Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Un-Daily Beat

This is my 220th post since The Beat Handbook was published in September 2008. I've only missed one day of posting, and that was October 9 when we were in Lowell for Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! There have been over 5,300 visits to this blog since October 2008.

Those are impressive statistics, I think.

On the other hand, visits have withered to less than 20 per day. There are damn few comments posted. I can't tell if the few visits I do get are random Stumble hits or people actually reading. Book sales have flatlined to zero (unless you count less than one per month as something).

And, I've pretty much run out of things to say. Or, I've said so much already that I'm having trouble figuring out if I'm repeating myself.

Given that I will be away in the near future, and don't want to drag my laptop through airport security, I am going to take a break from the pressure of daily blogging.

If I have something to say on a particular day, I may write a post. No promises. At the end of April, I will pick a winner for April's free book. That will be the last one. My personal supply has dwindled to almost nothing and with no income from it at this point, ordering more is stupid. I do want to keep a couple around just in case.

It's a huge effort to write a book and keep a blog and try to actually beat the odds against self-publishing. I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying. But it has certainly gotten the best of me.

I hope none of this sounds like sour grapes! It's just time for a change. It's been a fun ride and I truly appreciate every single person who has bought a book, won a book, or taken time to read my blathering here.

But like the movie said, "Everything that has a beginning has an ending."*

Maybe I'll see you in Lowell this October. Long live Kerouac!

*A final beat movie reference.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Call to arms

Dear readers, yet again a blogger has taken on the beats and made perjorative comments about them. I implore you to visit this article and post a reply. I posted the first one. No registration is needed.

I know, the beats need no defense. But sometimes I just get tired of people railing on them. If you do as well, here's an opportunity.

Jack Kerouac's favorite beer

I have a copy of the above classic book titled The Kerouac We Knew, compiled by John Montgomery and published by Fels & Firn Press in 1987. Only 1500 copies were printed; that's why, I guess, you'll pay $25 or more for a 46-page paperback (or over $100 for one of the 100 signed copies). It's one of my prized Kerouac possessions. I highly recommend you snatch one up for yourself - the essays are priceless.

The book contains an introduction and then nine brief essays by different people remembering Jack. One is titled "Footnotes from Lowell." The author is identified only as "By a Lowellite," but the text reveals that the author was in his or her teens when Kerouac died and had a paper route which served Jack's house at the time.

Sometimes the author's mother used to give Jack a ride home when she worked the night shift at the Lowell Sun with Charlie Sampas.
One evening, he persuaded them to stop off at Droney's Pub on Broadway, his favorite, prior to Nicky's: maybe in December, 1953. At one point he got off a stool and collected all the empty Harvard Ale bottles (brewed in Lowell, now defunct: Kerouac's favorite beer, in green bottles with a cork). When he had gathered an armful, he restoppered them and one by one and slipped them into the old woodburning Franklin stove in the center of the floor. The few people who did notice him figured he was just stoking the fire (the only source of heat). After he had filled the stove with 15 or 20 bottles he left the lid off and resumed his silent seat at the bar. Within minutes the pub was transformed into a diminutive Pearl Harbor. Kerouac just sat on his stool, surveying his work, laughing like a madman. This is the kind of escapade for which Jack is remembered in Lowell; escapades that poked fun at Lowell people in a loving way (p. 27).

This episode reveals the prankster side of Jack, but also his favorite beer. Here's a picture of a Harvard Ale can. I can't find a picture of Harvard Ale in the green bottle with a cork. Maybe a reader can help us out? Here are some Harvard Ale coasters on ebay. And a serving tray.

Jack's favorite beer: Harvard Ale in a green bottle with a cork! What is the modern equivalent?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The number 23 applied to Big Sur

The 23rd word on every 23rd page of Big Sur (Penguin, 1981) yields:

Windows very and man see wagons Lionel out him Sur.

Every 23rd word starting from page 1 yields doodly-squat*, as does every 23rd letter starting from page 1, as does every 23rd word on page 23, as does every 23rd letter on page 23.

Oh, well, it doesn't discourage me. It's probably my particular version of the novel that prevents the number 23 phenonemon from working. After all, William Burroughs was the first to notice the mysterious number 23, so it has to be true.

Okay, I just typed that I wasn't discouraged and it sent me back to the preface (where Jack talks of the Duluoz legend). Every 23rd word yields:

Sick on book collect whole raging.

If you know Big Sur, you know that this last finding redeems the number 23!

*A beat movie reference. Be the first to tell me which one and I'll send you a free copy of The Beat Handbook.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The number 23 applied to The Dharma Bums

My application of the number 23 to The Dharma Bums yielded the following:

A to to the want suddenly and hill a came.

A better cryptographer might discern something there. Perhaps you can. Let me know.

Undiscouraged, I began at the beginning of the book and circled every 23rd word. Check this out! I have put it in verse form with capitalization and punctation for effect.

Lay Barbara
To where?
Into end
By air

Next up: Big Sur. We're on a roll.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The number 23 applied to On The Road

Back on December 18, I blogged about the number 23. Last night, watching the Jim Carrey movie again, an idea struck me. In the movie, he uncovers a code in the book by Topsy Kretts by circling the 23rd word on every 23rd page.

You guessed it: below is that process applied to my 1976 Penguin version of On The Road. I don't know about you, but for me the result is creepy enough to want to do it for The Dharma Bums. Just for shits and giggles. That's all anything is anyway. Nothing lasts. Not even paranoia, conspiracy theories, numerology, or zombies. Or pirates or ninjas for that matter.

