Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Another Kerouac-related cartoon (about hitchhiking)

I doubt that the creators of Hi and Lois thought about Jack Kerouac when they drew today's cartoon, but I sure thought about Jack because of the hitchhiking theme.

I wish hitchhiking weren't illegal in so many places, but would that stop Jack Kerouac?

Here are some hitchhiking resources you might want to check out:

Hitchers Spot on the Web

As I've said before, regrettably, I've had little hitchhiking experience. My sole experience was hitchhiking home from college (a whopping 55 miles). It must have been in 1976, because I remember getting the major portion of the ride from a guy who was a campaign worker for Presidential candidate Morris "Mo" Udall. This was in central Pennsylvania (from Lock Haven to Wellsboro).

What about picking up hitchhikers? Sadly, I tend to avoid it, and I don't have a great rationale other than irrational fear about picking up a psycho serial killer. I probably miss out on meeting some really interesting beat characters.

What would Jack Kerouac do?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Attention New Zealanders: Jack Kerouac is in the house!

Photo ©2012  Sacha Stekjo
If you live in or near Auckland, New Zealand, The Auckland Performing Arts Centre is currently putting on a play based on Jack Kerouac's On The Road. Click here for a review.

Click here to buy tickets. The play runs through September 8.

Anyone want to pick me up in their private jet and whisk me down under?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Memory of Larry Keenan, Jr. by Gerald Nicosia

Well-known photographer Larry Keenan, Jr. died August 12 at the age of 68. Known for his photography of the counterculture, and in particular the Beats, Keenan had Parkinson's disease and died from a fatal fall in the middle of the night according to SFGate (click here for the article). Some of Keenan's legendary photographs can be seen here.

While writing One and Only: The Untold Story of On the Road, Gerald Nicosia, author of Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, had a chance to meet Keenan and wrote a piece about his experience. Gerry graciously gave us permission to share it with Daily Beat readers.

Memory of Larry Keenan, Jr.

