Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Blade Runner - Beat Generation connection

Since Blade Runner 2049 is in theaters, I thought readers might be interested in this piece explaining the connection to the Beat Generation:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/blade-runner-2049-philip-k-dick-william-s-burroughs-a7990456.html

If you haven't seen the original, put it on your movie bucket list. As for the sequel in theaters, I haven't seen it yet but plan to do so this week.


Friday, October 6, 2017

Denise is this year's book winner!

Denise is the winner of a signed copy of The Beat Handbook for being first to reply to my previous post with this year's secret word (dingledodies). Denise, send me your snail mail address to thebeathandbook@gmail.com and I will send you your copy right away.

The annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac festival is under way as I write this. If you're there, hoist one for me in Jack's honor.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Change of plans re: Lowell

For a variety of reasons -- none of them alarming in nature -- we have just decided to skip Lowell Celebrates Kerouac this year. One of several reasons is that we are simply traveled out, having spent almost all of September in Europe living out of our suitcases.

While we'll miss the Kerouacian camaraderie, we will not miss staying in a hotel, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, endlessly eating out, spending a bunch of money, sharing one bathroom (we both have our own at home!), figuring out cat-sitting, or, as already stated, living out of our suitcases.

There are two pieces of good news here. First, this means that there may be a room available at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center, the most centrally-located hotel to the events. Second, I am still going to give a signed copy of my book away as planned.

Here's how the latter will work: the first person to reply to this post with this year's secret word will be the winner. You will need to search past posts if you don't already know the secret word. I will ask whoever wins for their snail mail address and then send them a signed copy courtesy of the United States Post Office.

If you read this and are attending LCK this year, feel free to share this information with other attendees who may wonder about our absence.

Maybe we'll see you next year!




Sunday, October 1, 2017

The joys and pitfalls of blogging

Blogging has its joys, one of which is to share my love for Jack Kerouac with others and make connections with fellow Kerouacians. It also has its downsides such as negative responses. I don't get a lot of replies, but when I do -- unless they are ad hominem attacks -- I typically publish them (they don't post automatically so that when I am called abusive names it spares you from reading such things -- you wouldn't believe what I've been called).

On my return from Europe I had a couple of replies that were definitely unpleasant for me to read, but they didn't rise to the level of ad hominem attacks so I have posted them.

One was by "Joe Zaloom" here: John Fante.

The other by "Anonymous" here: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace Part 2.

I don't know who either person is, and for all I know it's the same person, but in any case I ruffled some feathers (the former may or may not be an actor with Die Hard With a Vengeance and other notable movies to his credit). I didn't mean to offend, and I will look for constructive criticism in the replies.

Yes, I could have read some Fante before blogging about him, but in my defense I did say in my post that it was something I probably needed to do. And yes, my review of Infinite Jest was admittedly a personal reaction and not a scholarly analysis, and on re-reading it I guess it does come off pretty self-centered. Blogging takes some degree of ego, right? That is, a blogger presumes that she or he has something of interest to say.

But . . . and this is important . . . it's my blog and I get to determine what I blog about, not you, Joe, and not you, Anonymous. You have the right to weigh in, of course, as you have done.

And so it goes . . . .

P.S. If anyone wants to reply to Joe or Anonymous, feel free. But leave out the ad hominems or your reply won't get posted.


Friday, September 29, 2017

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac this coming week!

The Kerouac faithful will be descending on Lowell, Massachusetts -- our boy's hometown -- this coming week for the annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival on October 5-9. The schedule is available here: http://www.lowellcelebrateskerouac.org/festival.

To win your free signed copy of The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions, this year's secret word and the process for employing it were revealed several blog posts ago (August 7 to be precise). Let's not allow another year to go by without a winner. Keep in mind that past winners are not eligible. We've got to spread the wealth. Ahem, yass yass....

We don't know when we are visiting Jack's grave this year. In past year's we have done it on the way into town on Thursday, but Friday morning also has a lull in the schedule since the high school poetry reading is not open to the public. The first open event that day is Talking Jack (not to be missed), so a grave visit before that is eminently possible. Whenever we do go, we'll be recording the annual graveside video reading, this year being from On the Road since it is the 60th anniversary celebration of the publication of the book that launched Kerouac's career.

When you see me, ask to see pictures of The Beat Hotel in Paris, which we visited in early September and blogged about on September 10.

Jack said everybody goes home in October. Make it so.










Friday, September 15, 2017

Report from France Part 2

I may not have Internet on Sunday so here's a post to keep the streak going. These are pictures of and at Shakespeare and Company, a very old bookstore in Paris that catered to the Beats. I didn't get a picture of Aggie the bookstore cat,  but I got to pet her and got my cat fix.






Sunday, September 10, 2017

Report from France Part 1

I have limited Blogger capability here in France because I only have my cell phone but here's a little report from Paris to keep my streak going.

On Wednesday in Paris we found The Beat Hotel at 9 Git-le-Coeur (now the Relais du Vieux Paris). Below are some pictures. I'd read that they don't appreciate tourists traipsing inside but the desk clerk was very nice. I told him I was a Beat fan and asked if I could take pictures. He said oui. I asked him how often people like me visit and he said "every day for 50 years."

There are various framed pics of Beat figures in the lobby. I didn't presume to go farther than the lobby and we had a time commitment (meeting our Paris guide, Wan).







More soon....




Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace Part 2

Well, I'm in the club -- yesterday I finished Infinite Jest, including the many Notes and Errata at the end. Everything I said in my comments on August 21 still holds true, plus I have an additional revelation or two.

First -- and this is a major revelation -- the book doesn't have an ending. It just stops. It's as if Wallace got tired of writing (after 1,079 pages) and just said, "Fuck it. I'm done." I'm sorry, but after slogging through an over 1,000 page novel, one expects an ending. Wrap some shit up, for heaven's sake!

Second -- and this is really just a refinement of what I said in my earlier post -- Wallace must have been some messed up dude to come up with some of the stuff in this book, both the content and the gory details of said content. (I know, he committed suicide so there's that, but I'm making this judgment just on his writing). SPOILER ALERT FOR NEXT SENTENCE! The final scene -- a torture scene and one that is actually a character remembering a long-ago event (that frustratingly leaves you wondering if the character will live through his current dilemma) -- is hideously disgusting (e.g., drug addicts on a such a bender that they are pissing and shitting themselves, one ending up with his eyelids sewn open).

Third -- and this is my own pettiness coming through -- Wallace reminds me of someone who needs to prove how smart he is over and over and over again. It becomes quite tedious. I quit looking up arcane vocabulary words about halfway through because it was so frequent as to totally interrupt my train of thought. His prose is so obtuse at times that I didn't know what I was reading. That is, I literally couldn't bring comprehension to some lengthy passages.

But I read them all, hoping for a payoff which never came. I didn't find out what happened to major characters, what happened regarding the deadly film, what happened regarding the Canada-U.S. conflict, etc. My greatest reward came not from reading Infinite Jest but from being able to return it to the library without the guilt of quitting. I persevered. Somehow.

