Saturday, January 23, 2021

A Kerouac-related birthday

 

Alan Ansen in 1973

We wrote a pretty lengthy piece remembering Alan Ansen on November 12 -- click HERE -- and today we are celebrating his birthday (January 23, 1922).

Born the same year as Jack Kerouac, Ansen met Kerouac through his association with W.H. Auden. Ansen appeared in several Kerouac works: as Rollo Greb in On The Road; Austin Bromberg in The Subterraneans; Irwin Swenson in Book of Dreams and Visions of Cody; Amadeus Baroque in Doctor Sax; and, Allen Ansen in Book of Sketches.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Ansen. We aspire to having "IT," like you obviously did (see my November 12 post above). Go go go . . . .


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Hope in On The Road

On this day of days, the word "hope" is on my mind, and I wondered how many times Jack Kerouac used the word in On The Road. A little searching yielded the following instances from my 1976 Penguin Books edition:

I hope you get where you're going, and be happy when you do. (p. 32)

"Dear Paw, I'll be home Wednesday. Everything's all right with me and I hope the same is with you. Richard." (p. 34)

And I said, "That last thing is what you can't get, Carlo. Nobody can get to that last thing. We keep on living in hopes of catching it once for all." (p. 48)

"Fine. I hope it's all right my staying here." (p. 101)

In these days Carlo had developed a tone of voice which he hoped sounded like what he called The Voice of Rock; the whole idea was to stun people into the realization of the rock. (p. 130)

"I hope I'm not around when you try it," said Jane from the kitchen. (p. 146)

"Take it easy, Dean, we'll get there, I hope; hup, there's the ferry, you don't have to drive us clear into the river." (p. 147)

"Well, good-by, Galatea, and I hope everything works out fine." (p. 205)

"Well, I hope you boys make it to New York." (p. 229)

"Well, Dean," said my aunt, "I hope you'll be able to take care of your new baby that's coming and stay married this time." (p. 253)

"I hope you'll be in New York when I get back," I told him. (p. 253)

"All I hope, Dean, is someday we'll be able to live on the same street with our families and get to be a couple of oldtimers together." (p. 254)

 

There you have it. Make of it what you will. If you need context for any of the quotes and want to read the surrounding passage, I listed the page number for each one so you can get close.

I hope you have hope today.


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Remembering Gregory Corso

 

(L-R) Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, & Gregory Corso

Streetwise Beat poet Gregory Corso died this date -- January 17 -- in 2001 at the age of 70. An important inner circle Beat Generation figure (and youngest), Corso appeared in a number of Jack Kerouac's works: Yuri Gligoric in The Subterraneans; Raphael Urso in Book of Dreams and Desolation Angels (also as Gregory in the latter); and, Manuel in Beat Generation.

Corso had a tough upbringing and experienced foster homes, orphanages, prison, and even time in Bellevue Hospital. You can read a bio and some of his poetry by clicking HERE.

I never met Corso and only know him from reading about him. He strikes me as the kind of person who keeps you off balance and you never know when he is serious. The kind of person who enjoys fucking with your head. Admittedly, this is one of my least favorite personality types. Nevertheless, he was an accomplished poet and an integral member of the Beat Generation. And I may be wrong about him -- let me know if you have reason to think so.

I glanced through my copies of Kerouac's selected letters and noticed that several times he wrote to Corso along with Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, but there is one lengthy letter written to Corso alone when Jack was in Northport on October 13, 1956. An excerpt follows:
I just read your latest letter to Allen about Zen-nutty and you're right, in fact I've not been able to "meditate" or make any buddhist scene now for a long time and have actually started writing catholic poems and sending them to Jubilee Magazine tho I'm aware that all the scenes are the same empty scene. Your criticism of buddhism in other words is fairly accurate but you mustnt let yourself be fooled every moment of your life into believing there's any special "reality" to either life or death, you say people die real deaths but in a few hundred years who's to remember or notice that it was real death? (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969, 1999, p. 178, Penguin Books)

RIP, Mr. Corso.



Saturday, January 16, 2021

Happy Birthday to Kerouac friend, Alan Harrington

                                                     

We remembered writer Alan Harrington back in May -- you can read that by clicking HERE. Today, January 16, is his birthday (1919). He appeared in several Kerouac novels: as Hal Hingham in On The Road; Early Wallington in Book of Dreams; and, Worthington in Book of Dreams (expanded edition).

