Friday, October 31, 2008

Kafe Kerouac for Halloween

There's a cafe in Columbus Ohio called Kafe Kerouac. How cool is that?

They are hosting a Halloween party tonight. See Halloween Party at Kafe Kerouac.

I know money's tight, but you readers of The Beat Handbook know how to get there on the cheap (see Days 25, 58, 67, 69, 75, 78, 79, 90, and 91). Plus, you already know that you are on notice that the essence of life is to go, go, go! So what are you waiting for? Head for Columbus, Ohio and hang out at the Kafe Kerouac for Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Kerouac Christmas

Okay. Let's get something out of the way right off the bat. I know it's politically incorrect to use the term Christmas. But you know what? Having a blog titled, "A Kerouac Holiday" is lame beyond description. So deal with it. If you can't deal with it, read Day 66 in The Beat Handbook for furthur (intentional spelling) instructions. Or else go jump off a bridge. There's enough hate in the world already.

No, I'm not angry. I'm just tired of bullshit.

Now, on to the topic of my post. If you are looking for a beat CHRISTMAS present for someone, how about a first edition of On The Road? (A signed first edition would be even better!) Don't think you can find a first edition? Check out Manhattan Rare Books. Hey! It's only $8,000. (More than Jack made some years, but then there is the matter of Bushflation.) I saw one as cheap as $5,000 at

I saw a "first edition" on craigslist for $75. Can you say, "rip-off"?

I'll admit--8 grand is pricey. Especially in these economic times.

I'd take a copy of The Subterraneans (Amazon, used, 4 bucks) and be quite happy.

Just sayin'....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Amazon reviews!

So far, The Beat Handbook has four 5-star Amazon reviews, and I appreciate each and every one! Who will be #5?

Crystal said:
Fun, fun, fun. Part beat `Kerouactions' and part journal for recording your own 'Kerouactivities.' I love that there's room to write - journal - right inside the book! Will fill mine up and have it to refer back to year after year. Maybe compare notes with friends - my journaled beat Kerouactivity for Day 10 is . . . what's yours? Yair! Let's go, go, go!!!

Matt said:
Sage like wisdom that brings an age old perspective to modern times. A real gem of a book.

Elizabeth said:
Not being entirely familiar with the "beat generation," (other than the most commonly read Kerouac), I was a little skeptical about whether or not I would "get" this book. I've met the author in person, and sometimes I felt lost in his company, as if I had missed something vitally important about life.

Now, I know what I was missing.

The Beat Handbook combines many different philosophies in a way that not only makes it feel inclusive but also accessible. Traditionally "beat," some passages call for the tossing away of convention and restriction. Others encourage us to think or act or just be content with what we have right now. Its part journal, part conversation, and part wisdom dispensed through a brilliant prose that feels like you're sitting across the table from an old friend.

Highly recommended!

Jaime said:
The perfect companion for a road trip or life's journey. Rick Dale combines the many experiences of Kerouac with his own to imbue the reader with the true spirit of a "beat". No matter the conundrum, there is sure to be an entry that will address your quandary. A must read for anyone tired of living in a world fueled by stuff!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gandhi was a beat

I'm thinking that Mathatma Gandhi was a beat character. Any number of his actions would mirror the Kerouactions discussed in The Beat Handbook. And, regardless of your definition of "beat," he fit the bill. He certainly was "beaten down," choosing to renounce material wealth and living among people of little means. On the other hand, he certainly was "beatific," given his spiritual focus and his solidarity with "the poor"* (note J.C.'s admonitions to same in the "Beatitudes"). No less than Albert Einstein is credited as saying, "Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth."**

The aphorism attributed to Gandhi that I really connect to is this: Ask yourself if the next step you contemplate is of any use to the poorest person on the planet.** Now that's a pretty good litmus test for any of us, beat or not.


*I don't like this term!
**Quote and aphorism from Dear, J. (n.d.). Mahatma Gandhi, Apostle of nonviolence: An introduction. Retrieved from on October 28, 2008.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Solve your holiday shopping dilemmas

Below the asterisks I have copied the exact text from Day 65 of The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions. It provides you with all the advice you need to solve your holiday shopping dilemmas.

Day 65
Today’s Kerouaction: On Books

You simply cannot have enough books. They are the one material possession that doesn’t count as a material possession. That is, they don’t count towards the earlier advice to be able to fit everything you own in your vehicle (see Day 10). And books are easily acquired these days. Libraries hold sales to clear room for the thousands of new books that assault them yearly. Sometimes you can buy a whole bag of books for a dollar (or some similarly cheap arrangement). And don’t forget to take advantage of buying used books from yard sales or old bookstores or even on-line! Why buy anything new if you don’t have to?[64] It’s cheaper and better for the environment. And if you do acquire thousands of books, you can always give them away as gifts. When your place is full of books, and birthdays or other gift-giving holidays approach, just look around for a suitable gift, wrap it in anything but gift wrap (i.e., spare the environment and re-use something, like an old newspaper or a paper grocery bag), write the obligatory To and From and something unique directly on the paper (gift tags are for Martha Stewart wanna-be’s), and honor the giftee with an original and meaningful present! A used Kerouac book, of course, would be best. A dog-eared, written-in tome of Edward Abbey’s would do, also, as would a beat-up copy of Fight Club. Or anything from the References at the end of this book. Or this book!

Suggested Kerouactivity:
Start planning this very minute to give the gift of a book the next time you will be giving someone a present. Write down the name of the person, the occasion, and the title of the book below. Then get busy acquiring the book.

[64] Stealing is always an option, too (see Day 41).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The meaning of life

In On The Road, Kerouac summed it up thusly: "...our one and only noble function of the time, move" (1976, p. 134). Perhaps a hint at Kerouac's answer to the BIG question: what is the meaning of life? (By the way, this passage is the subject of Day 66 of The Beat Handbook.)

I don't know what the meaning of life is for you, but for me it's in part about learning. Endless learning. We are born learners. And born teachers. By teaching we learn (docendo discimus). There is one Gaelic word for both teaching and learning: foghlaim. I have it tattooed on my shoulder, which I think is some evidence of my commitment to the principle.

All of which is why this cartoon is especially poignant but also frustrating, since I can relate it to too many of my students.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Guerilla marketing 101

Yesterday I reverse shoplifted a copy of The Beat Handbook into the August Barnes & Noble. I left it right between On The Road and The Dharma Bums. Then I offered Crystal's son $20 to visit the store and try to buy it. Which he did. It caused a little confusion at checkout - I guess it wasn't in their system - but somehow they fixed a price of $14.95 (which is close - it's really $14.99) and sold it to him. So now he is up $20, B & N is up $15.70 (they charged 75 cents tax), and I'm out $35 ($20 for the errand and $15 for the book, which I got back).

So how is that beneficial? Well, it helped me understand what happens at a big chain store when one reverse shoplifts a book and someone tries to buy it. Unfortunately, my hope that B & N would order a copy to replace the sold copy seems to have been just that - a hope (I can tell by checking my BookSurge royalties). But, at least a clerk there has seen the book and knows that someone liked it enough to buy it.

Baby steps.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A story from my local watering hole

Today at my local watering hole (see Day 36 in The Beat Handbook), a group of about 8 older (75+ years) women were having lunch in the new section. That section is raised up one step from the old section (can you tell where we're headed?).

I was sitting at the short bar (my regular spot, attained after sitting elsewhere and keeping my eye on the guy who had the nerve to sit in my spot on a Friday mid-day and skillfully moving in when the time was right), when all of a sudden there was a CLA-CLUNK. Then a hush over the entire bar. Then "Oohs" and "Ohs" as people gathered around one of the women who had fallen and asked her if she were hurt and helped her up. Later I learned she had been talking to another woman and stepped backwards off the raised area.

She was okay. A collective wave of relief was tangible.

Two of her companions came up to pay their tab. This means they stood right next to me, as the end of the short bar is where people stand to pay up, and the short bar is really short - 3 barstools.

Woman #1: She falls all the time.

Woman #2: Really?!

Woman #3: Yass! She never looks to where she's going.

Honestly, you can't make up dialogue like that! It's like writer's heaven.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Beat Generation Dictionary


• A Hummer (n.) -- exceptionally good. Ex., "Man, that boy is a hummer."
• Action --What's happening
• Ain't coming on that tab (v.) -- won't accept the proposition. Usually abbr. to "I ain't coming."
• Alligator (n.) -- jitterbug.
• Apple (n.) -- the big town, the main stem, Harlem.
• Apple -- Naive, unsophisticated
• Armstrongs (n.) -- musical notes in the upper register, high trumpet notes.
• Axe (n.) -- Musical instrument used to make a living

• Baby (n.) -- Term of endearment
• Barbecue (n.) -- the girl friend, a beauty
• Barrelhouse (adj.) -- free and easy.
• Battle (n.) -- a very homely girl, a crone.
• Beat (adj.) -- (1) tired, exhausted. Ex., "You look beat" or "I feel beat." (2) lacking anything. Ex, "I am beat for my cash", "I am beat to my socks" (lacking everything).
• Beat (n.) -- short for beatific
• Beatific -- intent on joy
• Beat it out (v.) -- play it hot, emphasize the rhythym.
• Beat up (adj.) -- sad, uncomplimentary, tired.
• Beat up the chops (or the gums) (v.) -- to talk, converse, be loquacious.
• Beatnik (n.) -- sarcastic term for a beat. Derived by Herb Caen in 1958 as a combination of Beat and Sputnik
• Beef (v.) -- to say, to state. Ex., "He beefed to me that, etc."
• Bible (n.) -- the gospel truth. Ex., "It's the bible!"
• Bird (n.) -- female
• Black (n.) -- night.
• Black and tan (n.) -- dark and light colored folks. Not colored and white folks as erroneously assumed.
• Blew their wigs (adj.) -- excited with enthusiasm, gone crazy.
• Blip (n.) -- something very good. Ex., "That's a blip"; "She's a blip."
• Blow (v.) -- to play; to depart; to make
• Blow the top (v.) -- to be overcome with emotion (delight). Ex., "You'll blow your top when you hear this one."
• Boogie-woogie (n.) -- harmony with accented bass.
• Boot (v.) -- to give. Ex., "Boot me that glove."
• Box (n.) -- record player
• Bread (n.) -- money
• Break it up (v.) -- to win applause, to stop the show.
• Bree (n.) -- girl.
• Bright (n.) -- day.
• Brightnin' (n.) -- daybreak.
• Bring down ((1) n. (2) v.) -- (1) something depressing. Ex., "That's a bring down." (2) Ex., "That brings me down."
• Buddy ghee (n.) -- fellow.
• Bust your conk (v.) -- apply yourself diligently, break your neck.

