Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Interview with Al Hinkle

This is a "red letter day" for The Daily Beat. What follows is our interview with Al Hinkle, who our readers know as Ed Dunkel from Jack Kerouac's On The Road. We owe a debt of gratitude to Al for sharing his time and thoughts with us. As with past interviews here, we conducted this via the magic of e-mail, but with an extra twist: Teri Davis, Al's webmaster/biographer, and Dawn Hinkle, Al's daughter, collaborated on reading the questions to Al and typing out his answers in order to send them back to us for posting. We owe Teri and Dawn a huge thank you for the critical part they played in getting this interview accomplished.

Dear readers, find a few minutes, sit back, and enjoy this wonderful interview with a true beat generation legend and icon, Al Hinkle. For more information about Al, please check out his website (ably run by Teri) at http://www.alhinkle.com/.



The Daily Beat Interview with Al Hinkle

The Daily Beat: Readers of The Daily Beat are going to know you as Ed Dunkel from On the Road. Can you fill us in on where life has taken you since your adventures with Jack Kerouac?


Al Hinkle: Most of my experiences with Jack were in 1949 and 1950, before publication of On the Road; in fact, even back before publication of The Town and the City. When Jack was out here (in San Francisco) in 1952, I got him a job on the railroad, and he worked a short time; about 4 and a half months. When the season was over on the first of January 1953, he took off.  But he either kept in touch with Southern Pacific, or they had an address for him, because when they called him back to work in May of 1953, giving him 30 days to respond so he could keep his seniority, he came right back.

Jack cashed only one paycheck; his first.  He held onto the rest, planning to turn them into traveler’s checks after the work season was over and go down to Mexico for a year to write, which he did. When the season was over, I went back to school at San Francisco State.

By the time On the Road was published in 1955, I had used the time I had been laid off to continue to further my education. In 1957, when I graduated from San Francisco State, I had a decision to make – I either had to make a commitment to Southern Pacific or spend my life doing other things. It wasn’t easy! But I decided to stick with the railroad...and also decided I would try to make a trip to Europe, spending as little money as possible.

In 1960, I got a leave of absence from the railroad so Helen, my son Mark, my daughter Dawn and I could spend six months in Europe (or ‘til we ran out of money, anyway). When we got back, Southern Pacific offered me an executive job with them, first as the Assistant Train Master and then Train master, running the railroad from Tucson, Arizona to El Paso, Texas, which required a move to New Mexico. After one full year of living and working in New Mexico, I decided to go back to San Jose and work as a conductor. I was definitely not cut out for executive work – I worked a whole year without any time off, and with the telephone ringing anytime day or night to call me in. It was just too demanding, and I didn’t get to do what I loved the most – just riding the line.

I kinda dropped out from the Beat Scene after that, staying on the margins and hardly ever making it up to North Beach, the “home of the Beats”, so to speak. I stayed with the railroad for forty years, retiring in 1987. The railroad has always been very good to me, in terms of money as well as lifestyle. They gave me a leave of absence to tour Europe again in 1968, where Helen and I were able to distribute the works of San Francisco beat poets for my friend Allen Ginsberg. He had given me a list of names of people to see in Europe, and we had a lot of adventures and fun distributing poetry across Europe to be translated into their native languages.

I stayed friends with Neal until he died in 1968, and continued my friendship with both of his wives; Luanne, until her death last year, and Carolyn and the Cassady children, who I am friends with to this day. Carolyn lives in England now, but John, Jami and Cathy live close by and we see them frequently. So that kind of brings us up to date…  

The Daily Beat: What did you think about Jack the first time you met him?

Al Hinkle: I thought Jack was a true intellectual. He had a great shyness and a quiet intensity about him, but and I felt that primarily he observed and internally recorded the American scene. When I spent that month in New York with Jack, Neal and Allen, Neal was the dominating character, always loud and always 'on,' and I had difficulty having anything more than short and unsatisfying  conversations with Jack or Allen because Neal was constantly butting in and trying to get in the act.

The Daily Beat: Why did Jack refer to you as “Big” Ed Dunkel?

Al Hinkle: That was because I was 6 foot 6 – you see the picture of Jack and I from 1952 [below]? That’s really how much taller I was than Jack – a good foot or so.


The Daily Beat: Did you make a trip from San Francisco with Neal (Dean) and Luanne (Marylou) to visit Jack in Virginia, and, if so, can you please describe anything significant about the trip that Jack didn’t mention in On the Road?

Al Hinkle: The trip was actually to North Carolina, not Virginia. You know, at 85 years of age, some of it’s a bit hazy, and it’s sometimes hard for me to differentiate between things that actually happened and situations that Jack described for the book.



I do remember that we were driving through Nebraska on that trip when we skittered off the road into a ditch. Neal and a sailor that we were giving a ride to walked a few miles to a farmhouse, and the farmer hooked up a team of horses and pulled the car out of the ditch. I don’t remember that in On the Road. I think it is significant to me because that was the only accident I remember Neal ever having on his record. And I can’t remember whether Jack had written about the conversation that Luanne and Neal were having about their plans for New York. I was in the back seat, and I guess they thought I was asleep. They were discussing how they both wanted to have an open and free relationship. By this they meant that they could each sleep with whomever they chose. The main thing was that they wanted to experience new things (and new people) in New York. Then Neal put in the one exception – he told Luanne, “You can sleep with anyone you want – except Hinkle!” Luanne asked if Neal was jealous of me, but I didn’t hear the reply. I wonder where that came from – maybe because I was a newlywed. Or maybe Neal was worried that I would try to steal Luanne away? Guess we’ll never know.



