Saturday, April 28, 2012

Jack Kerouac and comfort food

This article - "Kerouac Was a Comfort-Food Freak" - reminded me of the many entries in The Beat Handbook (Days 1, 17, 19, 24, 52, 54, and 57) about "the beat diet," which, of course, I culled from The Dharma Bums and On The Road. I've written about food on a number of occasions here on The Daily Beat as well. For example, the beat diet. Or Slumgullion and Slumgullion.

The beat diet is all about comfort food. Now . . . where did I put that box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jack Kerouac. Period.

How many times have you encountered the advice to follow your heart? I write in amazement that we know what to do, but we don't do it. What is wrong with human beings that we have all the great advice that's ever existed right at our fingertips (can you say, "Internet"), and we still continue to suffer through our miserable lives, complaining about this or that (politics, neighbors, perceived wrongs, the Kardashians . . . ), avoiding our passions, wallowing in our limitations, expecting the worst, relating to each other through our conditioning instead of in this moment, and . . .  ? Well, I don't need to go on.

Mea culpa. But at least tonight I am in that appreciative frame of mind. I bought a nice bottle of wine, some unhealthy but tasty dinner, and now I am both full of good food and a bit tipsy. Things seem quite clear to me in this moment: Love is all that matters. Relationships are everything. You are not your job or your possessions. This too shall pass (regarding tribulations, like getting an IRS notice that you owe $43,321 from a mistake in your 2010 tax return). Karma is real (what you put out there is what you reap). Killing other humans is wrong. There may or may not be a God but no one knows and so it's best to just be good for general purposes and not to avoid some supposed consequence when you die. There's nothing new under the sun. Bacon tastes good. Cats are cool. Wine is good. Reading and writing are the best things man ever invented.

Which leads me to Jack Kerouac. I don't know why I ended up being his number one living fan (I say that to be provocative, but it may be true except for John, Gerry, and a couple of others I've met). But I did. And I went with it, writing my book, meeting all sorts of mad people from all over the world, and generally giving me something to be passionate about that - so far, unlike being a musician - hasn't been taken away from me and, short of Alzheimer's (which I do fear), may not get taken away for the duration.

What a ramble. I hope it's semi-coherent. If it's not, I hope your IQ didn't drop from reading it.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2012 dates and more

I have it on fairly good authority that the tentative dates for Lowell Celebrates Kerouac (LCK) 2012 are Thursday October 11 to Sunday October 14. Of course, that is subject to change, and there may be some peripheral events circling about those dates. For example, the debut production of Kerouac's play "The Beat Generation" at the Merrimack Repertory Company is set for Wednesday, October 10 to Sunday October 14.

You can search archived entries here at The Daily Beat for reports from LCK. Just look in October for 2008, 2009, or 2011 (I had a conflict in 2010). It's a great time, and a necessary experience if you are a Kerouac fan.

I recommend the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center for lodging. It's right downtown and easy walking distance to some of the LCK events. Their phone number is 800-321-2211. There's usually a block of rooms reserved for LCK, but it might be too early for that. You can always book a room and then cancel. Better to be an early bird. We Hotwired one year and ended up in Chelmsford, which was fine but not as good a location.

Every even year, LCK partners with UMass Lowell and the Cultural Organization of Lowell (COOL) to put on the Jack Kerouac Literary Festival, so if you visit the LCK website (click here), don't be surprised to see it called that. No details at the LCK site yet, but there will be. Keep checking it, and I'll keep you posted as well.


See you there. Once again this year I will establish a secret phrase to whisper in my ear and in return the first person to do so will get a signed copy of my book. Just ask Melissa from 2011. I'm not using "Rumplestiltskin" this year. I think I shall choose a Kerouacian word. One more reason to keep reading The Daily Beat: to learn the magic word for this year's LCK.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Carl Rakosi: A poet that Allen Ginsberg recommended

I love discovering new (to me) poets, especially good ones. We have evidence of Allen Ginsberg recommending poet Carl Rakosi on at least two occasions: once to Thomas Devaney, who introduced an event celebrating Rakosi at Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania (click here), and once to Blaming Japhy Rider author Philip A. Bralich.

Click here to read some of Rakosi's poems.

On The Road soundtrack details

Click here for details about the On The Road soundtrack from Film Music Reporter.