• Canary (n.) -- girl vocalist.
• Capped (v.) -- outdone, surpassed.
• Casbah (n.) -- lover's lane
• Cat (n.) -- musician in swing band.
• Chick (n.) -- girl.
• Chime (n.) -- hour. Ex., "I got in at six chimes."
• Clambake (n.) -- ad lib session, every man for himself, a jam session not in the groove.
• Clyde (n.) -- a square
• Chirp (n.) -- female singer.
• Cogs (n.) -- sun glasses.
• Collar (v.) -- to get, to obtain, to comprehend. Ex., "I gotta collar me some food"; "Do you collar this jive?"
• Come again (v.) -- try it over, do better than you are doing, I don't understand you.
• Comes on like gangbusters (or like test pilot) (v.) -- plays, sings, or dances in a terrific manner, par excellence in any department. Sometimes abbr. to "That singer really comes on!"
• Cool It -- calm down
• Cop (v.) -- to get, to obtain (see collar; knock).
• Corny (adj.) -- old-fashioned, stale.
• Creeps out like the shadow (v.) -- "comes on," but in smooth, suave, sophisticated manner.
• Crumb crushers (n.) -- teeth.
• Cubby (n.) -- room, flat, home.
• Cups (n.) -- sleep. Ex., "I gotta catch some cups."
• Cut (v.) -- leave
• Cut out (v.) -- to leave, to depart. Ex., "It's time to cut out"; "I cut out from the joint in early bright."
• Cut rate (n.) -- a low, cheap person. Ex., "Don't play me cut rate, Jack!"

• Dad (n.) -- a male, sometimes used as sarcasim
• Dicty (adj.) -- high-class, nifty, smart.
• Dig (v.) -- (1) meet. Ex., "I'll plant you now and dig you later." (2) look, see. Ex., "Dig the chick on your left duke." (3) comprehend, understand. Ex., "Do you dig this jive?"
• Dim (n.) -- evening.
• Dime note (n.) -- ten-dollar bill.
• Doghouse (n.) -- bass fiddle.
• Domi (n.) -- ordinary place to live in. Ex., "I live in a righteous dome."
• Doss (n.) -- sleep. Ex., "I'm a little beat for my doss."
• Down with it (adj.) -- through with it.
• Drape (n.) -- suit of clothes, dress, costume.
• Drag -- a disappointment
• Dreamers (n.) -- bed covers, blankets.
• Dry-goods (n.) -- same as drape.
• Duke (n.) -- hand, mitt.
• Dutchess (n.) -- girl.

• Early black (n.) -- evening
• Early bright (n.) -- morning.
• Evil (adj.) -- in ill humor, in a nasty temper.
• Eye (n.) -- the television

• Fall by (v.) -- visit
• Fall out (v.) -- to be overcome with emotion. Ex., "The cats fell out when he took that solo."
• Fews and two (n.) -- money or cash in small quatity.
• Final (v.) -- to leave, to go home. Ex., "I finaled to my pad" (went to bed); "We copped a final" (went home).
• Fine dinner (n.) -- a good-looking girl.
• Flip -- go nuts over
• Focus (v.) -- to look, to see.
• Foxy (v.) -- shrewd.
• Frame (n.) -- the body.
• Fraughty issue (n.) -- a very sad message, a deplorable state of affairs.
• Freeby (n.) -- no charge, gratis. Ex., "The meal was a freeby."
• Frisking the whiskers (v.) -- what the cats do when they are warming up for a swing session.
• Frolic pad (n.) -- place of entertainment, theater, nightclub.
• Fromby (adj.) -- a frompy queen is a battle or faust.
• Front (n.) -- a suit of clothes.
• Fruiting (v.) -- fickle, fooling around with no particular object.
• Fry (v.) -- to go to get hair straightened.
• Fuzz (n.) -- police

• Gabriels (n.) -- trumpet players.
• Gammin' (adj.) -- showing off, flirtatious.
• Gas -- exciting event
• Gasser (n, adj.) -- sensational. Ex., "When it comes to dancing, she's a gasser."
• Gate (n.) -- a male person (a salutation), abbr. for "gate-mouth."
• Get in there (exclamation.) -- go to work, get busy, make it hot, give all you've got.
• Gimme some skin (v.) -- shake hands.
• Glims (n.) -- the eyes.
• Got your boots on -- you know what it is all about, you are a hep cat, you are wise.
• Got your glasses on -- you are ritzy or snooty, you fail to recognize your friends, you are up-stage.
• Gravy (n.) -- profits.
• Grease (v.) -- to eat; money
• Groovy (adj.) -- fine. Ex., "I feel groovy."
• Ground grippers (n.) -- new shoes.
• Growl (n.) -- vibrant notes from a trumpet.
• Gut-bucket (adj.) -- low-down music.
• Guzzlin' foam (v.) -- drinking beer.

• Hard (adj.) -- fine, good. Ex., "That's a hard tie you're wearing."
• Hard spiel (n.) -- interesting line of talk.
• Have a ball (v.) -- to enjoy yourself, stage a celebration. Ex., "I had myself a ball last night."
• Hep (adj.) -- wise
• Hep cat (n.) -- a guy who knows all the answers, understands jive.
• Hide-beater (n.) -- a drummer (see skin-beater).
• Hincty (adj.) -- conceited, snooty.
• Hip (adj.) -- wise, sophisticated, anyone with boots on. Ex., "She's a hip chick."
• Holding (v.) -- possession of drugs or money
• Home-cooking (n.) -- something very dinner (see fine dinner).
• Hot (adj.) -- musically torrid; before swing, tunes were hot or bands were hot.
• Hype (n, v.) -- build up for a loan, wooing a girl, persuasive talk.

• Icky (n.) -- one who is not hip, a stupid person, can't collar the jive.
• Igg (v.) -- to ignore someone. Ex., "Don't igg me!)
• In the groove (adj.) -- perfect, no deviation, down the alley.

• Jack (n.) -- name for all male friends (see gate; pops).
• Jam ((1)n, (2)v.) -- (1) improvised swing music. Ex., "That's swell jam." (2) to play such music. Ex., "That cat surely can jam."
• Jeff (n.) -- a pest, a bore, an icky.
• Jelly (n.) -- anything free, on the house.
• Jim -- derogatory term for men
• Jitterbug (n.) -- a swing fan.
• Jive (n.) -- Harlemese speech; offensive; no good
• Joint is jumping -- the place is lively, the club is leaping with fun.
• Jumped in port (v.) -- arrived in town.

• Kick (n.) -- a pocket. Ex., "I've got five bucks in my kick."
• Kicks (v.) -- fun; entertainment
• Kill me (v.) -- show me a good time, send me.
• Killer-diller (n.) -- a great thrill.
• Knock (v.) -- give. Ex., "Knock me a kiss."
• Kopasetic (adj.) -- absolutely okay, the tops.

• Lamp (v.) -- to see, to look at.
• Land o'darkness (n.) -- Harlem.
• Lane (n.) -- a male, usually a nonprofessional.
• Latch on (v.) -- grab, take hold, get wise to.
• Later -- goodbye; forget it
• Lay on (v.) -- give; loan
• Lay some iron (v.) -- to tap dance. Ex., "Jack, you really laid some iron that last show!"
• Lay your racket (v.) -- to jive, to sell an idea, to promote a proposition.
• Lead sheet (n.) -- a topcoat.
• Left raise (n.) -- left side. Ex., "Dig the chick on your left raise."
• Licking the chops (v.) -- see frisking the whiskers.
• Licks (n.) -- hot musical phrases.
• Lily whites (n.) -- bed sheets.
• Line (n.) -- cost, price, money. Ex., "What is the line on this drape" (how much does this suit cost)? "Have you got the line in the mouse" (do you have the cash in your pocket)? Also, in replying, all figures are doubled. Ex., "This drape is line forty" (this suit costs twenty dollars).
• Lock up -- to acquire something exclusively. Ex., "He's got that chick locked up"; "I'm gonna lock up that deal."

• Main kick (n.) -- the stage.
• Main on the hitch (n.) -- husband.
• Main queen (n.) -- favorite girl friend, sweetheart.
• Man in gray (n.) -- the postman.
• Man, the (n.) -- police
• Mash me a fin (command.) -- Give me $5.
• Mellow (adj.) -- all right, fine. Ex., "That's mellow, Jack."
• Melted out (adj.) -- broke.
• Mess (n.) -- something good. Ex., "That last drink was a mess."
• Meter (n.) -- quarter, twenty-five cents.
• Mezz (n.) -- anything supreme, genuine. Ex., "this is really the mezz."
• Mitt pounding (n.) -- applause.
• Moo juice (n.) -- milk.
• Most -- greatest
• Mouse (n.) -- pocket. Ex., "I've got a meter in the mouse."
• Muggin' (v.) -- making 'em laugh, putting on the jive. "Muggin' lightly," light staccato swing; "muggin' heavy," heavy staccato swing.
• Murder (n.) -- something excellent or terrific. Ex., "That's solid murder, gate!"

• Neigho, pops -- Nothing doing, pal.
• Nicklette (n.) -- automatic phonograph, music box.
• Nickel note (n.) -- five-dollar bill.
• Nix out (v.) -- to eliminate, get rid of. Ex., "I nixed that chick out last week"; "I nixed my garments" (undressed).
• Nod (n.) -- sleep. Ex., "I think I'l cop a nod."
• Nutty (adj.) -- good; wild; hip

• Ofay (n.) -- white person.
• Off the cob (adj.) -- corny, out of date.
• Off-time jive (n.) -- a sorry excuse, saying the wrong thing.
• Orchestration (n.) -- an overcoat.
• Out of the world (adj.) -- perfect rendition. Ex., "That sax chorus was out of the world."
• Ow! -- an exclamation with varied meaning. When a beautiful chick passes by, it's "Ow!"; and when someone pulls an awful pun, it's also "Ow!"

