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.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

On The Road: Chapters in One Sentence




Each time we've read On The Road in my Kerouac class at the University of Maine at Farmington (every spring since 2013), I have had students work in groups to craft what I call, "Chapters in One Sentence." It's a way to summarize the narrative and leaves us with a concise overview of the novel. I don't edit their content, but I do try to correct major grammatical and spelling errors. Some of the entries are my own, as we don't have enough time in class to do all the chapters.

You may find what you think are inaccuracies or omissions, but keep in mind this is a first-year class and it's only an in-class activity to get the students talking about what they read. I think it's interesting to see what they find important.

Here's a link to the document: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vxQnIgoYD4gIvhczjPE8KLDi2sXnWFHbtaszumZDSNE/edit?usp=sharing

One of these days I may undertake to create the whole document myself from scratch just to see what it looks like. If I do, I'll share it with readers of The Daily Beat.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Happy 95th Birthday to Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac was born this date in 1922. He would have been 95 years old today.

Happy Birthday to an iconic American writer and hero of The Daily Beat.

I'll be reading some Kerouac today in his honor.

Event in Mill Valley, CA to honor Jan Kerouac this Tuesday




Social media reports Kerouac Estate executor John Sampas has died

John Sampas

According to several social media reports, long-time Jack Kerouac Estate executor John Sampas died on Thursday March 9. While I don't see anything in the news, there is an empty obit page here and a piece on Beatdom here,

This is significant news for the Kerouac community. Who will step into the role of executor? Will it be Jim Sampas, John's nephew? Or are there others jockeying for power?

It will be very, very interesting to see how this plays out. But for now, condolences are in order.




Sunday, March 5, 2017

Jack Kerouac and March 5

Jack Kerouac at  the Village Vanguard, December 1957


It's March 5. What can we say about that date and Jack Kerouac (during his lifetime)?

Well, we've been blogging about Jack Kerouac here at The Daily Beat since July 15, 2008. That will make 9 years come this summer. How many times do  you think we've blogged on March 5 in those 9 years?

The answer is twice. Once in 2009 and once in 2012.

And now 2017.

But what else can we say?

I searched the Cosmic Baseball Association's chronology in vain for a March 5 event, and, in fact. by my count the month of March only shows up 23 times in the whole chronology. That in itself is weird, weird, weird (see my post about the number 23 here).

I next turned to the two volumes of selected letters edited by Ann Charters covering 1940-1956 and 1957-1969. Guess what? No entries for that date.

I didn't mine any of my many Kerouac biographies because that would be pretty tedious going. There may well be something in there.

A Google search for "March 5 and Jack Kerouac" yields one interesting but inaccurate hit. According to This Day in Jazz History, Kerouac recorded Poetry For The Beat Generation with Steve Allen on this date in 1957. I'm not sure that's accurate. The CBA's chronology shows Kerouac in Tangier from February through March 1957, and it's pretty clear from multiple sources that the recording happened after Kerouac's disastrous Village Vanguard performance. The latter was certainly December 1957.

The information accompanying Rhino's The Jack Kerouac Collection states that Poetry for the Beat Generation was "Possibly recorded March 1958." It would seem that the official re-release of this recording would state its exact date were it known. What we're left with is that Kerouac may or may not have made this particular recording on March 5, 1958.

One fairly certain Kerouac event on a March 5 was John Brooks' review of The Town and the City appearing in The New York Times (Source: The Beat Generation FAQ, p. 52).

Another is that Kerouac wrote a journal entry in 1948 (Source: Windblown World, p. 58). It had to do with writing 500 words, typing a manuscript, and going into N.Y. at night and running into a "big crowd of new people" (with "much drinking, talking, etc.").

All of this makes me wonder if it would be possible to create a daily Kerouac calendar showing an event from Kerouac's life each day of the year. I'd buy it.

What Kerouacian event can you cite that occurred on this date between March 12, 1922 and October 21, 1969?








Sunday, February 26, 2017

Jack Kerouac and Jiddu Krishnamurti

Jiddu Krishnamurti and Jack Kerouac circa 1966

I was on a Jiddu Krishnamurti kick a few years ago and he remains an enigmatic philosophical/religious influence on me. Over the last few days I have almost re-read all three of Mary Lutyens' biographies of Krishnamurti, and this passage in Krishnamurti: The Years of Fulfillment stuck out (I may have read this for the first time before I was into Kerouac and the Beats, or maybe I just forgot reading it).