I don't recommend Infinite Jest unless you want a significant and lengthy challenge. Should it be considered a literary classic? In some ways, I can understand arguments for that point-of-view. I certainly understand why it has obtained cult status. For me, it was all about the challenge. I think it's the longest book I've ever read. And perhaps the most perplexing.



Friday, September 1, 2017

Breaking the Kerouacian streak?

On Monday we leave for Europe and will be gone for about 3 weeks. We are only taking our phones for Internet access and can't predict how well they are going to work for us. Hence, I may end up unwillingly breaking the streak of weekly blogging which I started as a Kerouac-olution in December 2015, motivated by Kathleen Thompson's book, The Project-Driven Life (which you can buy on Amazon -- and should).

So, I'll likely post on Sunday, but after that all bets are off. That is, if you don't see a post here for most of September, don't worry -- I'm gallivanting about France and Italy.*

Oh, and I finished Infinite Jest yesterday. Perhaps I'll post about that on Sunday as a follow-up to my previous piece on it.

Peace out....



*We have a house/cat-sitter for those worried about Karma or those with nefarious intent. Thanks, Jared.




Sunday, August 27, 2017

What is the 27th sentence of the 27th Kerouac book on YOUR shelf?



In honor of it being August 27, I decided to open the 27th book on my Kerouac shelves and find the 27th sentence, mostly because I am fresh out of much to say today, but also because numerology casts a certain spell on me at times.

So, the 27th book on my shelf? Tristessa. (I have no particular order beyond a blunt grouping of books by Jack, books about Jack, books by other Beats, books about other Beats, peripherals such as books Jack had read, etc.)

The 27th sentence?
She [the hen] wants to come up near me and rub illimitably against my pant leg, but I dont [sic] give her encouragement, in fact havent [sic] noticed her yet and it's like the dream of the vast mad father of the wild barn in howling Nova Scotia with the floodwaters of the sea about to engulf the town and surrounding pine countrysides in the endless north--It was Tristessa, Cruz on the bed, El Indio, the cock, the dove on the mantelpiece top (never a sound except occasional wing flap practice), the cat, the hen, and the bloody howling woman dog blacky Espana Chihuahua pooch bitch (Penguin, 1992, pp. 13-14).

Now, you may be saying there were two sentences there, and I get why (because of the capitalization of It after north--). But my self-imposed rule was that a sentence was clearly delineated at the end by either a period or a new paragraph. Similarly, my rule was that a sentence was clearly delineated at the beginning by either the start of a new paragraph or an immediately preceding period.

And even with all of that, I may have misapplied my own rules and that's not even the 27th sentence from the 27th book on my Kerouac shelf no matter which way you cut it. I may have even counted the books incorrectly the way my brain has been acting lately.

No matter because it's a bunch of words slung together by the master wordsmith himself, and how can you go wrong with that? Unless of course someone accuses me of plagiarism, in which case I will successfully invoke the fair use doctrine and that's all there'd be to that.

Happy Sunday....

P.S. Feel free to report in the Comments on the 27th sentence of the 27th Kerouac book on your own shelf. If you don't have that many Kerouac books, what's the 27th sentence of the last Kerouac book on your shelf? If they're in piles and not on their ends in library style, just figure out a coherent and consistent way to count (always bottom up, then left to right, whatever). Oh, and you really should own at least 27 Kerouac books (I counted 48 authored by him on my shelves, and there are others strewn about the house). But it's not a contest. Just go with the flow and have fun....

P.S.S. Finally learned how to use my laptop's webcam to take pictures!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace Part 1



I am 647 pages into David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, a tome of 1,079 pages. I thought I'd post about it now and perhaps again when I'm finished since it's so freaking long and I am about 60% of the way finished. I don't know if I will be able to finish it in 2 weeks before we leave for Europe, and I am definitely not hauling it around with me because of its sheer size plus it's a library borrow. I could buy it on Kindle and continue reading it on my phone, a much easier physical feat.

People seem to either hate or love this book. Friends report having failed at reading it, some having had multiple failures. One friend suggested reading something worthwhile instead -- like the dictionary. I must admit that I run hot and cold depending on what Wallace happens to be riffing about at any particular moment. I say "riffing" because Infinite Jest has a spontaneous feel a lot of the time, not unlike Jack Kerouac, and as someone else on-line pointed out, Wallace definitely has a quite unique style -- something not all authors can claim.

Wallace's powers of description are mighty, both of the environment and of the many quirky characters in the book. He employs numerous pet devices (e.g., abbreviations like w/r/t and R.H.I.P and Q.v.), unusual words you have to look up (too many to pick just one as an example and I think he makes some of them up), strange - and sometimes quite entertaining -- grammatical construction (e.g., "So and but then he like really decided to ...), and is seemingly fixated on certain topics (in particular, vomit). There are times when Wallace sucks me into his world (e.g., when describing life at the halfway house) and other times when I am totally lost and reading just to get to the next engaging part (e.g., the meeting between Steeply and Marathe outside Tucson -- what the Hell are they talking about? -- and the whole dystopian-future world in general). Sometimes Wallace takes pages and pages to describe an event for which it seems a paragraph would suffice. But that is his "thing," I guess, or at least one of them: extremely detailed and free-flowing narrative and description.

The Notes and Errata at the end -- comprising almost 100 pages across 388 entries -- are particularly annoying. They vary from the 8-page fake filmography of a movie producer character to trivial side comments to obviously important backstory. No matter what, you get the sense that you can't skip them for fear of missing something important, and it's a pain-in-the-ass to go back there (often multiple times a page) especially with a hard copy. I ended up using two bookmarks so I could get back-and-forth more efficiently.

The setting -- a dystopian world in the future focused around a tennis academy, a nearby halfway house, and a movie ("Infinite Jest") so addictive that anyone who sees it loses all desire to do anything but watch it -- is certainly not typical or tropish. I could care less about tennis so the over-descriptions of  life at the Enfield Tennis Academy in Massachusetts are a drudge for me. Like I mentioned above, life at the halfway house captures my attention for some reason -- perhaps the over-the-top characters.

To sum, there are some obstacles to reading Infinite Jest -- and I suspect those vary from reader to reader -- but certainly the sheer length is one of them. Add to that Wallace's writing quirks plus the exceedingly strange world he creates and it's easy to understand why many people give up. There are times when I think he wrote the book as a giant dare (as in "I dare you to read this entire thing."). It's also easy to understand why this novel has a cult-like following. It is at various times mesmerizing, funny, entertaining, engaging, and thought-provoking. And it's different in both writing (you have to experience it) and content (there can't be too many novels in which a main character commits suicide by putting his head in a microwave oven).

I'm not recommending Infinite Jest . . . yet. Let's see what I think after 400 more pages. I assume I am nowhere near the climax of the novel let alone the denouement (if there is one), but I am determined to get there. Stay tuned for future thoughts, most likely not until after we get back from Europe.


P.S. What does this have to do with Jack Kerouac? See paragraph #2 above.






Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Beat Hotel in Paris: Here We Come

That awesome background is my workbench

I own and have used three of Bill Morgan's excellent guides: The Beat Atlas: A State by State Guide to the Beat Generation in America, The Beat Generation in New York: A Walking Tour of Jack Kerouac's City, and The Beat Generation in San Francisco: A Literary Tour.

Now I'm happy to say I own The Beats Abroad: A Global Guide to the Beat Generation, and I'm even happier to say that I am going to get a chance to use it since we are winging our way to France in less than three weeks. Our first stop is Paris, and of course one of our objectives will be to visit The Beat Hotel (9 Rue Gît-le-Cœur), now known as Relais Hôtel du Vieux Paris. Many Beat writers stayed there over the years (with the exception of our boy, Jack). In fact, we have a private walking tour scheduled and The Beat Hotel is where we are meeting our guide.

Morgan cites a number of specific street addresses in Paris where the likes of Corso, Burroughs, and Ginsberg stayed in Paris, and we may saunter by some of them during our perambulations. Of interest to me is famed bookstore Shakespeare and Company, which in the Beat heyday hosted many Beat writers overnight or for readings.

Jack Kerouac has his own entry for Paris and number of addresses where he either visited or stayed, so there's that to consider. We'll definitely visit the Louvre, where Van Gogh's paintings hit Jack with "'an explosion of light -- of bright gold and daylight'" (p. 31).

This is a vacation, though, and not a Beat history tour, so don't expect a lot of structure. We'll also be in Lyon and Servagette, France, and Venice and Amalfi, Italy. Venice has a few entries in Morgan's book, and Amalfi has one (but no address). We'll see what we see.

I guess what I really need to do is get out Satori in Paris and re-read it before we leave!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2017 (and the "secret word")

One year ago today I posted a reminder about Lowell Celebrates Kerouac in October and announced the "secret word," so it is time to do that again. Regular Daily Beat readers know that each year I announce a "secret word" that wins a free signed copy of my book -- The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions -- for the first person to come up to me and whisper it in my year (or just say it -- I'm not fussy).

Last year the secret word was "satori," and while some years no one takes me up on my offer, in 2016 we had a winner: Phil from Indiana. So far I have not allowed repeat winners, so we'll stick to that rule this year. And now the moment you've all been waiting for . . . this year's secret word -- in honor of the 60th anniversary of On The Road and a famous quote from the book and the fact that you will be shambling after me like one of these in order to win a book -- is:

dingledodies

Good luck.

But we're not finished. We need a reminder of details about the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac.

What:    An Annual Festival Celebrating Jack Kerouac
Where:  Jack's Hometown of Lowell, MA
When:   October 5-9, 2017


For places to stay, try Trivago.com. I recommend the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center if you can get a room. It's the only hotel in the city proper, but of course there are hotel options outside the city as well as Air B&B, Couchsurfing.com, a tent under the stars along the Merrimack, etc.

For directions to Jack's grave, a visit to which is on the agenda as part of the bus tour but you should make time for a private visit, search for Edson Cemetery (1375 Gorham Street) in your GPS system of choice. Go straight when you come in the gate and turn left on Lincoln Avenue. Find his grave on the right between 7th and 8th Streets.

Rick Dale at Jack Kerouac's grave on October 6, 2016

See you in October. We'll be fresh off a trip to Europe so ask me to see pictures of The Beat Hotel.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Happy Birthday to Diane di Prima


Today is award-winning beat poet Diane di Prima's 83rd birthday.

In celebration, read some of her work. Her most recently published collection is pictured above, or you can find some of her poetry on-line (e.g., https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/diane-di-prima).

Or, if you're in a randy mood, revisit your dog-eared copy of Memoirs of a Beatnik.

Happy Birthday, Diane.


Mystery in Greenwich Village: The Riviera Cafe (UPDATED 8-9-17)



I came across this article about the closing of The Riviera Cafe in New York's Greenwich Village (a place where once upon a time Crystal and I stopped for a drink while waiting to meet our friends, Richard and Michelle): http://www.grubstreet.com/2017/08/nycs-rivieria-caf-and-sports-bar-will-close.htmlhttp://www.grubstreet.com/2017/08/nycs-rivieria-caf-and-sports-bar-will-close.html.

I shared the link with my friend Richard and we got to discussing whether it's the same place that Bill Morgan mentions in The Beat Generation in New York (1997, p. 71) as a beat hangout where Kerouac liked to go in 1955 and his friend Henri Cru was the bouncer.

What gave us pause was the article saying the place was closing after 48 years. That means it was something else before 1969. This article and Morgan's book both note the address as Seventh Avenue South, although Morgan adds 225 W. 4th Street (which is how the place is listed on-line).

I noted that the name of the current place is "The Riviera Cafe," yet Morgan lists it as "Cafe Riviera."

So we have a date and a name discrepancy. And a minor mystery.

Can anyone confirm that this is the same place (location) Morgan references, and, if so, explain the discrepancies?


P.S.

After I posted the above to the Facebook Kerouac group, Kerouac researcher extraordinaire Kurt Phaneuf replied with the following information that seems to verify that it's probably the same place with a small change in names. As Kurt says, perhaps management changed in 1969, hence the 48 year longevity reported in the article.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Article in this month's Esquire mentions Jack Kerouac

In my endless quest to keep you apprised of Jack Kerouac mentions in the news and popular culture, I note that an article in this month's Esquire (which Jack wrote for) mentions our hero. The article is titled, "Making s SPLASH in the CITY," and recounts author Dwight Garner's quest to swim the hidden rooftop pools of New York City a la John Cheever's character, Neddy Merrill (played by my hero, Burt Lancaster, in the movie version), in the short story, "The Swimmer" (available here). In the story, Merrill realizes at an early afternoon cocktail party that he might be able to "swim" the eight miles home by hopping in and out of the pools of friends.

Garner concludes the piece thusly in the context of his visit to the rooftop pool of the Hotel Americano in Chelsea (where he doesn't take a swim but does have dinner with a friend):

The martinis up there are good. The soulful Mexican food is even better. I felt I could almost see my house out across the horizon, the way that Neddy, in Cheever's story, sensed, "with a cartographer's eye, that string of swimming pools, that quasi-subterranean stream that curved across the country." Cheever made this stream of pools sound as happy as one of Jack Kerouac's western highways. I began to wonder if I could swim home.

I wonder: Did the passage mentioning "subterraneans" invoked Kerouac in Garner's mind in some way, consciously or otherwise?




Book on WWII Merchant Mariners


The below article recently appeared in the local paper. I thought it might be of interest to readers given that Jack Kerouac was a merchant mariner. The gist of the article is that a local couple, Arthur and Florence Moore, were honored for a book they wrote in 1983 that helped chronicle the sacrifice of merchant mariners during WWII (when Jack served). Their "meticulous log" of all merchant mariners who died will -- thankfully -- not include Jack, but their list of merchant ships that sunk likely includes the Dorchester, on which Jack served as a scullion.

http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/08/03/hallowell-couple-honored-for-research-on-world-war-ii-mercant-mariners/




Sunday, July 30, 2017

Overcoming Writer's Block Part 2, or What Would "Tony the Mouth" do?


