Monday, August 31, 2009

Robert Frank's "elevator girl"

Check out this NPR story about the girl in a Robert Frank photo that Jack Kerouac wrote about in his introduction to Frank's book, The Americans.

Kerouac described her thusly: "That little ole lonely elevator girl looking up sighing in an elevator full of blurred demons, what's her name & address?"

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Your favorite beat writer

Check the right hand side of this blog for a poll asking you to identify your favorite beat writer. It's just for kicks.

Defending Kerouac Redux

FYI, there's been quite a back-and-forth in response to the Providence Journal piece reviewing On The Road. Check it out at ProJo. Fun stuff! Join in the fray if you wish....

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The eternal realist: Paul Krassner

Here's an interesting piece about a beat contemporary, Paul Krassner: The eternal realist. In the article he mentions meeting Ginsberg and Corso.

Here's some more info on Wikipedia.

But don't visit his own website unless you want to see a pornographic mural of Disney characters: Paul Krassner.

Defending Kerouac

Fellow Kerouacians, we have a task before us. It is two-fold:

1. Read this too-little-too-late-already-been-said yawn by M.J. Andersen of The Providence Journal: A reluctant road trip with Kerouac.

2. Write a letter/e-mail to her (or perhaps her boss) and defend our hero, Jack.

You might ask Ms. (did I get that right?) Andersen where she has been for the last 50 years that she needs to trot out the age-old critique about the "horrendous" treatment of women in On The Road (this has been dealt with to the point of nausea). Or why she perpetuates the myth that Kerouac wrote On The Road in three weeks (he worked on it for years). Or why she found it necessary to bring up how many times Cassady and Kerouac had been married (as if that qualifies or disqualifies an author's work). Or why 100,000 copies of On The Road still sell each year (I wonder if even one copy of her memoir, Portable Prairie: Confessions of an Unsettled Midwesterner, will have survived at all in 50 years - as I write this the sales rank of my non-selling Kerouac-related book on Amazon is better than hers).

Or come up with your own ideas. The point is, while Jack needs no defense, the beats defended each other when ravaged in the press by writing letters to editors, etc. So it's a beat thing to do.

Let me know if you write to Ms. Andersen (or her boss).

And, M.J.: If you're that concerned about the treatment of women, why don't you write a Pulitzer Prize winning multi-part investigative piece about how prostitution indoors is still legal in Rhode Island? THAT might do some good for women. Writing scathing essays about Jack Kerouac "the misogynist" is best left to unimaginative, uninformed college students trying to win favor with their feminist professors.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Annual Kerouac 5K in Lowell

If you're a runner and a Kerouac fan, get yourself down to Lowell on Sunday September 27 for the Annual Kerouac 5K. Here's the link: Annual Kerouac 5K.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Taking the Great American Roadtrip

Fellow Kerouacians may appreciate this September Smithsonian article: Taking the Great American Roadtrip.

Go go go!

Poetry book announcement

I wanted to let readers know that I'm editing and producing a book of poetry for a friend of mine and it is nearing completion. I anticipate seeing it available on Amazon in about a month. The book is titled Life Lines and includes 203 poems by acclaimed upstate New York poet Charles (Charlie) James, famous for being the successful plaintiff in a free speech case that went all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (the defendants petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal and got turned down - twice).

Charlie is a true poet, certainly the most accomplished one I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He lives a writer’s life, or at least what I would call a writer’s life; that is, he lives to write. He writes every day, and he reads poetry every day. I think without poetry, there would be no Charlie.

Charlie’s inspirations are many, from the Black Mountain style – especially Robert Creeley and Denise Levertov – to Chinese culture, to Tillie Olson, to A.R. Ammons. He once told me boldly that “if poetry isn’t for the people then it’s not poetry.” I don’t think he said that as part of his Marxist leanings (he is a self-admitted Marxist). Rather, he eschews the academic obtusity of many poets, whose works require a dictionary, thesaurus, and literary encyclopedia at one’s side in order to bring meaning to a passage. If explanation is necessary, Charlie provides it, as in his occasional footnote explaining a Chinese term. Otherwise, he uses ordinary language to explore ordinary experiences in a most extraordinary way.

I wouldn't classify Charlie's poetry as beat poetry, but it's certainly got beat influences and he is about as beat a character as you'll ever find. When the book becomes available, I'll let you know. It would be a stellar addition to any beat library.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jack Kerouac and Apple Computer

Read the whole article, but the pot-o-gold is in the last paragraph: Kerouac and Apple.

Here's the Kerouac quote with which I'm familiar, although I cannot cite a source:
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

It seems to me that, when comparing this quote with the quote from the above article, one of two things is true. Either the quote above is truly not from Kerouac (as alleged on hundreds of websites, for example goodreads), or Apple Computer ripped him off big-time.

Anybody want to sue Apple?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Neil Young and Jack Kerouac

See it here-->Neil & Jack.

Those Canucks!

Esquire magazine

The last time a copy of The Beat Handbook sold was on June 16, so I decided it was time to try another approach. I sent a copy to Esquire magazine and requested a review. Esquire has an offbeat sense of humor, and they routinely glamorize drinking and other "manly" pursuits featured in the book (as modeled by the beats), so why not give it a try? (I've been reading the magazine of late because the guy who lived in our house before us left a pile of them--they have made good bathroom fodder.)

I figure they will either ignore it (no harm done), or review it. If they give it a good or better review, I bet a number of books will sell at Amazon. If they give it a mediocre review, I bet a book or two will sell. If they pan it, I bet a book or two will still sell just out of curiosity (the "no such thing as bad publicity" angle).

To help me out with my quest, if you have the time and desire, you could send a letter to Esquire and ask them to review my book. Here's the address:
The Editors
300 West 57th Street
21st Floor
New York, NY 10019

Can't you just see them getting a dozen or so letters from all over the place asking them to review The Beat Handbook? Come on, be a hepcat and write 'em a letter. Or an e-mail! There's a drop-down form at Contact Esquire.

I added a P.S. to my cover letter and asked them not to just throw the book away, but rather to give it to someone who might appreciate it. I suggested a NYC street bum. After all, the beats were green before green was cool (as many entries in my book, such as Day 71, attest).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kerouac: A Biography

I finished Chapter One of Ann Charters' Kerouac: A Biography waiting for my delayed flight out of Portland on Monday. It was a "crew rest delay." The crew scheduled for that flight had to take a mandatory rest. Something about that doesn't make sense to me, but it's too bizarre to put into words. But I digress....

The other Kerouac biography I read (and loved) was Gerald Nicosia's. I'm already loving Charters' version of Jack's life. Written in 1973, it offers such tidbits as this:
You can still get coffee and a hamburger in the Textile Lunch where Kerouac lived in the wooden building upstairs.

I'll ask about that when we go to Lowell this October for Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! Perhaps it's still there.

Charters' Introduction describes her initial brush with Kerouac - a poetry reading in 1956 - to becoming a collector, to gaining an invitation to Kerouac's Hyannis home to work on a bibiliography in 1966. Fascinating stuff.

Especially to us Kerouacites.

Monday, August 3, 2009

2009 Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!

The annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! event is happening again the first week of October in beautiful Lowell, MA. They have a new website: LCK! 2009. If you're a Kerouac fan, this is a must-attend event.

See you there.