I think Jack did mention in On the Road that we went into a diner that was so understaffed that the poor cook couldn’t juggle the cooking, the orders and the dirty dishes, so we pitched in to help. Luanne did the dishes and the rest of us cleaned up the counter and mopped the floor. The cook was so happy that he piled on the food. We had hot cakes and coffee until we were full to bursting.



The Daily Beat: Can you fill is in with some background and additional details on the story about you realizing you were a ghost walking in Times Square?


Al Hinkle: I did talk to Jack about walking around Times Square and feeling unseen and unnoticed, but I don’t recall telling him about any ghosts. I think most of that was due to his creative imagination. I mentioned before that Jack had a quiet intensity – it seemed as if he took everything he observed and changed even the most mundane happening into a unique vision of his own, adding it to his never-ending internal narrative. 



The Daily Beat: Since I live in Maine, I have to ask you about the reference in On the Road to you slipping away from your wife, Helen (Galatea), with Tommy Snark (Jimmy Holmes) and going to Portland, Maine. If that really happened, why Portland, Maine, and can you give us some details on your experience?



Al Hinkle: Yes, that really happened. Here’s the story:



A few months after Helen and I had returned from New Orleans, I had a job for about 3 ½ months with the Census Bureau. It was sort of a political job – I got it through a judge in SF because of my Union contacts on the railroad.



My friend Jimmy Holmes came to visit me in San Francisco. Jimmy was an old school chum from Denver and a good friend; he was also friends with Neal and Luanne. Jimmy was the pool shark at Pederson’s Pool Hall, and Neal had once asked Jimmy if he would teach him how to play pool in exchange for Neal teaching Jimmy about philosophy. I don’t know if Jimmy ever took him up on that.



Jimmy came out because his girlfriend in Denver had just dumped him and gone back home, to Buffalo, WY. He wanted me to go to Wyoming with him and help him win back his girl.



At this point, my job was done, and I was at loose ends. Helen was planning to move in with Carolyn at that time (this would have been in summer 1949) to take care of Neal and Carolyn’s first born (their daughter, Cathleen), so Carolyn could keep the good job she had. And Helen knew I was hankering to take a trip, so with her blessing, off we went.



After spending a week in Wyoming, we knew it was fruitless and Jimmy gave up. I had started receiving unemployment pay from the railroad, and Jimmy had an annuity of about $80 a month. He said he wanted to take a bus trip to get over his broken heart. I asked him, “Where do you want to go?” and he said, “As far away as I can.” I told him that would be the state of Maine!



We bought Greyhound bus tickets with a stopover in Detroit, where Jimmy had an uncle, then on to Portland, Maine. We were there about 2 ½ weeks. The room that we stayed in had no air conditioning – it was miserably hot, even for the middle of September. We would sleep in the heat of the day; at night, we would stay up until 3-4 in the morning, reading or talking, then walk to an all-night restaurant down at the train depot, about ten blocks away.



We were walking back from there one night around 4 am when we were stopped by the police, who wanted to know what we were doing out so late. We explained about the hot room and sleeping during the day so we could enjoy the cool of the evening.



I guess our story didn’t go over well. The next morning, two Portland detectives came into our room and searched it (illegally) and told us that the Chief of Police wanted to see us at noon down at the station. We were there right on time, and after a 45 minute wait, he sat us down and questioned us about why we were really there in Portland, where we were staying and many other questions that generally worried both of us. So, that night we caught a bus down to New York. Do you blame us?



I do have to say that we had a lot of fun in Portland. We spent a lot of time at Old Orchard Beach, and went dancing on the pier with some girls we met. But money was still tight. After we headed off to New York, and after some adventures there (one of which involved being rescued by Allen from an embarrassing situation which I won’t go into right now), I returned to Denver with Jimmy.



The Daily Beat: Which of Jack’s books is your favorite and why?



Al Hinkle: My favorite book of Jack’s is On the Road. It was such a surprise to read! After reading The Town and the City twice, which was classic American literature, I read On the Road, which totally blew my mind. It was so different from The Town and the City. It was nothing like anything I had ever read; it was brilliant.



I remember that when On the Road came out in 1955, Jack had just moved to Berkeley and had been there a couple of weeks. I picked up Neal and Luanne and we drove to Berkeley to see Jack. We found him opening a package with some advance copies of On the Road. He tried to hide them from us, but Neal grabbed a copy and started reading passages out loud, jumping around with excitement. It was very exciting to read about our adventures, something written by our friend.



Jack was worried that we would hate him because of what he wrote about us. When we assured him that we loved it, he was very relieved, and said, “I’m very happy to hear that, because I have seven more books ready to go!”



The Daily Beat: How do you see the Beat Generation’s influence playing out in today’s culture?



Al Hinkle: I think there’s a big movement growing for more freedom and less government interference in our lives, and I truly believe that it’s due to the Beat Generation’s influence on people today. People want decriminalization of some of the drugs, marijuana in particular; they want the same rights to be extended to gay people, and I think these things and many more go right along with the Beat philosophy, which was basically to celebrate freedom in all its aspects, and to neither take anyone’s freedom away nor push your beliefs on others. I still believe in that today.



The Daily Beat: What are your thoughts on the casting of Danny Morgan to play Ed Dunkel and Elisabeth Moss to play Galatea in the upcoming On the Road movie?

Al Hinkle: I met both of these people, and the other actors, in person up in San Francisco on one of the days they were shooting there, and later got to know them better at a party thrown for the cast, which my daughter Dawn and I were invited to. I thought they were great; I fell in love with all of them. I was really pleased to see how all of these young actors took the story, and the philosophy, to heart and showed it so much respect. I’m really looking forward to the movie, and I think it’s got a shot at the Academy Award!



The Daily Beat: What’s the most important thing you want readers to know about Al Hinkle? 



