Sunday, January 31, 2010

J.D. Salinger and Jack Kerouac

J.D. Salinger, who died this past week at age 91, and Jack Kerouac, who died at the too-young-age of 47 in 1969, did have something in common, according to Mike Littwin of The Denver Post:
There was a time when the book [Catcher in the Rye] was in every backpack alongside Kerouac's "On the Road" as textbooks for how to be a young rebel.

Both Salinger's and Kerouac's examples of rebelliousness can seem a bit tame in today's culture of extreme everything, but they both hit a chord that still speaks today to those who would listen to their message and not get hung up on cultural specifics.

I am sad to say that I've never read Catcher in the Rye, although I plan to begin rectifying that as soon as I finish Atlas Shrugged, which should be tomorrow.

I think Catcher was "required" reading at some point in high school, but somehow I avoided it. That was part of how, to my own detriment, my rebellious streak manifested: refusing to read when I was told I "had to." So, now, in my later years, I've become obsessed with Kerouac, who, like Salinger, I'd never read until well into middle age; I'm currently reading Ayn Rand's incredibly dense tome; and, I'm anticipating with relish finding out just who was this Holden Caulfield character, why he was out in a rye field, and what in the Hell he was catching.

P.S. If you want to read a poem I wrote about Salinger, check out my other blog here.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jack Kerouac, Wendy's chili, and Lowell, MA

I just read in today's newspaper that a lumber truck driver was eating chili from Wendy's when he hit a bump, causing him to choke on the chili and pass out. His truck, at that point without a driver, ran into a house in Jack's hometown of Lowell, MA.

I'm not sure if Jack would have been a fan of Wendy's chili, but I do know this: if he were eating in a moving vehicle, he would have been a passenger, not the driver. As you know, Jack pretty much eschewed driving and never even got a license. His approach is an excellent strategy for avoiding a ticket for eating while driving, which the newspaper reports may be the outcome for the chili-eating truck driver.

Six degrees of Jack Kerouac strikes again.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Another book for the Kerouac shelf

My bookcase devoted to books by and about Jack Kerouac is getting pretty full, but that doesn't dissuade me from collecting. I just learned about a 2006 book called Action Writing: Jack Kerouac's Wild Form by Michael Hrebeniak. According to, it "was praised by Beat scholars and poets" (click here for the quote source and a scheduled reading by the author at Westchester Community College).

Here's a link to the book on Google books.

It's on my Wish List at Amazon! Hint, hint . . . .

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kerouac's time in Detroit

Click here to read a detailed description of Jack's time with first wife Edie Parker and his time spent in Detroit.

Jack Kerouac's FBI Files Part 4 - Conclusion

Here is the final part in the on-going saga of determining whether Jack Kerouac has an FBI file. As you can see by the letter above in response to my FOIPA request, the FBI was "unable to identify responsive main file records." Of course, one must put this in the context of the previous sentence: "We were not able to search all of the manual indices because the Boston and New York indices have been transferred to Headquarters and are not yet searchable."

What does it all mean? Jack Kerouac may have an FBI file and he may not.

One thing is for sure: if he does, I do not have a copy of it.

So much for clear, black-and-white answers to things.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Great interview with a Burroughs/Ginsberg contemporary

This is a killer interview with a guy who lives in Chaing-Mai (Thailand - it's a rough life but somebody has to do it) and used to trip with Burroughs and Ginsberg. This is stuff you won't read anywhere else, so it's must reading for beat aficionados. Is it true? Who knows? Is it plausible and entertaining? Check.

A quote from the article about Burroughs:
Burroughs spoke like an Oxford professor. It was only in his writing that he sounded so fucked. The stuff he spoke about was whacked out, but he spoke like a professor.
And one about Hunter S. Thompson:
He was a fun guy to know about and to observe but not to hang out with. He was way too intense. He shot a shark.

Howl film premieres tomorrow

The long-awaited Ginsberg biopic, Howl, opens tomorrow on opening night of the Sundance film festival. Click here to read an article from the Guardian about it. I blogged about this biopic back on November 10, 2009.

I absolutely cannot wait to see it!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

NY Times review of Helen Weaver's The Awakener

Helen Weaver's The Awakener, reviewed here on November 11, was just reviewed by the New York Times and it's a (deservedly) stellar review!

Congratulations, Helen.

Read the review here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Before Hippies There Were Beatniks?

This ill-informed article from the Tuscon Citizen - Before Hippies There Were Beatniks - won't fool regular readers of The Daily Beat, but casual visitors might stumble upon it and not realize that the article is way off base: it neglects to point out that the term "beatnik" was a perjorative term, coined by Herb Caen in the San Francisco Chronicle. The suffix -nik was an intentional reference to Russia (not so popular in the U.S. at the time - it was six months after Sputnik) to cast the beat generation writers as un-American.

