, the kind Paul Bunyan probably wore. Many pictures of Jack confirm his love of the wool plaid shirt. Now it is possible that Kerouac would approve a wool “blend” or even cotton. We don’t know for sure. We do know that while cotton flannel shirts feel better on our skin, there is nothing like wool for durability and warmth. Get over the itchiness. Use it as a meditation. When you feel the itch, it can remind you to be fully aware in the present moment.

One also gets a hint at the kind of bag to use in carrying one’s possessions while on the road: canvas. The hell with all this newfangled ripstop breathable nylon earth-polluting resource-depleting synthetic crap!

Suggested Kerouactivity:
Get yourself a good old-fashioned canvas bag. Land’s End still makes them, don’t they? Or how about the Boy Scouts? Or how about visiting your nearest used clothing store [32] and scrounging around? That is almost always a worthwhile idea and you never know: you might find a wool plaid shirt to boot. And while you’re at it, drop off something you haven’t worn or used in a year.

[32] Or “vintage apparel” store, the euphemism for used clothes, according to George Carlin.

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