©2012 by Gerald Nicosia

            I can’t pretend to know Larry Keenan, Jr., well.  I knew his photographs, of course, for many decades.  I also knew that he was in the Bay Area, and I was curious that—since you eventually run into everyone at readings or booksignings, etc.—I had never met him.  I wondered why a photographer of this renown didn’t get out much.  It was only much later that I learned of his sickness.  People said it was Parkinson’s, but I don’t know for sure.  I don’t talk with people about their illnesses unless they volunteer it, and he didn’t volunteer it.
            I finally met him when I was gathering photos for my book ONE AND ONLY, and I needed a photo of the older Neal Cassady.  In the days when I was writing MEMORY BABE (late 1970’s), people would simply hand you a snapshot of Kerouac or Cassady and say, “Keep it!”  Now, I found, anyone with a photo of Cassady in his late years thought I ought to be paying them at least ten thousand dollars for it; and one woman even suggested that her father’s photos of Cassady were worth a million dollars.  I was at a loss where to go, and then someone told me that Larry Keenan, Jr., was still alive, still in the Bay Area, but very incapacitated by his disease.
            I found a phone number on the internet, and he actually answered his own phone.  But it was apparent from his first words that he was having a huge struggle just to utter simple sentences.  I tried to get his address from him, but he was unable to get it out clearly; then the phone line went dead, and he didn’t pick it up again for a few days.
            How I found him is a long story, but I’ll cut to the chase.  He was living in a large apartment complex in Emeryville.  It appeared to be a home-base for upwardly-mobile young singles—close to both the water and the hot spots of Berkeley, and also easy access to the Bay Bridge and San Francisco.  It worked for Larry because all the buildings had elevators, and there was a headquarters building with a friendly staff, who often ran errands for him, brought him messages, and so forth.
            One is always a little afraid of meeting great artists of any kind.  Their egos are often huge and thorny as a century-old rosebush.  The door to Larry’s apartment was opened by a nice-looking, grey-haired older man in a wheelchair, and his smile was just short of beatific.  I had a friend with me, Brenda Knight, who had known him in his better years, so that probably helped.  But he was also clearly glad to get company—he didn’t get much in the last years of his life.
            Everything was a huge struggle for him.  Talking, moving about in his wheelchair—the simplest motion of a hand demanded a herculean effort.  He sought to raise his hand to shake mine, but it only came up an inch—I reached down to give his a gentle squeeze.  From the start, though, I was amazed by how efficiently and neatly his apartment was laid out.  There was no clutter at all.  He had two separate work areas—one for making photographs and using his computer—the other where photos were stored carefully in well-labeled filing cabinets, where he could pull them out, examine them, make notes on them, and so forth.  There was also a living room/bedroom area, and a small kitchen.  Aisles wide enough for his wheelchair had been carefully laid out between all the places he needed to go.  There were interesting pieces of art and photos—sometimes his own—on the walls.  One knew one was in an artist’s apartment—but it didn’t thunder at you.  If anything, the apartment radiated peace—that seemed to be something he thrived on.  Interesting, when you think about it, for a man who had documented some of the most tumultuous countercultural times of the Sixties.
            I was even more impressed when I asked for a photo of Cassady from a particular year, and he knew exactly which filing cabinet, and which drawer, to go to in order to find it.  I’m an organized person myself, but I don’t think I could match that degree of efficiency.  I suppose when one is sick and physically diminished like that, one has to use organization to compensate for the terrible difficulty of doing anything.  But I suspect it was more than that.  They say great art comes only partly from talent, and much more from the enormous drive and dedication to get the work done.  Larry had that enormous drive and dedication—it was like a light glowing inside him, and it brightened every room he was in.
            I spent only a couple of hours with him, altogether, and talked to him on the phone a few more times.  What I remember best was his huge humility.  When I told him how great I thought his photography was—that he had documented some of the most important parts of the Sixties—his face just beamed with happiness and even gratitude.  He thanked me for saying such kind things, but I told him I was simply stating the truth—his work was extraordinary by anyone’s standards.  Again, perhaps my praise of his work, my assessment that he had made photographs that would stand the test of time, may have pleased him partly because of the illness, because he knew he didn’t have much time left, and it was satisfying to him to know that he had used his life well, would leave behind some lasting accomplishments.  But I also think that he was, quite simply, an extremely modest man, not accustomed to thinking of himself as great at all.  A modest man doing his life’s work is probably how he saw himself—and when such large praise came it surprised him, caught him off guard, because that was never what he had been aiming for.  He had simply been driven to document the things in his world that seemed very important to him.  And from that simple desire he’d created true art.
            One more thing I remember.  The disease had taken so much energy from him, that after talking for ten minutes—slowly and softly—he simply could not move another muscle.  He opened his mouth to speak, and nothing came out.  He was hunched over in his chair, as if paralyzed—unable to move at all.  Having spent considerable time with invalids, I knew he might be having a serious crisis, so I squatted down beside him, looked into his face, and asked repeatedly if he was okay, or if he needed help.  Finally, still unable to lift his head, but managing to hold my eyes with his own, he raised his right thumb—to let us know he was okay, just waiting for the steam to fill the boiler again.

Photo © Larry Keenan, Jr.

            Later, before I left, he somehow found the energy and coordination to sign and date the photo [above] of Neal Cassady I had bought from him—a photo he charged me next to nothing for.  When I left him, I knew I had met a great man, and probably one of the kindest I will ever know.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

6 Degrees of Jack Kerouac: Chevy Chase

Daily Beat readers know that we occasionally play a game I call Six Degrees of Jack Kerouac, in which I make connections between Jack and other noteworthy people. So far we've done:

Kevin Nash (this entry includes the rules for the game)
Robert De Niro
Mickey Rourke (sort of)
Harry Houdini
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today we are trying to determine the Kerouac number (according to the rules of my game) of actor Chevy Chase. Before reading farther, see if you can come up with a connection between Chase and Kerouac on your own.

Okay. Time's up.

Here's the scoop. Once upon a time there was an author named Gregory Mcdonald. He wrote the famous Fletch mystery novels, which became movies, and in which Chevy Chase plays the lead role.

So far so good. Now for the connection to Kerouac. Mcdonald wrote a famous piece for the Boston Globe in August 1968 titled, "Off the Road: The Celtic Twilight of Jack Kerouac," in which he describes an interview with Kerouac (including some bar-hopping in Lowell) fourteen months before Kerouac died in October 1969. I haven't been able to find the original Boston Globe piece on line, but you can find a reprint here and a couple of other places.