The number 23 applied to On The Road

I the author we'll them over could much that all out for Dean.

Did you catch that? ALL OUT FOR DEAN! Weird, man, weird....

I know, I know: 100 monkeys in a room for a 100 years banging on typewriters.... Let me have my weirdness, okay?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

On The Road historical Hudson

To read about one of the most famous cars in American history (my opinion), check out Hudson: capsule history of an American classic.

I never picked up on the whole "stepdown" thing. Pretty cool.

This all gets me thinking about my dad's Studebaker.

I wonder where the actual On The Road car is? Hmmm.... There's a quest for someone.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

John Fante

John Fante

Apparently, Charles Bukowski wrote in the introduction to John Fante's Ask the Dust, "Fante was my god." And Fante is credited with influencing Kerouac, too, although I can't seem to triangulate that fact with anything I consider "scholarly."

I haven't read any Fante. I did try to watch the Colin Farrell-Salma Hayak film of Fante's novel, but it put me to sleep faster than a double shot of warm Bushmills.

Ask the Dust has no preview available on Google Book Search, and limited "Search Inside" options on Amazon. It starts:
One night I was sitting on the bed in my hotel room on Bunker Hill, down in the very middle of Los Angeles.

It goes on in a very Kerouacian style. Actually, I liked what I read. I may have to settle down and read the whole book.

So now you know, perhaps, of another influence on Kerouac. And Fante looks a little bit like Jack at first glance, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Last Time I Committed Suicide

Have you seen the film, The Last Time I Committed Suicide? It's based on a letter from Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac and stars Thomas Jane, Claire Forlani, Gretchen Mol, and Keanu Reeves. I have it somewhere around the house, a VHS version, borrowed from my great friend Keith, and we don't own a VHS player.

I just read this 1997 review at CNN Interactive and it makes me want to watch it, despite some harsh criticism.

Anybody out there seen it? What did you think?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Shameless self-promotion

Doing some internet surfing the other day, I happened upon this link to an article about my book in the campus newspaper: Farmington Flyer. It was months ago, but I don't think I linked to it here in my blog (I hadn't seen it on-line!). I posted about it on November 14, 2008. It was raining like a mofo* that night, and it is tonight as well. Interminable, stultifying, depressing rain rain rain in Maine Maine Maine.

Anyway, since I seldom (anymore) hawk my own book, consider it hawked. As you no doubt know, it's available on Amazon.

*A beat movie reference. In what movie did the lead character say "mofo" in the context of killing someone with a Swiss Army knife corkscrew? No fair Googling it!

Monday, April 6, 2009

ThE BeAtS: A GrApHiC HiStOrY

There's a new book out in which you may be interested: The Beats: A Graphic History.

Warning: The San Francisco Chronicle hated it.

It looks interesting to me. I put it in my Amazon "Wish List" (hint, hint).

Sunday, April 5, 2009

In memoriam: Allen Ginsberg

Today is the 12th anniversary of the death of beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who died at the age of 70 in 1997.

His most famous poem, "Howl", is available in its entirety on-line.

There's a Patti Smith-Philip Glass concert tonight in NYC to honor him.

Sites like still post old interviews with Ginsberg.

And two upcoming movies, Howl and Kill Your Darlings, feature Ginsberg.

Maybe Francis Coppola will get his act together and actually complete the film version of On The Road!

RIP, Allen.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kerouac's beloved sister, Nin, finally gets a memorial

See "A monument at last for Jack's dear Nin."

You'll read that Jack and his mom, Gabrielle, couldn't afford a monument when Nin died in 1964. Also, that Jack didn't make it to the funeral, locking himself in his bathroom instead.

Death and related matters sure freaked Jack out.

The article says Jack wrote, "Get older and you get more mystified. Youth has a way of sloughing off death and graves and even makes purple armpit poetry about it, as I did. But in real life, there's a red-neoned funeral parlor at the end of your street, and gloom hits you...."

"Nature, red in tooth and claw."
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson
In Memoriam A.H.H.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Watch & listen to Jack read from On The Road

Here's a clip of Jack appearing on the The Steve Allen Show. The best part: he reads from On The Road with Steve backing him up on piano. Get out your copy and follow along.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

The beat diet

All through The Beat Handbook I mention the "beat diet" and give examples of what characters ate in The Dharma Bums and On The Road. I arrived at this notion as a permutation of my thesis: To determine the answer to the question "What would Kerouac do?", one need only look to the actions of the characters in his roman à clef novels.

Now I discover that someone beat me to the punch and published an entire menu based on entries from Kerouac novels: The Kerouac Diner Menu.

Awesome! But damn, is there an original thought left to have?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

March's free book winner!

Congratulations to Comrade M on winning March's free book for her March 21 comment regarding traveling 1,700 miles just to see a band. She also made several other comments this month; for example, see March 4 and March 20.

Check out her blog at Comrade M.

I've left her a comment asking for her snail mail address, and then I'll be sending a copy of The Beat Handbook her way. As always, in return I only ask for a 5-star review on Amazon (if she wishes).

April's contest is under way. Good luck!

P.S. This is not an April Fool's joke!

Take a course at Yale for free

Here's a YouTube link to a Yale lecture about Kerouac's On The Road: Yale lecture.

If you like the lecture, the whole course is available here: The American Novel Since 1945.

Far out, huh?