Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Kerouac-olutions

Below are my New Year's Kerouac-olutions for 2010 A.D.:

1. Read Atlas Shrugged
2. Read The Subterraneans
3. Lose 20 pounds
4. Read Dr. Sax
5. Read Vanity of Duluoz
6. Read Maggie Cassidy
7. Use the Versaclimber or hike an equivalency 3 times per week
8. Attend Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! 2010 with Crystal
9. Get tenure at UMF
10. Have my second book well under way
11. Build a woodshed and a deck (or cause them to be built)
12. Visit Arkansas
13. Write 100 poems
14. Wrap up mom's fiscal affairs
15. Upgrade to a better camper situation
16. Win the songwriting competition at Podunk
17. Win the band competition at Podunk
18. Meet Helen Weaver in person
19. Collaborate on a piece of music with David Amram
20. Figure out how to use my Blackberry as a modem for my laptop
21. Clean out and organize my office
22. Wash my car at least once during the year
23. Buy Crystal flowers at least once a month
24. Drive cross country along Jack's route
25. See Jason
26. Get my stock portfolio back to at least even
27. Go rock climbing with Keith at least once
28. Try acupuncture for my right hand dystonia problem
29. Consciously appreciate the Hell out of every day the temperature is
        above 70 degrees and it doesn't rain
30. Make it to 55 years young with no major health events

FYI, below were my New Year's Kerouac-olutions for 2009 A.D. with the outcomes (in parentheses):

1. Read The Subterraneans (FAILED)
2. Blog every day (FAILED)
3. Attend Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! 2009 (DONE)
4. Read Ann Charters' Kerouac biography (DONE)
5. Publish Charlie's book of poetry (DONE)
6. Increase my blog traffic to 50+ visits per day (FAILED)
7. Continue the monthly free book giveaway (FAILED)
8. See my book reviewed in a "legit" newspaper or magazine (FAILED)
9. Send a copy of my book to David Amram (DONE - IN PERSON)
10. Accomplish at least 20 additional Kerouactions from The Beat Handbook (FAILED)

Let's hope I can do better than a 40% success rate in 2010.

Happy New Year everyone. Dig the ride!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Visions of Cody - Jack Kerouac - Ayn Rand

Faithful followers of The Daily Beat will notice in the sidebar that I have now "read" Visions of Cody. I put "read" in quotation marks because I've never read anything like it in my life. Literal comprehension was impossible. Kerouac's style left me reading for the pleasure of reading, for the rhythms and sounds, and not for comprehension in the traditional sense. I won't try to explain it beyond that. Try it and you'll see what I mean.

You'll note that I have moved on to a non-Kerouac book, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I have an on-again/off-again fascination with Rand, and since I've never slogged through any of her tomes (I read For the New Intellectual, which contains lengthy sections from several of her books), I decided it was time. Atlas is over 1,000 pages. Wish me luck - it will be the longest book I've ever read.

Very faithful readers will remember that on February 22, I postulated that Kerouac and Rand had an affair. Check that post out for some insanity on my part.

Neither estate has sued me for libel. Yet.*

*I can see the headline now: "Professor Sued By Estates of Jack Kerouac and Ayn Rand." There go sales of The Beat Handbook through the roof. Let's see, shall I go on The Today Show or Good Morning America first? Oops! Sorry - my narcissism just reared its ugly head for a minute. Gag . . . .

"What's your favorite Kerouac book?" poll results

Here are the results of The Daily Beat’s (very unscientific) latest poll, “What’s your favorite Kerouac book?” The number after the title is the number of votes the book received, and the number in parentheses is the percentage of votes (n=31) the book received.

As you can see, the top three were The Dharma Bums, Desolation Angels, and On The Road, in that order! This is surprising but gratifying to me as that is how I would rate the top three as well.

The Dharma Bums 10 (32%)
Desolation Angels 8 (25%)
On The Road 6 (19%)
Big Sur 2 (6%)
Tristessa 2 (6%)
Vanity of Duluoz* 1 (3%)
Dr. Sax* 1 (3%)
Lonesome Traveler 1 (3%)
Visions of Gerard* 0 (0%)
Visions of Cody 0 (0%)
Maggie Cassidy* 0 (0%)
The Town and the City* 0 (0%)
The Subterraneans* 0 (0%)

I will admit that I voted without having read all the listed books (I starred those I have yet to read, and I do own them all so only time stands between me and my goal: to read everything Kerouac ever wrote). I'm guessing there's a correlation between the number of votes a book received and how relatively well-known it is. Not all of Jack's books get as much press as, say, On The Road does, so not all of Jack's books enjoy the same level of readership. That's too bad, because all of his books are worth reading (in my humble, Kerouac-obsessed opinion).