Here's the breakdown of Chevy's Kerouac number (see Kevin Nash entry above for rules):

1. Chevy Chase played Fletch on the big screen.
2. Fletch was created by Gregory Mcdonald.
3. Gregory Mcdonald published an interview with Jack Kerouac.

That means Chevy Chase's Kerouac number is 3.

P.S.  While we're on the subject of synchronicities, you will learn in Mcdonald's Kerouac interview that Jack's mom, Gabrielle (Memere), was born on the same month and day that Neal Cassady died: February 4. It's not easy to confirm Gabrielle's birthday on-line (when is someone going to write her bio?), but I triangulated Mcdonald's information with this site.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: The Beauty of being Hated by Jade Leaf Willetts

Jade Leaf Willetts is a U.K.-based writer, artist, and musician who just released his first poetry ebook titled, The Beauty of being Hated. It's a collection of 16 poems, beginning with the dark but hopeful "Suicide Cardigan," about the aftermath of a suicide attempt.

We are both still here You – with a pocket rippedthe other one zippedholding blades, pills -wool – catching red circleswhere the blood spillsand the screwed up noteI couldn’t sign

Most of Willetts' poems are about relationships and all of the poem-inspiring dynamics that accompany them.

"Rent" begins:

I cashed in my heartpawned my soulfor a small weight,a little piece of gold for this I had a place to stayan ongoing exchange,my skin for her bed

It finishes with a surprise twist.

I really like "Untitled," which concludes:

I have nothing
to give you,
but words,and a promise
that my love
will not becontained herein this room,in this time,in the hollow
of breath and bone.

"In the hollow of breath and bone." That, my friends, is a poetic turn of phrase

The title poem, "The beauty of being hated," is a contemplation of unrequited love, and, like "Suicide Cardigan," describes an unpleasant experience without wallowing in despair over it. Not all of the poems in this collection are about relationships per se (I say per se because, ultimately, what isn't about relationship?). One, for example, is about taking his first poetry class ("Dr Poetry"), and another is a wish about dying ("When I die").

If this wets your whistle for more of Willett's poetry - and I hope it does because his poetry is strong and deserves an audience - you can buy his book by clicking here. Faithful Daily Beat readers will remember a videotape of me reading one of Willetts' poems on February 4, 2012 (click here). That poem, "Wednesday Dad," isn't in this collection, but it will give you an idea of his skill with a poem.

More on Willetts' can be found at his blog, "What would Neal do?", which features the classic photo of our hero Jack Kerouac with his arm around Neal Cassady. You can view some of Willetts' artwork here.

To connect with Jade via social media, he is on Twitter as JLeafWilletts and on Facebook as Jade Leaf Willetts.

Do a fellow beat a solid and check out Jade Leaf Willetts' new poetry ebook, The Beauty of being Hated. It would be $.99 well-spent.

William S. Burroughs grandfather appears in the Jumble

Many of you are likely familiar with the daily Jumble that appears in newspapers around the country. I solve it (or attempt to) every day.

Yesterday, the clue focused on William Seward Burroughs getting a patent for the adding machine on August 21, 1888. Click here for a link to the actual puzzle.

William Seward Burroughs was the grandfather of Beat Generation triumvirate member, William S. Burroughs, who benefited for years from his family's fortune via a monthly allowance of $200.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Commemorating Kerouac

According to Mustang Monthly,
in mid-September, military historian and author Bruce Gamble will be taking his restored and modernized ’67 Mustang convertible on a 6,000-mile trip across America and back to commemorate the 65th anniversary of a hitchhiking and bus trek made by Jack Kerouac, which formed the basis of his classic novel On the Road. 
Gamble, a paralyzed Navy veteran, will trace Kerouac’s entire route from New York City to San Francisco, then down to Los Angeles and eventually back to New York via the Southwest. 
Along the way, he will publish a series of essays on his blog site,

I'm impressed with this plan, and think it would be cool to keep track of Bruce's travels by reading his blog and give him some words of encouragement along the way.

