Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King redux

I was going to post something new about Martin Luther King, Jr., in honor of today being the celebration of his birthday, but I decided to simply post this link to my 2012 post on the same subject. I don't have a lot left to say beyond what I said a year ago, although I will add that I think the Beats would have appreciated the reading of the Inaugural Poem by Richard Blanco. Click here to listen. It reminds me of Jack's enormous America.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

First reviews of Kill Your Darlings from Sundance

Over the last year we've mentioned an upcoming film, Kill Your Darlings, which centers on the murder of David Kammerer by Lucien Carr. As our readers know, Jack Kerouac helped Carr cover up the crime and paid an interesting price for it. Jack wrote about this event in a couple of books, most notably And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, which he co-authored with William S. Burroughs.

Click here for an early, and fairly positive, review by The Guardian, and here for a rave review on Click here for The Hollywood Reporter's take on the film, and here for a review by The Independent.

Reviewers agree that the acting was stellar, especially Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg and Dane DeHaan as Lucien Carr.

I think Jack Huston (of HBO's Boardwalk Empire) may have been a really good choice to play Jack Kerouac. We'll see.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Daily Beat goes AWOL?

Dear Readers, you may have noticed a decline in the number of posts on The Daily Beat in the last couple of weeks. Between being on the road for five days and fighting off this damnable flu bug now in its third week, I simply have not been keeping up with my blogging. My apologies.

For now, click here for a NY Times review of the newest Kerouac biography, The Voice is All, by Joyce Johnson.

Not exactly a glowing review.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

San Francisco Kerouactivities Report

We're back from our 5-day sojourn in San Francisco and it was a highlight trip of my life, to be sure. It's hard to know where to start, so I'll take a chronological approach.

Crystal and I got to San Francisco mid-day on Tuesday. Our hotel wasn't ready so we checked our bags with the bell captain and strolled Fisherman's Wharf for a spell, taking the time to sit outside in the sun and eat some excellent garlic peel-n-eat shrimp while listening to a guy playing guitar and singing just across the way from the restaurant. We got checked into our room a bit after 3 and got settled in. That first night was the beat poetry reading at Bob Weir's Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, and we decided the best way to get there was to rent a Town Car. It cost about the same as a taxi but was much more comfortable. Unfortunately, the driver had no idea where he was going and no GPS system, so I ended up directing him via my phone's navigation system.

The event at Sweetwater was organized by Gerry Nicosia and called "Beat Poetry Reading in Tribute to Jack Kerouac and 'On the Road.'" It featured a host of poets (accompanied by music) and speakers and ran solid from 8 to 11 PM. Here's a list of poets/speakers/musicians in order of appearance followed by some pictures.

-Gerald Nicosia (backed up by musicians Dana Alberts, guitar, and Phil Deal, sax etc., who also backed up others and did solo performances)
-Ari Maslow
-Clark Coolidge
-Jack Marshall
-Joanna McClure
-Al Hinkle
-Wavy Gravy
-Ron Loewinsohn
-Ramblin' Jack Elliott
-Jerry Kamstra
-Pat Nolan
-Sharon Doubiago
-Jessica Loos
-Raymond MacCurtin
-Rob Zoschke
-Daniel Yaryan
-John King

Gerry Nicosia reading, Dana Alberts on guitar
Gerry forgot his reading glasses and these are what someone loaned him
Joanna McClure backed up by Dana Alberts and Phil Deal

You know Al Hinkle as Big Ed Dunkel from On the Road

Another shot of the legendary Al Hinkle

Al told some great stories about Jack and Neal
Counterculture legend Wavy Gravy put on a great show

Rambling Jack Elliott told some great stories in his inimitable style but we didn't get a picture because he went on a tirade about no picture-taking during his performance. He said he'd be glad to pose naked on a horse after the show. Jack performed an abbreviated version of a classic song that he wrote for Jack Kerouac. It's called "The 9-12 Greens," and you can hear it here.

Jerry Kamstra - "The Frisco Kid" - reading from his self-titled book

Local poet Sharon Doubiago was outstanding

John King, local poet and Executive Editor of, reading from the bar

It was a great evening. One highlight for me was getting a chance to meet and talk with Al Hinkle and his daughter, Dawn. Our tables were right next to each other. You'll recall that I interviewed Al on The Daily Beat and that Dawn greatly facilitated that interview. Who knows when a cast of Beat Generation legends like this will get together in one spot again? It was truly a historical event.

