Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Curation #20 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Good Blonde & Others by Jack Kerouac

Item #20 in my Kerouac bookshelf creation project is the book, Good Blonde & Others by Jack Kerouac. It was published by Grey Fox Press in San Francisco. Copyright pages are notoriously unhelpful in identifying the year a particular edition of a book came out. This book's copyright page says, "Revised and enlarged edition, second printing, 1998." I think I bought this copy used, either from Twice Sold Tales in Farmington, Maine (a great little used bookstore) or on Amazon.

This edition features a preface by Robert Creeley, and then 29 short pieces categorized as On the Road, On the Beats, On Writing, Observations, On Sports, Last Words, and cityCityCITY (Jack's attempt at sci fi). It ends with an Editor's Note providing information on where each piece initially appeared in print. Some of the pieces are essential Kerouac: for example, two from Playboy such as "Good Blonde" (January 1965) and "Origins of the Beat Generation (June 1959). I own the latter two issues of Playboy and so will be curating them late in this project (they are on the bottom shelf). Other pieces initially appeared in magazines such as Escapade, Evergreen Review, Esquire, The Atlantic,  and so on.

Like I said, it's essential Kerouac so here's a link on Amazon in case you want to buy it.

Below is a picture of Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (1st item on the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Atop an Underwood by Jack Kerouac.

Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Curation #19 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Kerouac -- kicks joy darkness (CD)

Item #19 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is the 1997 CD, Kerouac -- kicks joy darkness. it's a spoken word tribute using Kerouac's own words (with a couple of exceptions: Track #1 and the first part of Track #5) and features a host of famous people (musicians, actors, Beat Generation figures) reading with musical accompaniment. Below is a list of tracks (taken verbatim from Wikipedia). It's pretty accurate.

  1. Kerouac (Morphine) - 2:54
  2. Bowery Blues (Lydia Lunch) - 1:55
  3. My Gang (Michael Stipe) - 2:23
  4. Dream: "Us Kids Swim off a Gray Pier..." (Steven Tyler) - 1:34
  5. Letter to William S. Burroughs & Ode to Jack Hunter S. Thompson (Hunter S. Thompson) - 1:41
  6. Skid Row Wine (Maggie Estep, The Spitters) - 5:51
  7. America's New Trinity of Love: Dean, Brando, Presley (Richard Lewis) - 6:06
  8. Dream: "On a Sunny Afternoon..." (Lawrence Ferlinghetti & Helium) - 2:04
  9. MacDougal Street Blues (Jack Kerouac, Joe Strummer) - 2:48
  10. The Brooklyn Bridge Blues (Choruses 1-9) (Allen Ginsberg) - 5:47
  11. Hymn (Eddie Vedder, Campbell 2000, Sadie 7) - 3:12
  12. Old Western Movies (William S. Burroughs, Tomandandy) - 2:32
  13. Silly Goofball Poems (Juliana Hatfield) - 4:02
  14. The Moon (John Cale) - 3:01
  15. Madroad Driving (Johnny Depp, Come) - 3:28
  16. Have You Ever Seen Anyone Like Cody Pomeray? (Robert Hunter) - 3:48
  17. Letter to John Clellon Holmes (Lee Ranaldo, Dana Colley) - 2:36
  18. Pome on Doctor Sax (Anna Domino) - 1:45
  19. Mexico Rooftop (Robert Buck, Danny Chauvin) - 1:25
  20. The Last Hotel (Patti Smith, Thurston Moore, Lenny Kaye) - 3:47
  21. Running Through-Chinese Poem Song (Warren Zevon, Michael Wolff) - 3:34
  22. Woman (Jim Carroll, Lee Ranaldo, Lenny Kaye) - 2:25
  23. Loneliness, Mexican (Matt Dillon, Joey Altruda, Joe Gonzalez) - 3:19
  24. Angel Mine (Inger Lorre, Jeff Buckley) - 5:24
  25. The Brooklyn Bridge Blues (Chorus 10) (Eric Andersen) - 1:59

A lot of the above are from Kerouac's Pomes All Sizes. Several were previously unpublished at the time of the CD's release. My favorites were Jack reading his own "MacDougal Street Blues" (Track #9), Richard Lewis on Track #7 (sounding a lot like Kerouac to my ear), and the inestimable Patti Smith (Track #20). But it's hard to pick favorites. The liner notes include the words to most tracks, some of Kerouac's paintings, and photos by Allen Ginsberg. It's a worthwhile project to own if you are a Kerouac fan and especially if you like the spoken word. I've put a link below for your convenience if you wish to have your own copy.

I don't know the provenance of this item. I suspect I bought it from Amazon or may have received it as a gift for a birthday or Christmas.