Click here for the original article, but be warned, an annoying ad will pop up and you will not be able to get rid of it easily.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Calling all Jack Kerouac fans

In this article by Amanda Marcotte in Slate (who has probably never read a single Kerouac book), she begins with this sentence:
All my adult life, I’ve been served well by avoiding two categories of readers: people who like Jack Kerouac and people who think Humbert Humbert is the hero of “Lolita.”
I think it would be awesome if a shitload of Kerouac fans commented on Marcotte's article and set her straight about Jack.

Who's first?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Beat Generation score at the library

Picked these up at the Lithgow Library used book sale in Augusta, Maine yesterday. $2.50. I picked up some other books, too,* but was especially thrilled to find three with Beat Generation connections. The two biographies are from the Twayne United States Authors (TUSA) series. You'll recall that I recently posted about Warren French's Jack Kerouac book from that series (click here).

The book on the left is on William Carlos Williams, by the way.

Definitely check out the used book sales put on by your local libraries!

*An Emily Dickinson bio, Ariel by Sylvia Plath, and two classics by John Holt, How Children Learn and How Children Fail.

Friday, August 17, 2012

In defense of Jack Kerouac, feminist author

Stephanie Nikolopoulus (click here for her blog) took it on the on-line chin this week from "feminists" for her daring to defend Jack Kerouac's work (click here for her article). I've attempted to defend Jack against such attacks at least three times in the past:

February 8, 2009
August 29, 2009
July 24, 2011

Now comes Danny Lanzetta, with a reasoned piece (click here) titled, "In Defense of Jack Kerouac and Other Flawed Literature."

As I have said before and will continue saying, if we cannot read an author because of the author's personal foibles or less-than-perfect behavior/attitudes, we may as well admit that there is nothing worthy of reading.

Thanks, Danny, for injecting reason into the debate.

And don't forget, Jack wrote:
My aunt once said that the world would never find peace until men fell at their women's feet and asked for forgiveness. 

Peace out, sister.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review: Ring of Bone: Collected Poems by Lew Welch

As mentioned on June 7, 2012, I received a review copy of Lew Welch's Ring of Bone: Collected Poems and I just finished it. Before I get into the book itself, some context is in order.

First of all, do not confuse this with the 1979 edition of the same title, which was published not long after Lew "left his car and his camp and his plan, and walked off [from Gary Snyder's house] into the wilds of the northern Sierra" (p. 13), never to be heard from again (or found). This is a new (2012) edition from City Lights Books with a preface by Gary Snyder (Japhy Ryder in The Dharma Bums).

Second, this book is of interest not only because of its own merits (which I'll get to below), but also because Lew Welch was one of Jack Kerouac's contemporaries, appearing as Dave Wain in Big Sur. Lew was Jack's chauffeur back-and-forth to Lawrence Ferlinghetti's cabin at Big Sur in 1960. Prior to that, in 1959, Welch took a cross-country drive with Kerouac and Albert Saijo (George Baso in Big Sur) that resulted in a "book of 'road-trip haiku' titled Trip Trap (1973)" (from Dave Moore's Character Key to Kerouac's Duluoz Legend at Welch was one of a group of 4 poets at Reed College in the 40s, two you've definitely heard of - Philip Whalen and Gary Snyder - and one you may not have - William Dickey. Whalen, Snyder, and Welch "re-grouped in the Bay Area in the late fifties and participated in the San Francisco Renaissance/Beat literary scene" (p. 13). That is the context in which Welch met Jack Kerouac.

Finally, you may know Lenore Kandel, a well-known beat poet, who had been Welch's girlfriend and was immortalized by Kerouac in Big Sur as Romana Swartz. Welch had a common-law wife, Madga Cregg, who had a son from a previous marriage named Hugh Anthony Cregg III. You probably know him by his musician stage name, Huey Lewis (and the News). Book I in Ring of Bone starts, "THIS BOOK IS FOR MAGDA" (p. 23).