I learned about this from Laura S. on Facebook. Thanks, Laura!

Monday, April 23, 2012

On The Road movie posters

To date, I've seen the following movie posters for the upcoming film version of On The Road. What do you think?

Win a Trois Couleurs' special edition celebrating On The Road!

Here's your chance to win a copy of Trois Couleurs' special edition celebrating the On The Road movie. All you have to do is submit a tribute to Jack Kerouac via the directions at the OnTheRoad4Kerouac website (click here). Whether or not you win, your contribution will become part of the reinvented scroll that will be on display at The Beat Museum in San Francisco! How cool is that?

We've previously mentioned OnTheRoad4Kerouac here at The Daily Beat. It's an effort to celebrate Jack's 90th birthday (and the upcoming movie) by recreating Jack's famous On The Road scroll (or "roll," as Jack called it) comprised of tributes written by Kerouac fans. Now, OTR4Kerouac has teamed up with MK2 for a contest in which five lucky fans will win a copy of the special English edition of the May issue of Trois Couleurs. This issue is devoted entirely to On the Road. It will appeal to not only fans of the movie and cast but also to fans of Kerouac and the Beats. It’s beautifully put together and exhaustively researched.

The French edition is already available for pre-order and the English one will be up soon at MK2 printed only a limited number of the English edition, so they expect it to go fast. In addition to being in hardback, it is also longer than the French version and contains exclusive content.

Submissions are due by May 27, so get writing. For tribute examples, click here. Scroll down to see mine.

Good luck!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Blaming Japhy Ryder

We just received a review copy of Blaming Japhy Ryder by Philip A. Bralich. Look for a review here at The Daily Beat in the near future.

621 pageviews yesterday!

The Daily Beat had 621 pageviews yesterday (according to Google stats). That's one of the best days we've ever had. Thanks to you if you were one of our visitors. Please stop by again, and please tell your Kerouac-loving friends about this blog. We wouldn't keep it going if we didn't have readers!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

On The Road harmful to apprentice writers?

I think I get where Crawford Kilian is coming from in this NPR clip. Jack Kerouac makes writing look simple. It's not. It's just that Jack was not only a genius but also he did the one thing that separates writers from non-writers: he wrote. Incessantly.

What have you written today?

P.S. Click here for the original article that Kilian is referencing.

On The Road debuting at Cannes

As we hoped, Walter Salles' movie version On The Road will debut at Cannes in May. The entire 2012 line-up is available here.

Who's up for a trip to France in May?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cannes film festival picks to be announced Thursday

The list of films competing at the Cannes film festival will be announced on Thursday in Paris. On The Road is a  strong contender. If it shows, we are hoping that our friend in France, Noemie Sornet, will be able to attend and then give us her opinion of the film.

Stay tuned . . . .

90,000 pageviews

Sometime during the night, The Daily Beat reached 90,000 pageviews according to Google stats on Blogger.

How shall we celebrate 100,000?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A review (of sorts) of Jan Kerouac's Baby Driver

Jan Kerouac was Jack Kerouac's daughter, but that is not the primary reason you should put Baby Driver on your list of "must-read" books. Yes, she references the two times she ever met her father in person, and alludes to him on a couple of other occasions; but, other than that, Baby Driver has very little to do with Jack Kerouac and very much to do with a free-spirited and vibrant young woman coming of age in the counterculture 1960s.

Yes, like Jack, Jan writes from personal experience, and so Baby Driver is quasi-autobiographical. A note on the copyright page states:
This is a work of fiction based in part on the experience of the author. The names of people and places appearing in this book do not necessarily reflect the actual names of locations or characters they may represent.
The title comes from the Paul Simon song, "Baby Driver":
They call me Baby Driver
And once upon a pair of wheels
Hit the road and I'm gone ah
What's my number
I wonder how your engine feels.
Ba ba ba ba
Scoot down the road
What's my number
I wonder how your engine feels.
It's a fitting title choice, as Jan's life epitomized hitting the road in search of the next place, next adventure, next lover, next mind-altering substance. Jack didn't give her much attention throughout her life (hardly any, in fact), but he sure passed on his wanderlust, his passion for life, and his ability to write about myriad experiences engagingly and with great attention to detail. Jan lived and loved and learned from New York City to Mexico to Washington (State) to New Mexico to South America, moving from one place to another with no plan (or not much of one), and little in the way of belongings. She supported herself in various jobs - maid, waitress, dancer - and even tried prostitution for a time, but she never portrays herself as someone to be pitied. She made choices. Sometimes they worked out and sometimes they didn't, but she always learned from them.
Yet it was all my fault that I'd gotten into that situation, and suddenly it became clear. I should never have let him think that he was my reason for coming to South America. If I had just been brave enough to admit that it was only the trip I wanted to experience. What a shameful opportunist I'd been. That was the demon inside me. I thought I understood then what Venus in Capricorn meant, or could mean at its worst . . . the planet of love in the sign of use, the mark of the prostitute
This revelation struck such heavy horror into my soul that I lost my mood of victory and became obsessed with guilt. I gritted my jaws and vowed never to use anyone again (p. 166).