Another week has rolled by and here I sit at the laptop with another case of writer's block. That's how this post starts. How will it end? It could end with a fizzle, or a swizzle, or a remonstrable whizzle, or it may not ever end at all and just continue ad infinitum ad nauseum (a phrase I seem to remember learning from my high school French teacher, Madame Griggs) from week to insufferable week until my vast readership of 108 followers (but about twice that many pageviews on any given day, depending on the topic) dwindles down (that is like Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price saying on Meet the Press this morning that Obamacare is "imploding upon itself" -- it's redundant, like our 11th grade English teacher Brian Stahler taught us using "revert back" as one example and I suspect Strunk & White address that in their epic work The Elements of Style but my brief thumb-through didn't reveal a reference -- you should get a copy of that book, by the way, if you fancy yourself a writer -- the copy I still use is the one Mr. Stahler had us buy way back in 1971).



But I ramble, and that is the point. When experiencing writer's block, write. One good exercise is the 5-minute free-write. I used to have my Kerouac class do that activity (outside of class) and it was always interesting to read their reflections on that exercise. I free-wrote a blog post in this space back in 2012 (read it here at your own peril). For some reason, that particular piece is one of my all-time highest viewed posts. Go figure....

But what does that have to do with Kerouac? It's about writing, and above all else, he was a writer. So there's your connection if you must have one. One of these days I'm going to break tradition and post something that doesn't link to Kerouac. Or maybe that's impossible, given that I've repeatedly said that everything links to Kerouac in some way or another (struck out for redundancy). Given the amount of detail we have about him from his novels and letters and many biographies, there's almost always a connection to be made. Which reminds me of the very excellent PBS series, Connections. If you haven't ever seen it, it's worth your time.

And there you have it. We've made it to the whizzle (note second link below). Whether it will be remonstrable is the remaining question (the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Chief Counsel James Sheehan taught me to be careful of saying "whether or not" -- the not being redundant -- I rather remember him saying never use it, but I think the answer is "it depends," which is a legal heuristic I also learned during my time at PDE either from Jeff Champagne or Sam Bashore -- RIP -- or both; here is a NYTimes piece on the matter that will leave you almost as confused as trying to read Infinite Jest).

Whizzle = 1. whiz; especially: make a whizzing sound; 2. to get by stealth or cunning.

Remonstrable = 1. demonstrable, evident; 2. deserving of remonstration or protest; objectionable.

Well, I got to the end by cunning meta-writing, and here is a link to your whizzle. Finally, we will make the end of this post meet both definitions of remonstrable and call it a day. It's a day.


THE FUCKING END*


*If you are offended by my use of the F-word, let me remind you that I am merely following the lead of the White House Director of Communications, Anthony "Tony the Mouth" Scaramucci. Ain't leadership grand? Anyway, feel free to complain directly to him via phone, e-mail, or letter.






Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Kerouac gift idea

Here's a gift idea for the Kerouac fan in your life: https://www.etsy.com/listing/212538111/writers-block-jack-kerouac. Hint, hint....

They have Sylvia Plath and others, too.

Why didn't I think of this idea?

Happy Etsying.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Overcoming Writer's Block



Faithful readers of The Daily Beat know that I have been on a once-a-week posting schedule for over a year. That's not a particularly grueling schedule as blogging goes, yet here I am struggling to find something to say that is relevant and worthwhile. And that hasn't been said before. Writer's block, I guess -- something that finds us all sooner or later, even Jack Kerouac (speaking of which, this is a cool product).

When stymied in the past, my go-to has sometimes been an update on my top ten posts with the most pageviews of all time. That list hasn't changed a lot since my last report, so I discarded that idea.

I could report on Kerouac in the news, but many of you already know what I know because you're members of the excellent Facebook Kerouac group where tidbits like the closing of Ricardo's in Lowell (formerly Nicky's, where Jack hung out) are reported quickly.

Another idea would be some original writing, but I'm not feeling too original of late.

How about an opinion piece on current affairs? No, too fraught with ugliness and despair.



A piece on my latest reading endeavor (Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace)? Not far enough along to have perspective (yet).

An analysis of one of Jack's works? It's been done ad infinitum.



A new interview? Hmmm.... One is in the works but there's nothing "in the can."

Six degrees of Jack Kerouac (connecting Jack to another person, place, thing, or event in as few steps as possible)? I'm bereft of ideas.

Rehash or link to an old post? That's too easy.

What about posting something written by Jack? Ahh, there's the ticket.

Here's the process. I will turn to page 23 of the 23rd book in order on my Kerouac bookshelf (23 being a most mystical number with a Burroughs connection - see my December 18, 2008 post) and find a passage to quote. Your job? To identify the source. Here we go....

FOLLOWING LEE KONITZ the famous alto jazzman down the street and don't even know what for -- saw him first in that bar on the northeast corner of 49th and Sixth Avenue which is in a real old building that nobody ever notices because it forms the pebble at the hem of the show of the immense tall man which is the RCA building -- I noticed it only the other day while standing in front of Howard Johnson's eating a cone, or rather it was too crowded for me to get a cone and I was just standing there and I was thinking "New York is so immense that it would make no difference to anybody's ass if this building exists and is old" -- Lee, who wouldn't talk to me even if he knew me, was in the bar (from which I've made many phonecalls) waiting with big eyes for his friend to show up and so I waited on corner to think and soon I saw Lee coming out with his friend who'd arrived and it was Arnold Fishkin the Tristano bassplayer -- . . . .


Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Richard!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey: My Thoughts



Yesterday I finished reading Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey. All 628 pages. The last blog entry here at The Daily Beat established the Kerouac-Kesey connection, so it's legitimate to talk about Kesey's book. I know. It's my blog and I can talk about whatever I like here, though I do tend to bend to my mission of always having a connection to Kerouac. Because everything connects to Kerouac. But I digress.

If you haven't read Notion, you're missing out on an excellent reading experience. It has beauty, depth, and insight. It features strong character development (at least for the men - a quibble typically aimed at Kerouac et al.). I must warn the reader that it is not an easy read. Especially at first. Kesey abruptly jumps around in time and he uses first person narrative for several of the characters. Sometimes it's difficult to keep track of who is talking (or thinking). However, that gets easier if you persevere long enough. It actually ends up seeming "necessary" and not just an author's trick. Along the way, Kesey describes Oregon's rainy beauty and the logging industry in gorgeous detail, providing a perfect context for the complicated family/community drama to play out. Love, sex, betrayal, jealousy, revenge -- it's all here.

Notion is a very different novel from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, so don't expect a similar reading experience. I highly recommend you give it a shot. It's certainly one of the great American novels from the 20th Century.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Ken Kesey and Jack Kerouac


Ken Kesey (l) and Jack Kerouac (r)

A few months ago I picked up a copy of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. I finished a couple of weeks ago and, enamored of his writing, sought to get my hands on a copy of his other well-known novel, Sometimes A Great Notion. In fact, my very own Neal Cassady, Keith Fisher, challenged me to read the "seldom-read other" Kesey novel when he saw I had read Cuckoo's Nest. Being the weekend, I couldn't borrow it from the local library (it's only open a bit on Saturday morning). Searching around the house for something to read in the interval, I happened upon A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway. That took me a week or so to finish, and now I am 237 pages into the 628 pages of Notion.