Al Hinkle: I think it’s that I have had so much fun in my life. I had a job that I loved; I would have worked for free. I achieved my goals, even with having dropped out of high school in the 10th grade. After I graduated from Stanford, I was offered a teaching position in a junior college…but the railroad was too important in my life to give up. I had a year as an Executive; I worked for the Union as President of the San Francisco Region…I think the most important thing I’d like to let people know is that I’ve lived a full and interesting life, full of good adventures, good times, good luck and wonderful people. I love having lived a life filled with liberty and freedom.

It’s been 85 great years. I have no complaints, no complaints at all.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Marginalia

Marginalia! I routinely encourage my students to create marginalia when they read, not because I do, but because it is a habit that encourages critical reading. After all, isn't a dialogue with the author what we're really after as readers?


My heart leaped when I saw what I thought was going to be some of Jack's marginalia, in a Thoreau book no less, but when I read the following it left me with a burning question:
Marginalia have always been at the center of serious reading, but they have a place, too, at the margins of literary history. For a 2010 Talk of the Town piece, Ian Frazier wrote about a trip he took to the New York Public Library to view the annotated former possessions of various literary luminaries. He took particular note of a copy of Thoreau’s “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers,” which had been borrowed by Jack Kerouac from a local library in 1949, never to be returned. On page 227, Frazier noted a short sentence Kerouac had underlined in pencil, putting a “small, neat check mark beside it.” The sentence: “The traveler must be born again on the road.”
How do we know Jack Kerouac created that marking? Couldn't anyone have underlined that particular sentence? A previous borrower? Or someone managing Jack's estate? I say the latter because, since Jack never returned the book, I assume the New York Public Library acquired it from Jack's estate.


Nevertheless, I can easily imagine Jack underlining that particular sentence and carefully placing a checkmark next to it. We know he read Thoreau. Now, did he underline that sentence before or after coming up with the title of his book? Ian Frazier's original article sheds no light on this, but it would certainly be ascertainable if someone were so inclined to do some sleuthing.

On The Road movie finished, may be opening Cannes

According to this article, Walter Salles' movie version of On The Road is finished being edited.

It's so good that, according to a "discerning and in-the-know viewer," it could open Cannes in May.

This is all according to Josh Dickey, film editor at Variety.

To which I reply, in all beatness, "Yair!"

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Review of Kerouac: Visions of Lowell by John J Dorfner



One of my most recent Kerouacquisitions was Kerouac: Visions of Lowell by John J Dorfner. I picked it up last night and didn't put it down until I'd finished it! Granted, it's a 60-page book, but I was fascinated.

Dorfner really captures Jack's spirit in this 1993 Cooper Street Publications book, which includes a forward by none other than Allen Ginsberg (in Ginsberg's own sloppy handwriting - it's transcribed for comprehension). In the 70s and 80s, after being bitten by the Kerouac bug we all know so well, Dorfner traveled to Lowell, shooting "roll after roll of film, while walking the streets, and observing the neighborhoods." What resulted was this look at Jack's childhood in pictures accompanied by biographical information that Dorfner extracted from Jack's "Lowell novels," including lots of direct quotes from Dr. Sax, Visions of Gerard, Book of Dreams, and Maggie Cassidy.

Even Dorfner's original explanations sometimes channel Jack's writing style, and the book is replete with stories from Ti Jean's childhood:
Kerouac's Field and Track, where the Duluoz spirit lives on . . . The cinder track sets in back of Textile Institute, close to Jack's home on Phebe Street. Jack and his friends would run track here . . . against the timer he improvised, using parts of his old phonograph turn table.

Anyone interested in Jack Kerouac, or in the history of Lowell (the old pictures are fabulous, especially if you know Lowell today and can compare), will likely find this little book to be a treasure chest.

Now on to Dorfner's Kerouac: Visions of Rocky Mount. By the way, both of his Kerouac books are available via his website: http://www.johnjdorfner.com/.

Friday, January 27, 2012

On The Road: The Original Roll


I just - at 4:00 PM on January 27, 2012 - finished reading On The Road: The Original Scroll by Jack Kerouac (Christmas present from my son, Jason). This is the umpteenth time I've read On The Road, and I have to say that I enjoyed the Hell out of this version. It is funnier, sexier, and uses the actual names of the characters so that you don't need a reference guide to figure out who Kerouac is talking about.

Now, here is something you need to know as a Kerouac fan. I learned from Gerry Nicosia, a renowned and legitimate Kerouac scholar (versus a Kerouhack like me), that Jack referred to his famous 120-foot long creation typed in a caffeine-fueled frenzy during 3 weeks in 1951 as "the roll." Gerry says calling it "the scroll" was advertising hype. Jack's calling it "the roll" is supported by this page on DHARMA beat, a comprehensive Jack Kerouac website you should visit if you haven't already done so.

If you haven't read "the roll" version of On The Road, I recommend it. It doesn't supplant the version published by Viking in 1957. Rather, it augments it and gives us another look into the brilliance that was Jack Kerouac.

Follow me on Twitter!

If you are a Twitterer, please follow me on Twitter. My username is thebeathandbook. I follow folks who follow me, and often do return FFs and RTs. If you help me increase my number of followers, I'll return the favor.

Lowell City Hall clock still running



I bet Jack Kerouac would be happy to know that the 118-year-old Lowell City Hall clock is still running, thanks to the efforts of Lowell son, Andy Garabedian. Click here for an article about Andy in the Lowell Sun.

Given its age, Jack must have looked at it to tell the time on more than one occasion. Perhaps he wrote about the clock.

This is where I look to readers to help out with citations. Do you know if Jack mentioned the City Hall clock in a novel? Perhaps Dr. Sax? Or one of his other "Lowell novels"?