Oh, and I am assuming that the title comes from this quote from On The Road (not sure why they mixed up the order of the words):
At lilac evening I walked with every muscle aching among the lights of 27th and Welton in the Denver colored section, wishing I were a Negro, feeling that the best the white world had offered was not enough ecstasy for me, not enough life, joy, kicks, darkness, music, not enough night. (beginning of Part III)

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this CD (15th item in the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Good Blonde & Others by Jack Kerouac.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Monday, March 5, 2018

Curation #18 from my Kerouac bookshelf project: Kerouac's Last Dream by Ramblin' Jack Elliott

The 18th item in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this 1997 Appleseed CD by folk music legend Ramblin' Jack Elliott titled, Kerouac's Last Dream. This is the 70 minute re-issued version of a 1981 release recorded in Germany in 1980. It features the following songs:

Pretty Boy Floyd (Woody Guthrie) – 4:00
Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain (Roy Acuff) – 3:11
Freight Train Blues (Traditional) – 3:43
Talkin Fishin (Woody Guthrie) – 3:36
Roving Gambler (Traditional) – 3:50
Cuckoo (Traditional) – 3:40
Don't Think Twice (Bob Dylan) – 3:40
Soldier's Last Letter (Ernest Tubb) – 3:04
1913 Massacre (Woody Guthrie) – 5:04
Buffalo Skinners (Traditional) – 5:15
Nightherding Song (Traditional 2:51
Mean Mama Blues (Mitchell and Mulligan) – 2:25
I Threw It All Away (Bob Dylan) – 3:42
Detour (Westmoreland) – 2:13
Ridin' Down Canyon – 5:33
Cup of Coffee (Jack Elliott) – 4:10
912 Greens (Jack Elliott) – 10:10
Ramblin' Jack himself, in the liner notes, said, "I think this album is better than any of my previous albums." They must have been pretty damn good because this is fine stuff. The "real thing," as they say.

As far as I know, Jack is still alive and performing, most recently with Peter Rowan (I'd pay to see that!). Here's a link to his website: http://www.ramblinjack.com/. We saw him at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, CA, in 2013 as part of a beat poetry reading honoring Jack Kerouac. You can read about that event here: http://thedailybeatblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/san-francisco-kerouactivities-report.html. I'll never forget how Ramblin' Jack went on a tirade during his performance about no picture-taking during the show but he'd be glad to pose naked on a horse afterwards for pictures. Ramblin' Jack hung out with Kerouac in the early days, and says he had occasion to read On The Road long before it was published.

The provenance of this CD is sketchy, as I have a memory of it being a gift from someone in the Kerouac world who I've never met in person, but I have forgotten more of the story than that little tidbit. My apologies, but my memory is failing me these days and I don't write things down like I should (or remember where to find where I wrote them if I do remember to write them down). Anyway, I appreciate it and would be glad to get a reminder of who sent it to me. I don't think it was my friend, Richard, but I could be wrong about that.

This recording is still available and I put a link to it on Amazon below. It's worth having if you like music in general or folk in particular. Or just want to hear music by someone who was influenced by Woody Guthrie and had a big influence on a young musician you may have heard of: Bob Dylan. Speaking of which, here's a bonus: a bluegrass version of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice" featuring yours truly on banjo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9XPrBD38KQ.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this CD (14th item in the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: "Kerouac: kicks joy darkness (CD). Take heart: it's the last item in that pile and then it's on to books and such.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Curation #17 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Jack Kerouac Reads On The Road (CD)

Item #17 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is a 1999 CD titled, Jack Kerouac Reads On The Road. As liner notes author Douglas Brinkley states, "This album . . . is a nine-track showcase for the writer as romantic crooner, lonely vagabond, prose stylist, Tin Pan alley cut-up, hobo poet, and scat innovator. It's an unforgettable addition to Kerouac's aural oeuvre . . . ." Brinkley's liner notes are detailed and provide a wealth of information about the provenance of these recordings.

On this CD you'll hear Kerouac sing, scat, and read both prose and poetry with musical accompaniment. Don't let the title fool you -- there's really only one cut featuring Jack reading from his novel, On The Road: the piece published separately as "Jazz of the Beat Generation" in New World Writing in 1955.

Any Kerouac fan understands the importance of the sound of Jack's words, and no one can bring them to their auditory reality like Kerouac. As such, this is an essential item in any Kerouac fan's collection. Highly recommended.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this CD (13th item in the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Kerouac's Last Dream by Ramblin' Jack Elliott (CD).

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Curation #16 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Last Time I Committee Suicide (DVD)

Item #16 in my Kerouac bookshelf creation project is a DVD of a 1997 film titled, The Last Time I Committed Suicide. It was directed by Stephen Kay and has a run time of 94 minutes.