The first 100 pages or so was a hard slog. I just wasn't getting into it, partly because I couldn't follow all the time-jumping and narrator switching. Once I got used to that, I began to give a shit about the Stamper family drama and what was going to happen with all of that. Now I think I'll likely finish it.

What does that have to do with Jack Kerouac? Well, he and Kesey were no strangers to each other. Kerouac apparently praised Cuckoo's Nest when it came out (Kerouac: His Life and Work, 2004, Paul Maher Jr., p. 422). Readers of The Daily Beat need no reminder that Kerouac's muse, Neal Cassady, became the driver of Kesey's bus, Further, carrying the Merry Pranksters around the country turning people on to LSD. In Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac (1983, p. 653), Gerald Nicosia recounts the time that the Pranksters came to NYC and Kesey wanted to meet Kerouac. Jack agreed to come to one of the Prankster parties and was dismayed at their treatment of American flags (wearing them, sitting on them. It was less than an epic encounter. The two only ever met this one time (you can read about it from Sterling  Lord's perspective here).

What you might not know is that Kesey name-drops Kerouac on page 227 of Sometimes A Great Notion (this is narrator Lee speaking of his family home in Oregon to which he has recently returned):

'This is a land for childhood frolic, with forests dark and magical and shady sloughs alive with chubs and mud-puppies, a land in which young and snub-nosed Dylan Thomas would have gamboled, red-cheeked and raucous as a strawberry, a town where Twain could trade rats and capture beetles, a chunk of wild beautiful insane America tha Kerouac could have gud a good six or seven novels' worth . . . '

So there you have it: a Kerouac encounter in a Kesey novel.

Now, did Jack ever mention Kesey in a novel? That's your homework assignment.

Happy Sunday....










Sunday, July 2, 2017

Fantastic WaPo article with recent interviews of many of the surviving Beats

I have yet to finish reading the recent Washington Post article, "Driving the Beat Road" by Jeff Weiss (it's lengthy), but a great friend and Kerouacophile who knows more than I'll ever know said it was fantastic and the best article he's read in ages. I concur based on what I've read so far.

For this article, author Weiss recently interviewed Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, Diane di Prima, and Herbert Gold. Readers of The Daily Beat need no introduction to those names with the possible exception of Gold, who was what Weiss called "Beat-adjacent." In addition to text, the piece includes video, audio, and vintage pictures. 

Check it out. You won't be sorry. Plus you'll be supporting venerable and credible The Washington Post, which in today's political climate is a very Beat thing to do. Freedom of the press, baby! No government censorship! But I digress. Here is the link:




Enjoy! 


P.S. If you choose to read the comments at the end, please be advised that there is some flaming, negative, name-calling commentary there by Charles Plymell. I'd post a retort but am not in the mood to be in his cross-hairs. Talk about uncivil discourse. At least WaPo didn't censor him.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Responding to Contempt: The Kerouac Way

Arthur Brooks says that the problem with politics today is not opposing views. It's how we treat each other with contempt.

Politics doesn't have a monopoly on contemptuous interactions, as evidenced by a recent interaction in the Jack Kerouac Facebook group. I won't go into detail. Suffice to say it's a longstanding divisive issue, and it seems to me that the only way to move past it is to follow Jack Kerouac's advice in The Dharma Bums: "Compassion is the heart of Buddhism."

If we would act compassionately toward one another in the face of contempt -- or as Arthur Brooks says, if we would meet contempt with kindness -- we might actually change the world for the better.

Alas, it's easier said than done.

One thing I'm sure about is that name-calling will never result in peace. And peace ought to be our mutual goal.

Here's a link to Arthur Brooks talking about this. It's a video that is internal to Facebook, so if you are not a Facebook user, Google him on YouTube along with the word contempt and you will find similar videos: https://www.facebook.com/harvardkennedyschool/videos/10154251688431403/

God, I'm tired of all the hate: here, there, and everywhere. Peace out....

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Jack Kerouac and UFOs?

When the UFO phenomenon hit the front pages on July 8, 1947 because of the Roswell "flying saucer" incident, our hero Jack Kerouac was living in Ozone Park and just about to hit the road on his first of several cross-country trips that he would later memorialize in On The Road.  What did he think about the UFO phenomenon? I'm not sure. I did a Google search and a quick scan of a couple Kerouac biographies, his letters, and the Facebook Kerouac group: nothing. I need to do more in-depth research.

My own interest in UFOs probably started on Saturday afternoons during my youth, when my friends and I watched Monster Movie Matinee, featuring B-movies like Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, The Thing From Another World, The Day the Earth Stood Still, It Came From Outer Space, etc. I've never had much of a personal UFO sighting experience, although I've seen some weird things in the skies, most notably during a bluegrass festival in upstate New York in the 80s. But I digress....

For the last couple of years, I've been listening to podcasts on my drive to and from work. For one reason or another, I got hooked on a couple in particular that take up the topic of anomalous phenomena (or "Forteana" - see my previous post here) like UFOs, cryptozoology, the paranormal, and the like. My favorites are The Gralien Report, Where Did the Road Go?, and Radio Misterioso.

One of my favorite guests on those podcasts is Red Pill Junkie (RPJ), who I recently commissioned to do this drawing of Crystal:

Graphic by Red Pill Junkie
.
If you're interested in having RPJ do some graphic work for you, he can be found on Facebook and Twitter as well as his blog at https://absurdbydesign.wordpress.com/.

RPJ recently did the cover art and contributed an article to an anthology titled, UFOs: Reframing the Debate, so I felt compelled to get the book and read it. RPJ asked me to write a review on Amazon, which I will do, but I decided to publish it here on my blog as well. 

So, without further ado, here is my review. What does this have to do with Jack Kerouac, you ask? Stay tuned for a future blog post....


A Review of UFOs: Reframing the Debate


There is a disturbance in the ufology force, and it is a book titled, UFOs: Reframing the Debate. Edited by Robbie Graham, this anthology brings together pieces by 14 different authors who each bring a unique and cutting-edge perspective to a field which of late seems to have lost its way, with many researchers zealously fixated on the ETH (Extraterrestrial Hypothesis) and focusing their efforts exclusively on nuts-and-bolts explanations.

As Diana Walsh Pasulka points out in the foreword, “leaving behind the ‘nuts-and-bolts’ approach and embracing the complexity of how the phenomenon affects and shapes belief frees researchers and allows them to gain a broader view of the mechanisms of the phenomenon.” That is the case with the 14 authors included here, who expose the reader to everything from personal experiences to thought experiments in an effort to understand -- not make conclusions -- about what is going on with UFO contact events.

After Dr. Pasulka’s cogent foreword, editor Graham -- no stranger to ufology -- presents an introduction framing the anthology and providing a concise summary of each author’s contribution. A brief biography of each author is included at the end. One of the extremely valuable features of the book are the extensive and relevant citations within the entries as well as in the endnotes. One could follow this path of literary breadcrumbs and easily go down a ufology reading rabbit-hole for months if not years.

