Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Another Six Gallery poet's birthday: Philip Lamantia

Philip Lamantia in 1981
Recently, we have pointed out the birthday of two poets who read at the famous 1955 Six Gallery poetry event in San Francisco (Michael McClure and Philip Whalen, October 20). Today, we wish a happy birthday to another poet who read at that event, Philip Lamantia.

Lamantia was born this date -- October 23 -- in 1927, meaning he would be 92 were he still alive today. He appeared in Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums as Francis DaPavia and in Desolation Angels as David D'Angeli.

At the Six Gallery event, Lamantia read the poems of a friend, John Hoffman, who had recently died (allegedly from peyote, to which Lamantia introduced Kerouac), but Lamantia was an accomplished poet himself.

In 1957 letters to Allen Ginsberg and Philip Whalen, Kerouac spoke with respect of Lamantia's visions and how they helped show the "general religiousness of 'beat'" (Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1957-1969, Penguin, 1999, p. 67):
Our Second Relig., whatever it will be, will be rooted in Gothic--greatest example (I name no names) is that amazing Lamantia who was a cool hepcat and then the Angel knocked him off the chair . . . . (Ibid., 68)
That same year, in another letter to Ginsberg, Kerouac said:
Lamantia was here and had mad days with him walking 5 miles down Broadway yelling--about God and ecstasy, he rushed into confession and rushed out, he flew off to Frisco, back soon, he got in big publicity interviews with me and was full of sacred eloquence. (Ibid., 107)
 Jack mentions Lamantia more in subsequent letters, but I will leave you to search that out.

According to Gerald Nicosia (Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, University of California Press, 1994):
For Lamantia, as for Kerouac, the "beat" attitude was the only means of spiritual survival after the atom-bomb apocalypse. (p. 366)
Suffice to say that Lamantia was an influential person in Kerouac's life.

In honor of his birthday, you can read more about Lamantia and some of his poems by clicking here.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Jack Kerouac: Safe in heaven dead and free of that slaving meat wheel

My first visit to Jack's grave (December 1995, I believe)

I've used that title before, but it's a good one and I am recycling it this year on the 50th(!) anniversary of Jack Kerouac's death. The line comes from the 211th Chorus of his seminal book of poetry, Mexico City Blues. Jack died this date -- October 21 -- in 1969 at age 47. He would be 97 had his predilection for drinking not robbed the world of his gifts at too early an age.

It strikes me -- perhaps for the first time but my memory is so sketchy of late that I never know -- that inner circle Kerouac fans (I mean the truly initiated, not those who've read On The Road once and think he wore a beret and played bongo drums) call him by his first name. I am not aware, although it may be the case, that this happens with other authors. Do Hemingway diehards speak of "Ernest"? King fans speak of "Stephen"? Plath devotees speak of "Sylvia"? Dickinson enthusiasts speak of "Emily"?

I think the familiarity evidenced by our calling him Jack stems from how well we have gotten to know him through his writing, which, of course, in the main was about his real life. He wrote about real characters and events, changing the names and places to avoid libel lawsuits. In literature, as we have said many times, this is called roman à clef. Jack wrote about such real people and places with brilliant honesty, and allowed us into his thoughts about them with the ultimate in transparency; thus, we can know Jack like few other authors.

On this sobering date, take a moment and read some Kerouac. Not On The Road, but something less pop culture, like The Subterraneans or Visions of Gerard or Dr. Sax. And do it aloud.

If you don't have any of those, click here for a convenient compilation of opening lines from a number of Jack's novels. Remember to read them aloud.

RIP, Jack. Thankfully, about you the old saw "Johnny we hardly knew ye" is not apropros.

Below are links to what I've said on or near this date in the past:



10/20/10 (not his death date but I posted an RIP anyway)



10/21/12 (a particularly good one, if I do say so myself)







Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Kerouac-related birthday: Michael McClure UPDATED and UPDATED

On this date -- October 20 -- poet Michael McClure was born in 1932. McClure, of course, was one of the poets who read at the famous Six Gallery reading in San Francisco in 1955. He appeared in several Jack Kerouac novels: Ike O'Shay in The Dharma Bums; McLear in Big Sur; and, Patrick McLear in Desolation Angels.

You can read more about McClure as well as some of his poetry by clicking here.

McClure is alive as of this posting and he is one of the few Kerouac compatriots I've had the privilege of seeing in person (details and pictures here).

Happy Birthday, Mr. McClure!

UPDATE #1: Today is also poet Arthur Rimbaud's birthday (1854). He was a big influence on Kerouac et al.

UPDATE #2: Jerry Cimino of the Beat Museum reminded me that October 20 is also poet Philip Whalen's birthday (1923). He likewise read at the Six Gallery event!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Remembering Lenore Kandel

On this date -- October 18 -- in 2009, poet Lenore Kandel died. She appeared in Jack Kerouac's Big Sur as Romana Swartz. Kandel was born in New York City but moved to San Francisco in 1960. There she fell in with Gary Snyder et al. and became Lew Welch's girlfriend for a time. She was portrayed in Big Sur the movie by Stana Katic of  the TV series, Castle.

One of Kandel's more famous books of poetry, The Love Book, was confiscated from stores, including City Lights, for obscenity. You can read about that and more by clicking here. You can read some of her poetry by clicking here.

An interview with Kandel appears in Jack's Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac by Barry Gifford and Lawrence Lee (curated here).

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Happy Birthday to Bea Franco (Kerouac's "Mexican girl" in On The Road)

Bea with son Alberto
Photo/Beatrice Kozera estate

On this date -- October 13 -- in 1920, Bea Franco was born. She was represented as Terry in Jack Kerouac's 1957 classic novel, On The Road. An excerpt about Terry, titled "The Mexican Girl," was published as a stand-alone short story in Paris Review in 1955; you can read it here. Bea also appeared in Book of Dreams as Bea.

