Sunday, March 27, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday, Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Lawrence Ferlinghetti is no stranger to Kerouac fans, and we here at The Daily Beat missed his 92nd birthday on March 24. Happy Belated Birthday to a beat generation icon!

More On The Road film news

It looks like we'll get to see Kristen Stewart, playing Marylou, in the buff in the upcoming film version of On The Road. Click here for more info.

I'm not a big K-Stew fan, but I guess seeing her naked isn't a total turn-off (it remains to be "seen"). Let's look at the bright side, maybe this will spur an extra number of moviegoers to give the film a try, which will help lead to a revival of interest in Kerouac, which will lead to a huge uptick in sales of The Beat Handbook on Amazon.

In other words, Kristen Stewart naked = good news for The Beat Handbook.

See how my narcissism helps me see the bright side of things?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Six Degrees of Jack Kerouac: Harry Houdini

A big influence on young Jack was The Shadow, a popular pulp magazine of the 30s featuring a ghostly detective who could become invisible at will (allegedly via hypnotism). Today is Harry Houdini's 137th birthday (this fact brought to me courtesy of Google's graphic specific to this date), and I was wondering how many degrees of separation there are between Kerouac and Houdini.

Jack would have been about 4 years old when Houdini died, so they were not contemporaries in any meaningful sense. I don't remember if Jack mentions Houdini in his novels or letters (perhaps a Daily Beat reader can enlighten us); however, I did learn that the author who popularized The Shadow was Walter B. Gibson, and Gibson also wrote a couple of books about Houdini.

So there's your connection between Jack Kerouac and Harry Houdini. I wonder: Given his voracious reading habits, did Jack read any of Gibson's Houdini books?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday, Jack Kerouac

Obviously, I have too much going on right now because I completely forgot to post about Jack's birthday on March 12. Perhaps it is of minor consolation that on that auspicious occasion I was in Hallowell partying at the Mardi Gras celebration with Crystal, a behavior Jack would definitely support. If you're jonesing for something to read about Jack's birthday, I posted more thoughtful entries on March 12, 2009 and 2010. Feel free to check those out.

Happy Belated Birthday, Jack. Maybe next year I'll make a pilgrimage to Lowell on your birthday weekend in an effort to make amends for my forgetfulness. Jack would have been 89 this year, so next year is a big one (90)!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Newest On The Road promo photo

The latest on-line scoop is that the film version of On The Road will be released in November. Above is the latest promotional photo that has been released.

I'm not wishing away summer in order to get to November, but when November comes, at least we'll (maybe) have this to look forward to.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Beat Atlas Book Review

One of the very best parts of having written The Beat Handbook and maintaining this blog is that City Lights Books - the pre-eminent Beat Generation book publisher on the planet - sees fit to send me relevant books for review. It's one big reason I love going to the post office!

Most recently, Beat Atlas: A State by State Guide to the Beat Generation in America by Bill Morgan, appeared in my mailbox. As the title suggests, it's a Beat tour guide for the whole country (supplementing City Lights' Beat tour guides to San Francisco and New York). I can see using this great resource in two ways. First, you can take it with you whenever you travel in the States. I plan to do that. Second, when you want to go somewhere but aren't sure where, you can use it as a destination-planning guide. I plan to do that as well. For example, right here in Maine are four places with beat connections: Brunswick, Northeast Harbor, Old Orchard Beach, and Orono. As with all entries, there is a description of why each particular location has a beat connection. Brunswick, Maine is home to Bowdoin College, where Lucien Carr attended (and was stalked there by David Kammerer). There are even cross-references to other entries. This particular one refers the reader to the Andover, Massachusetts entry for more details. I lived in Pennsylvania for most of my life, and the Commonwealth sports five entries: Feasterville (who knew?), Harrisburg (oh, yes, The Ghost of the Susquehanna), Muhlenberg, Philadelphia, and Swarthmore.

Even Little Rhody has beat connections: Newport and Providence. Naturally, San Francisco and New York aren't given all the detail possible since they enjoy dedicated beat tour guides. Denver, as you can imagine, has five-and-a-half pages of information. We learn that on one trip to Denver, Jack Kerouac hung out at Charlie Brown's Bar and Grill at 980 Grant Street, which is still in business. (Note to self: put that on the itinerary wish list.)

Another great feature of Beat Atlas is that it includes lots of pictures, some of which I don't remember seeing before, including early and later ones of various beat writers as well as locations (like the house at 34 Beaulieu Street in Lowell where Jack lived for a while). There are even a few pictures of Carl Solomon, to whom Ginsberg dedicated his epic poem, "Howl." I especially like the shot of Gary Snyder - sport-coated, turtle-necked, and pony-tailed - giving a reading.

Beat Atlas is all text and pictures: no maps. I like that because it saves on size and unnecessary clutter. It provides addresses, and it's easy enough to use the Internet or a GPS to get directions to a specific location. And even if an address isn't sufficient, part of Beat travel is the adventure, right? Another feature I like is all the historical information packed into such a small book. Did you know that Ginsberg worked as a spot welder for Eastern Gas and Fuel Association in the Brooklyn Navy Yard? Or that Timothy Leary was a cadet at West Point? There are interesting connections, too, like the irony of Jack writing about necking with a girl all the way to Indianapolis in On The Road and then the owner of the Indianapolis Colts buying the original Road scroll for over $2 million. Well, maybe that's not so ironic (my analysis, not Morgan's), but it's sure interesting.

There's a useful bibliography for additional reading, and a fairly extensive index (Kerouac has over 100 entries in it) gives the reader another way to plan trips. For instance, if you're a Gary Snyder fan, you could check out any of his 30+ index entries, pick your destination, and go go go.

I absolutely love this book. It's quirky, interesting, and practical. This is a travel guide that you will pick up just to read, in addition to using it for finding Beat destinations to visit. Beat Atlas has my highest recommendation.

You can order a copy from City Lights Books. While you're at it, you might want to pick up a copy of The Beat Handbook. It's made to be a traveling companion as well.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Orpheus Emerged

I just finished Kerouac's Orpheus Emerged. It was written in 1945 when Jack was just 23 but not released until 2000 (by his estate).

And it shows. I found it incredibly tedious to get through. Was it in part my high expectations? I don't think so. I really wanted to like it, but it was impossible. It is sophomoric at best, and its only saving grace is that one sees glimmers - brief and not very bright - of the master-to-be, especially in some of the character development and his roman a clef style. The book is a must-read for a diehard Kerouac fan, but I have no other reason to recommend it and nothing else worth saying about it. Well, one more thing. The denouement tries so hard to be literary and hip and mystical that it accomplishes none of these aims.

Sorry for the pan, Jack. I'm starting Vanity of Duluoz tonight in an effort to cleanse my palate and redeem your good name.

Oh, and one saving grace emerged: seeing how lousy Jack was at the beginning of his career gave hope to this aspiring writer.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Jack Kerouac's Funeral"

My friend, Mitch Goldwater, turned me on to a poet, Bill Tremblay, via gifting me his excellent book, Duhamel: Ideas of Order in Little Canada. He's a real gone poet, and I highly recommend him to all my Kerouac friends.

Indeed, Tremblay wrote a poem titled, "Jack Kerouac's Funeral." Read it here.

I love how he captures not only the feel of the day but Jack's voice as well.

Right on and thanks, Mitch.

Sluggo's wish

I thought The Daily Beat fans would appreciate this panel from a classic comic featuring the character, Sluggo. Can you name the comic strip? Can you name a comic strip that Jack loved?