Saturday, October 1, 2022

On hiatus for a spell

We are leaving Monday for a multiple month trip in our RV across the United States. While I'll have my computer with me, I don't anticipate using it daily or checking for Kerouac-related birth and death dates often enough that I wouldn't miss some. Rather than miss some dates, I am going to suspend posting about such dates until such time as I return home and have more of a routine. Hopefully, this doesn't bum any readers out too badly. I may still post from time-to-time as we hit Kerouac-related places along the way or the muse strikes me for some reason.

If you're really into knowing what Kerouac-related character was born or died on a given date, you can check the archives (over there on the right ----> -- you might have to scroll down) for past entries on that date.

Sorry for any inconvenience, but I think it's best to set low expectations for the next few months. May we get what we desire and never what we deserve.

"On the road" we go . . . . 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Happy Birthday to Joyce Johnson


Joyce Johnson was born this date -- September 27 -- in 1935, making her 87 years old today. She is a noted and award-winning author and appeared as Alyce Newman in Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels. Joyce wrote about her firsthand knowledge of Kerouac in Minor Characters and in The Voice is All, both mandatory reads for any true Kerouac fan. She was there when big Beat things went down, so her point of view is firsthand.

In an undated 1957 letter to Johnson (then Glassman), Jack describes the time he was on a Yugoslavian freighter on the way to Tangier and experienced a big storm:

During this ordeal I heard the words: EVERYTHING IS GOD, NOTHING EVER HAPPEND EXCEPT GOD -- and I believed and still do. (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969, 1999, Penguin Books, p. 11)

Happy Birthday, Ms. Johnson.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

A significant date re: two notable Beat Generation women


Carolyn Cassady (left) and Edie Parker

On this date -- September 20 -- Carolyn Cassady died in 2013 and Edie Parker was born in 1922. Cassady appeared in several of Jack Kerouac's works: as Camille in On The Road; Evelyn Pomeray in Book of DreamsBig SurDesolation Angels, and Visions of Cody; and, Cora in Beat Generation. Edie also appeared in several of Jack Kerouac'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.

Don't fall into the trap of marginalizing these two influential Beat Generation women as being merely Neal's and Jack's wives. As we have said repeatedly in past posts, they were forces to be reckoned with on their own terms. Both left behind required-reading memoirs: Cassady: Off the Road: My Years with Cassady, Kerouac. and Ginsberg); Parker: You'll Be Okay: My Life with Jack Kerouac.

RIP, Ms. Cassady and Happy Heavenly Birthday, Ms. Parker.

Remembering Jack Kerouac's sister, Nin


Caroline with her brother, Jack

Caroline "Nin" Kerouac Blake died on yesterday's date -- September 19 -- in 1964. I'm sorry I missed posting about it. She was Jack Kerouac's older sister and appeared in several of Jack's works: Nin Duluoz in Doctor Sax and Visions of Gerard; Nin in Book of DreamsMaggie CassidyVisions of Cody, and Vanity 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 asked Kerouac scholar and keeper of the key, Dave Moore, about that little wrinkle and he said (shared with permission):
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

RIP, Mrs. Blake.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Happy Heavenly 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 (you need to ask permission to visit the site -- I can't even access it now and am not sure how to contact the author). 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 Heavenly Birthday, Dr. Williams!

Friday, September 16, 2022




Beat56 is a friend of mine on Twitter about whom I know very little -- it's limited to what he Tweets about. Anyway, he has been referencing a poetry book he has self-published (HERE COMES THE WAITING FOR THE SUN) and so I bought one the other day from Amazon (click HERE). It was ten bucks and change and I'm glad I acquired this little poetry collection.

The back cover declares "Death drug Romantic poems" in large letters with a small picture of the author (above). Beat56's Twitter description is as follows:

obedient to high thoughts failed grunge guitarist/lake poet/beat gen x slacker poems published with expat laughingronin and athinsliceofanxiety
That description gives some insight into this poetry. It is rambling and follows few conventions. Beat56's poems are full of imagery and done in free verse. Here is an example:

Throughout the collection, the author deals with topics such as drugs, poets (e.g., Gregory Corso and Jack Kerouac), musicians (e.g., Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain), eastern topics (e.g., Buddhism and the Himalayas), movies (e.g., Star Wars and The Karate Kid), suicide, depression, and, of course, poetry -- which is fine despite being a tad meta.

Formatting is an issue -- it is sometimes hard to tell where one poem starts and another begins. Perhaps that was intentional. I felt trippy reading the poems straight-through, and maybe that was intentional, too.

Like I said, I'm glad I bought the book. It's probably not going to win a Pulitzer, but it is full of emotion and thoughtful imagery/references. It has a mystical quality to it that is rather inscrutable. On Twitter, Beat56 often bemoans the demise of poetry in this modern age. With this collection, he has done his part to make that complaint less salient.

P.S. Fittingly, I had a shot of whiskey -- my drug of choice -- before writing this review. I'll blame any typos on that.

Friday, September 9, 2022

A Kerouac 2-for-1 date


Famed photographer Robert Frank died on this date -- September 9 -- in 2019. We wrote about his death HERE and his birthday HERE.

Frank appeared in one Kerouac work (under his own name) -- an essay about their trip to Florida that appeared in the January 1970 Evergreen Review.

RIP, Mr. Frank.

Today we send birthday greetings to John Allen Cassady, son of Neal and Carolyn Cassady. He was born this date in 1951. John appeared in several Kerouac works: as Timmy Pomeray in Book of DreamsDesolation Angels. and Visions of Cody; as Timmy John Pomeray in Big Sur; and, as Jim Pomeray in Beat Generation (early draft).

You can visit his website HERE.

Happy Birthday, John.