• Pad (n.) -- bed; home
• Pecking (n.) -- a dance introduced at the Cotton Club in 1937.
• Peola (n.) -- a light person, almost white.
• Pick up on -- understand
• Pigeon (n.) -- a young girl.
• Pops (n.) -- salutation for all males (see gate; Jack).
• Pounders (n.) -- policemen.
• Put on -- to tease

• Queen (n.) -- a beautiful girl.

• Rank (v.) -- to lower.
• Ready (adj.) -- 100 per cent in every way. Ex., "That fried chicken was ready."
• Ride (v.) -- to swing, to keep perfect tempo in playing or singing.
• Riff (n.) -- hot lick, musical phrase. A story; conversation
• Righteous (adj.) -- splendid, okay. Ex., "That was a righteous queen I dug you with last black."
• Rock me (v.) -- send me, kill me, move me with rhythym.
• Ruff (n.) -- quarter, twenty-five cents.
• Rug cutter (n.) -- a very good dancer, an active jitterbug.

• Sad (adj.) -- very bad. Ex., "That was the saddest meal I ever collared."
• Sadder than a map (adj.) -- terrible. Ex., "That man is sadder than a map."
• Salty (adj.) -- angry, ill-tempered; rude
• Scoff (v.) -- eat food
• Score -- Aquire (often drugs or sex)
• Sam got you -- you've been drafted into the army.
• Send (v.) -- to arouse the emotions. (joyful). Ex., "That sends me!"
• Set of seven brights (n.) -- one week.
• Sharp (adj.) -- neat, smart, tricky. Ex., "That hat is sharp as a tack."
• Short (n.) -- car
• Sides (n.) -- phonograph record
• Signify (v.) -- to declare yourself, to brag, to boast.
• Skins (n.) -- drums.
• Skin-beater (n.) -- drummer (see hide-beater).
• Skirt (n.) -- sexy girl
• Sky piece (n.) -- hat.
• Slave (v.) -- to work, whether arduous labor or not.
• Slide your jib (v.) -- to talk freely.
• Snatcher (n.) -- detective.
• So help me -- it's the truth, that's a fact.
• Solid (adj.) -- great, swell, okay.
• Sounded off (v.) -- began a program or conversation.
• Spoutin' (v.) -- talking too much.
• Square (n.) -- an unhep person (see icky; Jeff).
• Stache (v.) -- to file, to hide away, to secrete.
• Stand one up (v.) -- to play one cheap, to assume one is a cut-rate.
• To be stashed (v.) -- to stand or remain.
• Susie-Q (n.) -- a dance introduced at the Cotton Club in 1936.
• Swing to -- to be happy; content

• Take it slow (v.) -- be careful.
• Take off (v.) -- play a solo.
• Tapped -- broke; arrested
• The man (n.) -- the law.
• Threads (n.) -- suit, dress or costuem (see drape; dry-goods).
• Tick (n.) -- minute, moment. Ex., "I'll dig you in a few ticks." Also, ticks are doubled in accounting time, just as money isdoubled in giving "line." Ex., "I finaled to the pad this early bright at tick twenty" (I got to bed this morning at ten o'clock).
• Timber (n.) -- toothpick.
• To dribble (v.) -- to stutter. Ex., "He talked in dribbles."
• Togged to the bricks -- dressed to kill, from head to toe.
• Tossed (v.) -- searched by police
• Too much (adj.) -- term of highest praise. Ex., "You are too much!"
• Trickeration (n.) -- struttin' your stuff, muggin' lightly and politely.
• Trilly (v.) -- to leave, to depart. Ex., "Well, I guess I'll trilly."
• Truck (v.) -- to go somewhere. Ex., "I think I'll truck on down to the ginmill (bar)."
• Trucking (n.) -- a dance introduced at the Cotton Club in 1933.
• Turn on -- take drugs
• Twister to the slammer (n.) -- the key to the door.
• Two cents (n.) -- two dollars.

• Unhep (adj.) -- not wise to the jive, said of an icky, a Jeff, a square.

• Vine (n.) -- a suit of clothes.
• V-8 (n.) -- a chick who spurns company, is independent, is not amenable.

• Wail (v.) -- play; sing; talk
• What's your story? -- What do you want? What have you got to say for yourself? How are tricks? What excuse can you offer? Ex., "I don't know what his story is."
• Whipped up (adj.) -- worn out, exhausted, beat for your everything.
• Wig (n.) -- brain; mind
• Wig to -- get very excited
• Wren (n.) -- a chick, a queen.
• Wrong riff -- the wrong thing said or done. Ex., "You're coming up on the wrong riff."

• Yarddog (n.) -- uncouth, badly attired, unattractive male or female.
• Yeah, man -- an exclamation of assent.

• Zoot (adj.) -- overexaggerated as applied to clothes.
• Zoot suit (n.) -- overexaggerated clothes.

NOTE: See my post of November 22, 2008, for an explanation of the source of this content.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Today's post: a poem


What is truth?
Can it be spoken
Or written?
Can it transcend gender, race, nationality, and ability?
Can it transcend status, income, role, station, preferences, appearance,
intelligence, (What is that?)?
Can it transcend religion, culture, family, and geography?