Also of note, author Tim Z. Hernandez found Bea alive in 2010 after a multi-year search and as a result wrote the award-winning novel about her life, Mañana Means Heaven, which we reviewed here at The Daily Beat (click here). We also curated the book twice (click here and here), and featured a guest blog by the author (click here). You can read an interview with Tim here.

Happy Birthday in heaven, Bea.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

A Kerouac "two-fer" date

(L-R) Jack Kerouac, Caroline (Nin) Kerouac, Gabrielle Kerouac, Leo Kerouac, Bill Cannastra

Today's date in Kerouac history is a "two-fer." Jack's mom, Gabrielle (Mémère) died on this date -- October 12 -- in 1973, and early Beat scene member Bill Cannastra died on this date in 1950.

Mémère was an omnipresent and potent force in Jack's life. He lived with her off and on throughout his life, and thus she often was the anchor for his footloose wanderings. That is, he always had a home to which he could return. Jack made a deathbed promise to his father that he'd look after Mémère, and in his own way he did that right up until his death in 1969. She was a strong influence on his Catholicism. Gabrielle Kerouac appeared in a number of Kerouac's works: Angie in Vanity of Duluoz and Desolation Angels; Ma in Book of Dreams; Angy in Maggie Cassidy; Angy Duluoz in Doctor Sax; Ange Duluoz in Visions of Gerard; Marguerite Martin in The Town and the City; and Sal's aunt in On The Road.

Bill Cannastra died young and in a tragic manner, which you can read about here. More about Bill's life is accessible here. He appeared in Kerouac's works as follows: Finistra in Visions of Cody; Cannastra Finistra in Book of Dreams; and (probably) Charley Krasner in The Subterraneans.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2019

The annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival kicked off last night in Jack's Massachusetts hometown. You can see the schedule for this year by clicking here.

I won't be attending. We have been on the road a lot this summer and fall in our new RV. We just got back from Acadia National Park and are heading out for Pennsylvania mid-week, so LCK just wasn't in the travel cards this year. There is only so much money and so much time.

In case you didn't already know about it, there is one Kerouac event that isn't on the schedule. It's hosted by Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia and takes place tomorrow. Below is a post from Gerry from the Kerouac Facebook group page with the details.
For all those who will be in Lowell later this week, I am putting on a legacy event for Kerouac, in honor of the 50th anniversary of his death, at Edson Hall of St. Anne's Church, 10 Kirk Street in downtown Lowell, Saturday October 12, 3:30-6PM. I will read from and discuss (briefly) my new book KEROUAC: THE LAST QUARTER CENTURY, and then I will present several people, mostly poets and artists, performing and speaking about Kerouac's importance in their life. Among the more notable who have already committed to speak, perform, and/or show their work, are poet Louise Landes Levi, musician Willie "Loco" Alexander, and painter Jonathan Collins.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Happy Birthday to Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal in 1983
Photo by Ulf Andersen

On this date -- October 3 -- in 1925, writer and bon vivant Gore Vidal was born. You can read a brief bio of Vidal at Friends of Kerouac.

Vidal appeared in Jack Kerouac's The Subterraneans as Arial Lavalina and in Old Angel Midnight as Gore Bedavalled.

When one thinks of Kerouac and Vidal, one cannot help but ruminate on their supposed one-night liaison in New York's Chelsea Hotel in the summer of 1953. According to Gerald Nicosia (Memory Babe, 1994),
In the San Remo one night Bill (William S. Burroughs, who had a crush on Vidal and once planned with Kerouac to lure him to Guatemala, p. 391) finally got his chance to meet Gore Vidal, but before he could get to first base, Jack  himself started flirting with Vidal. Despite Alene's pleas for Jack to come home with her, he sent her home alone, promising to follow in a couple of hours. After kissing Vidal's hand, and showering the most abject flattery on his writing, Jack talked him into going to bed. But at Vidal's room in the Chelsea Hotel, Jack proved impotent. (p. 444)
This conflicts with Vidal's own words about the event: "I fucked him" (Ellis Amburn, Subterranean Kerouac, 1998. p. 40). Amburn goes into detail about the tryst on pages 193-194. Amburn claims that Jack bragged about blowing Vidal, yet Kerouac called Vidal a "pretentious little fag" in a November 21, 1953 letter to editor Malcolm Cowley (Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1940-1956).

Kerouac often said one thing and did another where homosexuality was concerned, but there is little argument that something sexual happened between the two on that night in the Chelsea.

Regarding Vidal's writing, Jack was a critic. In a May 18, 1952 letter to Allen Ginsberg, Jack wrote:
. . . and trying to read Gore Vidal's "Judgment of Paris" which is so uglily transparent in its method, the protagonist-hero who is unqueer but all camp (with his bloody tattoo on a thigh) and craptalk, the only thing good, as Bill says, are the satirical queer scenes, especially Lord Ayres or whatever his name . . . and they expect us to be like Vidal, great God. (Regressing to sophomore imitations of Henry James.) (Ibid, p. 357)
I've never read any of Gore's novels, but doing so is on my list of things to do at some point. I'm not sure which one to try. Any suggestions?

Happy Birthday, Mr. Gore. I came to appreciate your intellect and wit from the 2015 documentary film, Best of Enemies (re: your debates with William F. Buckley, Jr. during the 1968 Presidential election). Recommended viewing, by the way.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Happy Birthday to Edie Parker

Edie Parker was born on this date -- September 20 -- in 1922. Edie was Jack Kerouac's first wife. She appeared in several of Jack's works:  as Marie in The Subterraneans; as Elly in Visions of Cody; as Edna in Book of Dreams; as Edna (Johnnie) Palmer in Vanity of Duluoz; and as Judie Smith in The Town and the City.