On the 26th [of September 1966] K [Krishnamurti] was to give the first of six talks at the New School for Social Research in New York, continuing until October 7. During this time in New York he met Ralph Ingersol, journalist and author Tim Leary, the psychologist, and Allen Ginsberg, the poet, who had collaborated with Keary in anti-war propaganda in 1961 (p. 136).

This got me wondering whether Krishnamurti and Kerouac ever met, so I Googled the two names and, interestingly enough, previous mentions on my blog from 2008 and 2012 are the first two hits (http://thedailybeatblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/kerouac-krishnamurti-burroughs-and.html and http://thedailybeatblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/jack-kerouac-and-compassion.html).

Resorting to my go-to biography, Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac by Gerald Nicosia, I see no mention of Krishnamurti in the index. Likewise I find nothing in the indexes of other Kerouac biographies (Charters, Clark, Miles, Maher, McNally). I think Kerouac was in Italy during the dates Krishnamurti met Ginsberg in NYC, so if they ever met it was likely another time.

So there's a mystery for you readers to solve: Did Jack Kerouac and Jiddu Krishnamurti ever meet? Let us know if you have some evidence one way or the other.



Jack Kerouac Tumbler and Pinterest pages

Allen Ginsberg


My great friend Richard Marsh alerted me to this Jack Kerouac Tumbler page (http://jackkerrouac.tumblr.com/) because he had not seen the above picture of Allen Ginsberg "in unusual beard looking like a german [sic] geologist." I don't remember seeing it, either. Can anyone source it (I wish people would do that more, me included -- which is why I'm asking)? While trying to source it using a Google image search (to no avail), I happened on this Pinterest page with many pictures of various Beats and related images: https://www.pinterest.com/octaviawinters/the-beats/. It identifies the above as being taken in Mexico in 1954.

I haven't looked around at the whole set of posts on the Tumbler page yet (just the Ginsberg photo alone earned it a mention here on The Daily Beat), or the Pinterest page, either, so I am not sanctioning either one. I'm merely pointing them out for your potential interest and amusement. If you know of similar pages, send the links along in a comment.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Jack Kerouac and advice on writing



Faithful Daily Beat readers are already familiar with Jack Kerouac's advice on writing, taking the form of two essays published in Evergreen Review: "Essentials of Spontaneous Prose" (Summer 1958) and "Belief and Technique for Modern Prose" (Spring 1959). Both of these are available in print in You're a Genius All the Time (Chronicle Books, 2009) with a foreword by Regina Weinreich.

I've read several books on writing by other authors, one of which is by Natalie Goldberg: Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. It's very good and was recommended to me by my friend Kathleen Thompson (author of The Project-Driven Life: How To Figure Out What You Want To Be When You Grow Up).

Now Goldberg has published a new book of essays that looks interesting: The Great Spring: Writing, Zen and This Zigzag Life. In it, according to this piece, she credits Jack Kerouac as an influence on her writing:
Goldberg, author of “Writing Down the Bones” among other titles, offers meditations on her life as a writer, and the practice of seeing and hearing. In her introduction, she cites Zen teacher Katagiri Roshi and author Jack Kerouac as influences on her practice of writing.
I'm sure it's a worthwhile read and thus it's already on my Amazon Wishlist. Hint, hint....


Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Well Readneck tackles On the Road



This is juvenile and insulting, but it is a thing and I found it funny so I thought I'd share.: The Well Readneck tackles On the Road.

Kerouac birthday events in Lowell, MA on March 11



This just in from Lowell Celebrates Kerouac (LCK), courtesy of Steve Edington:
The schedule for the 2017 Kerouac Birthday Celebration in Lowell has been finalized. All events take place on Saturday, March 11:
12:00 Noon: Pollard Memorial Library Tour. This Library played a pivotal role in shaping Keroua'c literary consciousness, and now houses a "Kerouac Corner". Led by Bill Walsh. The Pollard Memorial Library is at 401 Merrimack Street.