Let us know with a response to this post or an e-mail to thebeathandbook@gmail.com.

My latest Kerouacquisitions

Just received these from my newest Kerouacquaintance, John J Dorfner. Can't wait to read them! They are available by contacting John via his website.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, and too many books

There are more beat generation-related books in print than one can reasonably read in a lifetime. I'm still working my way through books written by Jack Kerouac, let alone books written about him! My list of "must-read" beat generation books is long enough to keep me busy well into my old age and beyond.

What's a person to do? What do you to when you get all tangled up? You just tango on(that's a movie reference, something that Jack would dig because he did it - see Day 48 in The Beat Handbook). Jack (Sal) was spouting lines from the movie version of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men:
Terry had a new idea. We would hitchhike to Sabinal, her hometown, and live in her brother's garage. Anything was all right with me. On the road I made Terry sit down on my bag to make her look like a woman in distress, and right off a truck stopped and we ran for it, all glee-giggles. The man was a good man; his truck was poor. He roared and crawled on up the valley. We got to Sabinal in the wee hours before dawn. I had finished the wine while Terry slept, and I was proper stoned. We got out and roamed the quiet leafy square of the little California town - a whistle stop on the SP. We went to find her brother's buddy, who would tell us where he was. Nobody home. As dawn began to break I lay flat on my back in the lawn of the town square and kept saying over and over again, "You won't tell what he done up in Weed, will you? What'd he do up in Weed? You won't tell will you? What'd he do up in Weed?" This was from the picture Of Mice and Men, with Burgess Meredith talking to the foreman of the ranch. Terry giggled. Anything I did was all right with her. I could lie there and go on doing that till the ladies came out for church and she wouldn't care. But finally I decided we'd be all set soon because of her brother, and I took her to an old hotel by the tracks and we went to bed comfortably.
Jack was referencing the 1939 version starring Lon Chaney, Jr. and Burgess Meredith. If you haven't seen it, you are missing part of your beat education.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jack Kerouac and the Green Bay Packers



Who knew that the Kettle of Fish in Greenwich Village, which was a favorite hangout of Jack Kerouac, is the one spot in NYC that Green Bay Packers fans are congregating today to watch the NFC Championship game?

Click here for more details from the NY Daily News.

Looks like a "below-street-level" bar. My kind of place. Don't ask me why, it just is.

Great candid shots of Neal Cassady

Neal Cassady fans will want to check this out.

Slumgullion

Jack Kerouac talks about making "slumgullion" in The Dharma Bums, and it's lunch time here at Maine Kerouac Headquarters. I found some leftover corn beef hash in the frig, and I have that frying up on the stovetop and in a minute I'm going to break a couple of eggs in there and - voila! - my own version of slumgullion. For the real beat recipe, see Bums or Day 17 in The Beat Handbook.

It was yummy. Here's a pic.



Yes, I washed it down with a beer. Samuel Adams Boston Lager to be precise.

Writer's Block and Jack Kerouac

I'm feeling like Jack Kerouac did on this date in 1948, when he wrote in his journal:
Tried to write and wrote nothing at all, what I wrote was crossed out. This is one of the worst ones yet, especially after all I've written.*
On January 15 I opined about writer's block and pondered trying some "free writing" to get things going. I just haven't made myself do it.

I have read that Jack never suffered from writer's block (e.g., in this article), but I think his own words above pretty much defeat that argument. I guess it depends on how you define writer's block. Is it the inability to write anything, or to write anything you deem "good"?

I think I more-or-less agree with the Cape Cod Daily's opinion that writer's block is an invention used as an excuse for hard work. It's much easier to say "I have writer's block" and go out and split firewood (which is on my list of things to do today) than to sit at the keyboard and slug along (which I am doing right now despite the firewood waiting impatiently).

I've never had too much trouble writing "something," but I often stop myself short of trying because I don't have any seemingly acceptable ideas for content. Which brings me back to free writing, I suppose, as a work-around. I could also look to Jack's "Belief & Technique for Modern Prose: List of Essentials." Or his "Essentials of Spontaneous Prose."

So, I think what I will do is post this entry, satisfied that I wrote and posted something today, and then go out and split firewood. When I come back in, my plan is to "free write" for 10 minutes (unless my fingers freeze off, which is quite likely).

Remember, it's just a plan, not words carved on stone and come down a mountain in a blaze of fire.


*From Douglas Brinkley's Jack Kerouac: Windblown World, 2004, p. 46. This book, along with Gerald Nicosia's Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, is one I reference frequently when looking into Jack's life and times.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kerouac and On The Road in the comics


I thought my fellow Kerouac fans would enjoy this comic from today's newspaper.

Under SOPA and PIPA, I could have my blog shut down for posting this!

Seems reasonable. Not.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Interview with Al Hinkle (Ed Dunkel) in the works!

I haven't posted much this week as I've started back to work after a much needed break. However, I do have some epic news! I've received word from Al Hinkle, the real-life Ed Dunkel from Jack Kerouac's On The Road, that he's willing to answer a few interview questions for The Daily Beat. We had mentioned this possibility back on January 8.

I'm very excited about this and I know you are, too. Being one of the original beat generation, Al is a true living American treasure.

Stay tuned for the interview. And thanks a million in advance, Al.

In other news, my post from January 17 was read by the Associate Publisher of Viva Editions, and they offered to send me a review copy of Gerald Nicosia's One and Only. Much thanks, Brenda!

