Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Remembering Kerouac friend, Allan Temko

                                     

Today we remember architectural critic, writer, and Pulitzer Prize winner Allan Temko, who died on this date -- January 25 -- in 2006. Temko met Jack Kerouac when they were students at Columbia, and he appeared in a number of Kerouac's works as follows: Roland Major in On The Road; Irving Minko in Book of Dreams; Irwin Minko in Desolation Angels; Allen Minko in Visions of Cody; and, Alan Minko in Book of Dreams (expanded edition).

When Kerouac (Sal Paradise) anticipates meeting up with Temko (Major) in Denver, he refers to him in On The Road as "my old college writing buddy" and ended up living with him in Tim Gray's folks' apartment there.
We each had a bedroom, and there was a kitchenette with food in the icebox, and a huge living room where Major sat in his silk dressing gown composing his latest Hemingwayan short story--a choleric, red-faced, pudgy hater of everything, who could turn on the warmest and most charming smile in the world when real life confronted him sweetly in the night. (1976, Penguin Books, p. 40)

Major (Temko) features prominently in the Denver story and then Kerouac runs into him again in San Francisco at Alfred's in North Beach where Major gets kicked out for rowdiness and the two go drinking at the Iron Pot.

For those readers who enjoy making connections, Temko's one-time girlfriend was Jean White, who was Ed White's sister. She appeared as Betty Gray in On The Road. Ed was the person who originally suggested the idea of sketching in words to Kerouac.

Temko won a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1990. Click HERE to read a transcript of him speaking in 1964 at a luncheon in New Mexico as part of a study he was conducting for UC Berkeley on the industrialized urban environment. Some Googling will find a number of articles he wrote.

RIP, Mr. Temko.


Sunday, January 23, 2022

A Kerouac-related heavenly birthday

 

Alan Ansen in 1973

We wrote a pretty lengthy piece remembering Alan Ansen on November 12, 2021 -- click HERE -- and today we are celebrating his heavenly 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 in Heaven, Mr. Ansen. We aspire to having "IT," like you obviously did (see my November 12 post above). Go go go . . . .


Monday, January 17, 2022

Defending Kerouac

 The other day someone on Twitter dissed our boy, Jack, and I came to his defense as follows.

No one commented on my reply, perhaps because they don't dare take up the challenge. If they did, they'd be hard-pressed not to admit Kerouac's genius. So either way, the good guys win . . . .



Missed two Kerouac-related January birthdays

I missed two Kerouac-related birthdays since remembering Bob Kaufman on January 12. One was Beat poet Lenore Kandel, born January 14, 1932. You can read last year's post about her HERE. Another was Kerouac friend Alan Harrington, born January 16, 1919. You can read last year's post about him HERE.

How did I miss them? Well, truth be told, on January 13th I was diagnosed by my neurologist as having Parkinson's Disease (you know, the condition Michael J. Fox has -- and Alan Alda). Consequently, I've been a little pre-occupied since finding that out with scouring the internet to learn about PD. As someone smarter than me said, "You don't die FROM it, you die WITH it." So there's that . . . .

Typing has become very difficult for me, but I will persevere to keep up this blog as long as I can!


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: as 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)
And HERE is a clip of Corso discussing Kerouac.

RIP, Mr. Corso.


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

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. Or click HERE for an excellent essay about Kaufman in Beatdom. 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. He broke his silence by reading one of his poems, "All Those Ships That Never Sailed."

Kaufman was part of the Beat poetry movement in San Francisco. He started the journal, Beatitude, with Allen Ginsberg and others. A collection of his poetry was published by City Lights in November 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. No references to Kaufman appear in the index to the two books of Kerouac's letters edited by Ann Charters, nor is he mentioned in the index of Kerouac's published journals, Windblown World.

I get the sense that Kaufman is generally underestimated as a poet -- you would do well to check out his work.

RIP, Mr. Kaufman.


Sunday, January 9, 2022

A Kerouac "two-fer-one" 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.