Edie's memoir, You'll Be Okay, is an excellent recounting of the early days of the Beat Generation figures. Her various apartments with Joan Vollmer near Columbia were where Kerouac et al. frequently hung out.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Remembering Jack Kerouac's sister

Caroline "Nin" Kerouac Blake died on this date -- September 19 -- at age 45 in 1964. She appeared in several of Jack's works: Nin Duluoz in Doctor Sax and Visions of Gerard; Nin in Book of Dreams, Maggie Cassidy, Visions of CodyVanity of Duluoz; Ruth Martin in The Town and the City; and, Carolyn Blake in Book of Sketches. The excellent Character Key to Jack Kerouac's Duluoz Legend lists her twice for Maggie Cassidy (as Nin and Jeannette Bissonette). I need to research that little wrinkle and I'll get back to you on it.

P.S. This was posted from the road on my smartphone so forgive the brevity and any errors.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

On the road and mobile blogging

We'll be "on the road" tomorrow and for a few days. Some Beat birthdays/death dates are coming up in September. I will try to blog about them via my phone, but no promises as mobile blogging is tough on my little Android.

Here they are in case I miss a post:

September 19     Caroline "Nin" Kerouac died in 1964
September 20     Edie Parker was born in 1922
September 20     Carolyn Cassady died in 2013

Those are the ones coming up in September that I know about. Drop me a line if you can think of another Beat-related birthday or death date

Happy Birthday to William Carlos Williams

Dr. William Carlos Williams

Poet William Carlos Williams was born this date -- September 17 -- in 1883. He was a significant influence on the Beat generation writers, especially Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg discusses a 1957 visit he and Jack Kerouac and Gregory Corso and Peter Orlovsky paid to Williams here. Ginsberg says Kerouac romanced up Williams' wife, Flossie, in the kitchen. According to Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia, when the visitors asked him to impart some wisdom, the 73-year-old Williams pointed out the window and smiled, saying, "'There's a lot of bastards out there'" (Memory Babe, 1994, p. 541).

You can read a little bit about Williams on the Friends of Kerouac site here. And, of course, you can Google him for more. Williams wrote the introduction to Ginsberg's most famous poem, "Howl."

Williams was Doctor Musial in Kerouac's The Dharma Bums. In Memory Babe, Gerald Nicosia says Kerouac's writing style was influenced by Williams' "attempt to write with the 'measured pauses' of speech" (1994, p. 453).

Before presenting one of Williams' more well-known poems, I want to point out that he was not just an acclaimed poet, but also a practicing physician in his hometown of Rutherford, N.J.

I love the following poem by Williams. This version is from Poetry Foundation, a comprehensive poetry site where you can read a bio of Williams here.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Williams!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

You never know . . . .

In college, I had a professor who was also the wrestling coach. Wrestling was a big deal at Lock Haven State College (now University), and Coach Ken Cox was well-known for screaming "Shooooot!" from the edge of the mat when he wanted his wrestler to "shoot" in and perform a takedown on his opponent.

Another thing he was well-known for, at least by those of us who had him for classes, was him saying -- frequently -- "Y--y-ou never know."

And you don't. You may think you do, but you are just fooling yourself by holding onto certainty when, in fact, there isn't any. The only thing for certain is we are going to die. Some day, humans -- if there are any -- won't even be able to say the sun will come up in the morning.

To wit, last night we were out and about in our usual Friday night rounds in Hallowell, Maine, taking in some live music, and an acquaintance we hadn't seen in a while came in the bar. In our conversation he mentioned how much he appreciates my Kerouac ramblings on The Daily Beat. I never suspected him to be a regular reader or even a Kerouac fan, but as Coach Cox said, "You never know."

It's gratifying to know that when I go to the trouble of spinning some Kerouac or Kerouac-related yarn here in my blog that at least one person takes the time to read it. Pageviews don't mean someone has read a post, only that they clicked to the page.

Don, you made my night so here's to you for sharing unsolicited and positive feedback in a world too full of people who only point out the worst of things. If you read this and don't already have my Kerouac book, send me an e-mail ( with your mailing address and I'll send you a signed copy to show my appreciation.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

His name was Robert Frank.

I just learned from our daily newspaper that famed photographer Robert Frank died on Monday in Inverness, Nova Scotia. He was 94.

Frank is perhaps best known for The Americans, his 1959 book of black-and-white photographs taken on cross-country road trips in the mid-1950s. After those trips, Frank met Jack Kerouac, who wrote an introduction for the U.S. version of The Americans:
That crazy feeling in America, when the sun is hot and music comes out of the jukebox or from a nearby funeral, that’s what Robert Frank has captured in tremendous photographs taken as he traveled on the road around practically forty-eight states in an old used car (on Guggenheim Fellowship) and with agility, mystery, genius, sadness, and strange secrecy of a shadow photographed scenes that have never been seen before on film.

Kerouacians may best know Frank for being the co-director, with Alfred Leslie, of the avant-garde Beat film, Pull My Daisy, which was adapted from Kerouac's play, Beat Generation. Kerouac narrated the short film -- you can watch it in its entirety on YouTube here

Frank and Kerouac were friends. Frank helped him house-hunt in Northport and then helped Jack move Jack's mom and their two cats, Tyke and Timmy, to Northport from Orlando. An essay about that trip, "On the Road to Florida," was published in Evergreen Review in January 1970 (after Jack's death). Frank appears in that essay under his own name. In a letter to Ginsberg in July 1958, Kerouac said that Frank thought Gregory Corso was the greatest poet. Jack met his lover Dody Müller at Frank's NYC Bowery loft in October 1958.

Read Frank's NY Times obit here.

RIP, Mr. Frank.