If I got paid for maintaining this blog, I'd feel guilty!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gerald Nicosia's new(ish) book

Gerald Nicosia had a new book published in November, One and Only: The Untold Story of On The Road & Lu Anne Henderson, the Woman Who Started Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady on Their Journey. It's published by Viva Editions, and I learned about this review (of sorts) in The Cutting Edge from Al Hinkle's Facebook page. You know Lu Anne as Mary Lou in On The Road.

Nicosia is author of Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, one of several Kerouac biographies worth reading. I say that with trepidation as there has been an on-going conflict between Nicosia and the Kerouac estate. He was at the last Lowell Celebrates Kerouac event and, honestly, it appeared that he was about as welcome as a skunk at a garden party. I don't know all the details, but some are discussed here

Regardless, here's yet another book in the on-going and everlasting saga of our hero, Jack Kerouac. I'm not endorsing it - just letting you know it's out there. If Viva Editions (or Nicosia) wants to send me a review copy, I'll definitely read it and post a review here on The Daily Beat!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Six Degrees of Jack Kerouac: Martin Luther King, Jr.

As you know, everything at The Daily Beat revolves around Jack Kerouac. Call it an obsession.

On November 15, 2008, we started an occasional series wherein I link Jack Kerouac to another person in 6 or less steps (based on the game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon). Of course, it has much looser rules (as I explained in the original post):
...We will not be limited in our connections as in the Kevin Bacon version. That is, any connections I think of are fair game - they are not limited to people, but could be events or things.
So far we've done Kevin Nash, Robert De Niro, Mickey Rourke, and Harry Houdini. You can search archived posts if you're interested in reading about those Kerouac connections.

Per this post's title, today we are connecting Jack with Martin Luther King, Jr., since it is the latter's birth celebration day (always the third Monday in January but not always on his birthday, January 15).

The first and most obvious question that came to my mind was whether Jack and Dr. King ever met in person. They were of the same generation, with King born in 1929 and Jack born in 1922. Jack lived a bit longer, dying in 1969 compared to King's death date of 1968.

Did they meet in person? I doubt it. I've read most of Jack's books, journals, letters, and biographies, and I don't remember it happening, plus an Internet search turned up nothing. The Beats were somewhat apolitical, so I doubt that Jack would have been too enamored of the idea of meeting King. However, we're willing to stand corrected. If you know of a meeting, let us know and please cite your source.

Did Jack ever write about Dr. King? Given the sheer volume of Jack's writing, both published works and journals/letters, it's hard to believe he never mentioned King. I just can't confirm or deny it. Maybe a real Kerouac scholar will weigh in on this one. Audrey, are you reading this?

Did Dr. King ever write about Jack? I couldn't confirm this in the shallow research I did, but King did mention the "beat generation" in his Address at the Youth March for Integrated Schools on 18 April 1959 in Washington, D.C. (The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Volume V: Threshold of a New Decade, 2005, University of California Press, p. 187):
Yes, as I gaze upon this great and historic assembly, this unprecedented gathering of young people, I cannot help thinking -- that a hundred years from now the historians will be calling this not the "beat generation," but the generation of integration."
The footnote to this entry says that Coretta Scott King referred to the Beats when she delivered remarks on Dr. King's behalf  at the 1958 Youth March.

What was Jack doing at the time of Dr. King's death in April of 1968? For one thing, he would still have been reeling from Neal Cassady's death in February. This was on top of the difficult situation he faced taking care (with wife Stella's help) of his ailing mother, Gabrielle. At the time of King's death, Jack would have been living with Stella and Memere in Lowell, but they would head for St. Petersburg, FL, that fall (Kerouac in Florida: Where the Road Ends by Bob Kealing, 2004, Arbiter Press, pp. 97-98). According to Kealing, some time in 1968 Jack has his second ever and last visit from daughter Jan, who found him sitting a "foot from the television set watching The Beverly Hillbillies and cradling a bottle of Jack Daniels 'like a giant baby bottle'" (p. 97). Suffice to say, when Dr. King was assassinated, Jack was likely on a bender. Did he pay the event much attention, given his condition and the recent news about Neal and his Memere's condition? I doubt it.

Which brings us to our six degrees connection. According to this YMCA website, Kerouac and King both stayed at a Y; however, I have no confirmation that they ever stayed at the same one, so this is not a sufficient connection. We'll go with the following.

The Flamingo Sports Bar in St. Petersburg, FL, which Jack may have frequented in his final years, is located at 1230 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N. To wit:

1. Jack hung out in bars in St. Petersburg.
2. He may have frequented the Flamingo Sports Bar.*
2. The Flamingo is on Martin Luther King Jr. Street N.

Based on our rules, that makes Martin Luther King Jr.'s Kerouac Number a 3.

We know . . . that's pretty weak. We wish we could say that Jack wrote about King or vice versa, or that they met, but with the resources at hand we're left with this quasi-definite connection.


*Maybe Bob Kealing will weigh in on whether Jack actually frequented the Flamingo.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First Thought, Best Thought


As Jack Kerouac's #1 living fan, stream of consciousness writing - epitomized by Allen Ginsberg's maxim, "First thought, best thought" - appeals to me emotionally yet I have a difficult time creating in that style. Perhaps I need to get Allen's book, Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews, 1958-1996 (reviewed here).

Or, perhaps I simply need to . . . practice. The technique is also called "free writing," which you can read directions for here.

I am not trying to reduce the brilliance of Kerouac et al. to a formula, since that of course cannot be done. However, as in Buddhism, sometimes a "technique" acts as a finger pointing at the moon.

I've been feeling a bit of writer's block lately (which is just a label, I know, and can be a damaging excuse), so I think I'll try free writing for 10 minutes and see what happens.

Maybe I'll even post it (unless it's too X-rated or might trigger NDAA sanctions).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Jack Kerouac: Cartoonist and Painter

Click here for some examples of Jack Kerouac's original cartoons and paintings. We've mentioned this before on The Daily Beat (see July 12, 2011).