Jan spent time in mental hospitals - including New York's infamous Bellevue - and describes those experiences with stark detail:
Every Thursday night, Q-6 was visited by the men's ward, and we had our weekly shindig. The men brought three scratchy Motown 45s with them and they were played over and over while we undulated in our robes - The Bellevue Grind. When, inevitably, some couple got too hot and heavy, they were simply carted away and retranquilized (p. 130).
I'm not going to try competing with the many reviews of Baby Driver that already exist. Suffice to say that this is an excellent book, based on an amazing life. You'll enjoy it regardless of your feelings about Jan's famous father, and you'll be sorry it comes to an end.

The good news is that Jan followed up Baby Driver with another book, Trainsong. I'll have something to say about that in the near future.


Kerouac, J. (1981). Baby driver. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Beat Generation Back Story: Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, and the Diamondcutter of Mercy

In The Dharma Bums, Ray (Kerouac) gives Japhy (Gary Snyder) a going-away gift:
The next day I figured to give Japhy some kind of strange little going-away gift and didn’t have much money or any ideas particularly so I took a little piece of paper about as big as a thumbnail and carefully printed on it: MAY YOU USE THE DIAMONDCUTTER OF MERCY and when I said goodbye to him at the pier I handed it to him, and he read it, put it right in his pocket, and said nothing (1976, pp. 214-215).
I blogged about this back on November 29, 2008. I had the phrase, "MAY YOU USE THE DIAMONDCUTTER OF MERCY," tattooed on my left upper back and posted a picture of it here.

There's a back story behind this passage that I just learned about from Gerry Nicosia when I told him about my tattoo. Gerry told me that he learned this from Gary Snyder, and the story goes as follows.

Snyder and Kerouac had quite a spiritual disagreement. In Bums, Kerouac claims that he and Snyder had the same favorite Buddhist saint, Avalokitesvara, but Snyder told Nicosia that this was not true at all. Snyder's favorite saint was actually Manjusri.

Manjusri's sword is the "diamond-cutter," and with it he cuts through all arbitrary conceptions, including the belief in God. Snyder wanted Kerouac to allow Manjusri to drop his sword on Kerouac's belief in God. This offended Kerouac, who never strayed far from his Catholic beliefs despite his deep study of Buddhism. Kerouac thought a truly merciful saint would never attempt to destroy his belief in God.

As a result, Kerouac came up with the retort, "MAY YOU USE THE DIAMONDCUTTER OF MERCY."

Isn't that a great piece of Kerouac lore?

My thanks to Gerry for permission to share this intriguing back story with readers of The Daily Beat.

Kerouac's The Sea Is My Brother gets a good review!

I received a copy of Jack Kerouac's The Sea Is My Brother for Christmas but haven't read it yet. So much to read, so little time. I was happy to see this good review in Chicago Reader. Maybe it won't be as bad as portrayed in some of the other reviews I've read!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jack Kerouac's speech at Hunter College Playhouse in 1958

If you click here and scroll down a little bit, you can listen to a speech Jack Kerouac gave at New York's Hunter College Playhouse (sponsored by Brandeis University) in 1958. I learned about this from Al Hinkle on Facebook, and it is awesome.

In the clip, Jack riffs for over 6 minutes in his own inimitable way, and references the genesis of the term, "Beat Generation."

There are also links to Jack's essay about his speech (there are no known transcriptions) as well as a book chapter by James Wechsler (a fellow panelist at the debate) in which he recalls the evening with Kerouac.