P.S. This post's title is a movie reference. Can you figure it out?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Happy Anniversary to Crystal

Regular readers of The Daily Beat see references to Crystal, so I thought it would be appropriate to give her a shout-out on our anniversary. We met 14 years ago today (online via Cupid). She's put up with my Kerouac obsession for that long, one of the many things about her that make her a "keeper."

Happy Anniversary, sweetie! YAUTMIATW! 143!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Food seriousness: A random quote from Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums

Herewith I present you with a random quote from my favorite Jack Kerouac book, The Dharma Bums:
. . . I wished the whole world was dead serious about food instead of silly rockets and machines and explosives using everybody's food money to blow their heads off anyway. (Penguin, 1976, p. 217)

Perhaps this passage was not chosen totally at random. As I was thumbing through, it spoke to me, reminding me of Bill Maher's "New Rules" segment on Friday night's show and his lament that our current eating habits in this country, which lead to obesity, are a major cause of our health problems. See

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Poetry review: Word Against the Machine by Jane 'SpokenWord' Grenier and Albey 'onBass' Balgochian

Every once in a while something comes along out of the blue that restores one's faith in humanity, and that's what I want to say about this book of poetry. Sent to me unsolicited for review by co-author Jane 'SpokenWord' Grenier, it reminded me that there are others out there who are beyond disturbed at the state of our world, from the corruption in politics to the devastation of our environment to the corporate takeover and ruination of everything holy.

I get the sense -- from Jane's nickname and from the available audio recordings of several of these poems accompanied by co-author Albey 'onBass' Balgochian  on bass -- that this poetry is meant to be experienced auditorily, such as at a slam poetry or spoken word event. Nevertheless, it stands on its own as solid poetry whether read aloud or in silence.

The themes of these poems are founded in resistance to the evils facing us in this country today, from the current occupant of the White House ("I woke up to an orange man president with a wig hat on" in "Darkness of Knight, p. 7) to the corporatization of the food supply ("those who control the food, control the world" in "Those who Control the World, p. 37) to the destruction of the environment ("I'm her to tell you that it's you that I fear, all that smell you smear on daily from your toes up to your hair" in "Anthrax and Bombs," p. 19) to the folly of religion ("as long as it's your version of god then you're happy" in "Bang your Dead," p. 28) to racial injustice ("where is your outrage?" in "Reparations," p. 36).

Co-author Balgochian lends his mysterious line drawings to the book. The last three poems are strong back-and-forth collaborations with poets Michael 'Warrior' Bonds, Art Collins, and John Sinclair. In one of them you'll see a reference to "the King Alfred Plan." I won't say more about that, but you may want to Google it.

There are connections to Jack Kerouac here. Grenier uses neologisms such as "politricks" and "deNOTcracy" in "I Write" to make her points. Jack would dig that. And her poem "I am a poet" was chosen for publication in "We Are Beat," the National Beat Poetry Foundation Anthology 2019. There's a Beat flavor to this poetry, as well as a Beat attitude toward social conventions. Finally, it's poetry, and Jack was a poet of considerable note as we've pointed out repeatedly in this blog.

Overall, this book is a wake-up call, a call to action from a devout member of "the resistance" who understands that "silence is death" (in "Winter has come to America," p. 12). As such, I can only say huzzah and encourage readers to buy the book (available at, where you can also buy the audio versions).

Remember, "you're never too old to mend your soul" (in "JIMI," p. 34).

Friday, September 6, 2019

September 6: A macabre date in the Kerouac saga

Natalie Jackson (L) and Joan Vollmer (R)

Two woman associated with Jack Kerouac died young in tragic ways and they share today's date, one because it's her birthday and the other because it's the day she died.

Natalie Jackson was born on this date -- September 6 -- in 1931. She was Rosie Buchanan in The Dharma Bums and Rosemarie in Desolation Angels, Big Sur, and Book of Dreams. She died from suicide at age 24 in 1955.

Joan Vollmer died on this date in 1951 at the age of 28 when she was killed by her common-law husband, William S. Burroughs, who was allegedly trying to shoot a water glass off her head in William Tell style using a pistol. Vollmer was Jane Lee in On The Road; Jane in The Subterraneans; June Evans in Book of Dreams, Desolation Angels, and Vanity of Duluoz; June Hubbard in Visions of Cody; Joan in The Haunted Life and Other Writings; Mary Dennison in The Town and the City; and, "my old lady" in And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks.

It's no wonder Vollmer shows up prominently in Kerouac's works, given that she was a central figure in the early days of the Beats. The New York City apartment she shared with Edie Parker (who later married Kerouac) became the unofficial hangout for Beat figures between 1943-1944. Vollmer was an active participant in the famous marathon discussions that took place in apartment No. 62 at 421 W. 118th Street. According to Bill Morgan in The Beat Generation in New York, "Kerouac often said that the happiest days of his life were spent" there (p. 11).

Jackson, who was a model of Robert LaVigne's, gained Beat notoriety from having an affair with Kerouac muse Neal Cassady. She killed herself by slitting her throat and throwing herself off the roof of 1051 Franklin Street (reached from her apartment's roof at 1041) in San Francisco, supposedly over her fear of the consequences from having impersonated Neal's wife, Carolyn, to help him get money from the bank for a race track betting scheme. Kerouac describes Jackson's death in The Dharma Bums Chapter 15.

In summary, what links Natalie Jackson and Joan Vollmer is that they were Beat figures who died tragically and young and they share this important date, for one a beginning and for the other an ending. As the Oracle says in The Matrix, "Everything that has a beginning . . . has an end."

Here's to remembering Natalie's beginning and Joan's ending on this macabre date in the Kerouac saga.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Happy 62nd Anniversary to On The Road!

My well-loved copy of On The Road (the tabs are
from when I taught a yearly Kerouac class at the University of Maine at Farmington from 2013-2017)
which I curated here

Jack Kerouac's On The Road was published 62 years ago today on September 5, 1957. It garnered a rave review from the New York Times (the regular reviewer didn't like the book but was on vacation -- a stroke of luck for Jack) -- click here to read the review -- and the rest, as they say, is history.