There’s something here for veteran ufology fans and researchers as well as for beginners, but a word of caution is in order: there is some tough going here. The authors do assume a certain amount of prior knowledge, plus they are not afraid to challenge longstanding beliefs and perspectives. There are times when readers will be tempted to put the book aside because an author’s perspective is so out of alignment with their own, but as Graham advises, “Don’t do that.” There is a great pay-off for thoughtful persistence through each of the entries.

In this wide-ranging and brilliant collection regarding the current state of ufology, the reader can expect to learn about parapsychology, the role of belief, parasociology, cultural influences, religious connotations, high strangeness aspects, a new classification system, the back story of the Roswell Slides debunking, co-creation, anarchist subversion, trauma analogies, the importance of empathy, and more.

What does all of that have to do with ufology? Get a copy of the book and find out. You won’t be sorry.

UFOs: Reframing the Debate
Cover Design by Red Pill Junkie



Sunday, June 4, 2017

Happy Belated 91st Birthday to Allen Ginsberg

I was aware yesterday that it was Allen Ginsberg's birthday, but I delayed blogging in order to take the easy way out and have something to blog about today (Sundays are the first day of the week in my calendar and I am trying to keep up a weekly streak of posting that has gone on for some time).

Happy 91st Birthday, Allen. While admittedly this is a Kerouac-obsessed blog, without Ginsberg there would be no Kerouac, at least not as we know him today. Ginsberg was a muse to Kerouac as well as a tireless -- and effective -- advocate for getting  Jack's work published.

In his honor, here is a goofy picture of Allen  I'd never seen until yesterday.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Albert Saijo's The Backpacker and a story



Faithful readers of The Daily Beat need no introduction to Albert Saijo, but in case you are dropping by and new to Jack Kerouac, here is a little bit of information.
Albert Fairchild Saijo was born in Los Angeles, the son of a Christian preacher and a Japanese schoolteacher and writer. Studied Zen Buddhism in LA in the late 1940s and in the 1950s moved to the Bay Area, where he met and befriended Jack Kerouac and other Beat poets in San Francisco’s Chinatown. A cross-country drive in 1959 with Kerouac and Lew Welch resulted in a book of “road-trip haiku” called Trip Trap (1973) to which all three contributed. Spent his final years in Hawaii. (Source: Character Key to Kerouac's Duluoz Legend, http://www.beatbookcovers.com/kercomp/)
Saijo came to mind a few weeks ago when we were discussing Kerouac's novel, Big Sur, in my Kerouac class at the University of Maine at Farmington. Saijo appears briefly in that novel as George Baso. I had not previously thought about what Saijo may have published besides Trip Trap, and a little searching on Amazon revealed a book titled, The Backpacker. So, on a whim, I ordered it (used was the only option).

Imagine my surprise when the book arrived with a most wonderful note from the seller, Tammy (daughter-in-law of the previous owner). I hope you can enlarge the below photos and read it in its entirety.







As a fan of synchronicity, I point out the following:

-The note on the outside of the envelope ended with "not all those who wander are lost." I own a T-          shirt with that saying on the front (I am not a big Tolkien fan, but love the sentiment)
-The former owner, Earl Douglas Allen, was a teacher, as was I (retiring officially in 3 days)
-Allen, as he liked to be called, loved to hike, as do I.
-Allen was an author, as am I.
-Allen's son, Jonathan, is an author who wrote about shipping out as a merchant seaman, something        our Jack could relate to.

If you are interested in either Allen's or Jonathan's writing, check them out on Amazon.

Warpaint on the Grasshopper by Earl Douglas Allen

The Big Bucks Guide to Shipping Out as a Merchant Seaman by Jonathan Allen (NOTE: Jonathan has other titles as well).

Tammy, I am going to send along a note in the mail and hope you can access this blog post. Thank you for sharing your Dad's story with me. It makes my copy of The Backpacker that much more special. You have given my eventual heirs a fantastic idea for dispersing my book collection!



Monday, May 22, 2017

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac: Make your reservations NOW

In the mail today I received a flyer from Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! about the festival this October 5-9. It reminded me that it can be challenging to get lodging in the city as there is really only one choice: the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. Staying there makes most events walkable, or a short UBER or cab ride.

In previous years, we have not had a lot of luck getting rooms at the Inn, so I just went on-line to make reservations. Expedia showed nothing for those dates, but Trivago did and it said it had 4 rooms left when I pulled the trigger on our reservations.

If you are a regular attendee at LCK, you already know it's a worthwhile event to attend if for no other reason than to hang out with fellow Kerouacians for a few days. On top of that, there are open mikes and academic talks and musical events and (this year) a marathon reading of On The Road and, of course, you can schedule a visit to Jack's grave (as we always do). And so on . . . .

So, here is what you shall do. Get on the Trivago website and reserve a room right now at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center for October 5-9. For details about the festival, you can visit the LCK website here: http://www.lowellcelebrateskerouac.org/festival.

I see that link is not yet updated, so for now you can see some details in my previous post from May 14: http://thedailybeatblog.blogspot.com/2017/05/preview-of-lowell-celebrates-kerouac.html.

See you in October, the month when everybody goes home . . . .

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Kerouacian gift from a student



One of my students made this woodburning for me as a retirement gift. It's from Part 1, Chapter 4 of On The Road.

What an excellent and thoughtful gift, right? I love that she made it herself!

Purists will note a small discrepancy from the text, but that is understandable. I suspect my student may have gotten the quote from Goodreads, which cites the original scroll.

Here is the Goodreads quote:
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”

Here is the original scroll's version:
"...because there's nowhere to go but everywhere, and keep rolling under the stars, generally the western stars."

Here is the classic text's version:
"...because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars, generally the Western stars."

As you can see, there are several differences between the original scroll and the classic version, and the Goodreads entry is not exactly the same as either (bad on Goodreads). Somewhere along the line, someone took this great line and changed it just a little bit and it got repeated by others.

My student gets a pass on this. First of all, it's the thought that counts. Second, it's pretty damn close to the actual quote. Third, when I Google the quote, the top 6 entries are wrong. Fourth, she's one of my majors and not from my Kerouac class. Fifth, even though she wasn't in my Kerouac class, she still knew about my Kerouac obsession. Sixth, even if you wanted to fact-check Goodreads, it's pretty difficult to find passages in the original scroll unless you really know the book (given that there are no chapters and no paragraph breaks, and Goodreads provides no page number).

Lesson to readers: There are lots of misquoted or misattributed "Kerouac quotes" out there. Be careful. One good resource is the Kerouac Wikiquote (but even that is no help in the above instance -- perhaps someone will edit the Wiki to address that): https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Jack_Kerouac.

To my student (if you read this): Sorry to make a lesson out of your gift, but I know the Kerouac community and someone was bound to point this out. Better me than them.

