Perhaps you're familiar with the excellent PBS series, Connections, narrated by James Burke. It's a unique look at history by making unusual connections between events and people. I am always fascinated by connections - I think most people are - and today in SouthCoastToday.com is an article that connects Levi's jeans, Walt Whitman, and Jack Kerouac. You can read the article here.
Now, go read some Whitman. He was a big influence on Kerouac, you know.