Enough biography and on to Ring of Bone. I want to start by saying that I really love Lew Welch's poetry. According to Welch's preface, it is "a spiritual autobiography arranged in more or less chronological sequence" (p. 17). But Ring of Bone is not as Welch left the manuscript in 1970 when it was accepted by a New York publisher. Welch "walked away" in 1971 and left a farewell note naming Donald Allen as literary executor, directing him to use not only the assembled Ring of Bone but all of his papers as well. After a careful study, Allen added a number of poems in a section titled, "Uncollected Poems," and also the fantastic "A STATEMENT OF POETICS" at the end, a prose piece by Welch that was the beginning of a textbook for a course in poetry. The latter was a highlight for me as it gave important insights into how Welch thought about poetry. Reading that piece gave me a better appreciation of what Welch was trying to do in his poems, and it also made me wish I could have known him (or taken his poetry course).

For example, he tells the story of stopping at a California winery to get free wine from the tasting room (a beat thing to do!), and a tour was starting so he decided to go along. The young tour guide was going on and on in the familiar monotone that we're all boringly familiar with, and then said, "Whose kid is that?"

The force of whose kid is that caused everyone to pay attention to the real moment we were all in. A small child was about to fall into a very deep vat of wine. 
I vowed, at that moment, that every statement in my poems should have at least the force of whose kid is that
It is an impossible standard, but a good one. Few really bad lines can stand against it (p. 242).

It may be an impossible standard, but Welch succeeds more often than not. One of my favorites is "OUR LADY OF REFUSED LOVE" (p. 223) about Margaret, whose mind, while she was sipping brandy or stitching after dinner

would drift on back through
     all of Life and Time 
since our cells slid mindlessly
               in hot 
         and ancient Seas,

After a section wherein Margaret envisions all of evolution, the poem concludes:

until attention fixed at last upon the complicated
                     the needlework
         her fingers, hands, her thighs her
        wherein she lived a clean strong life 

I'd love for you to read the entire poem and how it describes what transpired before her inner eye, but I might fun afoul of the copyright police. The solution is for you to order your own copy of Ring of Bone from City Lights Books by clicking here.

Once you get it in your hands, you will read poems that not only meet Welch's whose kid is that standard but also serve as examples of why we prize poetry. As Welch puts it,

We all know what we go to poetry for. We want the exact transmission of Mind into Word. We don't care how crazy that man is, we want exact transmission of that crazed Mind. We are crazed ourselves. It would help to know we are not alone (p 245).

Sounds like Kerouac, doesn't it? Welch's poetry definitely strikes one as spontaneous, and thus an exact transmission of "Mind into Word," but don't be fooled (as you shouldn't be by Jack's poetry) into thinking that Welch didn't spend time editing and re-writing. There is too much craft in his poetry to think such a thing.  Welch's poems ring true to our own experiences with a rare clarity amidst their jazz phrasings and spontaneous feel.

There are short prose pieces mixed in with the poetry, like "SMALL SENTENCE TO DRIVE YOURSELF SANE," in which he advises that the next time you're doing something absolutely ordinary, or better, absolutely necessary, say to yourself, "So it's all come to this!"

Ring of Bone is filled with outstanding poems, so much so that I hestitate to keep picking out favorites. I was enamored of "NOTES FROM A PIONEER ON A SPECK IN SPACE" (p. 77). I love how it starts out with advice to someone unfamiliar with our planet and ends with the poet and his wife picking up shells and stones and other curiosities from the beach:

She was all excited by a slender white stone which"
"Exactly fits my hand!" 
I couldn't share her wonder;
Here, almost everything does.
Of course, there are references to Kerouac, too, which only increases my affection for Welch's work. In "LEO GIVES HIMSELF YET ANOTHER NAME," he quotes Jack: "'I'm the Buddha known as the quitter'" (p. 206). And there's "I SOMETIMES TALK TO KEROUAC WHEN I DRIVE":

Yesterday I thought of something
I never had the chance to tell you
and now I don't know what it was 

I give Ring of Bone my strongest recommendationGet a copy and delve into Lew Welch's mind, wonder along with him at our human experience, and have your attention repeatedly focused like a laser.

Whose kid is that? 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kerouac's Quest: A website The Daily Beat digs

(c) 2012 Kerouac's Quest
I just learned about a cool Jack Kerouac website called Kerouac's Quest on the Facebook Jack Kerouac page (which you should join if you haven't already done so). You can access Kerouac's Quest by clicking here. You'll know you're there when you see the above (uncredited) drawing of Jack.

