Sunday, October 31, 2010

Films related to the Beats

Regarding my previous post, there is really no need for me to compile a list of Beat films, given that it's been done before by UC Berkeley (and probably many other folks).

Beat films

The release of Howl may trigger an interest in other films about the Beats. I'm going to compile a list and share it in the near future, but in the meantime you can read about a couple of others here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lucy Jones calls beat poetry "rubbish"

Dear Readers:

Perhaps some of you would like to respond to Lucy Jones' article in which she calls beat poetry "rubbish." It is available here.

Thank you.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


It seems impossible, but my 55th birthday is fast approaching (Dec. 11). Consequently, I decided to make out my impossible birthday present list.

1. A first edition, hardcover, signed copy of On The Road in mint condition
2. A first edition, hardcover, signed copy of The Dharma Bums in mint condition
3. 50 copies of The Beat Handbook selling on December 11
4. A Jack Kerouac Bobblehead Doll (given out by the Lowell Spinners in August 2003)
5. One of Jack's typewriters
6. An all-expenses-paid adventure trip to Desolation Peak
7. An original, autographed letter signed by Jack (available on eBay for a mere $18,000)
8. Any book written by and signed by Jack
9. A first edition of On The Road: The Original Scroll (Viking, 2007)
10. A review of The Beat Handbook in The New York Times

By the time Jack was 55, he'd been dead for 8 years, so I'll be doing a lot better than him. That rather makes gifts irrelevant, doesn't it?

Jack's beloved Desolation Peak inspires band name

British pop sensation Keane got drunk one night and decided to release an alt-country album. They named their alter-ego band Mt. Desolation, after Jack's beloved Desolation Peak in the Cascades.

Read about it here.


Jack wrote Visions of Cody" because "We're all gonna die."

See this article about the longevity accorded to writers who win the Booker award.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

One year ago today

One year ago today, my mom died. It seems like a lot longer than that, so much so that I just looked at her death certificate to confirm it. In general, as I get older, my perception is that time passes more quickly. A year doesn't seem like a year. It seems shorter. So looking forward, anticipated dates come faster. "A month from now is Thanksgiving," and boom! Thanksgiving is here. I get that. But looking backward, why does a year ago seem like two? Shouldn't it seem compressed as well? Shouldn't it seem like mom died a few months ago? Or is there some weird paradoxical effect in play here?

What's the Kerouaconnection, you ask? Jack and his mom were very close, unhealthily so, some would say (he more or less lived with her his entire 47 years). So he would resonate with me reminiscing about mom one year after she died.

RIP, Elizabeth Wetmore Dale, b. 6/11/24 d. 10/23/09; daughter of Edson and Ruth; mother of James, William, and Richard; grandmother of Jason; wife of Hugh; Mansfield State College graduate; musician, teacher, homemaker, writer, friend . . . Mom.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

RIP, Jack Kerouac

On this date in 1969, Jack Kerouac died. It was a sad day, one that I have opined about twice before in The Daily Beat:

       October 21, 2009
       October 21, 2008

I'm not sure what to say that hasn't already been said. Right now I'm reading Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang, and I keep seeing similarities to Kerouac's style. Abbey wasn't too complimentary of Kerouac, saying
Jack Kerouac, like a sick refrigerator, worked too hard at keeping cool and died on his mama's lap from alcohol and infantilism.
I unabashedly included this quote in the introduction to The Beat Handbook. Yet Abbey also said,
A shelf of classics for our young adults: Tolkien, Hesse, Casteneda, Kerouac [emphasis added], Salinger, Tom Robbins, and The Last Whole Earth Catalog.
(NOTE: For more Abbey quotes, visit Abbey's Web.)

But why bring up Edward Abbey on the anniversary of Jack's death? That's where my mind went. And Jack of all people would be a fan of writing spontaneously.

Jack, you've taught me a lot, and I for one am thankful you existed. Critics can dry up like tomb dust and blow away for all I care. You're an enduring force in American literature, and there's nothing that will ever change that.

Rest well.