Sadly, I have no memory of watching this film, yet it stars some actors I really like a lot (Thomas Jane, Keanu Reeves, Claire Forlani, Gretchen Mol, Marg Helgenberger, Adrian Brody). I think I tried to watch it once, fell asleep early on, and never tried watching it again. It's supposedly about 20-year-old Neal Cassady and based on his famous Joan Anderson letter to Jack Kerouac. Here's a link to a trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZC5u2IQ0Wk.

If you've seen the film, let us know what you think in a comment.

Maybe I'll give it a second chance.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this DVD (12th item in the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Jack Kerouac Reads On The Road (CD).

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Friday, March 2, 2018

Curation #15 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Life Lines by Charles James

Item #15 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is the poetry book, Life Lines, by Charles James. This 2009 book published by BookSurge (now CreateSpace) won first place in the poetry category of the 18th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards (2010).

For truth-in-advertising's sake, I must point out that I edited and published this book, as well as wrote the Foreword. Charlie, as I call him, is a good friend. Regardless of my bias, he is a poetry powerhouse and deserves a wide audience. The provenance of this particular copy is that it is inscribed to my partner, Crystal, who cleaned up the calligraphy for the cover and suffered through my editing and publishing process. If memory serves, she may have done some typing as well.

On a side note, Charlie is famous for winning a free speech court case back in 1974 -- see https://www.leagle.com/decision/1974594385fsupp2091574 -- regarding his wearing a black arm band to school while teaching in Addison, NY, to protest the Vietnam War. Charlie's case is the subject of a chapter in Richard Harris' 1978 book, Freedom Spent (see link below).

Here is one of my favorite pictures of Charlie, taken in September 2010 on our deck in Belgrade Lakes when he visited us in Maine. As you can see, he is a character.

Charlie James communicating his opinion about the Internet

I've put a link below from which you can buy Charlie's book. If you are a poetry fan, you won't be sorry, and he would appreciate your support.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of Life Lines (11th item in the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Last Time I Committed Suicide (DVD).

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Curation #14 from my Kerouac bookshelf: On The Road (the film)

Item #14 in my Kerouac curation project is a DVD of the 2012 film of On The Road directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries). It has a run time of 124 minutes. It received worse viewer ratings on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes than Howl (6.1/10 and 2/5), and saw mediocre critical reviews. I've watched this film over a half dozen times, and it grows on me each time. I've reviewed it before (after watching it only twice) here: http://thedailybeatblog.blogspot.com/2013/04/review-of-walter-salles-movie.html. Today's thoughts may differ.

Some say Kerouac's seminal Beat novel is "unfilmable." Well, Jack himself didn't think so, at one time writing to Marlon Brando and asking him to buy On The Road and make a movie of it starring Brando as Dean and Kerouac as Sal. Granted, it's a tall order to capture Kerouac's genius in a different medium, but Salles does a serviceable job.

At first I questioned the casting, but with repeated viewings I have come to appreciate Sam Riley's low-key approach to Sal (Kerouac). Hedlund is miscast; although quite a watchable actor, he doesn't portray Dean's (Neal Cassady's) kinetic characteristics and seems too brooding. I don't love Kristen Stewart in general, and she is barely adequate as Marylou (LuAnne Henderson, who Kerouac describes as a pretty blonde and Stewart was definitely not blonde in the film). Other portrayals I thought were very good were Jane (Amy Adams as Old Bull Lee's -- William S. Burroughs' -- wife), Tom Sturridge as Carlo Marx (Allen Ginsberg), Danny Morgan as Big Ed Dunkel (Al Hinkle), Elisabeth Moss as Galatea Dunkel (Helen Hinkle), Alice Braga as Terry (Bea Franco), and Kirsten Dunst as Camille (Carolyn Cassady). Viggo Mortensen was outstanding (as always) as Burroughs, but was not on screen enough. Steve Buscemi is always great, and he portrays the tall, thin fag that Dean hustles (in an unnecessarily graphic scene).

I could nitpick about what was missing. For example, there was nothing about Sal's time with Remi Boncoeur (Henri Cru) out in California, and overall the film could have used more voice-overs of Kerouac's own words. Likewise, the spiritual aspects of the novel (according to Kerouac, "...really a story about two Catholic buddies roaming the country in search of God. And we found Him.") were underplayed compared to the sex, drugs, and jazz scenes. I was looking for more emphasis on "IT." The travel scenes came through via wonderful cinematography. The pacing of the movie was a good match for the pacing of the novel -- 100 MPH the whole way and not lingering too long in one place.

I think On The Road is a good film. It's not perfect, but it's not the heinous monstrosity some Kerouac fans claim. Salles produced an eminently watchable film that I would think would appeal to anyone who appreciates the novel and understands the challenges of bringing it -- or any novel -- to the big screen.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my On The Road DVD (10th item in the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Life Lines, a poetry book by Charles James.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf