Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Ed White, close friend of Jack Kerouac, died on this date -- April 29 -- in 2017. He appeared in several Kerouac works: as Tim Gray in On The Road; Ed Gray in Visions of Cody; Guy Green in Book of Dreams; and, Al Green in Book of Dreams (expanded edition).
It was White who originally suggested the practice of sketching in words to Kerouac. We discussed that when we wished White a Happy Birthday HERE in February.
RIP, Mr. White.
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
On this date -- April 28 -- in 1923, Carolyn Cassady was born. She appeared in several of Jack Kerouac's works: as Camille in On The Road; Evelyn Pomeray in Book of Dreams, Big Sur, Desolation Angels, and Visions of Cody; and, Cora in Beat Generation.
Cassady was married to Neal Cassady, famous as Kerouac's muse and a major subject of On The Road and the titular focus of Visions of Cody. We curated my copy of her book HERE.
I am afraid I have fallen into the trap of marginalizing Beat Generation women in my last paragraph, making it sound like Cassady's only claim to fame was being married to the Holy Goof. One need only Google her name for biographical details to see that she was a complex and talented person in her own right (e.g., writer, painter, theatrical designer, MA from U. of Denver), but was treated in a one-dimensional fashion in Kerouac's works (as was his approach to women in general). I'm not saying it was right for Kerouac to do that -- it just was.
So Happy Birthday in Beat heaven to Carolyn Elizabeth Robinson Cassady, who would have been 97 today!
Monday, April 27, 2020
I often buy used books, and it's always interesting to contemplate their history. Who owned them? Why and how did the previous owner acquire the book? Did they purchase it or was it a gift? And so on.
Currently I am 75% of the way finished reading my used copy of John Clellon Holmes' Go. It's shown above (curated HERE). I don't remember when or how I acquired it (mea culpa).
Of interest to me is that inside the front cover is a person's name in red ink and what I assume are phone numbers (without area codes). Is Jennifer Shaw the previous owner or did the previous owner jot her name and phone numbers down in the book for some reason (no paper available)? Did Jennifer and the previous owner meet in a coffee shop and share phone numbers? Lots of possibilities.
Inside are some underlinings and comments (in the same red pen). For example, the annotator discovered what they thought was a definition of "BEAT GENERATION" on p. 161.
So here's the point: If you are the previous owner, contact us at The Daily Beat -- we'd like to interview you for an upcoming blog post. If you think you know who the previous owner was, please ask them to contact us. Our e-mail address is: email@example.com.
We'll unravel this mystery if we can.
Oh, and what's the Kerouac connection here? Well, Holmes (the book's author) and Kerouac were close friends for many years, and Holmes' novel, Go (1952), tells the story of the early Beats, including Kerouac (as Gene Pasternak).
Thursday, April 23, 2020
I just finished reading Brother Souls by Ann Charters and Samuel Charters. It's aptly subtitled, John Clellon Holmes, Jack Kerouac, and the Beat Generation (I note the proper use of the Oxford comma).
I knew Holmes and Kerouac were friends, but this immensely detailed biography shines a bright light on their close relationship. Along the way we are treated to an insider's look at the origins of the Beat Generation, with a focus on Holmes' life and writings as well as Kerouac's. Until I read this book I had under-estimated Holmes' influence on Kerouac and the Beats, as well as his literary accomplishments. He was quite a poet in addition to novelist and essayist (I am reading his novel, Go, currently. It's my third try but my interest was piqued this time.).
Brother Souls has been out a while (2010) so I'm not inclined to "review" it; suffice to say that it's required reading for any Kerouac or Beat fan. Friends of Holmes, the Charters had an inside track on Holmes' psyche plus they had posthumous access to his letters, journals, and manuscripts.
Lots of good stuff here. This book came recommended by my great friend, Richard Marsh, and as usual he didn't steer me wrong. Many times when one mentions the Beat Generation people think of three names: Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs. I would (now) add a fourth: John Clellon Holmes. This is not to take away from the contributions of others such as Corso and Carr, but Holmes was there, man, from early on, and he wrote Go (1952), the first Beat novel published (if you don't count Chandler Brossard's Who Walk in Darkness).
Not available at City Lights, but Amazon.com has it in stock as does AbeBooks.com.
Saturday, April 18, 2020
Beat poet Bob Kaufman, was born on this date -- April 18 -- in 1925. He appeared as Chuck Berman in Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels.
We said the following about Kaufman when we remembered him back on January 12 and it's worth repeating:
You can read Kaufman's bio and some of his poetry by clicking here. Kaufman took a vow of silence the day President Kennedy was assassinated and didn't speak until the end of the Vietnam War. That's an impressive feat.
Kaufman was part of the Beat poetry movement in San Francisco. He started the journal, Beatitude, with Allen Ginsberg and others. His most recent collection of poetry was published by City Lights in October 2019 (available here).
Interestingly -- to me at least -- the couple of times that he is mentioned in Gerald Nicosia's Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, Kaufman is partying with Jack at significant transition points: once right after Gary Snyder leaves for Japan, and once right after Jack leaves Ferlinghetti's cabin in Big Sur.
I get the sense that Kaufman is generally underestimated as a poet -- you would do well to check out his work.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Kaufman.
Friday, April 10, 2020
Al Hinkle was born on the day before yesterday's date -- April 9 -- in 1926. He was represented in Jack Kerouac's works as follows: Big Ed Dunkel in On The Road; Slim Buckle in Desolation Angels and Visions of Cody; Ed Buckle in Book of Dreams; and, Al Buckle in Lonesome Traveler.
Regular readers need no introduction to Hinkle. We remembered him on December 26 -- click HERE.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Hinkle.
Sunday, April 5, 2020
|Alan Ginsberg (left) with Jack Kerouac|
Poet and core Beat Generation member, Alan Ginsberg, died on this date -- April 5 -- in 1997. 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 excellent Character Key to Jack Kerou ac'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:
Ginsberg reading "Howl"
It is an instructive exercise to read along while listening to Ginsberg read "Howl."
Despite his living until 1997, when I was 41, I never saw Ginsberg in person. I came into the Kerouac fold late in life, around 2002, 5 years after Allen passed.
RIP, Mr. Ginsberg. I'm sorry I never got to meet you.