Monday, December 28, 2009

An end-of-year thanks to my readers

It's that time of year when one takes stock of things, counts one's blessings, sets down goals for the future, and the like. I particularly wanted to say thank you to everyone out there who reads my blog rantings and ravings about Jack Kerouac. While my book about Jack has garnered no great commercial success (which I honestly didn't think it would), it has allowed me to meet and interact with a host of interesting people, both in person (e.g., David Amram) and via e-mail (e.g., Helen Weaver), and especially on-line, which has connected me to folks all around the world, from India to Great Britain to . . . I cannot even remember all the places. I truly appreciate you, my blog readers, and I promise to keep blogging (maybe not daily like I did for a while) in 2010.

Who knows what the new year will bring? I hope to get to Lowell Celebrates Kerouac again, and I hope to keep meeting interesting people, and, yes, I hope to keep selling a book now and then (yesterday numbers 46 and 47 sold on Amazon - that is not insignificant, at least to me). I've sold about that many in person, and probably have given away an equal amount, so there are about 150 copies floating around out there, from the U.S. to Europe to Asia.

My hope? That once in a blue while moon someone picks up The Beat Handbook and gets a chuckle, or has a deep thought, or decides to read some Kerouac, or, best of all, just decides to live while they're alive, which I often forget to do, and I suspect that goes for most of us.

When's the last time you just headed out (driving, hitchhiking, whatever) with no plan, no destination, no supplies, no cares? With nothing but the urge to go go go? With nothing but the desire to experience what's around the next corner?

As Jack put it, "What's in store for me in the direction I don't take?"

Yair! Happy New Year and thanks to everyone who has enriched my life through our mutual connection to Jack Kerouac. And thanks, Jack; without you, I'd have never written a book.

Which reminds me: I think it's about time to start work on my second book. The hardest part (for me) is settling on an idea (and, of course, getting started).

Got any ideas?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shameless self-promotion

FYI, I don't just write books and blog about Jack Kerouac. I also play in a bluegrass band which just released its first CD. It's available on-line at Bull Moose Music.

Thanks in advance for your support!

Steal This Book!

You might remember Abbie Hoffman's famous counterculture work, Steal This Book, and now, according to The New York Times, it seems that shoplifters are taking Hoffman's advice, in particular with titles by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.

What would Jack think about people exercising a little "five finger discount" with On The Road? Well, that's an interesting question. On the one hand, he details frequent pilfering during his road trips; however, it was often a matter of survival (food, for example). I'm guessing he wouldn't be a big fan of people shoplifting his books (and taking royalties out of his pocket - or his estate's pocket at this point). It would violate his fiscal sense and perhaps his Catholic upbringing to boot.

I wonder what he'd think about my reverse shoplifing copies of The Beat Handbook into various bookstores around the country (so far, San Francisco & Venice Beach, CA; Augusta, ME; Lowell, MA; Corning, NY)?

Speaking of which, it's not too late to get your hands on a copy in time for Christmas: buy The Beat Handbook on Amazon. I wish you could steal one from a bookstore, but they won't carry it. After all, it's self-published, and nothing good has ever been self-published (that was sarcasm - check out Famous Self-Published Books).

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Defending Kerouac redux again

I always appreciate defenders of Jack, especially when they put forth a reasoned argument. Check out Accusing Dead Writers of Bigotry.

Jack Kerouac's FBI files Part 2

Here is Part 2 in the on-going saga regarding my attempts to determine if Jack Kerouac has an FBI file (and get copies if one exists) under the Freedom of Information Act. As you can see by the above letter, my request to the Boston field office (contacting multiple field offices was recommended at Get Grandpa's FBI Files) was forwarded to FBI Headquarters, which I had also contacted directly. The FBI has assigned the same FOIPA number to both my requests. Perhaps one letter to FBI Headquarters is sufficient in such matters.

As I described on Facebook, the other morning I stopped at the post office on my way to work. A big black SUV pulled in after me and parked behind me in a perpendicular fashion, blocking my exit unless I made a wide swing around it. It was still there when I exited the post office, and a bald man was sitting in the driver's seat apparently talking on the phone through an earpiece. I pulled around the SUV and headed for work. The SUV pulled out right after me and stayed within sight behind me the entire way - 20 miles. About a mile from my office, I turned off and it went straight.

I bet I have an FBI file now, but at least I know how to find out.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jack Kerouac bobblehead

For readers who noted my earlier mention of the Jack Kerouac bobblehead, here's a picture and a little history. As a promotion in 2003, the Lowell Spinners (a Boston Red Sox minor league affiliate) gave Jack Kerouac bobbleheads out to the first 1,000 attendees at a game. Then the Jack Kerouac estate made them break the mold to prevent counterfeiting and unauthorized copies. These go for as high as $350 on eBay.