Mustn’t it?
How can it be truth if it depends on the vagaries of where and when one was born?
(And how?)
And truth about what?
About what I am!
And therefore about what you are!

But, we are too afraid of finding that out!
That’s the truth that would take us out to Rumi’s field, beyond our differences
That’s the truth that would let us see decorating the prison walls for what it is
That’s the truth that would end all suffering
That’s the truth that would end all fears
That’s the truth that would reveal the central issue, which is the conflict
in ourselves from which all conflict arises
That’s the truth that would make the game truly worth the candle

Damn! That’s the truth I want!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A sad, sad day

39 years ago today, at 5:30 AM, Jack Kerouac died. He is buried at the Edson Cemetery in his hometown of Lowell, MA. His gravestone says, "He honored life."

RIP, Ti Jean. We remember you. Every day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Beat Handbook is at The Higher Grounds

A copy of The Beat Handbook sits on the shelf at The Higher Grounds in Hallowell, Maine, waiting for customers to write in it. Here's a picture of me in front of the book, displayed beautifully courtesy of Crystal's eye for such things.

Yes, that's a picture of Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg that has been at the HG for as long as I've been going there. Yes, that's my banjo hanging there - the NitPickers had just finished playing). Yes, that's a copy of The Dharma Bums and On The Road next to my book.

So what are you waiting for? Get on down to The Higher Grounds and do some beat writing in The Beat Handbook!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Seven entries in The Beat Handbook have to do with the "beat diet." Day 17 is titled "On Breakfast," and provides the recipe for making slumgullion, the meal discussed in the version of On The Road I used (1976):

“Tomorrow morning I’ll make you another nice breakfast, slumgullion, d’yever eat good oldfashioned slumgullion boy, ‘taint nothin but scrambled eggs and potatoes all scrambled up together” (p. 172).

This morning I made home-fried potatoes (n = 4), adding some chopped up onion and minced garlic and salt and pepper. When they were ready I threw in three eggs and stirred the whole thing around until the eggs were cooked. We ate it with ketchup.

Yummy. And it knocked off the Kerouactivity for Day 17, which asks the reader to write down the date they next make slumgullion and give the recipe details.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Beat pick-up lines

Day 37 of The Beat Handbook is titled "On Pick-Up Lines." It is based on this passage from On The Road (my version, 1976):

“’What do you want out of life?’ I asked, and I used to ask that all the time of girls” (p. 57).

The Kerouaction from p. 91 in my book is as follows:

"Here is the quintessential beat pick-up line. This question has two purposes. One is obvious and I don’t need to belabor it here. But the other is to probe for depth. That is, has this person a larger purpose? Asked the big questions? Decided to live passionately?"

And the suggested Kerouactivity:

"Craft an alternative pick-up line for future reference."

Last night we were listening to Katie Webber singing at Hallowell and Vine. It's a new bistro in town that serves wine and beer and food and often has music. What's unique about the place is that it actually takes up half of a commercial space, the other half being a retail space featuring women's handbags, jewelery, and associated bling. Kind of weird. The only separation between the two spaces is the counter for the retail space. So you sit there in a bistro drinking wine (in our case English ale) and listening to music and if you look left you see an entire wall taken up by a lighted display case full of jewelry and handbags.

Last night our beat friend Jim was sitting at our table. A friend of his joined us. He said this place was great for old guys like him because now he had a new pick-up line: "Hey, wanna get a couple of drinks and a handbag?"

How funny is that?

Friday, October 17, 2008

What's the beat this day?

Let's see. What's happening in the life of The Beat Handbook and its author today? Later I'll be mailing a copy of the book to Carl Stevens, the reporter from Boston's WBZ NewsRadio who posted a YouTube video showing my book at Kerouac's grave. Nothing in return expected. Just a thank you for the free publicity and for helping keep Jack's memory alive.

Just received a copy of Thomas Parkinson's A Casebook on the Beat, which Dennis from Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! 2008 turned me on to. It's an awesome resource for anyone interested in the beat generation.

Later we're heading to Hallowell to hear live music (Stevie Jones, one of the best guitar players and overall musicians in Maine) at Higher Grounds. The NitPickers are playing there tomorrow night.

Oh, and on a completely tangential note, if you are unlucky enough to have your computer infected with the WindowsXP 2009 Antispyware virus, may the god of your choice bless you because you are fucked. As I was. But I conquered it. How? Reboot in Safe Mode and do a System Restore.

Kerouac struggled with his typewriters. I struggle with my ThinkPad. And so it goes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Night & Day Coffee Cafe has The Beat Handbook

If you're a frequenter of Night & Day Coffee Cafe in Mansfield, PA, or a resident of Mansfield, PA or thereabouts, Jess (that's her in the picture) has copies of The Beat Handbook for sale.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Random ad for The Beat Handbook

Crystal and I were surfing around YouTube last night. We wondered if anyone else had posted a video from Kerouac's grave (as we had done - see Rick reading at Kerouac’s grave). We found this video made by a WBZ radio reporter on October 3, the day I left a copy of The Beat Handbook at Jack's grave: At Kerouac’s grave. At the very end, the reporter zooms in on the gravestone and, sure enough, you can see my book! Yair!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Beat Poetry Contest

You can enter an original poem in The Beat Museum Poetry Contest. It's a monthly contest with a $100 winner, and the winner for the year gets $1000. Plus you get published! Beats are writers. Get to it!