After the event, we spent the night at Gerry Nicosia's house. In the morning, he graciously took us out to breakfast and then gave us a lift back into San Francisco. My son, Jason, and his fiancee, Adri, had arrived in the city that morning and so we went out to lunch and spent some time catching up. Unfortunately, I was sick for the entire week leading up to the trip and throughout, and it caught up to me on Wednesday so I spent the afternoon and evening in bed in the hotel room. Let me just say that being sick when you are away from home is no fun.

On Thursday I was feeling a little more chipper - thankfully - so we made our way to North Beach. Our first stop was The Beat Museum, where we met owner Jerry Cimino. If you're a Kerouac or Beat Generation fan, this is a must-see when you're in San Francisco. The amount of stuff Jerry has collected is truly amazing.

Rick Dale in front of The Beat Museum
That's supposedly Jack's CPO jacket

A visit to The Beat Museum is not complete without some pictures in the '49 Hudson used in the movie

Jerry was nice enough to take a group photo: (L-R) Rick, Crystal, Adri, Jason

Rick and Crystal in the Hudson

Here's a view of the whole Hudson - it still has the road dust on it from the trip they took across the U.S.

The Hudson from the back

After a couple of hours at The Beat Museum, we made our way to Vesuvio's for a drink. It's a place where Jack Kerouac and the Beats hung out.

Rick looking toward City Lights and Vesuvio's

Rick and Jason under the Jack Kerouac street sign

Owner Janet took our picture at Vesuvio's (L-R): Rick, Crystal, Adri, Jason

Vesuvio's owner, Janet, recommended Francis Ford Coppola's restaurant, American Zoetrope and we had great pizza there

After a late lunch at Coppola's place, we made our way back to the hotel and got ready for the panel presentation at the San Francisco Public Library that night. We took at cab to the library and got there around 5:20 PM. Emcee Gerry Nicosia graciously introduced me to the other panelists. I also got to meet an actual Merry Prankster, Julius Karpen, and got his phone number for a potential interview for the The Daily Beat.

Rick with Julius Karpen, one of the Merry Pranksters

That's Gerry Nicosia to my left, Peter Coyote and Joanna McClure to my right
I got a chance to talk with Peter Coyote before the show. He has some Maine connections and we shared some common experiences regarding our parents. Peter struck a dashing figure, dressed in black and sporting a fedora. Someone commented about his hat and he said whenever he sees someone his age wearing a baseball cap he wants to reach out and "bitchslap" them. I was taken with Peter's approachability, and his comments during the panel were right on. I talked briefly with Dennis McNally as well, and it turns out he went to high school in Dexter, Maine! It was also great to finally meet in person my Facebook friend, Brad Parker, who turned out to be every bit the gentleman and scholar I imagined.

The event itself kicked off at 6:00 PM with a showing of 4 clips from the upcoming On the Road movie, whose release date was supposedly the next day but was moved until after the Oscars. Gerry Nicosia emceed the panel presentation, and each panelist spoke for about 10 minutes on his or her perspective about Jack Kerouac, On the Road, and the movie. The panel featured Kerouac and Grateful Dead biographer Dennis McNally, actor Peter Coyote, poet Joanna McClure (she was at the Six Gallery reading in 1955), Kerouac biographer and Lowell native Brad Parker, and yours truly. From all reports, I held my own. The library director said there were about 275 people in attendance.

(L-R): Dennis McNally, Peter Coyote, Joanna McClure, Gerry Nicosia, Brad Parker, Rick Dale

After the event, the library orchestrated a brief booksigning for those of us with books. I signed 4 or 5 copies of my book for people and met some interesting characters. Sharon Doubiago, who had read her poetry at Sweetwater on Tuesday, came up after the show and gave me a copy of a Maine story she'd been working on.

Rick Dale signing copies of The Beat Handbook

Outside after the show I met Diamond Dave Whitaker, who must be met in person to be appreciated but you can click here for more information.

Rick with Diamond Dave Whitaker outside the San Francisco Public Library

After the event, we made our way back to North Beach for dinner. Gerry Nicosia recommended the U.S. Original Restaurant (Italian). We had a group of eight and got a perfect table in the front of the restaurant. The waiter took our picture and because of the mural behind us it not only looks like we're eating outside by the water but that Jan Kerouac is sitting between Gerry Nicosia and me. I sat across from Gerry and Brad Parker and of course we yakked the whole time about things Kerouac. The food was excellent and reasonably priced.