I don't know what can be said about the importance of this book -- and therefore this date in history -- that hasn't already been said better by smarter folks than yours truly. Suffice to say that on today's date in 1957, Jack Kerouac started on the path of fame we all know so well, with its ups and downs, strikes and gutters (Jack would appreciate that movie reference).

It's not my favorite book of Jack's -- that honor goes to The Dharma Bums -- but it's certainly his most well-known work and, as I found when teaching it at the college level, it stands the test of time fairly well. Many students were into it (and some were not, but you could say that about pretty much any book you require a group of young people to read).

In honor of today's significance, it would be appropriate to read some of On The Road.* Just grab your dog-eared copy and open to a random section and read. If that's not possible, below is the last paragraph (which Jack read aloud in 1959 on the Steve Allen TV show mashed up with a section from Visions of Cody -- here's a link so you can read along).
So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.

With that, we wish On The Road a happy anniversary. Yair!

*Or read the whole book, which is do-able in several hours.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

A significant Kerouac-related birthday of note

Justin W. Brierly
On this date -- September 3 -- Justin W. Brierly was born in 1905. Brierly appeared in several Kerouac books: as Denver D. Doll in On The Road, Justin G. Mannerly in Visions of Cody, and Manley G. Mannerly in Book of Dreams.

Brierly is particularly noteworthy in the Kerouac saga as he was instrumental in grooming a young Neal Cassady during his Denver years. Brierly was a Columbia University graduate, and it is no stretch to say that he was responsible, at least in part, for Cassady and Kerouac connecting at Columbia (where Jack also attended). Another Columbia student, Hal Chase, was a Brierly protégé and he (Chase) introduced Cassady to Kerouac.

No Cassady-Kerouac connection, no On The Road, and so . . . no Brierly, no Kerouac. At least as we know him.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Today's Kerouac-related birthday of note

David Kammerer

For those of you steeped in Beat lore, the name David Kammerer needs no explanation. For those of you new to the subject or with only passing Kerouacian knowledge, Kammerer was the man killed by Lucien Carr (stabbed to death with a Boy Scout knife) and Kerouac -- in trying to help him cover up the crime -- was arrested as an accessory after-the-fact and ended up in jail (which resulted in Jack marrying Edie Parker to get bail money from her parents when his own father, Leo, wouldn't spring him, but that is another story).

Kerouac recounted this story in several works, and Kammerer appeared in Visions of Cody as Dave Stroheim, Vanity of Duluoz as Franz (Swinburne) Mueller, The Town and the City as Waldo Meister, Ramsey Allen in And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, and Alfred in The Haunted Life (Source: Character Key to Kerouac's Duluoz Legend).

My point? Kammerer was born this date -- September 2 -- in 1911. So even though he (allegedly) stalked Carr around the country and was murdered as a result, we remember him on his birthday as playing a significant role in the Kerouac saga.

P.S. As I was on the road for the last 5 days, I missed pointing out that Chandler Brossard died on August 29, 1993. We wished him a happy birthday on July 18 so you can read the Kerouac connection in that post (click here).

Friday, August 23, 2019

Our comment policy: A reminder

Given that I just deleted 357 comments as spam, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind readers of our comment policy (posted over there on the right hand side for all to read).

1. Anonymous comments will not be published.
2. Comments unrelated to the target post will not be published.
3. Snark and ad hominem comments will not be published.

I am not going to read hundreds of comments to distinguish one that might be legit from spam, so the rule about no anonymous posts is for my convenience. If I scan down the list of comments and don't see a name (as opposed to anonymous), I can mass delete 100 attempted posts with two clicks.

To be clear, you may well try to post something relevant and non-snarky/non-ad hominem and it will likely get deep-sixed because it was posted by "anonymous."

Sorry about that, but logistics are logistics. And I don't want to reinforce anonymous postings on the Internet.

Happy Birthday to Gerard Kerouac

Jack Kerouac's brother, Gerard, was born on this date -- August 23 -- in 1916. As regular readers know, Gerard was Jack's inspiration for Visions of Gerard, a holy book in the Kerouac canon, and he (Gerard) appeared in several other Kerouac works. We blogged about Gerard's death date on June 2 (click here).

In honor of Gerard Kerouac's birthday, you may want to read some (or all) of Visions of Gerard sometime today.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Catching up with Kerouac-related August dates

Given our travels (that's Crystal and me in front of our new Winnebago part-way through our recent 11-day trip), I have been neglectful of posting Kerouac-related birth and death dates for August, so below are some in bulk in order to catch up.

August 1     Ramblin' Jack Elliott born 1931 (Jack Elliott in Book of Dreams)
August 2     William S. Burroughs died 1997 (Old Bull Lee in On The Road, etc.)
August 5     Leo Kerouac born 1889 (Emil Alcide Duluoz in Visions of Gerard, etc.)
August 6     Diane di Prima born 1934 (not sure she appeared in a Kerouac work)
August 8     Herbert Huncke died 1996 (Elmer Hassel in On The Road, etc.)
August 14   David Kammerer died 1944 (Dave Stoheim in Visions of Cody, etc.)
August 15   Bea Franco died 2013 (Terry "the Mexican Girl" in On The Road)
August 23   Gerard Kerouac born 1916 (Gerard Duluoz in Visions of Gerard, etc.)

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Today's date -- July 31 -- is a Kerouac "two-fer"

Elise Cowen (L) and Gore Vidal (R)

Today's date -- July 31 -- is Kerouac noteworthy for two reasons. First, it is Beat poet Elise Cowen's birthday (1933). She appeared as Barbara Lipp in Kerouac's Desolation Angels. Read about her here (a website I just discovered).