 




Preview of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival October 5-9, 2017

I recently received the below e-mail from the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Committee. With participants like John Leland (author of Why Kerouac Matters), Kerouac friends and musicians Ramblin' Jack Elliott and David Amram -- how can you  miss it? Also, this is the 60th anniversary of publication of On The Road in 1957, so a marathon reading of Jack's most famous novel will be happening at Pollard Memorial Library where Jack spent many a day playing hooky from high school reading his way into literary history.

If you go -- and I hope you will -- make sure to take flash pictures during Ramblin' Jack Elliott's performance. He loves that. (Not! To wit, see my January 13, 2013 post: http://thedailybeatblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/san-francisco-kerouactivities-report.html).

UPDATE ON MAY 16, 2017: The LCK Committee has announced since the below e-mail that Ramblin' Jack will not be at the festival this year.

Here's the e-mail:

Preview of Coming Attractions:
The 2017 Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival
October 5-9, 2017

Save those dates as it will be a great time in Lowell for Kerouac devotees. Some of the events for the 2017 LCK Festival are being built around the 60th anniversary of the publication of On the Road. The featured speaker will be John Leland, a feature writer for The New York Times and the author of Why Kerouac Matters--The Lessons of "On the Road" (They're Not What You Think).

A marathon reading of OTR is being scheduled to be held at Lowell's Pollard Memorial Library.

Our featured performer will be Ramblin' Jack Elliott, a contemporary of Jack Kerouac, Woody Guthrie, and others of that era. He'll be on at Zorba's Music Hall on Saturday night, October 7.

No LCK Festival would be compete without the enduring and loving presence of David Amram. He'll be on at Zorba's on Friday night for a showing of the classic film Pull My Daisy, followed with commentary by David and Nancy Fox. This will be followed by an evening of jazz with David and local musicians. The annual Amram Jam will happen, of course, on Sunday afternoon.

And there will be the usual array of tours, open mikes, art exhibitions, Talkin' Jack, and--perhaps most important--the reconnecting of Kerouac aficionados from around the country and various parts of the world.

The full schedule will be up on our website once we get it in place; www.lowellcelebrateskerouac.org. Make your plans now to be in Lowell come October!

The Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Committee





Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Buddhist Bible: Jack's only book on Desolation Peak



I just scored this used copy of Dwight Goddard's A Buddhist Bible. It was a significant influence on Jack Kerouac, so much so that, according to John Suiter in Poets on the Peaks:

Kerouac took only one book with him to Desolation: his leather-jacketed Buddhist Bible, with its marker ribbon set to the pages of the Diamond Sutra.....Jack read the Diamond Sutra, following his practice of studying one paramita/chapter a day in a weekly cycle, as he had been doing more or less regularly since 1955. (p. 210)

Jack borrowed and never returned his copy of A Buddhist Bible from the San Jose Public Library in early 1954 during a visit with Neal and Carolyn Cassady. According to Suiter:

...he had a rough leather cover made for it and carried the book around with him all over the United States and Mexico, reading it nearly every day for the next four years. The Diamond Sutra especially inspired him -- "the diamond that cuts through/to the other view," as he would call it in Orizaba Blues. (p. 166)

For some back story on Kerouac's use of the phrase "MAY YOU USE THE DIAMONDCUTTER OF MERCY" in The Dharma Bums, see my April 14, 2012 post at http://thedailybeatblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/beat-generation-back-story-jack-kerouac.html.

Perhaps in retirement I shall take up Jack's reading practice in order "to condition ... [my] mind to 'emptiness' and, if possible, to actually bring on a vision" as he was trying to do on Desolation (Suiter, p. 210).


P.S. Don't you wonder what Jack's fine has accumulated to at the San Jose Public Library?





Monday, May 1, 2017

My Last Lecture at UMF

A few years ago, the University of Maine at Farmington -- from which I am retiring in 30 days -- started a tradition of having one of its retiring professors give a "last lecture." The practice was inspired by Randy Pausch and you can read about that here: http://www.cmu.edu/randyslecture/book/.

Since I mention Jack Kerouac in my lecture, and since a number of people have asked for access to at least the script I was using (it wasn't video- or audio-taped), I thought I'd bake two pies with one oven and post it here. Keep in mind that this is just the script from which I spoke and it is not intended to be polished writing. Plus, in the live version I omitted some parts and added others extemporaneously. Suffice to say it was probably better to hear it in person than to read my script. At least I hope so . . . .
Nevertheless, and without further ado, here is a link to the script I used to deliver my "last lecture" at UMF on April 26:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jFnV2xs4eIrpvu1sERHHUGPNGg3XRAiLBryUAf9XqIU/edit?usp=sharing.







Sunday, April 23, 2017

Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades by John Suiter

Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades

A few months ago, this book arrived in the mail unexpectedly -- a surprise gift from my Kerouacian friend and brother, Richard Marsh. I started reading it immediately but got side-tracked, and yesterday -- a lowery Maine day -- I spent a little more time with it. I am in the beginning section about Gary Snyder's fire lookout time on Crater Mountain in the North Cascades. Author John Suiter's pictures are a great supplement to the very detailed information. I can't wait to get to the Kerouac section (another good thing about retirement being 38 days away!). Here is part of the description on Amazon:

Based on scores of previously unpublished letters and journals, plus recent interviews with Snyder and Whalen and several others, Poets on the Peaks creates a group portrait of Kerouac, Snyder, and Whalen that transcends the tired urban clichés of the "Beat" life. Poets on the Peaks is about the development of a community of poets, including the famous Six Gallery reading of October 1955, and contains unexpected cameos by fellow poets and mountain-climbers Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Rexroth, Philip Lamantia, and Michael McClure. Poets on the Peaks is also a book about Dharma and the years of Dharma Bums--from the 1951 roadside revelation in the Nevada desert that led Gary Snyder to drop out of academia and head for Japan, to Kerouac's lonely vigil with The Diamond Sutra on Desolation Peak, to Philip Whalen's ordination as a Zen priest. Finally, Poets on the Peaks is the story of the birth of a wilderness ethic, as well as a photographic homage to the Cascades landscape, a landscape virtually unchanged since these men journeyed there thanks to the environmental protections they helped inspire.
On a related Kerouac note, sending your friends unannounced gifts for no particular reason is a very Beat thing to do. I can think of several times in Kerouac's novels where he gives or receives without expectation of anything in return. Can you?

Oh, and here's the Amazon link if you want your own copy: https://www.amazon.com/Poets-Peaks-Snyder-Kerouac-Cascades/dp/1582431485/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492948007&sr=1-1&keywords=poets+on+the+peaks . Yes, it'd be better to buy it from a local used bookstore, but just in case that's not possible....

Monday, April 17, 2017

Jack Kerouac's Stations of the Cross and the Grotto protected in perpetuity

The Grotto at the Franco American School in Lowell, MA
(c) 2015 Rick Dale
Stations of the Cross at the Franco American School in Lowell, MA


For those readers wondering about the fate of Lowell's Stations of the Cross and the Grotto that Jack Kerouac lovingly wrote about, it seems from a recent article in the Lowell Sun that they will be protected "in perpetuity."

Here's a link to the article: http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_30927197

So mote it be.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?