1:00 p.m. "The Unknown Kerouac: Rare, Unpublished, and Newly Translated Writings". A presentation and discussion on this recently released book with Editor Dr. Todd Tietchen and Translator Jean Christophe Cloutier. Pollard Memorial Library Community Room. 
7:30 pm: "Happy Birthday Jack!" An evening of music and readings. Music by "The Neverly Brothers" (Dave Norton and Peter Lavender) and Alligator Wine. Time between sets for the sharing of favorite Kerouac passages and the reading of the Governor's Proclamation of Jack Kerouac Day in Massachusetts. A $5.00 donation requested. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Zorba's Music Hall. 439 Market Street.

Here's a link to the LCK website: http://www.lowellcelebrateskerouac.org/.

Three Neal Cassady tidbits for a Sunday morning



1. Here's an interesting piece about a "secret" son of Neal Cassady's: click here. I can't help but note that Neal Cassady is spelled wrong on the birth certificate (both names are wrong: Neil Cassidy). I'm not questioning the matter -- since it seems widely accepted -- it's just that my grammar priggishness got the better of me.

2. We missed saying Happy Birthday to Neal on Wednesday February 8. The Holy Kerouac muse would have been 91 years old.

3. The Joan Anderson letter is going up for auction again February 17: click here. Let's hope it happens and that it's a step toward it entering the public domain so we can read the whole thing!


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Happy Birthday, William S. Burroughs

William S. Burroughs

Beat triumvirate member and subsequent counterculture icon William S. Burroughs was born this date in 1914. That means, were he still alive, he would be 103 years old today.

In honor of Bill's birthday, here's a link to a 1965 interview he did for Paris Review: https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4424/william-s-burroughs-the-art-of-fiction-no-36-william-s-burroughs. In it, he says things like:
I do a lot of exercises in what I call time travel, in taking coordinates, such as what I photographed on the train, what I was thinking about at the time, what I was reading, and what I wrote; all of this to see how completely I can project myself back to that one point in time.

Happy Birthday to William S. Burroughs: time traveler.





Intriguing portrait of Neal Cassady

Neal Cassady
(c) Dushan Milic

I snagged this uncredited artwork of Neal Cassady from a friend's Facebook page and thought I'd dig into it a little bit to identify the artist. Apparently, it is Dushan Milic from Canada, who posted this image on Dribbble here: https://dribbble.com/shots/621895-Neal-Cassady.

Dushan, I really like this piece and hope you don't mind my reposting here on The Daily Beat. Have you done one of Jack Kerouac? If so, we'd love to share it with our readers. If not, we'd love you to do one and let us unveil it!


By the way, I missed posting yesterday about it being the 49th anniversary of Neal's death on February 4, 1968.

A belated RIP to our chisel-jawed Western Beat hero.




Follow-up to my October 18, 2016 post about my copy of Kerouac's The Dharma Bums



Back in October I posted about receiving a copy of The Dharma Bums as a gift from my great friend, Richard Marsh (click here). In that post I noted that it had the name Cindy Wolkin written in it and I asked her to contact me if she were the previous owner.

That same day I found a Cindy Wolkin on Facebook and sent her a message with a link to my blog post. Yesterday I got a response from Cindy, who says she recognized her signature and that she had that book when she was 15 and was a "big Kerouac fan." She apparently doesn't use Facebook messenger but happened to check it.

People complain about Facebook all the time, but it does have some utility in making connections between people all over the world.

Cindy, thanks for getting back to me and solving this little mystery, and please know that your copy of Bums is in good hands.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Bill Cannastra: Death by Defenestration?

Bill Cannastra


One never knows how or when the muse will strike. The trigger for this week's post is a connection I made between the last name of a Beat Generation figure and a new vocabulary word I just learned.

Every work day -- as long as we catch up with each other -- the maintenance person in my building and I share a new vocabulary word (new to the person offering up the word). After we reach a list of 20 new words, I build a vocabulary test (matching format) and we both take it. It's not completely fair since I am the test maker, but suffice to say that we are up to test #15 tomorrow (that's 300 words!) and he has scored 100% on the previous 14 tests, whereas I have 13 perfect scores and one score of 13/15.

Here's the list for tomorrow's test to give you an idea of the level of words we are dealing with:

exegesis
histrionic
indagate
apoplectic
mansuetude
pariah
commination
beleaguered
defenestration
contemn
potage
hyperbole
kore
castigate
peruke
pernicious
byzantine
minutia
temulent
elucidate

If you can define even half of those words without study, you are way smarter vocabulary-wise than either of us. But we enjoy the challenge.