Spend some time listening to the audio and reading the linked information. It's an important part of your Beat education!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Blog stats are a mystery to me (or what Kevin Nash, Kristin Stewart, Jack Kerouac, and the Three Stooges have in common)

I frequently look at the stats for this blog, and I must say that they leave me scratching my head more often than not. For example, the number 2 most popular page this week (out of 840 posts since 2008) based on pageviews is the one I wrote in October 9, 2011 about a guy we met in Lowell. Click here for the post. Why on earth is this particular post popular this week? Maybe Kevin Nash is in the news?

Not surprisingly, my post about the official On The Road movie website is number one in pageviews this week (click here). Of course, my post about Kristen Stewart appearing topless in On The Road continues to be the #1 post of all time, amassing 8,688 pageviews. The next closest only has 729 pageviews.

I guess it all has to do with keywords in a post and in the post title and how popular they are as search terms. I've read that if you put the words zombie, pirate, or ninja in a post that it assures traffic. I've tried it. It works.

The word Kerouac in the title or in the body of a post seems to help more lately. I think that's because of the buzz around the movie.

Anyway, I'll keep writing about Jack and the Beats and posting links to newsy Beat articles and resources and let the chips fall where they may in terms of blog traffic. I admit that I sprinkled some important search terms in the above discussion. Hey, it can't hurt.

Don't forget, by the way, the new Three Stooges movie comes out Friday. Jack was partial to the Stooges, and referenced them in Visions of Cody. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk! Another helpful search term makes it into my post.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Columbia University and the Beats

Click here for an excellent set of photos related to the Lucien Carr-David Kammerer murder story that was the subject of Jack Kerouac's and William S. Burroughs' And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks (and the subject of the upcoming movie, Kill Your Darlings). It includes, among other things, a picture of the apartment in which Jack lived with Edie Parker.

Click here for a related NY Times article.

Writing advice: Placing real emotion at the center of your work

I just saw this quote posted by Party of Two on Facebook:
“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this."
~Anne Lamott
It reminded me very much of Jack Kerouac's approach, and also that of his daughter, Jan Kerouac, whose book, Baby Driver, is keeping me up late at night because I can't stop reading once I start. Is there something in the genes related to being in touch with universal emotions and being able to write about it?

It's one thing to be in touch with your emotions. Few of us have that down pat. Then, to write about it in a way that connects with others! Is that more talent or skill?

To the latter point, I would suggest that courage plays a significant role. Don't we all have feelings we keep bottled up for fear of what others may think?

Jack and Jan didn't do that, it seems to me. If they felt something, they wrote about it, even if it wasn't politically correct or socially acceptable.

That is one trait of theirs that really connects me to their work.

May all of you inspiring writers "risk placing real emotion at the center of your work." As Lamott says, it's your moral obligation.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

On The Road official Pinterest site

Click here to visit the On The Road official Pinterest site.

On The Road movie official website

Click here for the official website of the On The Road movie!

Now, what is the U.S. release date? We want to know. Not all of us can afford to fly to Cannes in May!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Kerouac as meme

Are you familiar with memes? Click here for the Wikipedia entry. It's missing some information, however, so click here for a bit more.

You have likely seen pictures floating around the Internet with different captions. I just learned the other day that, in current Internet culture, all of these basic picture/templates have names. For example, there's Philosoraptor, Socially Awkward Penguin, Success Kid, Conspiracy Keanu, and the list goes on. I found a Kerouac example using Hipster Ariel here.

You can make your own meme here. It's easy. Below is one I made. You will need a screen capture program (ScreenHunter is a good one) to snag any image you create, though, as right-clicking on the image at the quickmeme site is fruitless.

I labeled the Kerouac meme template above "What would Kerouac do?" Feel free to make some Kerouac memes with the image. You can do that here (click on Add Your Own Caption on the right).

I have a hard time thinking of these self-created images with captions as memes. They are more like wannabe memes. That is, just because you think of a clever caption and apply it to one of these "meme templates" doesn't mean it's going to spread virally on the Internet. Chances are it won't.

That said, if you want to spread the above Kerouac meme around, feel free. Do it quickly before the Kerouac estate tries to erase it from existence (or charge royalties for it).