According to the About page, Kerouac’s Quest is a
digital archive of spiritual and religious references in the novels of Jack Kerouac’s Duluoz Legend. The purpose of this site is twofold. For the site author, it is to preserve research done in this area as part of an academic project. For site visitors, it is to provide insight into the sacred aspects of Kerouac’s ostensibly secular works. 
Visitors have a choice of browsing selected passages by title or searching by term (e.g., “Christ,” “saintly,” “Void, “satori,” etc.) using the internal search engine. The intention is in no way to circumvent the original works, but rather to point scholars and other interested parties to places in these texts they might wish to investigate further. A complete bibliography of editions utilized is available under the Biblio tab. This site was created and is to be used for educational purposes only.
Whenever you enter a search term, if it exists you get links to the different novels in The Duluoz Legend where the search term exists. When you click on the novel, you get a page with all of the text from that particular novel that's in the site's database, not just the text containing the search term. This is a tad blunt, but using your browser's Find feature will help you locate what you are looking for.

Not every work considered by some to be part of The Duluoz Legend is included, and the reason is explained on the About page. Included are:

Big Sur
Desolation Angels
The Dharma Bums
Maggie Cassidy 
On the Road
Satori in Paris
The Subterraneans
The Town and the City
Vanity of Dululoz
Visions of Gerard

If you're a Jack Kerouac fan, check out Kerouac's Quest.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tattoos, Gerald Nicosia, On The Road, Kristen Stewart, and . . . Kevin Nash?

This morning I was looking at Google statistics for The Daily Beat. I've published 950 posts since the beginning of my blog in 2008. What struck me today was that the top ten posts of all time are quite different from the beginning of the year. Here they are:

Top Ten Posts of All Time on The Daily Beat

Rank, Title, Number of Pageviews

1. Kristen Stewart Topless in On The Road, 9174
2. The Making of On The Road: Exclusive Interview with Gerald Nicosia, 1173
3. Memories of Cannes: An Interview with Gerald Nicosia (including a mini-review of On The Road), 1048
4. Kerouac, Lowell, Kevin Nash, Cappy's Copper Kettle, & Synchronicity, 934
5. Kerouac tattoo, 850
6. Jack Kerouac, Kristen Stewart, nudity, tattoos, rucksacks, & pictures, 764
7. How to pronounce "Cannes", 711
8. Kerouac tattoos, 646
9. IFC Films lists specific On The Road U.S. release date as December 21, 2012, 580
10. Full text of On The Road plus, 514

If you've been paying attention, this is a significantly different top ten list from January 2, 2012. (I did another top ten post in February, but it wasn't much different from January.) Kristen Stewart continues to top the list, but the only others in common are the two about Kerouac tattoos. Off the list are posts about initial pics from the film version of On The Road, rucksacks, Alice Braga in On The Road, Jack's Naval Reserve photo, how to write like Jack, naked women serving coffee, and Helen Weaver's The Awakener.

Onto the list are the two interviews with Gerald Nicosia, the January post above, how to pronounce "Cannes," IFC Film's On The Road U.S. release date, a link to the full text of On The Road (free version), and, a post about meeting a guy at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac who thought I looked like pro wrestler Kevin Nash.

Let's analyze. Kristen Stewart (especially nude) is understandable: she's a hot (no pun intended) commodity of late. Tattoos continuing to be a big pageview generator is somewhat surprising. The two Nicosia interviews entering the top ten is completely understandable given his famous status in the Kerouac world. My January post making the top ten makes sense because it included all the phrases in the other top ten posts (sort of cheating, just like today). Two other entries relate to the film version of On The Road, which makes sense given that it is hitting theaters this year. I won't try to figure out why these surpassed the posts that disappeared from the top ten - the latter are still getting hits and I suspect that some of them, like the one about rucksacks, may resurface in the top ten once the movie hysteria subsides.

The new top ten post that surprised me was the one about the guy in Cappy's at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac saying I looked like pro wrestler Kevin Nash. Is it the Kevin Nash reference that's causing all the pageviews? I often have Kerouac in the post title, and almost always have it in the body of the post, so that's not it. Maybe it's the combo of topics. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this one.