Literary tattoos Redux

To read yet another article about literary tattoos, click here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Life Lines wins Writer's Digest Award!

My friend Charlie's poetry book, Life Lines, which I edited and self-published, has won the poetry category in the 18th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards! Hot damn - that is big! The prizes are staggering, and beyond the nice cash prize is the heavy publicity it gets.

I've been trying to convince readers of The Daily Beat to buy Charlie's book on its own merits, not just because I had a hand in it. Now you have an objective opinion. Charlie is a great poet and deserves wide recognition. Please support him and buy his book on Amazon.

Huzzah, Charlie!

Jack Kerouac, weed, and the thought police

Here's an amusing tongue-in-cheek article from The Eastern Echo, an Eastern Michigan University independent newspaper. It names Jack as one of the "peripheral damages" of the widespread use of marijuana in our culture.

Good stuff.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kerouac tattoos

Check out this Kerouac tattoo! Wow! Beautiful.

I've been pondering my next ink, and a Kerouac quote has been at the top of the list for a while. I just need to decide on a place for it.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Desolation Peak alternative?

If, like me, you'd love to visit Kerouac's Desolation Peak in the North Cascades but it's too tough a trek, there's an alternative that might give you a similar experience. It's the fire lookout at Park Butte, a few miles southeast of Jack's beloved cabin. You can read about it here. At 7 miles and 5,400 feet with a 2,200 foot elevation gain, it rivals the hike to Baxter Peak here in Maine, which almost did me in during the summer of 2009. I haven't tried anything nearly that difficult since, and may not again. But, it's in the back of my mind.

I plan to hike French's Mountain later today. It's more my speed. After all, I am approaching the double nickel. And, it's only a couple of miles from home.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Beat Generation and The Tea Party

This article in the NY Times compares the Beat Generation with The Tea Party. At first blush, this seems ludicrous, but the author does draw some logical comparisons. Once I got over the initial warnings from my bullshit meter, I actually got a kick out of this article. Maybe you will, too.

15,000 visits!

The Daily Beat has topped 15,000 visits since Sitemeter tracking started on October 25, 2008, soon after The Beat Handbook was published and I started this blog. My Kerouacthusiasm has not waned, but after 100s of blog posts (see the archives to the right), it does get difficult to come up with something new to say, especially on a daily basis (as I did in the first year).

Thanks to everyone who follows The Daily Beat or checks in from time-to-time. I'm going to try to post more regularly again. It seems easier to do in the winter months, particularly in Maine where if one is not a skier or snowmobiler, one gets a bunch of "inside time" for several months.

Happy 10/10/10. Jack didn't see one of these dates, not having lived during the first twelve years of a century. And you reading this will only get two more: 11/11//11 and 12/12/12. That puts some perspective on things.

Crystal pointed out that my first full day of 57-ness will be on 12/12/12. 5 + 7 = 12. And 12 is 2 numbers that add up to 3, making 23, which is the enigma attributed to beat legend William S. Burroughs that I wrote about here and on several other occasions in The Daily Beat (click on the 23 under Labels below to read the others).


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jack Kerouac Memorial Walk

If, like me, you didn't get a chance to visit Lowell last weekend for Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!, another Kerouac event is slated in Lowell for October 21, the date of Jack's death. It's called The Jack Kerouac Memorial Walk. Read about it here. I can't make it, but I'll be there in spirit (especially if you attend and drag around your dog-eared copy of The Beat Handbook).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Jack Kerouac and fame

Here's a NY Times article about Jack's angst over his fame (the article failed to stress that he actually had a love-hate relationship with it). I have to imagine that today's pressure on successful writers would drive him farther and faster into the bottle than in his own time.

We have a new opportunity as faculty to engage with students in their themed residence dorms (communities) about a subject of our choosing. One of the communities is the Writers' Nook. I'm thinking about offering to talk about Kerouac using my book as a foundation of my discussion. However, one of the things holding me back is the self-promotion aspect of it (or at least the perception of self-promotion). We'll see . . . .