Here are some recent newsy pieces related to Jack Kerouac. The first is a story about the future of Kerouac's St. Petersburg house. The second is a related story which indicates that John Sampas' nephew, Jim Sampas, will be running the estate as opposed to his adopted son, John Shen-Sampas, who had been rumored to be the successor. The third is a weird little piece about Renault using artificial intelligence to get an electric car to write Jack Kerouac fan fiction.

Whither Kerouac's St, Petersburg house?
http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/new-executor-says-kerouac-home-will-be-sold-and-turned-into-museum/2318987

Whither the Kerouac estate?
http://www.showbiz411.com/2017/04/04/jack-kerouacs-estate-takes-a-new-turn-as-longtime-custodian-john-sampas-dies-at-84

Whither human intelligence?
http://creativity-online.com/work/renault-written-by-zoe/51445


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Jack Kerouac on Reddit

Screenshot of the Jack Kerouac subreddit

I've mentioned this before on The Daily Beat (circa 2012), but for new readers and also for faithful readers who may have missed it, here's a plug for Reddit, particularly the Jack Kerouac subreddit.

What is Reddit? That's a little hard to answer because it's sort of a combination social media site/discussion board/messaging service (according to this Pew Research Center article). The section titled "Understanding Reddit" in Part 1 is especially good as a brief overview.

Who uses Reddit? According to the Pew Research Center, users tend to be young, male, and self-identify as liberal. Seems like a perfect place for discussions about Jack Kerouac, n'est-ce pas?

To wit, I created the Jack Kerouac subreddit (subreddits are pages in Reddit devoted to certain topics) several years ago and just noticed that there has been an uptick in activity lately.

If you want to explore Reddit, just click here. If you're like me, you may have to play around a bit to figure out how to navigate the site. I don't find it intuitive (but young, male, liberal, digital natives do -- according to my partner's sons).

If you want to go directly to the Jack Kerouac subreddit, click here.

Once in a while I will post a link to my blog in the Jack Kerouac subreddit, but I try to avoid that as I am the moderator and I guess doing so violates Rediquette.

There's also a Beat subreddit here and you may find that interesting (although, like the Jack Kerouac subreddit, it is not very active).

It seems to me that a Jack Kerouac subreddit is a natural for Reddit given the demographics of Reddit users, and I am glad to see some activity there of late. There's nothing in it for me other than the satisfaction of providing another place for people to share about Jack Kerouac on-line.

Check it out and please feel free to post a question or a link -- or just say hi.








Saturday, April 1, 2017

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

I was just looking at stats for The Daily Beat and noticed that a fairly recent post (December 4, 2016) has crept up to #7 on the all-time pageviews list. I can't explain it like I can other posts in the top ten list (e.g., the one titled "Kristen Stewart Topless in On The Road" continues to be the top pageview-getter of all time -- duh).

This particular post doesn't have a salacious title, and the content is homegrown. That is, it's just some original Kerouacian musings on a Sunday morning titled, "Jack Kerouac and the Tao of fried eggs."

If you haven't read it, click here to do so.

I wish I knew why it got so popular compared to my other 1,296 posts since 2008. I'd like to think it's because of decent writing and not just the quirky title, but that's probably not how pageviews happen. It's more about how Google indexes a particular post and its title, how much the link to the post gets shared by others and where (e.g., social media), and other obscure reasons, I'm sure.

Maybe in retirement I will spend some time learning how to optimize a blog for readership, and get a million followers, and monetize The Daily Beat, and become rich, and . . . well, after all, it is April Fool's Day.

Happy Saturday, dear readers.

And Happy Birthday to my son, Jason, born this date 37 years ago.




Friday, March 31, 2017

Jack Kerouac: On Death

I've been thinking about death this week as I had traveled back to Pennsylvania last weekend to attend a good friend's funeral. Here is what I wrote about him on Facebook on March 12 when I found out the news. He was only 62 years old.

I just learned that a long-time close friend of mine, Tom Hoover, died yesterday. We became friends in high school, both being in band and playing trumpet. I looked up to him as a role model (he was a year ahead of me in school). I'll always remember his shenanigans at band camp in the summer. Tom and I and Dave Fisher and Jim RJ Dunham and Karl Frantz et al. lifted weights together in the basement of the Penn Wells Motel for years way before it was even a generally acceptable practice. Tom always outdid everyone. I don't talk about this much, but I more or less followed him to college, Lock Haven, to major in physical education. His going there for that major played a big role in my decision. He left before I got there and went in the Army. I still have a card he sent me right before he got out of the Army and signed it, "Happy Tom." In 1978 or so we were both living in Wellsboro and we started playing bluegrass together in a band called Cold Spring with Steve Belcher and Danny Shipe. That band morphed into North Fork, which stayed together with Tom and me and Bob Rubin as a core for over 25 years. Over those years Tom inspired me to learn to play the guitar. I never would have played out solo without his inspiration. Indeed, anything decent I play on the guitar is directly from Tom's playing. And my guitar is Tom's old 1973 D-28 that I bought from him when I was first learning to play when I lived in Mansfield. The case still has all the stickers on it he put there (I'm looking at it through misty eyes as I type this). When I was heating our old farmhouse with wood and Jason Dale was just a glint in my eye, Tom and his dad Ray and I cut a shitload of firewood on state forest lands and brought it out in Ray's old Dodge Powerwagon. Suffice to say, a lot of who I am today is directly related to being friends with Tom, and while we didn't stay in touch much after he moved away except for the occasional e-mail, I've always considered him one of my closest and dearest friends. I miss him already and the news hasn't even sunk in yet. RIP, brother. You're out of pain now but the world is a lesser place.

You could say that Tom was my Neal Cassady, as I shambled after him like a dingledodie from the time I met him in high school.

But I titled this piece "Kerouac: On Death," so what gives there? Well, as any true Kerouac fan knows, Jack was obsessed with death. The deaths of his older brother, Gerard, and of his father, Leo, had a great impact on Jack and he wrote about both in his novels. He wrote an entire novel as an homage to Gerard titled, Visions of Gerard, and started his opus, On The Road, with the words, "I first met Neal not long after my father died...." (scroll edition, not the classic).

Then there's this famous passage from Visions of Cody (you know, the passage Jack read on the Steve Allen show while appearing to read from On The Road):
I'm writing this book because we're all going to die--In the loneliness of my life, my father dead, my brother dead, my mother faraway, my sister and my wife far away, nothing here but my own tragic hands that once were guarded by a world, a sweet attention, that now are left to guide and disappear their own way into the common dark of all our death, sleeping in me raw bed, alone and stupid: with just this one pride and consolation: my heart broke in the general despair and opened up inwards to the Lord, I made a supplication in this dream. (Visions of Cody, Penguin, p. 368)
Speaking of religion, Jack's Catholic roots and Buddhist studies certainly influenced his views on death, but I've run out of time for more thoughts today. Suffice to say that Jack Kerouac was no stranger to death or to thinking and writing about it. In beautiful ways. To wit, here's an oft-quoted passage and one that gives me comfort when I think of my friend, Tom. It's from the 211th Chorus of Mexico City Blues:
I wish I was free
of that slaving meat wheel
and safe in heaven dead.