Part way down the list you see "defenestration," which means "the action of throwing someone or something out of a window." Two things struck me about that word. First, its definition reminded me of how Bill Cannastra died on October 12, 1950, hanging out a moving NYC subway car window as a gag and getting struck -- and pulled out of the window -- by a pillar. Some reports say he was decapitated.

Second, given that definition (which isn't quite what happened - Bill wasn't thrown out the window), it seems weirdly synchronistic that the word sounds similar to Bill's last name.

So could one sort of say that Bill Cannastra died of defenestration? Probably not, technically, but it has a certain consonant appeal to my ear.

They say Bill was the wild man of the bunch, eating glass at cocktail parties and running around the Village naked (with Kerouac, who modestly kept on his boxers) (Source: click here.). Of course, our regular readers will know that Jack married Cannastra's girlfriend, Joan Haverty, on November 17, a mere several weeks after Cannastra's death. Who knows what would have happened if Bill hadn't been killed and Jack had never married Joan? For one thing, there wouldn't be a Jan Kerouac as we knew her, and that could have had interesting ramifications for Jack's psyche as well as his comings and goings (i.e., not having to worry about Joan finding him for child support payments).

Wild Bill Cannastra, whose death by defenestration may have affected the trajectory of Jack Kerouac's life in ways we can only speculate about.

And there you have the weird Kerouacian blog post of the week, courtesy of a brain that always finds a way to make something about Jack. 


Monday, January 23, 2017

Has Trump been reading Kerouac?

I made a connection today while re-reading On the Road for the umpteenth time (this time, again, in preparation for my Kerouac class tomorrow: reading assignment = PART ONE Chapters 1-5). I was at the beginning of Chapter 4 and these words resonated (Kerouac is describing the hitchhikers on the flatbed truck driven by two young blond farmers from Minnesota -- "the greatest ride in my life"):
I looked at the company. There were two young farmer boys from North Dakota in red baseball caps, which is the standard North Dakota farmer-boy hat, and they were headed for the harvests;.... (Penguin, 1976, p. 24)
Of course, given current events, the image of a red baseball hat representing heartland America was already burned into my brain by media coverage of Trump rallies. And a question arose in my Kerouac-obsessed brain: When the Trump campaign was looking for the perfect hat on which to emblazon its motto, "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN," did they pick a baseball hat for its ubiquitousness among the disenfranchised middle class and the color red for their anger?

Or, had somebody been reading On the Road?

We  know it wasn't the President because he's never read a book, let alone a Kerouac novel. But it could have been a staffer tasked with coming up with something to capture the zeitgeist of the campaign in an American wardrobe staple.

We'll probably never know if there was a Trump-Kerouac connection here, but I wish I could un-know the possibility.




Sunday, January 15, 2017

Life-size Kerouac sculpture and a lesson in news accuracy

Blake Neville works on his father's sculpture of Jack Kerouac at Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA this year.

I often forget to search the Internet for Kerouac news, but this morning I remembered and a Dec. 29 article in Sky-Hi News out of Granby, CO, popped up (click here).

It's about Grand County sculptor Howard Neville and his work on creating a life-size sculpture of Jack Kerouac. As you can see above, Howard's son, Blake, is helping, and the project is in collaboration with writer Dawn Matthews, who is writing a book titled, An Ode to Jack Kerouac and Highway 40.

The article is an exemplar of how inaccurate a news story about Kerouac can be. Neal Cassady's name is spelled wrong (Cassidy), a common but annoying mistake.* In addition, the article's definition of the Beat Generation lacks sufficient detail, especially for the reader with no prior knowledge.

But here is a real brain-teaser: Ginsberg and Burroughs are rightly listed as members of the Beat Generation along with Kerouac, but then the article lists Herbert Huncke and stops there. I find that an interesting fourth choice and can think of at least one competing possibility.

Here's your homework: If you had to list four Beat Generation members, who would you pick in addition to Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs? Please leave your answer as a comment.

At least the article's author spelled Ginsberg with an e instead of a u (a mistake I've made in the past). Plus it's an interesting enough topic and at least keeps Kerouac's name in the news.

If you're traveling through Colorado and find yourself near Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, stop by and see how Howard is coming along with his sculpture of Jack.