(L-R): Adri, Crystal's friend Penney, Brad Parker, Gerry Nicosia, Rick Dale, Crystal, Penney's daughter Allie, Jason

On Friday we had a great breakfast at The Hollywood Cafe in Fisherman's Wharf, and then we braved the bus system and made our way - with a transfer! - to Haight-Ashbury. The women found a shoestore right off the bat and Jason and I stood outside. There were two homeless-looking characters sitting on the sidewalk next to us, and a couple approached them and started talking about selling them a broken-down car that was in a nearby parking lot. A police car pulled up. The officer got out and basically rousted the four of them, two for sitting on the sidewalk (a no-no, apparently) and two of them for being in some kind of confrontation earlier in the day. It was better than an episode of Cops.

A highlight in the Haight was our lunch at Cha Cha Cha, where we had delightful black beans and rice, Cajun shrimp, fried new potatoes with chili pasilla aioli, quesadillas, and a portobello sandwich.

Later on Friday we had a couple of drinks at an Irish bar, Fiddler's Green, and then ate dinner at Joe's Crab Shack. Good food, but it was freezing in there (we sat near the windows - bad idea). After dinner it was back to the hotel to pack and get ready for an early flight.

We had reserved a Town Car to take us to the airport Saturday morning at 6:30 but it was 10 minutes late so we decided on a taxi instead. It turns out you can negotiate the taxi fee to the airport (we got the guy down to $45, less than the $50 for the Town Car). The trip home was smooth and we drove into our driveway in Maine around 9:30 PM, making for a long day.

All in all, except for being under the weather, it was an amazing trip. If you get a chance to visit San Francisco, take it. I love that city, and that's regardless of its Kerouac connections.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Interview on Literary New England Radio

Tune in tonight at 8 PM Eastern time to hear me being interviewed on BlogTalkRadio by Cindy Wolfe Boynton for the Literary New England Radio Show. Click here for the broadcast. It will also be archived if you miss the live airing. This month their focus is Jack Kerouac's On the Road, and that is the topic of the interview.

Let me know how you think it went!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Big Sur trailer

Click here for a trailer of the upcoming film adaptation of Kerouac's Big Sur.

Joyce Johnson's review of On the Road

Click here to read Joyce Johnson's review of On the Road. It's not very positive, and, unfortunately, I agree with some of her points. I want to see the U.S. version before I opine too much (and that should happen this coming Friday - in 'Frisco).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year from The Daily Beat and a look ahead

As we embark on a new calendar year here in the west, our thoughts turn to all the Kerouacian adventures in store for us on the road in 2013.

For example, we'll finally get to see the U.S. version of On the Road. Two other Kerouac films are also afoot and could see 2013 releases: Big Sur and Kill Your Darlings.

There's our upcoming trip to San Francisco (next week!), where we'll get to attend a beat poetry reading at Bob Weir's Sweetwater in Mill Valley (click here for details*), tour the San Francisco beat locations, visit with my son and his fiancee, and, the original impetus for the trip, participate in a January 10 Kerouac panel at the San Francisco Public Library (click here for details). The panel includes Gerry Nicosia, Peter Coyote, Dennis McNally, Joanna McClure, and Brad Parker, none of whom I've met in person.

Throughout the spring semester, I'll be teaching a first year seminar focusing on Jack Kerouac at my university. It's a first for me so it should be . . . interesting.

In March, of course, there are Kerouac birthday celebrations in Lowell, MA, and October will see the annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac festivities.

In between these events, there's lots of reading to be done - things written by and about Jack Kerouac and other great stuff as well. Plus there's traveling to do - who knows where but anything is possible.

So, it's a banner year ahead and we hope you are looking forward to the same. Happy New Year!

*Here's a list of those reading at the Sweetwater event on January 8: Gerry Nicosia, Sharon Doubiago, Jerry Kamstra, Steve Dalachinsky, Clark Coolidge, Pat Nolan, Latif Harris, Al Hinkle (Big Ed Dunkel in On the Road), Jessica Loos, Joanna McClure, Jack Marshall, and Ron Loewinsohn.