Second, on this date in 2012 writer and bon vivant Gore Vidal died. He appeared in The Subterraneans as Arial Lavalina and in Old Angel Midnight as Gore Bedavalled. Read about him here.

Friday, July 26, 2019

JAPHY license plates came today!

Our license plates for the camper came today and I put them on (as you can see). It's an homage to my favorite Kerouac book, The Dharma Bums, and, of course, the main character in the story, Japhy Ryder (real-life Gary Snyder). Of the available plates, most of the Kerouac and related permutations were already taken. We could have had ONTHERD, for On The Road, but this way gives us a name for the camper, which is apparently a "thing" in the RV world.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Happy Birthday to Chandler Brossard

On this date -- July 18 -- in 1922, American writer Chandler Brossard was born. He would have been 97 today. Brossard appeared as Chris Rivers in Jack Kerouac's and William S. Burroughs' And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks. Some claim Brossard's Who Walk in Darkness (1952) was the first Beat novel. Brossard was not pleased with being associated with the early Beat writers, but given the content of Darkness it is hard to dismiss the connections. I wrote about that book here.

So Happy Birthday, Mr. Brossard, wherever you are!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Happy Birthday to Robert LaVigne

On this date -- July 15 -- in 1928, artist Robert LaVigne was born. LaVigne (I've seen it with the V capitalized and not capitalized) was Guy Levesque in Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels.

A well-known story about LaVigne is that it was his portrait of Peter Orlovsky -- his model and lover -- that caused Allen Ginsberg to request an introduction to Orlovsky, beginning a life-long relationship.

LaVigne has papers archived at Columbia University. See (this resource includes a concise biographical sketch).

Friday, June 28, 2019


We recently purchased this 2019 Winnebago Travato 59K and are about to get it registered. We will get a vanity plate for it, and since we plan to take a cross-country trek in it next year, we may have it read ONTHRD. Faithful readers will know what that means. It could be misinterpreted as ON THIRD, but then it's good to separate the true Kerouac fans from the rest. I'll know by the reactions of passing motorists. Thumbs up means they "get it."

P.S. Another idea is JAPHY. Which do you prefer?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Random Kerouac quote

Below is the last paragraph of a particular Kerouac book. Can you name it without raiding your bookshelf?
I'll go light candles to the Madonna, I'll paint the Madonna, and eat ice cream, benny and bread --"Dope and saltpork," as Bhikku Booboo said--I'll go to the South of Sicily in the winter, and paint memories of Arles--I'll buy a piano and Mozart me that--I'll write long sad tales about people in the legend of my life--This is my part of the movie, let's hear yours

Seems to me Jack was answering Mary Oliver's provocative question: "What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Remembering Stanley Twardowicz

Abstract painter and photographer Stanley Twardowicz died on this date -- June 12 -- in 2008 at the age of 90. He became good friends with Jack Kerouac in Jack's later years. They met while both of them were living in Northport. Click here for a NY Times piece on the two friends. Click here for Twardowicz's obit.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Remembering Kenneth Rexroth

Kenneth Rexroth

No time today for a lengthy post but I didn't want it to escape our attention that poet and critic Kenneth Rexroth died this date -- June 6 -- in 1982 at the age of 76. Rexroth was no fan of Jack Kerouac and the feeling was mutual. We posted previously about Rexroth here and here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Interview with Locke McCorkle, an original "dharma bum"

Locke McCorkle
photo (c) Stephen Kennedy

Studious readers of The Daily Beat know who Locke McCorkle is -- he was the character Sean Monahan in Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums, the guy whose cabin Kerouac and Gary Snyder (Japhy Ryder in the book) lived in behind Sean's house in Mill Valley.

I posted a picture of Locke taken by Gerald Nicosia in 2012 and a relevant excerpt from The Dharma Bums here.

Now, thanks to Brian Hassett posting the link in the Jack Kerouac Facebook group, I know about this 2017 interview of Locke from 2017 sponsored by the Mill Valley Historical Association -- click here.

While writing this post, I ran across this other interview of Locke from 2015 -- click here.

Good stuff.


Monday, June 3, 2019

Happy Birthday to Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg would have been 93 years old today, June 3, having been born on this date in 1926. As a core member of the Beat Generation writers, Ginsberg needs no introduction to understand the Kerouac connection. He appeared in too many Kerouac works, under aliases of course, to mention here, but you can determine what those were by visiting the Character Key to Jack Kerouac's Duluoz Legend. I will point out that in the two Kerouac novels -- On The Road and The Dharma Bums -- that inspired my book, The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions, Ginsberg appeared as Carlo Marx and Alvah Goldbrook respectively.

Allen would be honored if you read -- or listen to him read -- some of his poetry today. You can find it in several places on-line. Here are a couple of links to get you started:

Poetry Foundation

Ginsberg reading "Howl"

Happy Birthday, Allen.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Remembering Gerard Kerouac, Albert Saijo, and a friend

(Left to right) Jack Kerouac's brother, Gerard; Jack's friend Albert Saijo; my friend Matt Noldy

June 2 is the day and month that Gerard Kerouac (1926) and Albert Saijo (2011) died. As regular readers know,  Gerard was Jack Kerouac's inspiration for Visions of Gerard and also appeared as Gerard Duluoz in Doctor Sax, Visions of Cody, and Book of Dreams. He also appeared as Julian Martin in The Town and the City. Albert appeared as George Baso in Big Sur and co-authored Trip Trap: Haiku on the Road with Kerouac and Lew Welch based on a road trip across America in Welch's jeep.

I just learned that a good friend of mine, Matt Noldy, died last night and want to wish him safe travels in the afterlife along with Gerard and Albert. The heavenly band is much improved with the addition of Matt. He was only 44 years old.

I'm posting this by phone or I'd say more and include pictures. Maybe I'll edit the post when I get home. It's a tough day for me....