Allen Ginsberg wrote to the New York Times to deplore "the foul word beatnik," commenting, "If beatniks and not illuminated Beat poets overrun this country, they will have been created not by Kerouac but by industries of mass communication which continue to brainwash man" (Source: Wikipedia).

Click here to read my lengthier treatise on the term from December 23, 2008.

Happy reading.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Winner of the Facebook 10,000 visitors book

Michael Gunin, of Russia, was the first to send me a friend request on Facebook, so he wins a free copy of The Beat Handbook.

Michael, thanks for being a faithful reader of The Daily Beat! I'll send your book along as soon as you send me your snail mail address. Use or message me on Facebook.

I hope my book furthers your beat aspirations! Dig the ride!

10,000 visits by Jack Kerouac fans

The Daily Beat has now had over 10,000* visitors, and I'm going to assume each visit was by a Jack Kerouac fan somewhere on the planet. Or maybe even off-planet: I wouldn't rule out extra-terrestrials as being beat fans, and they're certainly surfing our Internet (lame as it is compared to their advanced technologies - ouch! - okay, I can't say any more because of the implants).

But I digress. In honor of reaching 10,000 visitors, we will be giving away a free copy of The Beat Handbook to the first reader of this blog (who hasn't already won a copy in a past contest) who sends me a friend request on Facebook. In your Facebook friend request, mention that you are asking to be my friend in order to win a copy of my book. You can find me on Facebook as Rick Dale. I'll announce the winner here as soon as we have one.

Let the games begin!

*The number 10,000 is significant for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the band 10,000 Maniacs, featuring Natalie Merchant, one of my all-time favorite singers and whose album, House Carpenter's Daughter, is a beat classic that deserves much wider recognition.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

How to write like Jack Kerouac Part 2

On November 16, 2008, I posted a blog entry titled, "How to write like Jack Kerouac." Click here to read that particular post.

Jack himself gave writing advice. Click here for a document that contains writing advice written by Jack in his own inimitable style.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Alanis Morissette and Jack Kerouac

According to this story on, Alanis Morissette has a book coming out that was inspired by Jack Kerouac. Here's a quote from the article:

"There's a book I have here that's like a Jack Kerouac reader with all these different writings of his, from prose essays to little prayers," she told the website. "It's one of my favourite books, so I bow down to that form of book."

Gee . . . a hippie songstress with a recurring role on the TV show Weeds is writing a book influenced by Kerouac? Who'da thunk it?

You go, Alanis. Maybe your book will inspire people to buy Jack Kerouac-style readers (like The Beat Handbook)!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jack Kerouac's FBI Files Part 3

Here is Part 3 in the on-going saga regarding my attempts to determine if Jack Kerouac has an FBI file (and get copies if one exists) under the Freedom of Information Act. As you can see by the above letter, my request to the San Francisco field office (contacting multiple field offices was recommended at the website Get Grandpa's FBI File) was forwarded to FBI Headquarters, which I had also contacted directly. The FBI has now assigned the same FOIPA number to all three of my requests. As I posited on December 16, perhaps one letter to FBI Headquarters is sufficient in such matters.

Writers write

Jack Kerouac was a writer. How do I know that? He wrote. Writers write. So, if you consider yourself a writer, you must write. Pretty simple, huh?

To wit, I wrote the below letter to the editor that was published on p. A7 in today's Kennebec Journal. Now back to writing my novel . . . .

Monday, January 4, 2010

Approaching 10,000 visitors!

As I write this there have been 9,865 visitors to The Daily Beat since October 2008. We're approaching the 10,000th visitor to my blog! I wish I could tell who it is when it happens - I'd send them a free book.

When 10,000 happens, I'll make sure to blog about it. A real milestone!

Customer reviews on Amazon

This is a reminder to readers that customer reviews on Amazon are very important in attracting additional customers. So far, my average rating on Amazon is very high - 5 stars - but I only have 8 reviews (out of 48 books sold). So, if you are someone who has my book and has not yet written a customer review on Amazon, I'd dearly appreciate your taking a couple of minutes to do it (and of course I'd prefer a 5-star rating to go with the review).

Same goes for Charlie's book, Life Lines: if you own it, please consider reviewing it on Amazon. I don't know what to do to get his sales happening. I guess poetry just isn't where it's at these days, which is sad because he is really an excellent poet and deserves a wider audience.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jack Kerouac, Walt Whitman, and Levi's

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 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.

Friday, January 1, 2010

First edition of Kerouac's On The Road: STOLEN!

See this story on The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett. What would ol' Jack think of someone stealing a first edition of On The Road?

As an aside, On The Road is on Modern Library's "100 Best Novels" list, both The Board's List and The Readers List (see Modern Library 100 Best Novels). The only other beat writer represented is Burroughs (Naked Lunch is on The Reader's List).