* I won't quibble about the article's author getting then and than mixed up or the several other typos in the piece -- I was pedantically priggish enough re: Cassady's name.

Monday, January 9, 2017

New Kerouac book acquisitions (thanks to Christmas)

Thanks to Crystal and Christmas, I have these new acquisitions. As if I need any more books -- my Kerouac/Beat specific shelf is full!

Top Row: Girls Who Wore Black; Jack Kerouac: Book of Haikus; Jack Kerouac: The Lost Paintings
Bottom Row: The Outsider 


I just finished The Outsider and I highly recommend it. It's not Kerouac, but I do read other stuff. I read the introductory chapter to Girls Who Wore Black and found it too academic for my mood right now, so I will get back to that. The other two are not read-straight-through kinds of books (at least for me), so I will peruse them piecemeal.

Thanks, Crystal!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Memories of the 1982 Jack Kerouac Conference by Gerald Nicosia — Part 2 of 2

EDITORIAL FOREWORD: This is a guest post by my friend, Gerry Nicosia, author of Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac. This is Part 2 of 2. Part 1 was posted yesterday.



Memories of the On the Road 25-year anniversary conference at the Naropa Institute,
Boulder, Colorado, July 23-August 1, 1982

Part 2 of 2

by Gerald Nicosia


          Because I had no place designated to sleep the first night, Ginsberg let me sleep in the attic of his large frame house on Mapleton.  I was not feeling well, and had a hard time getting to sleep; and as I lay awake, I listened to Allen, Peter, and Gregory talking below.  It was 1:30 in the morning, and they'd been going hard all day, but they were still full of energy, planning out the next day's activities.  I thought, Here I am, 32 years old, and I'm falling apart, and these "old guys" (in their fifties) are running circles around me! It was a moment of genuine insight for me, a realization that a big part of why the Beat Generation had happened was the enormous, almost super-energy energy of these particular individuals.

Gerald Nicosia with Allen Ginsberg and Tim Leary, On the Road conference, Boulder, July 1982. Photographer unknown.

            The next morning, making breakfast in Allen's kitchen, I burned the toast.  Ginsberg couldn't pass up the opportunity to turn the experience into a Buddhist lecture on dharma poetics.  "While you're waiting for your toast to cook," he said, "you are in a sort of dreamy state of pure existence in space.  This is nirmanakaya.  Suddenly you smell smoke and yell, 'The toast is burning!'  Now you've entered awareness of the self, consciousness of place and time in space.  This is dharmakaya.   Finally you decide, 'Oh, it's still edible'you scrape off the burnt part and go ahead and eat it.  You are able to make an intelligent comment on your situation.  This is sambhogakaya."
            It was, Allen said, analogous to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit I had been brought up with as a Catholic.  That lesson has stayed with me.  Previously, I had sat in on some of his classes at Naropa; and I have to say, Ginsberg was a natural teacher.

Picnic at "Camp Kerouac."  On the ground, from left to right: Diane DiPrima; Lawrence Ferlinghetti; unknown man; Allen Ginsberg; Nanda Pivano, the Italian translator of Kerouac and Ginsberg; unknown woman.  Photo by Gerald Nicosia.