The lesson here is that if I want blog traffic, there are some "tried-and-true" topics. I wish legit topics like Jack's rucksack, writing like Jack, and Helen Weaver's book had the drawing power of nude Hollywood actresses and professional wrestlers. But, after all, this is America, land of the superficial . . . .

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Brandeis debate

If you've never read about or listened to the 1959 Brandeis debate featuring Jack Kerouac and several other notables, click here for a summary and a link to the audio from the WYNC Archives (45 minutes long and be warned, it takes a while to load). The question posed to the panel was, "What is the Beat Generation?"

Jack called the question "'very silly because we should be wondering tonight, is there a world?'"

I love this stuff. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Just like Jack Kerouac

Today I bought a cheap spiral bound notebook (80 pages) that is flexible and light enough to carry with me all the time, just like Jack Kerouac did. That way, when the muse strikes, I am ready. I'm already in the habit of never going anywhere without a pen, so this is just the next logical step. I'm never far from my planner/journal, but there are plenty of times when I wish I had a way to write down a particularly good phrase and, while I have a pen, I don't have paper at my fingertips. Now I will.

Jack Kerouac Bobble Heads still available

The Jack Kerouac Bobble Head dolls produced by the Lowell Spinners are still available on-line. Click here to order. 

Kerouac Bobble Heads from the last time the Spinners produced them are going for a couple of hundred bucks on eBay. And some of the proceeds go to the Jack Kerouac Scholarship Fund. Only 1,000 will be sold on-line, so get your order in ASAP.

I'll post a picture of mine when it arrives (they ship Monday August 13).

My next tattoo

My next tattoo will again be Kerouacian. It's not an original idea: I got it from Emma's tat below.

No, I don't know Emma. She's just some random Emma from the Internet whose pic I "borrowed" from this page.

I like the lower case font with no punctuation, and it looks like the "Rough Typewriter" font I had my tattoo artist use for my last Kerouac quote. Not a fan of Emma's location (ouch) - on me, that is. I am thinking left arm underneath my Irish flag.

Here's the quote in Rough Typewriter font.

Might need to go with bold now that I look at it. There, that's better.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kerouac "news"?

Click here for an example of what passes as Jack Kerouac "news" according to Google. I suppose everything old is new again when enough time passes, as I posted about this aspect of Jack a year ago (click here) and it was old news then. But I get it. Now every "news" source can rehash old Kerouac information by connecting it to the film version of On The Road. And maybe that's not a bad thing, especially if it helps create more authentic Kerouac fans.

Maybe I just need to learn how to capitalize and thus increase my blog traffic and book sales. I know. Here's some Kerouac news: I'm taking my two cats to the vet tomorrow. Jack Kerouac loved cats, and a film version of his book, On The Road, starring Kristen Stewart is going to be released in the U.S. on December 21.

Put that in your list of Kerouac news hits, Google.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pictures of Jack Kerouac's hotel in San Luis Obispo

Gerald Nicosia, author of Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, recently visited San Luis Obispo, CA, and tracked down a building where Jack Kerouac stayed during April 1953. Gerry took the below pictures and gave me permission to share them. He also provided me with most of the following information for context.

According to Gerry, Jack liked San Luis Obispo so much that he wrote to his mother about wanting to move her there. Now the building is home to a living community called "The Establishment" (click here for information - I think Jack might dig this place), but in Jack's time it was the Colonial Hotel. It was an ideal place for Jack: near the railyard, cheap ($6/week), and near a grocery store (he could cook in his room) and poolhall/bar. Plus, the Mission San Luis Obispo was three blocks away. Remember, Jack was mostly an unknown writer at the time and liked to live on the cheap, salting away what income he did earn (e.g., from the railroad) for future travels.

In Jack's time the address was 103 Santa Barbara Avenue, but they moved the street and did some renumbering. Now the building's address is 1703 Santa Barbara Street (you can find it on Google Maps and there's a street view, but I couldn't positively identify the building). Gerry said it has a new coat of mint green paint but is otherwise much like it was, including the overgrown stone path to the front door. We don't know for sure which window was Jack's, but he mentioned being able to see the Santa Lucia Mountains from his window and Gerry says the second story front windows are the ones with that view.