One of these is on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. If you don't know why that is, you don't know Jack.

This pic is from a current listing on eBay (I won't mention that I am currently the high bidder).

Obsession is a beautiful thing to behold.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jack Kerouac's FBI files Part 1

I got this idea from a Charles Bukowski website where his FBI files are posted. I wondered if Jack Kerouac has an FBI file, and some Googling didn't get me anywhere. Crystal turned me on to this website - Get Grandpa's FBI Files - where you can generate letters to the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act to get copies of any dead person's FBI file.

I sent requests for Jack Kerouac's FBI files to the FBI offices in San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Winchester, VA (the main records office). Today I received the acknowledgement letter below.

I probably have an FBI file now!

I'll keep you posted as this story unfolds.

Top Words of 2009

Jack Kerouac loved words, and according to the Global Language Monitor, these are the top words of 2009:

1. Twitter
2. Obama
3. H1N1
4. Stimulus
5. Vampire
6. 2.0
7. Deficit
8. Hadron
9. Healthcare
10. Transparency
11. Outrage
12. Bonus
13. Unemployed
14. Foreclosure
15. Cartel

Thursday, December 10, 2009

6 Degrees of Separation: Jack Kerouac and the White House crashers

I don't know what leaves me drier, the Tiger Woods saga or the White House crashers, but I must admit that I never thought someone would find a way to invoke Jack's name in a story about either situation. Nevertheless, NBC Washington has figured out a way to connect Kerouac with the White House wedding crashers. See the story here.

If only I could get my hands on one of those Jack Kerouac bobblehead dolls, but they are going for hundreds of dollars on eBay!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Beat Poetry Contest 1st place winner

First place in the Beat Poetry Contest goes to Marjorie J. Levine for her poem, "What Way To Go Today." Congratulations, Marjorie! You've won a copy of The Beat Handbook. I'll be contacting you via e-mail to get a mailing address.

by Marjorie J. Levine

Almost dusk:
Last summer on one Wednesday, in July,
I sat on a bench, a grey wooden tired
Bench on a boardwalk out at old Long Beach.
In the sky a lonely and lost grey kittiwake tipped
As the hot pink sun set in blazing technicolor over
Hot pinkish sand and the fading blue ocean water.

That morning:
I had thought about seeing great art...
Vermeer, or Courbet, or maybe Monet.
But, I drove to the beach instead to think
To think about everything creative that had been
Created before I got here, and when I was here,
And what will be created when I leave this place.
When one day I leave my place and all places in my
Consciousness that is now in this time and was
At a past time and will be in some next time;
Maybe all time exists at the same time.
The great minds of theoretical physicists search
For the "Theory of Everything" as they sit
In their cluttered rooms, their great thinking rooms.
In universities, they ponder the mathematical equations
And Schrodinger's cat and all those mysteries.

In the evening:
It is during the quiet and still and sad night when
I miss most the people I never met:
Edie Beale, and the Rat Pack, and even Rod Serling
Who made me want to time travel: to go back to simpler places
Like Nedick's, or the Belmore, or Bickford's, and Willoughby.
Then the longing, a longing when distant sounds and faraway
Foghorns drive thoughts to reflect on a life visible through some
Smoky cracked mirror, a haunted and haunting steamy mirror.
As I am sort of old now and getting older
There is a vague and odd feeling that I,
Like the kittiwake, somehow must have lost the way.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Beat Poetry Contest 2nd place winner

Second place in the Beat Poetry Contest goes to Nicole Taylor for her Bukowski-inspired poem, "Sunny Disposition Now." Congratulations, Nicole!

Sunny Disposition Now
by Nicole Taylor

Sat sunning last Wednesday,
while a neighbor across
said hello and
complained of dog disturbances
and squawking crows.
I can agree
to this
and enjoying
the spring chirpies.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Beat Poetry Contest 3rd place winner

Third place in the Beat Poetry Contest goes to Thomas S. Ferland for his poem, "Smiling At the Moon." Congratulations, Thomas!

Smiling At the Moon
by Thomas S. Ferland

What now tonight?
Who is it? the guilty man-
the word man-
the one who stands aloft with the moon
The word makes it full like the the moon-
it misleads- misspeaks- mistakes-
but it's always - always the moon.

How wholly fooled ?
fooled and thinking –
idle- ideal- idealized normality-
Nonsense, these senses deceive-
We're all enamored by this material-
but there is no we, no it, no fool
Only the moon.

They all want to be strapped into some helpless hopeless box
Spinning in the void.
No one is looking, or hearing, but all they want is the sound and sight-
Think no more-
Only smile-
For if it stops the world will cease to be,
But not the moon.