            It was, as Abbie Hoffman dubbed it, "Camp Kerouac," and everywhere I went I ran into people I knew.   Allen sent me over to the Chautauqua Lodge to see if I could get a room there, and outside I chatted up a tourist from North Carolina and another guy from Fort Wayne, Indiana.  All of a sudden, Herbert Huncke emerged from the lodge; and as he passed us, he said in his most aristocratic tone, "Good day, gentlemen!"  I laughed to myself, thinking these wholesome tourists had no idea that they'd just encountered the most famous junkie in America.
            The lodge was old and rickety, and in what would have been my room was a clawfoot bathtub.  A morning shower is an essential part of my day, so I decided I couldn't stay there; and later I phoned Allen, who arranged for me to stay with a well-to-do Buddhist couple who had a big, modern house.  That was one of the worst mistakes I made, because it later turned out almost all the key Beats stayed at the Chautauqua Lodge, and on the rickety porch took place some of the most stimulating conversations of the conference.
            One of my last memories of the Chautauqua Lodge was the sight of Herbert Huncke running down the hall to one of the communal bathrooms in his flashy bikini briefs.
            Later, in downtown Boulder, I ran across Arthur and Kit Knight, who published a Beat journal called the unspeakable visions of the individual.  Arthur asked "where the orgies were?"  He would keep asking that for most of the conference.
            Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the resident Tibetan guru, probably knew where the orgies were, but wasn't telling.  The first night, we were required to listen to his keynote address.  Two Vajra guards carried him on to the stage at the University of Colorado (Naropa didn't yet have its own campus) and set him on a small chair, which he kept falling off of.  His disciples said he had been injured in an auto accident and had lost control of certain muscles in his body.  Others, not so enamored of him, claimed he was merely drunk.  He asked us all to look up to him "with curiosity and desire for compassion like my little dog when I feed him."  His disciples began cheering, in what I thought was a Hitleresque fashion, "We believe in the great Eastern sun!" Tim Leary made a hand sign, joining his thumb and forefingerwhich looked like he was digging the old lama.  "The answer to humanity's nuclear problems," declared Trungpa, "is milk."
            The Vajra guards, who surrounded the stage while Trungpa spoke, looked pathetic to me, like bald, potbellied wimps, and I wondered if they were actually eunuchs.  I mentioned this to my friend, the poet Janet Cannon, who replied, "Don't try anything funnythey're all packing .44's!"
            In the following days, as I wandered from event to event, I kept making new friends.  One of the most interesting was Jay Landesman.  From a wealthy Jewish family in St. Louis, he looked and dressed like a high-society WASP, and had the tall, slender, graceful body and dégagé straw hat to go with it.  Dabbling in publishing, night clubs, and theater promotion, he always seemed to be at the right place at the right time, and knew almost everyone who mattered in American artistic circles for several decades.  "Kerouac said I was 'nothing but a playboy,'" Landesman told me, "and he was right.  It's the best thing to be!"  He told me that I looked too serious, and I probably was.  Ever the scholar, I was trying to make literary sense of the conference, to glean a bushelful of esoteric truths about Kerouac.  I soon found that the conference was like a train or a Kesey bus that you just had to get on board, and then let it take you where it would.


Ken Kesey autographing Gerald Nicosia's copy of  Sometimes a Great Notion with his left hand. Kesey is holding a butterfly in his right hand, which he is about to release on stage at the beginning of the reading. Photographer unknown.

          Speaking of Kesey, I remember him in a glaring white suit and sunglasses, with a hippie kerchief over his bald head, and various other striking costumes.  He had driven to Boulder from Eugene in a convertible Cadillac with his buddy Ken Babbs, and Jan Kerouac in the backseat.  One of the most remarkable readings I heardthen or everwas Kesey reading the long piece about the death of John Lennon, called "Now We Know How Many Holes It Takes to Fill the Albert Hall."  He came onstage dressed like an Oregon woodsman, with vests and sweaters, and as he read, he would take off first one piece of clothing, then another.  Most people thought he was feeling the heat of the spotlights, but I intuited right away what he was doing.  He was pacing himself through a long performance by giving himself stop-and-start intervals.  It made me realize something about himhe was not at ease with being a public performer, but he was a good performer, because he worked assiduously at it, the way a logger might work methodically at bringing down a big tree.  Kesey's innate shyness, his enormous work ethicit was all on view there as he read.
            My friend Richard, the singer-songwriter known as R.B. Morris, had hitchhiked all the way from Knoxville, Tennessee, to join me at the conference, and one of the great amusements for me was watching the ongoing duel between him and another of my new friends, the actor and would-be poet Paul Gleason.  Gleason was a tall, good-looking man who had gone from being a professional athlete (football and baseball) to being a highly successful character actor.  Along the way, he had made friends with an interesting assortment of people, which included Kris Kristofferson and Jack Kerouac.  Richard loved Tom Waits and called him a genius; Gleason claimed Kristerofferson was the only genius in country music.  Their arguments went on for hours in the basement bar of the Boulderado.  "Tom Waits just parodies himself," Gleason said.  Richard countered, "Kristerofferson hasn't written a decent  album since Silver-Tongued Devil." 
            But what really amazed me was hearing stories of Gleason and Kerouac going to minor league baseball games in St. Petersburg.  At one point, Kerouac told him, "I prefer athletics, because if you run the 40 in 4.5, they can't say you ran it in 9 seconds.  But these damn literary critics can damn well say anything they feel like about a book, and there's no way of disproving it."
            Gleason clearly loved Kerouac, and even identified with him, but that was not true of all the conference participants.  Abbie Hoffman told me there was a long period when he out-and-out hated Kerouac.  "Kerouac didn't think much of you either," I told him.  My remark incensed him further.
            "That damn 'Deluge' article!" he ranted.  "Kerouac had no right to criticize me.  That criticism hurt our cause [of ending the war]."
            He might have been right, but I couldn't escape the feeling that he talked and acted like a little Napoleonsomebody who felt they were so morally right they were above criticism of any kind. 
            "Ginsberg was the center of the Beat Generation anyway," Abbie said. "Unlike Kerouac, Ginsberg was an activist.  He marched and joined our protests."
            "There's a need for visionaries too," I said.
            "I don't want to hear that shit," he said, waving me off.  Ginsberg, passing by just then, tenderly put his hand on my shoulder and asked if I needed a ride or anything else.  Then he turned to Abbie and said, "You've got to stop clinging to anger ... you have to go beyond winning and losing."
            Abbie walked away from both of us.
           