If, like Gerry and me, you thrill to stand where Jack stood, put this on your itinerary for your next trip to California.

(c) 2012 Gerald Nicosia
Former Colonial Hotel in San Luis Obispo, CA

(c) 2012 Gerald Nicosia
One of the second story windows was likely Jack Kerouac's room

(c) 2012 Gerald Nicosia
Another view of the second story

(c) 2012 Gerald Nicosia
Jack Kerouac's front door during April 1953

Monday, August 6, 2012

On The Road 4 Kerouac Project: Contribute Now!

We've posted about the On The Road 4 Kerouac Project several times here at The Daily Beat. It's an opportunity to pay tribute to Jack Kerouac by contributing to an effort to "reinvent the scroll" in 2012. It's easy to contribute: just click here.

No less than the famous Al Hinkle ("Big Ed Dunkel" in On The Road) has just contributed - click here to read his excellent remembrance of Jack.

You'll also see a tribute by Gerald Nicosia, author of Memory Babe.

And, of course, yours truly contributed!

What are you waiting for? Write up a tribute to Jack and send it in. The Project is presenting it to The Beat Museum on October 27, so speed is of the essence!

New On The Road trailer

Click here to see a new trailer for On The Road's release in the UK. It's similar to the trailer we've already seen, but different enough to be of interest.


Friday, August 3, 2012

IFC Films lists specific On The Road U.S. release date as December 21, 2012

Thanks to my bitching here and on Twitter, I was pointed by KstewAngel to this Garrett Hedlund page saying On The Road is slated for a December 2012 release in the U.S.

That was helpful, but I wanted more specificity and a primary source. So, I went directly to IFC Films and found that they list the U. S. release date as December 21, 2012 (that's a Friday here in the U.S.).

Hallelujah! At least we don't have to wait until 2013. Hopefully, Railroad Square in Waterville, Maine will carry it (if not the big chains), so I can see it on the release date and report about it here on The Daily Beat.

Unless someone wants to front my trip to another country to see it sooner, of course.

On The Road U.S. release date?

Okay. Enough waiting around. I want to know when On The Road is being released in the U.S. and I want to know right now. I'm thinking of having a snit over it (can you tell?).

IMDB (click here) has the specific month for release dates everywhere except the U.S. The most "definite" thing I've read for a U.S. release was "the end of the year."

It really, really ought to be released in the U.S. in October. That would be fitting beyond description, and any true Kerouac fan knows why without my explaining the point.

Please, can't someone "in the know" give us Americans something tangible to look forward to?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Did Gore Vidal and Jack Kerouac hook up?

By now you've likely read that author and bon vivant Gore Vidal has died at the age of 86. We are interested in this beyond a passing Donne-ish fancy, because Vidal has long-claimed to have had sex with our hero, Jack Kerouac, and we wonder if it's true.

Stories vary depending on the source. At DHARMA beat you'll see this:

Quite a bit more detail is provided at The Last Bohemians blog (click here).

According to the Character Key To The Duluoz Legend compiled by Dave Moore, Vidal did have an "infamous one-night liaison with Kerouac in the Chelsea Hotel, New York, summer 1953." This gibes with The Last Bohemians description. Also, according to Moore, Vidal was portrayed in Jack's The Subterraneans as Arial Lavalina. Other on-line character keys confirm this.

Jack's character in The Subterraneans, Leo Percepied, did have some sort of horror-inducing relations (anal intercourse, fellatio, who knows - we're not getting Clintonesque here) with Lavalina in a hotel suite, and since Jack's novels were undeniably autobiographical (how much is open to debate), this liaison in the book lends credence to the possibility of a real-life liaison. Here's the segment from The Subterraneans:

According to Gerald Nicosia's Memory Babe (1994, University of California Press), "Jack proved impotent" that night in the Chelsea hotel (p. 444). So, it's hard to pin this down with certainty, but it looks to me like something happened. Not that there's anything wrong with that,* of course. It's no secret that Jack swung both ways sexually. We were just exploring the topic given Vidal's death . . .

. . . because, you know, around here everything connects back to Kerouac. Everything.

*Gratuitous modern TV cultural reference