P.S. As you can see, I've added pics but I've got little more to say at this point. Maybe I'll say more about Matt later on. Regarding Gerard and Albert, I've blogged about them here and here and here.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Summer hiatus (sort of)

Over the past few months I have been posting fairly regularly, but I suspect that I will be posting sporadically throughout the summer months. I'll be "on the road" too much to blog every day.

I hope this news doesn't harsh anyone's mellow. Look at it this way: the time you used to spend reading my blog every day can now be spent reading Kerouac. That's a win-win in my book.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Remembering Peter Orlovsky UPDATED 5-31-19

Famous Ginsberg photo of Orlovsky (Left), Kerouac (Middle), and Burroughs (Right) on a Moroccan beach in March 1957
(c) Allen Ginsberg

On this date -- May 30, in 2010, Peter Orlovsky died. The obvious Kerouac connection here is that Orlovsky was a longtime partner of central Beat Generation figure Allen Ginsberg.

I don't know a lot about Orlovsky off the top of my head, and I am guessing some readers may be in the same boat, so here are a couple of links for information:

NY Times obit

Rebellious Love: Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky

UPDATE: Below is a list of characters that Peter appeared as in various Kerouac works (Source: Character Key to Jack Kerouac's Duluoz Legend):

Character Name            Book

George                           The Dharma Bums
Simon Darlovsky           Desolation Angels
Simon                            Book of Dreams
Paul                               Beat Generation

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Review of Jacob Rabinowitz’s Blame It On Blake: a memoir of dead languages, gender vagrancy, Burroughs, Ginsberg, Corso & Carr

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading Jacob Rabinowitz’s Blame It On Blake: a memoir of dead languages, gender vagrancy, Burroughs, Ginsberg, Corso & Carr, but the title helped me anticipate what was to come. This is a memoir by 60-year old Rabinowitz about his “Quixotic-like determination to close the gap between lived life and literature” (p. 238). As the author states:

It all came down to poetry. As a teenager, I had tried to make poetry the ordering principle of my existence. Following Rimbaud’s example, I got myself into a lot of drunken trouble, which I snapped out of with the help of AA. Then I cleared my intellectual decks with a good dose of Nietzschean modernism. This world view intoxicated me by its austerity and truth, for which I found echoes in the Bhagavad Gita. (p. 283)

If the academic tone of the above passage scares you, hold on tight because Rabinowitz routinely uses literary and philosophic references throughout the memoir. Many of them -- to me -- were obscure, but then I am not trained in the classics as is the author. For example:

I was curious about them [girls], but my few attempts to join in their conversations had met with the same success as Alberich encountered when he attempted to get friendly with the Rhinemaidens. (p. 21)

If reading about alcoholism from a personal perspective is triggering for you, be warned: it is a strong theme throughout Rabinowitz’s memoir. I found this statement by Ginsberg about Rabinowitz’s sobriety to be telling:

“You didn’t get over your addiction. You just replaced alcohol with ideas as a way of staying drunk all the time.” (p. 182)

Rabinowitz felt he was too smart for his school teachers, and took to reading what he wanted to read during class, an example of the autodidacticity that has followed him throughout life. He started hitchhiking into New York City as a teenager, in particular Greenwich Village, which is where he met and befriended the likes of Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs and Lucien Carr and Gregory Corso. He came on the scene too late to meet Jack Kerouac, and only mentions him briefly.

When he was just 17, this "kid from New Jersey" sent Ginsberg a 40-page cut-up a la Burroughs using a cheap gay porn magazine and The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, modeling the whole thing after Rimbaud’s Season in Hell. Ginsberg wrote back from Naropa saying he’d like to meet him on his return to Manhattan and “in the meantime could I send him a photograph?” (p. 47).

This was autumn of 1976 and when the two met they proceeded immediately to indecencies, yet their sexual relationship is not the focus of the dynamic between the two, but rather an intellectual one focused around poetry. Rabinowitz is able to provide deep insights into Ginsberg.

He [Alan] was really a political figure. This made it trying to walk with him even the three blocks from his apartment to the nearby Polish pirogi palace. He was readily recognized , and never sidestepped a conversation with anyone eager for a little taste of the greatness. This is perhaps a part of the mystery of why he essentially lived his life alone. No one with enough personality and intelligence to truly engage Allen’s giant mind and great heart would have been content with the scraps of attention left at the end of the day -- particularly when the day didn’t end till late at night when the last letter was answered. (p. 54)

Rabinowitz points out that Ginsberg’s “mini-epic” Contest of Bards is an account of their entire affair.

As the title suggests, Rabinowitz experienced no small amount of gender identity confusion. In part convinced by Burrough’s The Naked Lunch that his drug use and homosexuality were legitimate, “being queer was the identity that seemed the best fit” (p. 29). The author lived a gay lifestyle and yet in later years settled down with the love of his life, Meryl, who suggested he undertake this memoir effort.

Rabinowitz had the most to say about his relationship with Ginsberg, but he has interesting insights to share about Burroughs, Corso, and Carr as well.

For example, we learn when they met that Burroughs’ Prince Street apartment was lined with cases of vodka he had taken instead of cash for some lecture or writing project, and he worked his way though it in a little over a year. We learn that Carr liked to order a triple vodka “‘with a splash of coke. Not too much coke,’ he would add, ‘I don’t want to ruin my stomach.’” (p. 85). We learn about the trickster theatre that was Corso’s ambience (p. 195), and we get an analysis of Corso’s final manuscript, which needed

a lot of editing, but it’s a remarkable document for exactly that reason. Gregory’s poetic gifts always had to swim upstream against the tide of his intoxication. (p. 337)

Which reminds me that I must add a quibble about this book. There are typos galore. Nothing that obscures comprehension, just minor distractions like Ginsberg’s name being misspelled “Gunsberg” on the thank you page (p. 4) and other misspelled words (“oportunity” on p. 182) or puzzlements like “I suggested that Mike to put an independent publishing centerfold . . . “ (p. 256). There is no publisher mentioned, and I suspect the book is self-published, meaning there may have been no editor other than the author himself -- always a dangerous practice.