Just think of the graphic novel he could create. The mind boggles . . . .

My tribute to Jack Kerouac at OTR4Kerouac

If you're not clued into this effort yet, here's a link to the OnTheRoad4Kerouac Reinvent the Scroll 2012 Project: OTR4Kerouac.

You'll see my tribute to Jack (scroll down) along with David Amram's and others.

Click here to contribute your own tribute to Jack.

This is a cool idea and I hope you'll participate!

Olsen Twins' younger sister to star in Kill Your Darlings

And you thought you had misgivings about the casting for On The Road? Now we have not only Harry Potter as Allen Ginsberg but also Elizabeth Olsen (famous as the Olsen Twins' younger sister) as Edie Parker in the upcoming Kill You Darlings, based on the famous Lucien Carr/David Kammerer beat generation murder saga that Jack memorialized with William S. Burroughs in And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks. Neither actor is quite what I had in mind, but I will try to stay open about it.

On the plus side, it appears that Jack Huston ("Richard" on Boardwalk Empire) may play Jack Kerouac. Huston is an excellent actor, and I can see him playing Jack (except that he's 8 years older than Jack was at the time, 30 versus 22).

Read more about the film here and about the Carr/Kammerer incident here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Jack Kerouac and compassion

Reading the news of late usually makes me scratch my head in wonder at the cruelty of human beings, and then I think about whether it's just a natural state for us as a species. It's certainly a "typical" state, and has been for thousands of years. Jiddu Krishnamurti often pointed out the "fact" that we have not evolved one iota in this regard, that we continue right on with the killing, rape, wars, abuse and the rest of it.

What did Jack Kerouac think about compassion? He mentioned it often, and I would say that the overarching zeitgeist of his existence, and therefore of his work, revolved around his heartfelt compassion for the trials we all suffer. Compassion is at the heart of Buddhism, which of course Jack studied extensively and wrote about in several books (Some of the Dharma, Wake Up: A Life of the Buddha).

Jack is credited as saying the following in an essay in Playboy (June, 1959) titled, "The Origins of the Beat Generation":
Who knows, my God, but that the universe is not one vast sea of compassion actually, the veritable holy honey, beneath all this show of personality and cruelty?
Since inception, I've mentioned compassion 16 times here on The Daily Beat. In particular, I'm proud of this piece I wrote in May 2009. I would encourage you to read Crystal's comment that follows, where she suggests loving "every other human being as if he were our favorite child."

My mom used to say, "There but for the grace of God go I." She didn't necessarily live that saying 100%, but who does?

At least we can aspire to compassion. That would be a start. Yes?

A couple of Kerouac books for your collection

Thanks to The Daily Beat, I've occasioned to meet a lot of fellow Kerouac fans and even authors, one of the latter being John Dorfner. In case you didn't know about John, he wrote Kerouac: Visions of Lowell and Kerouac: Visions of Rocky Mount.

You can check out John's website here. Readers, if you want to get a copy, contact John via e-mail at johnjdorfner@gmail.com.


Happy reading!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Additional preparation for the On The Road movie

Yesterday I gave you some suggestions on preparting for the release of the On The Road movie. Here's another.

Visit this PBS Newshour segment and stream the video. Listen (and you can read the transcript at the same time) to Kerouac scholar Audrey Sprenger discuss Jack and his work. It's gold.

Jack Kerouac's beloved Underwood featured in new documentary

Filmmakers Chris Lockett and Gary Nicholson are making a documentary, , The Typewriter (in the 21st Century). It will feature Jack's beloved Underwood, which I've posted about previously.

Rucksacks: Who knew?

My post from March 25, 2009, titled "On Rucksacks," gets more traffic than I ever expected. For example, just today someone hit that page from searching with this phrase: duluth + pack + wanderer.

You never know.

Harshest Ever Book Reviews

I thought Daily Beat readers might enjoy this piece from The Huffington Post. Here are some of the examples.

Susan Cohen on Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in the Charleston City Paper: "This is easily one of the worst books I’ve ever read. And bear in mind that I’ve read John Grisham." I included this one because last night I finished one chapter of the book and it is so poorly written that I fear I must stop before my IQ goes down another 10 points. Maybe it's better in Swedish. The new movie was excellent, so I had high hopes.

Mark Twain on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice: "Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin bone." I included this one because I love Mark Twain, that old curmudgeon!

Virginia Woolf on James Joyce's Ulysses: "Never have I read such tosh. As for the first two chapters, we will let them pass, but the third, the fourth the fifth the sixth - merely the scratchings of pimples on the body of the boot-boy at Claridges." I included this one because, as Daily Beat readers know, Joyce was a big influence on Jack Kerouac.

Our boy Jack is not on the list, but we all know what Truman Capote said about On The Road.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waiting for the On The Road movie

As we Kerouac fans continue to stew in our own excited juices waiting for the U.S. theatrical release of On The Road, it might be helpful to occupy ourselves productively in the meantime. Here are some suggestions:

1. Re-read On The Road.
I'm reading the scroll version, but I recommend reading the traditional version so that you will have in mind the actual character names from the movie (Sal & Dean versus Jack & Neal, etc.).

2. Refresh your character knowledge
Even though I suggest reading the traditional version of On The Road in preparation, I still think it's helpful to know which real-life characters align with the characters in the book. Here's a quick-reference, but you can always visit Empty Mirror's list (my source). You might want to jot this list down on the inside cover of your copy of On The Road.