The biographers' panel at the On the Road conference, Boulder, Monday July 26, 1982. From left to right: Joy Walsh (publisher and editor of Moody Street Irregulars); Dennis McNally; Ann Charters; Gerald Nicosia; Paul Jarvis (son of Charles Jarvis who wrote Visions of Kerouac).  Photographer unknown.

         For every knock on Jack, there was a corresponding moment of triumph.  During one of my panels, the biography panel, a guy in the audience stood up and demanded, "Was Jack sexually frustrated?"  Edie, also in the audience, immediately stood up, and swaggered with her broad shoulders like a truck driver.
            "Not with me he wasn't!" she shouted, to a big round of applause.
            I got an equally big round of applause when I finished my presentation.  As I came down from the stage, Larry Fagin said, "I'm going to press a record from this panel and a few of the others ... we may even give you a chair here."
            Several people shook my hand.  One guy bowed to me at the door to the washroom.
            That all seems like a million miles away now, when my name and the title of my Kerouac biography have been removed from almost every Penguin book.
            Nevertheless, there were signs of the darkness to come too.  Jan Kerouac was having a really hard time there.  Her first novel Baby Driver had come out the year before, and everywhere she went, flashbulbs were popping and people were calling her the "Kerouac princess."  I didn't understood her new coldness toward meespecially since I'd helped her get that book published.  For the first time, I saw her enter rooms without a friendly "hello," or leave them without a friendly "goodbye."  It would take me a while before I understood that Jan was starting to see everyone as wanting a piece of her, because somehow she also provided a piece of Jack.  The Beat Generation was transitioning from a gathering of friends, a transmission of the heart, to big business, and Jan was one of the first to see itmaybe because she was one of the first to be affected by its mercenary grabs.
            This was not a free conference by any meansnot an old-timey Six Gallery-style reading.  It required a $150 ticket to get in, and one of the things I did was to score as many free tickets for my friends as I could.
            After I spoke on the religion panel, the Dharma Regent Ozel Tendzin came up to me and thanked me for my presentation.  He would end his life under a cloud too, having neglected to tell his sexual partners, who were also his disciples, that he had AIDS.

Carl Solomon, John Clellon Holmes, and Allen Ginsberg conferring at the On the Road conference, Boulder, July 1982.  Photo by Gerald Nicosia.

           I remember at the end of the conference, John Clellon Holmes worriedly asking Ginsberg if he'd found any time for fun for himself there. 
            "A cute boy came all the way from England," Allen replied, "and we're making it!"
            Janet would later tell me, "Oh don't worry.  Allen dropped him, just like he drops all the others, after he's made his conquest."
            (In fairness, Janet Cannon was not one of Allen's biggest fans.)

Press conference at the On the Road conference, Boulder, July 1982.  From left to right: Allen Ginsberg; Anne Waldman; William Burroughs; Ken Kesey.  Photo by Gerald Nicosia.

            Maybe William Burroughs had the last word on the conference, when he gave his oracle.
            "Abandon ship!" Burroughs cried in his somewhat trembling voice.  "It's every man for

himself!"



---------------------End of Part 2---------------------