Monday, October 13, 2008

If only I were Tom Brokaw...

This is going to strike someone as sour grapes, and I assure you, it isn't. If you're a sour grapes-seeking malefactor (I love that word) and what-have-you and so on and the like, go read Tom Brokaw's book blog, not mine. (Oops! My bad. He doesn't have one, or at least not one an average Joe like me can find.)

Here's my point. Brokaw just published - in paperback (the hardcover came out November 2007) - a book called Boom! Talking About the Sixties: What Happened, How It Shaped Today, Lessons for Tomorrow. It's already ranked #2,223 on Amazon and that's all pre-orders!

Man, what I wouldn't give for a platform like he has, hawking it on Chris Matthews, riding the success of The Greatest Generation, capitalizing on his - well-deserved, I will add - fame. On Hardball, Chris Matthews was going on about how all of the things going on in the sixties are timely today, blah blee blah.

Most of The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions is timely today (living cheaply and greenly and doing something - go go go), and a lot of it is timeless (eastern philosophy).

Yet, my sales rank is 153,275 (the lower the number, the better).

Believe me, I am ecstatically grateful for every single sale that put my book at its current number. Don't get me wrong, it's way better than being at 850,000+ (which it's also been at). But there is just something irksome about the correlation between a book's popularity and the powerful position (or lack thereof) of the book's author, sometimes (and probably not in Brokaw's case), irrelevant of the content.

I know. I know. That's the way things are.

But I don't have to like them.

And I know if my name were Tom Brokaw, my book would be a bestseller.*

So I say, launch a shot across the bow of the oppressive establishment in this country and buy a copy of The Beat Handbook! Thank you.


I'm Rick Dale, and I approve this message.

*And if my book were titled Penis Pokey, featuring scenes with holes in the pages through which you put your unit in order to complete the scene, well-known publisher Chronicle would have published my book instead of rejecting it. True story.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My beat poet friend Charlie

Crystal and I just got back from a weekend in Pennsylvania. While there I got to hang out with my beat poet friend, Charlie, one of the people to whom I dedicated The Beat Handbook. The above is a picture of him arriving at Night & Day Coffee Cafe in Mansfield, PA. Inside the window you can see Crystal. Charlie was excited to see the book for the first time, and, of course, he got a signed copy gratis.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Report from LCK!: Kerouac Park

While attending Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! 2008, Crystal and I made the necessary pilgrimage to Kerouac Park.

The park has a memorial to Jack consisting of pillars with engraved passages from his books about Lowell. Crystal liked the quote from Lonesome Traveler, "Am known as 'madman bum and angel' with 'naked endless head' of 'prose.'" This is my shadow (photo by Crystal) on that passage.

When you're in Lowell, definitely visit Kerouac Park.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Report from LCK!: Meeting someone who knew Jack

This is a short entry. You'll see why.

On the Saturday pub crawl during Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! 2008, we stopped by Major's, a bar that Jack Kerouac frequented. We learned that a man at the bar was a regular there, and actually hung out there at the same time as Jack!

I felt compelled to talk with him. His name is Phil. Here's a picture by Crystal:

He told me that when he knew Jack, he wasn't aware that he was a famous writer. I asked him what he remembered most about him, and this is what he said:

"He was nice to the shoeshine boys."

*******End of transmission*******

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Report from Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!: Marathon reading of The Dharma Bums

At the Cafe Paradiso on Sunday, starting at 10 AM, Kerouac lovers participated in an oral reading of The Dharma Bums, start to finish. We were there early for breakfast, given that our hotel, The Doubletree, had no electricity and showering was too dangerous in the dark bathroom, not to mention that my car battery was dead when we went out to load up - a result of leaving the interior lights on all night and resulting in a call to AAA and me running back from the Cafe to meet the guy for a jump start. No harm done as I was there for the beginning reader, Ray (from Maine!).

I read Chapter 2.

Crystal read Chapter 3.

I can't remember the name of the young man who read Chapter 4, nor do I have a picture.

Dennis read Chapter 5 (my favorite - about yabyum).

And Jim read Chapter 6 (a lonnnggggg chapter).

At that point we sadly headed back to Maine, to responsibilities and such.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Report from Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!: The new Kerouac documentary

So far I've reported about visiting Kerouac's grave and the open mike at Cafe Paradiso on Friday night. In between, we drove over to UMass-Lowell and watched a screening of the new documentary film, One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur. It hit all the right notes, combining interviews with Kerouac contemporaries (e.g., Carolyn Cassady, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, David Amram) and current celebrities (e.g., Donal Logue, Tom Waits, Sam Shepard) at actual Big Sur locations. Beautiful camerawork. Touching stories. Perfect musical score. An actor, John Ventimiglia, read passages from Big Sur as part of narration. I thought it was Jack. Spooky.

Afterwards, the director and producers answered questions from the audience. (Side note: lots of beats in that crowd!)

I highly recommend this film whether you are a Kerouac fan or not. Outstanding!