Sal Paradise = Jack Kerouac
Dean Moriarty = Neal Cassady
Old Bull Lee = William S. Burroughs
Carlo Marx = Allen Ginsberg
Ed Dunkel = Al Hinkle
Marylou = Luanne Henderson
Camille = Carolyn Cassady
Amy Moriarty = Cathy Cassady
Joanie Moriarty = Jamie Cassady
Chad King = Hal Chase
Remi Boncoeur = Henri Cru
Inez = Diana Hansen
Laura = Joan Haverty
Galatea Dunkel = Helen Hinkle
Tom Saybrook = John Clellon Holmes
Elmer Hassel = Herbert Huncke
Stan Shepard = Frank Jeffries
Sal's aunt = Gabrielle Kerouac (Jack's mother)
Roland Major = Allen Temko
Jane = Joan Vollmer
Ed Wall = Ed Uhl
Rollo Greb = Alan Ansen

3. Brush up on beat terminology
To do this, simply visit the The Beat Generation Dictionary.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Some of the Dharma by Jack Kerouac

Just got this in the mail - used from Amazon ($9) - and didn't expect such a tome! Lots of Keroueading ahead!

6 Degrees of Jack Kerouac: Lewiston, Maine

Click here for a piece in the news connecting Jack Kerouac with Lewiston, Maine. Also, I was just re-reading On The Road for the umpteenth time and realized there's a Maine connection in there related to Al Hinkle. Can you identify it?

2012 a big year for Kerouac movies

No less than three movies featuring Jack Kerouac are in the works:

On The Road, which of course you know about if you're a regular reader;

Big Sur, a movie treatment of Kerouac's novel of the same name; and,

Kill Your Darlings, about the Lucien Carr/David Kammerer murder story featured in Kerouac's And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks. It's so new that it's not yet on Imdb.com.

Are we ready for all the attention? Can't you just imagine all the superficial beat wanna-be's coming out of the woodwork, and we diehard longstanding Kerouacers channeling Barbara Mandell's song, I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool? I will admit that I came around to my Kerouac obsession pretty late in life, but at least it wasn't inspired by popular culture. It was inspired by my own Neal Cassady. But that's a whole other story for another time . . . .

Alas, I fear that anything popular culture inspires will seem antithetical to beat values. I just hope some respectful, meaningful attention gets paid to Jack and Neal and Allen and Bill and the rest. A resurgence of interest in reading the beat authors would be a positive outcome, as would an interest in poetry in particular.

Just as long as my book starts selling like hotcakes on Amazon, I'm down with the spotlight these movies will focus on the beat generation. Yair!

Monday, January 9, 2012

9 Books on Reading & Writing

You could do worse, as a Kerouac lover and therefore a reader and perhaps even an aspiring writer, than pick up any of the 9 books recommended by Maria Popova in this Atlantic article: New Year's Resolution Reading List: 9 Books on Reading and Writing.

#1 was used as a required text by my high school English teacher, Brian Stahler (one of the best teachers I ever had, if not the best). #3 is just plain excellent, even if you're not a King fan (which I'm not). #5 is one of those books you'll return to re-read because it contains so much to think about. I own #9 and it's in my "To Read" pile.

As for the rest, they're in such good company that I suspect Popova is right on target.

Way back in 1998, I was presumptuous enough to offer some advice on writing here on The Daily Beat: How to write like Jack Kerouac (the #9 most popular post of all time on this blog based on pageviews).

Happy reading. And writing.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

On The Road film update

Click here for director Walter Salles saying:
We just finished the edit and the mix in Paris. There are still a few steps left until the film is completely finished (designing titles and credits, getting the digital workprint back to 35mm, etc.). The independent company that produced the film, MK2, is now working on the site and trailer. As for release dates, they tend to vary from country to country when a film is distributed independently.
More and more it looks like it may be released in France on May 23.

Kerouac alert: New York Diaries 1609 to 2009

You never know where Jack is going to show up. Now he's referenced in Teresa Carpenter's new book, New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009. This article in the New York Post reported the following:
It took journalist Carpenter seven years to complete her book of diary entries from New Yorkers over 400 years. The result is as comprehensive as it is revealing, making the city come alive in its glamour and grime. She arranged the book by the month they were written, not by year, which allows for entries by George Washington to co-exist with those by Jack Kerouac. Though there are moments of heartbreak, hilarity prevails. “Arnold Schwarzenegger was having a party for the Statue of Liberty,” Andy Warhol wrote in 1986. “And I wasn’t invited. ”
If any Daily Beat readers get a chance to peruse it, let us know what you think.

Jack Kerouac's influence

You never know how Jack's influence will show up, as evidenced by this piece on Philly.com.

I dig it.

On The Road film pic

Pulled this from Facebook. Not sure of the source or if it's official, but I like it!



Interview with Al Hinkle?

As readers of The Daily Beat know, we are occasionally blessed with the opportunity to interview people with beat generation connections of one sort or another. Most famous, of course, was our interview with Helen Weaver, available here. We also interviewed the publisher of Kerouac's Dog Magazine, available here, and an up-and-coming beat hero from San Francisco, Travis Tribble (click here).

I say all of this because I am hoping to get the opportunity to interview Al Hinkle, who readers know as Ed Dunkel from On The Road, Slim Buckle in Visions of Cody, and Ed Buckle in Book of Dreams. Al is a living example of beat generation history, being the only surviving member of Jack Kerouac's road partners.

I caught up with Al on Facebook, and he said he would start checking out my blog. Al, if you're reading this, I'm officially asking to interview you via e-mail for The Daily Beat. If you're willing, please send me an e-mail to thebeathandbook@gmail.com and I'll respond with questions. I didn't want to clutter up your Facebook page with such a request. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be.

I hope you'll check out our other interviews and decide to give us the opportunity. Since it's written, you have total control over what we print - we don't change a thing from what an interviewee submits and what we post.

