on my cake, 17 more
than Jack ever got
So Cody is the Conductor of the Heavenly Train, and we'll all get our tickets pinched by him because we were all good lambs believed in roses and lamps and eyes of the moon--
Water from the moon
Comes all too soon
The musicians and I drank up all the wine and talked, till about midnight, and Rosie seemed to be all right now, lying on the couch, talking, even laughing a bit, eating her sandwiches and drinking some tea I'd brewed her. The musicians left and I slept on the kitchen floor in my new sleeping bag. But when Cody came home that night and I was gone she went up on the roof while he was asleep and broke the skylight to get jagged bits of glass to cut her wrists, and was sitting there bleeding at dawn when a neighbor saw her and sent for the cops and when the cops ran out on the roof to help her that was it: she saw the great cops who were going to arrest us all and made a run for the roof edge. The young Irish cop made a flying tackle and just got a hold of her bathrobe but she fell out of it and fell naked to the sidewalk six flights below. (Penguin Books, 1976, p. 112)
". . . I've had enough occasion to recognize this truth: women own the earth, women own heaven too--it is tyranny without words--and without swords--"Your job is to identify the book that is the source of the above quote and post it in a comment.
He [Kerouac] and Gary went to dinner at Alan Watts', and Jack and Watts got on fine, Jack liking his "sincerity." (1994, University of California Press, p. 518)Kerouac said the following about Watts (Whane) in The Dharma Bums:
I went out to the bonfire to hear Cacoethes' [Rexroth's] latest witticisms. Arthur Whane was sitting on a log, well dressed, necktie and suit, and I went over and asked him "Well what is Buddhism? Is it fantastic imagination magic of the lightning flash, is it plays, dreams, not even plays, dreams?"
"No, to me Buddhism is getting to know as many people as possible." And there he was going around the party real affable shaking hands with everybody and chatting, a regular cocktail party. (1976, Penguin Books, p. 195)Watts has his critics, but I like how he presents Eastern concepts for the Western mind in his writing and also in his speaking (much of which is available on YouTube as well as official sites like alanwatts.org). I posted about Kerouac and Watts on July 24, 2011 (click here).
|Alan Ansen in 1973|
Everything happened. We found the wild, ecstatic Rollo Greb and spent a night at his house on Long Island. Rollo lives in a nice house with his aunt; when she dies the house is all his. Meanwhile she refuses to comply with any of his wishes and hates his friends. He brought this ragged gang of Dean, Marylou, Ed, and me, and began a roaring party. The woman prowled upstairs; she threatened to call the police. "Oh, shut up, you old bag!" yelled Greb. I wondered how he could live with her like this. He had more books than I've ever seen in all my life--two libraries, two rooms loaded from floor to ceiling around all four walls, and such books as the Apocryphal Something-or-Other in ten volumes. He played Verdi operas and pantomimed them in his pajamas with a great rip down the back. He didn't give a damn about anything. He is a great scholar who goes reeling down the New York waterfront with original seventeenth-century musical manuscripts under his arm, shouting. He crawls like a big spider through the streets. His excitement blew out of his eyes in stabs of fiendish light. He rolled his neck in spastic ecstasy. He lisped, he writhed, he flopped, he moaned, he howled, he fell back in despair. He could hardly get a word out, he was so excited with life. Dean stood before him with head bowed, repeating over and over again, "Yes . . . Yes . . . Yes." He took me into a corner. "That Rollo Greb is the greatest, most wonderful of all. That's what I was trying to tell you--that's what I want to be. I want to be like him. He's never hung-up, he goes every direction, he lets it all out, he knows time, he has nothing to do but rock back and forth. Man, he's the end! You see, if you go like him all the time you'll finally get it.""Get what?"
"IT! IT! I'll tell you-now no time, we have no time now." Dean rushed back to watch Rollo Greb some more. (Penguin Books, 1976, p. 127)
Dean and Sal are sitting in the back of a travel bureau car at the beginning of their way back East. Dean has been going on about IT. What is IT? I can't explain it with concepts and even if I could you couldn't understand it with your mind. Maybe it's that state where you find yourself and you lose yourself, like Bodhi talks about in the movie, Point Break. Or maybe it's the state Mihaly Csikszentmihaly calls "flow" (1991). Or maybe it's the state of no mind, beginner's mind, where you know everything and you know nothing and you know that this moment is everything and nothing at the same time and words don't matter at all. It is understanding without words, without thought, like when you and a friend both experience something and look at each other and words are unnecessary.
But what's the Kerouaction, you ask? Be fully present every moment. Experience everything like you were going to die tomorrow. See, feel, smell, hear, and taste with reckless abandon whatever is in the moment. Things are fine just like they are, right this minute, right now. And there is no need to label what is. As Alan Watts pointed out, the sound of the rain needs no explanation. (p. 187)
|Stella and Jack Kerouac|
All right, wifey, maybe I'm a big pain in the you-know-what but after I've given you a recitation of the troubles I had to go through to make good in America between 1935 and more or less now, 1967, and although I also know everybody in the world's had his own troubles, you'll understand that my particular form of anguish came from being too sensitive to all the lunkheads I had to deal with just so I could get to be a high school football star, a college student pouring coffee and washing dishes and scrimmaging till dark and reading Homer's Iliad in three days all at the same time, and God help me, a WRITER whose very 'success', far from being a happy triumph as of old, was the sign of doom Himself. (Penguin Books, 1994, p. 9)
The second-hand kisses the minute-hand sixty times an hour 24 hours a day and still we swallow in hope of life.Your job is to identify the book that is the source of the above quote and post it in a comment.
Everybody knew him. "Happy New Year," he called, and sometimes "Merry Christmas." He said this all the time. At Christmas he said Happy Halloween. (Penguin Books, 1976, p. 54)
Strange Chinese hung out of windows, digging the Sunday night streets; groups of Mex chicks swaggered around in slacks; mambo blasted from jukeboxes; the lights were festooned around like Halloween. (Ibid., p. 93)
The bus roared through Indiana cornfields that night; the moon illuminated the ghostly gathered husks; it was almost Halloween. (Ibid., p. 103)
|Caroline with her brother, Jack|
Yes, it's weird. Both names are used in MC. In the first part, Jack wrote about his sister Nin, but later, when he's writing about the surprise birthday party, Nin is described as arranging it, but the hosts are described as Jeannette and Jimmy Bisssonette. (Nin married Charles Morisette in 1937.)When I think of Nin, I always think of Jack's descriptions in The Dharma Bums (my favorite Kerouac novel) of staying with her and her husband and child at their house in Big Easonburg Woods near Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Which, of course, reminds me of the excellent book by John J. Dorfner, Kerouac: Visions of Rocky Mount (that you can purchase by contacting the author at firstname.lastname@example.org). Click here for a piece that John wrote about Rocky Mount for the Raleigh News & Observer.
|Philip Lamantia in 1981|
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.
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.
|My first visit to Jack's grave (December 1995, I believe)|
|Bea with son Alberto|
Photo/Beatrice Kozera estate
|(L-R) Jack Kerouac, Caroline (Nin) Kerouac, Gabrielle Kerouac, Leo Kerouac, Bill Cannastra|
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.
|Gore Vidal in 1983|
Photo by Ulf Andersen
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).
. . . 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?
|Dr. William Carlos Williams|
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.
. . . 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)
|Natalie Jackson (L) and Joan Vollmer (R)|
|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
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.
|Justin W. Brierly|
|Elise Cowen (L) and Gore Vidal (R)|
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