Sunday, April 14, 2024

Belatedly remembering Helen Weaver


Helen Weaver, who we interviewed for The Daily Beat in November 2019 HERE, died on April 13, 2021. She appeared in two of Jack Kerouac's works: as Ruth Heaper in Desolation Angels and as Eileen Farrier in Book of Dreams (expanded edition).

Ruth was a prolific literary translator and we reviewed her excellent memoir about her time with Jack Kerouac (yes, they were paramours), The Awakener: A Memoir of Kerouac and the Fifties, HERE.

I always greatly appreciated that she granted me an interview for this blog (making her one of two people who knew Kerouac that I've interviewed, the other being Al Hinkle). I hope her soul is flying on the wings of angels in the great unknown.

RIP, Ms. Weaver. Sorry I missed the actual date, but I have COVID and am pretty ill.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Happy Heavenly Birthday to Al Hinkle


Al Hinkle was born on this 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. He is one of the only core Beat Generation figures that I had the pleasure of meeting. We remembered him on December 26 -- click HERE.

Happy Birthday in Beat heaven, Mr. Hinkle.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Remembering Allen Ginsberg


Allen Ginsberg (left) with Jack Kerouac

Poet and core Beat Generation member, Allen 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 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"

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.

Here's a snippet from a letter Jack wrote to Ginsberg on August 26, 1947, seeking to smooth over tensions between several in their circle. Note both the Christian and Buddhist concepts in just this short paragraph:

"In this unworldly state wherein I move/ my father and hope are hellish currency."

So you find from the Hal* experience, and Temko's* condescension, White's* aloofness. Your kingdom is not of this world, therefore you're found to be hellish--but mistakenly of course, of that I'm sore convinced. They don't understand you, that's true. You say it very well. It's only that they are not seeking love as you are--that you must understand. You must doubt your disappointment in them, that is, you must doubt whatever irks you about them, doubt their valuelessness: for they have value, and they have hope, on their levels, they will be reached by you. Form no ideas about them. Forgive everything! (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1940-1956, 1995, Penguin Books, p. 121

RIP, Mr. Ginsberg. I'm sorry I never got to meet you.

*Hal Chase, Allan Temko, and Chad White

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Happy birthday in heaven to Henri Cru


Today we celebrate the birthday in 1921 of Henri Cru. Jack Kerouac met and befriended Cru while attending the Horace Mann School, a prep school in New York City. Cru appeared in several Kerouac works: as Remi Boncoeur in On The Road; Henri Cru in The Dharma Bums; Deni Bleu in Book of DreamsDesolation AngelsLonesome TravelerVisions of Cody, and Vanity of Duluoz; and Hank in Book of Dreams (expanded edition). Cru had been Edie Parker's boyfriend and introduced her to Jack, who ended up marrying her.

Edie Parker's and Henri Cru's papers are stored HERE and there is biographical information on both at this site.

Gerald Nicosia, in the new & revised Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, says that Cru was Jack's best friend from Columbia University days (2022, Noodlebrain Press, p. 45).

Jack had first met Cru at Horace Mann, where Cru used to sell daggers to the younger kids. Raised in Paris, he spoke French elegantly, and somewhere he had acquired a penchant for elegant naval uniforms larded with "scrambled eggs," which set off his dark good looks. This giant dandy had a great sense of humor perfectly complemented by Jack's, for while Cru could laugh at Jack's "peasanty" ways (a favorite Kerouac word), Jack had a humorous appreciation of Cru's princely vanity. More importantly, they responded to each other's basic, childlike kindness and decency and to their mutual joi de vivre. (p. 125)

One of my favorite sections of On The Road is about Jack (Sal Paradise), Cru (Remi Boncoeur), and Remi's girlfriend, Lee Ann (real life Dianne Orin) and their various escapades: Sal and Remi working as barracks guards, or checking out the rusty freighter in the bay where Lee Ann sunbathes in the nude, or the couple fighting heatedly, or eating with Remi's stepfather at swanky Alfred's in North Beach.

Happy birthday in heaven, Mr. Cru, and thanks for providing Jack with such great fodder to write about.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

A triple-header date in the Kerouac world


John Clellon Holmes, Robert Creeley, Carl Solomon (L-R)

Today -- March 30 -- is a "3-for-1" date in the Kerouac world.

Jack Kerouac's "soul brother," writer John Clellon Holmes died on this date in 1988. He appeared in a number of Kerouac's works: as Ian MacArthur in On The Road; Mac Jones and Balliol MacJones in The Subterraneans; Wilson and John Watson in Visions of Cody; James Watson in Book of Dreams; Clellon Holmes in Maggie Cassidy; and, Eugene Pasternak in Doctor Sax.

Poet Robert Creeley died on this date in 2005. He appeared as Rainey in two Kerouac books, Desolation Angels and Book of Dreams (expanded edition).

"Howl" muse Carl Solomon was born on this date in 1928. He appeared in two of Jack Kerouac's works: as Carl Rappaport in Visions of Cody and as Carl Solobone in Book of Sketches.

Want more info? We last wished Holmes and Creeley happy birthday HER E and HERE, and remembered Solomon HERE.

March 30! Who knew?

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Happy heavenly birthday to Beat poet Gregory Corso


Today is Beat poet Gregory Corso's birthday (born March 26, 1930). 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.

We belatedely (by one day) remembered Gregory back on January 18 (click HERE).

You can read a bio and some of his poetry HERE.

Happy Birthday in Beat heaven, Mr. Corso.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Happy heavenly birthday to Lawrence Ferlinghetti


Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading in front of City Lights

Today -- March 24 -- we celebrate Lawrence Ferlinghetti's birthday! He appeared in Jack Kerouac's Big Sur as Lorenzo Monsanto. Click HERE for a brief bio and some of his poems.

Well-known for being the co-founder of San Francisco's City Lights Booksellers & Publishers and publishing Beat literature, Ferlinghetti was an accomplished writer and a well-regarded poet. To wit, here is an apropos example that is relevant today:

(After Khalil Gibran)

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
   And whose shepherds mislead them
 Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
            Whose sages are silenced
  And whose bigots haunt the airwaves
 Pity the nation that raises not its voice
          Except  to praise conquerers
       And acclaim the bully as hero
          And aims to rule the world
              By force and by torture
          Pity the nation that knows
        No other language but its own
      And no other culture but its own
 Pity the nation whose breath is money
 And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed
      Pity the nation oh pity the people
        who allow their rights to  erode
   and their freedoms to be washed away
               My country, tears of thee
                   Sweet land of liberty!

Happy birthday in Beat heaven, Mr. Ferlinghetti.