Here's hoping Al reads this post and decides to give us a rare glimpse into beat history! Beat aficionados have their fingers crossed.

Yair!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Thank you

To whomever or whatever is responsible for my blog visits going off the charts (see below), thank you. I cannot explain it unless it relates to the Kristen Stewart post from January 2. But that doesn't account for the average being above normal preceding that post - it used to be around 50/day. And what about Friday January 5? 410 visits? Why?

I seek understanding so that if it's something I did, I keep doing it. Visits are a good thing when you're a blogger.

If you have a possible rationale, I'd love to hear it!



Jack Kerouac's letter to Marlon Brando

Al Hinkle posted this link on Facebook (yes, the real Al Hinkle who was Ed Dunkel in On The Road - click here if you need a character guide for Jack Kerouac's novels). Al is one of the few compatriots of Jack still kicking, along with David Amram, and is the only one left from the road trips.

This article from Gothamist discusses Jack's wish that Marlon Brando play him in the film version of On The Road. It also has an image of the entire original letter.

I posted about this on June 14, 2011. My reason for reposting? It's pretty cool, and I wanted you all to know that you could find Al Hinkle on Facebook.

Thanks, Al, for being Jack's friend and thanks for keeping us in the beat loop on Facebook! Daily Beat readers - get thee over to Facebook and be Al's friend!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

French release of On The Road film set for May 23

According to this post, the film version of On The Road is slated to be released in France on May 23. We can only hope that whoever is hanging up the U.S. release will get their egos out of the way and make it happen.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

On The Road movie delayed?

Click here for information about the On The Road movie possibly being delayed. I am officially bummed out.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Jack Kerouac, Kristen Stewart, nudity, tattoos, rucksacks, & pictures

According to Blogger stats, as of a moment ago The Daily Beat had garnered 59,580 pageviews since inception in July 2008. We're on our way to 60,000. Don't mistake this data with the Sitemeter statistics in the sidebar - those are "visitors," not pageviews.

Here are the all-time top ten posts by number of pageviews:

1. Kristen Stewart topless in On The Road movie = 5,415 pageviews
2. Kerouac tattoos = 585 pageviews
3. Pics from On The Road = 471 pageviews
4. March 25: On Rucksacks = 444 pageviews
5. Actress Alice Braga discusses her role in On The Road = 390 pageviews
6. Kerouac tattoo = 323 pageviews
7. Jack Kerouac's 1942 Naval Reserve photo = 299 pageviews
8. How to write like Jack Kerouac = 205 pageviews
9. Naked women serving coffee = 192 pageviews
10. Review: Helen Weaver's The Awakener = 141 pageviews

What have I learned from analyzing the above? First, I'm disappointed in the disproportionate popularity of the Kristen Stewart post (by the way, it remains the top pageview for the past month, even though it is from August 2011). That disappointment aside, let's look at shameless self-promotion. Apparently, if I want traffic to my blog (and I do), I need to mention nudity, celebrities by name, rucksacks, tattoos, pictures, and Jack Kerouac.

Let's see . . . how about starting a rumor that Kristen Stewart got a tattoo on her breasts of Jack Kerouac naked and wearing a rucksack? That should get some pageviews!


P.S. If you happened on this post because you're a Kristen Stewart fan - particularly if she's naked - you definitely will want to own my book, available from Amazon by clicking here. There are entries on sex, women, nudity, and movies - all subjects a Kristen Stewart fan might be interested in - especially one searching for her nude pictures!

My submission to the On The Road 4 Kerouac project

Below is my submission to the On The Road 4 Kerouac project.

Jack Kerouac suffered the most intense and tempestuous love affair with life of any human being ever born, a love affair so profound that keeping it to himself was unthinkable and so he wrote it all down for the rest of us as a marker, a memorial, a bellwether, a reminder of what is important, of what he called in On The Road “our one and noble function of the time, move.” In all of his work, Jack was pointing us toward the ineffable Buddhist truth of the importance of now, of living fully in each moment, of completely experiencing everyone and everything deep down in our souls: of “digging the ride.”

Jack Kerouac was a man of action. When in doubt, he moved.  His example motivated me to write a book and self-publish it after 20 rejections (rejection being something Jack knew all about), and, because of taking that action, I've read publicly with David Amram backing me up on keyboards, I've interviewed Jack Kerouac's lover Helen Weaver and published it on my Kerouac-obsessed blog, I've sent books to people all over the world, I receive free books in the mail from City Lights for my review, and I routinely meet interesting "mad to live" characters. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t bumped into Jack “on the road.”

I am hopeful that the On The Road 4 Kerouac project and the release of the movie version of On The Road will ignite a public rediscovery of Jack Kerouac, the author, as well as Jack Kerouac, the man. Then, perhaps millions of other souls will learn – as Jack’s gravestone says – to “honor life.” They’ll take risks with love and laughter and compassion and somewhere along the way, just like Jack when he made it to Colorado for the first time, they’ll be able to yell, "Damn! damn! damn! I'm making it!"

Amen.

On The Road 4 Kerouac: Reinvent The Scroll

Daily Beat regulars may be interested in this effort to celebrate Jack's 90th birthday and capitalize on the release of THE MOVIE to create a public "rediscovery" of Kerouac's important work. It's called On The Road 4 Kerouac: Reinvent The Scroll. Click here for details.

It's an interesting project, and I plan to contribute a short tribute to the scroll. Maybe you'll consider doing the same in honor of our literary hero, Ti Jean.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Kerouac in Florida updated

Kerouac in Florida: Where The Road Ends by Bob Kealing has been updated and is available from The Kerouac Project. I read the earlier version and I highly recommend it.