Here's the link with trailer and other information: Kerouac Films.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Report from Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! : The graveside event

This is the second in what will be a series of installments from our absolutely wonderful weekend in Lowell, MA, attending Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! It was so freaking cool hanging out with other Kerouac fans and celebrating his writing in a variety of ways and settings. If you're a Kerouac fan, mark your calendar for next October. Stay tuned for a report on Friday night's screening of a brand new documentary film, One Fast Move Or I'm Gone (about Jack's time at Big Sur), Saturday's adventure at B & N, Saturday night's pub crawl, and Sunday's marathon reading of The Dharma Bums (and book sales!). Already told you about Friday night with David Amram (wow!).

But first, the graveside visit. I've been there before and regular blog readers will remember that I got the idea of leaving my book there in December 2005 from another fledgling author who was writing a novel. Plus, my practice is to visit my favorite authors' graves, read their work, and drink some Bushmills in their honor.

This trip I had a copy of my book, The Beat Handbook, along with a copy of The Dharma Bums and a bottle of 21-year-old Bushmills. And Crystal was along, making it all the more special!

We left for Lowell Friday morning and checked into the Doubletree. Then we headed right out to the grave in Edson (my given middle name - how about that for a coincidence?) Cemetery. It was sprinkling, reminiscent of my trip three years ago.

We both read outloud from The Dharma Bums - see video at Rick reading at Kerouac’s grave, drank Bushmills, took pictures, and just generally reveled in the fulfillment of a promise made three years earlier. I've got goose bumps writing this.

Here's a picture:

That's me reading from The Dharma Bums. You can see the copy of The Beat Handbook - specially inscribed - that I left at the grave inside two plastic ziploc bags (that was for rain protection - for this picture we let it get a little wet). And the bottle of Bushmills. And other things people had left. Two flags with written elegies, and a handwritten poem.

More to follow.

September 2008 free book winner!

And the winner of the September 2008 free book giveaway is (drum roll, please) . . . fiorghra04918! Congratulations!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

David Amram & other Lowell musings

Musician David Amram knew Jack Kerouac. He wrote the title song for and acted in the film, Pull My Daisy, written and narrated by Jack. Here's a picture of him (his hand by his mouth) with Kerouac on the immediate left and Allen Ginsberg on the right.

Well, as part of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!, happening all weekend, Cafe Paradiso hosted a reading last night with David (and some others) providing back-up music. People read Jack Kerouac or original poetry or prose. There was a sign-up sheet. Crystal - thankfully as it turns out (I'm so glad she has more guts than I) - convinced me to read from The Beat Handbook. My ego and fears tried to get the better of me, but I decided to sign up. I got slot #23! How mystical is that? When I signed up a guy tried to give me his slot, #10, and I refused, bowing to the power of the number 23 (see the Jim Carrey film).

While waiting, Crystal was working the crowd, handing out my bookmarks (they feature the book cover and the website and the teaser, "If you've ever wanted to know the answer to the question, "What would Kerouac do?'..."). She even gave one to the producer of the documentary film, One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur, shown at UMass-Lowell earlier in the evening and chronicling Jack's 6 weeks at Big Sur (title of his very dark book). (Sidebar: what an awesome documentary film!)

During a break in the readings Crystal gave a bookmark to David Amram and got his business card! Soon after that I was on. Late. So the crowd had thinned from earlier, but I think I represented myself well and got some good feedback during (you know, body language and such), and after (you know, handshakes and such), and, well . . .

. . . it was a major highlight (in more ways than one thanks to the Manhattans we'd been drinking in honor of Jack) night in my author journey to date.

Wow! Plus, I haven't yet regaled you about our trip to Jack's grave. We have pictures and video and stories about that coming soon. Not to mention the beat character from NH at last night's reading who was sending around a petition to save the "Jack Kerouac Bridge" from destruction, who sat next to us at the bar, who with his beat friend who played guitar and sang just awful stuff were counting out their bills and change trying to make their tab, who finally looked at me and asked for $10! "Sure," I said. "Just make sure you buy my book" (thrusting bookmark into hand). He said he would. We'll see.

Today is the pub crawl to Jack's old haunts. YAIR!

Friday, October 3, 2008

On The Road

C and I are about to head out "on the road" this morning. Our destination? Lowell, Massachusetts. Our reason? To attend Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! Tres bon! See you there.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Copies of The Beat Handbook are makin' the rounds

Yesterday, 3 heavy boxes showed up at my house! They contained a total of 130 copies of The Beat Handbook. This morning I placed 5 copies for sale at the Lazy Lab in Belgrade Lakes, and I just dropped off 5 copies at Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers in Farmington. I also have a single copy boxed up and ready to send to Google so they can include it in their Book Search program.

I am stoked because now I have copies for this weekend – Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! – and next weekend – a visit to Mansfield, Pennsylvania (like Kerouac visiting Lowell, MA, if you know what I mean).

Also, I have now confirmed a reading/signing date with Kenny at Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers in Farmington, ME: November 13 @ 7 PM. See you there.

And see you this weekend in Lowell, MA. I’ll be the guy with the long ponytail accompanied by a gorgeous woman with long curly reddish-blonde (auburn?) hair.