Harrington introduced Jack Kerouac to John Clellon Holmes, no small matter given the deep friendship that ensued between them -- "brother souls" as my great friend Richard Marsh would point out.

An interesting blog post with info about Harrington is available HERE. I still haven't read any of his work, but it's on my (long) list of things to do.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Harrington.



Thursday, January 14, 2021

Happy Birthday to Beat poet, Lenore Kandel

                                                 



We remembered Lenore Kandel back in October (click HERE) and today we wish her a happy birthday in Beat poet heaven (January 14, 1932). She appeared in Jack Kerouac's Big Sur as Romana Swartz.

Click HERE for Michael Dennis' poetry blog post about Lenore; it includes some of her poetry as well as analysis. Warning: It's not for the faint of sexual heart and it's most definitely Not Safe For Work (#NSFW).

Happy Birthday, Ms. Kandel.


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Remembering Bob Kaufman

                                     



Today we remember Beat poet Bob Kaufman, who died on this date -- January 12 -- in 1986.  He appeared as Chuck Berman in Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels.

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.

RIP, Mr. Kaufman.


Saturday, January 9, 2021

A Kerouac two-fer date

 

Herbert Huncke (L) and Amiri Baraka

Kerouac muse Herbert Huncke and noted writer Amiri Baraka share this date, Huncke having been born on January 9, 1915 and Baraka having died on January 9, 2014.

Huncke was Elmer Hassel in Kerouac's On The Road; Huck in Desolation AngelsBook of Dreams, and Visions of Cody; Hunkey in Lonesome Traveler; and Junkey in The Town and the City. Baraka appeared under his actual former name, Leroi Jones, in Lonesome Traveler.

Both of these Kerouac contemporaries led fascinating lives and I encourage you to read up on them if you are not already familiar with their stories. Kerouac is often credited with coining the phrase, "Beat Generation," and he likely got the term "beat" from Huncke (click HERE for bio). Baraka was an accomplished poet and activist -- click HERE for some biographical info on him as well as some of his poems.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Huncke and RIP, Mr. Baraka.


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Happy Birthday to Alan Watts

                                          


Writer/philosopher and self-professed spiritual entertainer Alan Watts was born on this date -- January 6 -- in 1915. He appeared in two Kerouac novels: as Arthur Whane in The Dharma Bums and as Alex Aums in Desolation Angels.

Watts was a big influence on my thinking about spiritual matters, and I encourage you to seek out his books and videos (many on YouTube). He is thought-provoking, instructive, and funny.  Click HERE for one of my favorite Watts lecture segments animated by the creators of South Park

I posted about Kerouac and Watts on July 24, 2011 (click HERE).

Happy Birthday in heaven or wherever you are, Mr. Watts.


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The origin of the name, "Duluoz"

 


We've written about The Duluoz Legend in the past (click HERE). Duluoz was Jack Kerouac's pseudonym for himself in his works that would eventually comprise one vast book about his life a la Proust (see intro to Big Sur).

Today I got an e-mail from a reader (thanks, John) about the significance of the name, so I revisited my above post and realized that I left out the origin story. So here it is:

According to Kerouac biographer Paul Maher Jr., Jack first came up with the name as a pseudonym for himself in Vanity of Duluoz (see Kerouac: His Life and Work, pp. 93-94). 

According to Satori in Paris, it's a variant of the Breton surname Daoulas and one which Kerouac invented in his "writerly youth." Jack came across the name Daoulas, the name of a Greek family in Lowell, while working at The Lowell Sun. The intro notes to "The Joy of Duluoz" in Atop an Underwood were quite instructive in this matter.

In case you wondered, it's pronounced as 3 syllables with the accent on the first: DEW-loo-oz.


Monday, January 4, 2021

Happy New Year!


Forgot to wish readers a Happy New Year . . . so, Happy New Year to one and all! 2021 is off to a rocky start -- what with Congressional shenanigans re: the election-that-wouldn't die and COVID surging worldwide -- but we do have some vaccinations taking place and the ocean hasn't swallowed any cities whole (yet).

Side note: George Carlin would likely be rooting for COVID (e.g., see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHHqy3cNMuk). 

Anyway, it's a new year. Maybe this will be the year of the technological singularity and AI will run amok. Who knows what could happen? The mind boggles at the possibilities.

And what does any of that have to do with Jack Kerouac, you ask? Nothing except everything, as he was a keen observer of the human condition and it would be quite interesting to get his take on current events (as it would Carlin's).

Well, it's time for the noon local news fix. God save us all.... 

Peace out.