One other quibble is that I would love to have this book indexed. It’s so academically dense that it could serve as a quasi-reference book on poetry, the classics, philosophy, philology, and religion. Within a few pages one is likely to encounter Dante, Milton, Blake, Melville, Chaucer, Lovecraft, and the list goes on. Rabinowitz had read and internalized an amazing amount of information, and he is not shy about framing his memoir accordingly. To some it may come across elitist -- to me it came across as a supremely intelligent and well-read person trying to explain a lived experience that was significantly influenced by the great thinkers.

There’s a lot here, and I’ve only scratched the surface of content. Rabinowitz is a strong writer -- typos notwithstanding -- and he frequently offers poignant, articulate, eloquent insights into matters of the mind or heart or both. We learn details about several important people in his life beyond Beat figures. He is obviously opinionated, but I expect no less in a memoir. Rabinowitz rails about New England in a section titled “Yankeedom,” concluding:

If I may paraphrase the Mikado, “the nourishment fit the crime.” Thus was visited upon the table such horrors as the “New England Boiled Dinner.”

Rabinowitz has a dark sense of humor that often surfaces. I laughed aloud at his description of working as a proofreader of off-the-rack wills for a legal firm. Using his knowledge of Latin, he replaced the word for “we command” (mandamus) with irrumamus, meaning “we give blowjobs.” He revised the stipulations for organ donation to include their potential use as fish bait or cat food.

The author concludes his memoir with this insight:

Now, after a lifetime seeking holy wisdom from books and from life, having succeeded in stealing a few glimpses of the infinitely secret, I comprehend better the terror--and the humor, of God . . . . And I am grateful to all the astonishing people who filled my life . . . and most of all I am indebted to one, whom I gladly make this memoir’s final invocation. You, who living I so rarely allowed the last word, you’ll be the last word here, dear Allen.

The book doesn’t have any information about the author so I asked him for a blurb and below is what he sent me. It’s wonderful and a fitting way to end this review of a book you should definitely check out (click here).

Jacob Rabinowitz was a changeling child left on a random doorstep in Paterson NJ. He acquired a PhD in Classics which rendered him virtually unemployable and for some time not very good company. He then spent several happy years teaching everything from Latin to Calculus up and down the eastern seaboard. He misses dirty, filthy 1970's New York, and has returned to New Jersey where he lives with his partner in crime, the artist Meryl Gross, no children, and a lawn full of bamboo.Since he is now a grown-up, he does not have to eat vegetables and has ice cream for dinner every night of the week.

Larry Keenan website goes mobile-friendly

Larry Keenan

Empty Mirror reports that the Larry Keenan website -- where you can see pictures by the acclaimed Beat Generation (and beyond) photographer -- has gone mobile friendly.

Here is a link to the site:

And here is a link to our post by Gerald Nicosia written in memory of Larry, who dies in 2012:

Friday, May 24, 2019

Memorial Day and Jack Kerouac

As you undertake to celebrate Memorial Day this weekend, I hope that amidst eating too many hot dogs you will keep in mind the holiday's purpose: to honor the men and women who died serving in the U.S. military. It's also an opportunity to express appreciation to current military members and to veterans for their service to our country.

Remember that Jack Kerouac has a  short history with the U.S. Naval Reserve. You can read all about that fiasco here. But keep in mind that he also spent time in the Merchant Marine and saw action in a convoy during World War II.

I wish we didn't need a military -- we don't, but humans have decided not to go there -- but since we do:

If you are a current or past member of the military, we here at The Daily Beat appreciate your service. And we remember and honor those who died serving in the military.

Click here for a past blog post about Jack Kerouac and Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Alan Harrington, Lew Welch, and Jack Kerouac

Alan Harrington (L) and Lew Welch (R)

Today is a "two-fer" date in history regarding Jack Kerouac. On this date, May 23, novelist Alan Harrington died in 1997; also on this date, in 1971, poet Lew Welch left a suicide note at Gary Snyder's house and walked into the California mountains never to be heard from again. Harrington and Welch appeared in several Kerouac works (Source: Character Key to Jack Kerouac's Duluoz Legend):

Alan Harrington

Kerouac Work                                             Character Name

On The Road                                               Hal Hingham
Book of Dreams                                          Early Wallington
Book of Dreams (expanded edition)           Worthington

Lew Welch

Kerouac Work                                             Character Name

Desolation Angels                                       Dave Wain
Big Sur                                                        Dave Wain

Alan Harrington, a young writer on the periphery of the Beat group, introduced Kerouac to John Clellon Holmes at a party in 1948, an obviously important event.

On their road trip from Louisiana to California memorialized in On The Road, Jack & Neal Cassady & LuAnne Henderson visited Harrington in Tucson, AZ in January 1949; Neal flew into a rage when Harrington kissed LuAnne and insisted they leave, borrowing $5 for gas to get as far as Bakersfield, CA (Source: Gerald Nicosia's Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac).

In a letter to Harrington on April 23, 1949, Kerouac said:
I am no longer "beat," I have money, a career. I am more alone than when I lurked on Times Square at 4 A.M., or hitch-hiked penniless down the highways of the night. (Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1940-1956, p. 188)

Lew Welch needs no introduction to Daily Beat readers. We curated the book of poetry he co-authored with Jack and Albert Saijo, Trip Trap: Haiku On The Road, here and reviewed his book of poetry, Ring of Bone, here.

Alan Harrington, Lew Welch, and Jack Kerouac -- connected for eternity. Who knew?