Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 6 in The Beat Handbook is titled, "On Materialism." The entry mentions backpacks, mountains, Fight Club, cars, jobs, baldness, erectile dysfunction, and poetry - all related to the above passage from The Dharma Bums.

This is a critical passage in Bums in which Kerouac predicts a "rucksack revolution" led by "Zen Lunatics." I wrote about rucksacks on March 25, 2009, even sharing a picture of Jack's canvas rucksack as well as a lead on where to get buy a decent replica today (heavens, there we go with more materialism).

But on to what I said yesterday about needing to revisit this post. From time to time I look around at all of the "stuff" I've amassed over the years, and my initial reaction is to feel frustrated. It really is quite a lot. However, if I remember to do it, I remind myself to do a mental "check-in" on whether I identify with it. Is my new truck about me, does it define me, or is it about function and meeting particular needs I've identified at this time? The answer to that question is important. Having "stuff" isn't the problem. It's only a problem when the "stuff" controls you, when you'd feel less valuable without it, when you obsess over it. In short, when you think you "need" it.

Let's put it this way. Regarding any particular material possession you "own" (I put that in quotes because we don't really "own" anything - we borrow it for a spell): Could you give it away right now without angst? Regarding situations (e.g., jobs): Could you walk away from them right now and not look back?

Attachment (to things, situations, locations, people, even ideas) is the source of suffering. And you don't have to be a wandering vagabond with no possessions or relationships - which are indeed important - to live in that space where you know you're not "attached" to them.

Please don't misunderstand. I am all for loyalty and commitment to partners, spouses, children, pets, jobs, causes, etc.* But if they define you, if your value as a human being comes from those things, then you are on a dangerous path because sooner or later, everything gets taken away. So be free of them now. Eckhart Tolle says everything is honored, but nothing matters.

As Jack said, "That nothin' means nothin' is the saddest thing I know."

Grab that rucksack and go be a Zen Lunatic.

Tomorrow: On finding a mate.

*Intentionally omitted from this list are religion and politics, including nationalism. Loyalty and commitment to those "concepts" is the biggest cause of evil on this planet. It is very difficult to avoid attachment to these, to avoid being "conditioned" (as Krishnamurti would say) by them. So, I am explicitly not going to endorse them. At the same time, if you're hardcore into such things, great - as long as you step back once in a while and examine how your attachment to them actually manifests as compassion and not mischief.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tech tip for blog pictures

If you want to read the passages from The Dharma Bums that I am posting - and I hope you do - but find them too small, here is what to do:

1. Left click once on the picture
2. Press Ctrl and the + (plus sign) key until it's the size you want
3. To return to original size, press Ctrl and the - (minus sign) key
4. Hit the back arrow in your browser to return to The Daily Beat


Kerouac Day 5: Fresh air, the dharma, & drinking

Day 5 in The Beat Handbook deals with the above passage from The Dharma Bums. You'll have to read Bums or my book to find out what The Place is (if you don't already know). Hopefully you'll do both, since the latter is a companion to the former.

To your health....

Tomorrow: Materialism. Man, do I need to revisit that one.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Crap according to Kerouac: Day 4

Day 4 in The Beat Handbook is titled, "On Crap," and starts out with a simple Kerouaction: "Go take a shit in the woods once in a while." It is based on the following passage from The Dharma Bums:

Tomorrow: Fresh air, the dharma, and drinking.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kerouac rally time

It's time for Kerouac fans to descend on a website in defense of our beloved Jack. I think it would be great if Molly Shalgos, author of this lame article, Favorite Books of the Secretly Jerky, received a whole shitload of comments lambasting her about her inane comments regarding On The Road, which she calls "a bunch of rambling about eating some sandwiches and driving around while eating sandwiches, and driving around, and them making some more sandwiches, which you will then eat while driving around."

I know. She meant it tongue-in-cheek. So let's blast her for fun, not because we're really offended, because we all know Jack's work needs no defense. But she put it out there and I think she should reap it.

Who's with me?

Energy vampires a la Burroughs

"If, after having been exposed to someone's presence, you feel as if you've lost a quart of plasma - avoid that presence. You need it like you need pernicious anemia."

~ William S. Burroughs

College according to Kerouac: Day 3

Day 3 in The Beat Handbook is titled, "On College." Since I'm a college professor, this entry in my book rather startled some of my colleagues, but remember: I'm simply channeling Jack Kerouac through his novels.

My entry starts out: "Don't go to college." It references the following passage in The Dharma Bums,

which includes the phrase:
"...grooming schools for the middle-class non-identity."


Tomorrow: On crap.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blog format changes

Regular readers of The Daily Beat will notice that I changed the formatting. I think it's easier to read, and it allows me to capitalize titles in the side bars.

Let me know what you think.

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2011 preliminary schedule

Click here for the preliminary schedule for this year's Lowell Celebrates Kerouac. If you've never been before, it's well worth it. Stay at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center - it's the best location (used to be the Doubletree). The pub crawl moved from Thursday to Friday this year, which is fine by me - I only have to miss work on Friday.

Jack Kerouac and Amy Winehouse

How long did you think it would take before someone used a Kerouac allusion in writing about Amy Winehouse? And in the case of this article, it was only a superficial hook from the most famous quote in On The Road (no need to identify that to Daily Beat readers) to saying, the "sky shines a little less brightly this week after Amy Winehouse was found dead on Saturday."

Was author Stephen King (the Stephen King?) saying that Winehouse is the sort Jack would say is an example of "the only ones for me"? I'm not familiar enough with Winehouse to offer an opinion, but that's sure where I thought the article was going . . . and it didn't.

However, I'm the first one to capitalize on famous names and quotations to spur interest in my blog (note today's title), so I sure can't take that away from King. I just expected from the opening paragraph that he'd delve into who Kerouac described and why Amy Winehouse was a shining example.

I also expected a comparison regarding drug and alcohol abuse, but that didn't happen, at least explicitly. I was pleased about that.

Overall, it's a good piece. I like the ending sentence, which does finally bring us back to Jack:
Freedom must involve the exploding spiders having the right to make the wrong choices.

Sex as meditation according to Kerouac: Day 2

Day 2 in The Beat Handbook is titled "On Sex as Meditation," and references the above passage from The Dharma Bums.

Yabyum, indeed.

Tomorrow: "On College."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A great little piece on Ginsberg & Kerouac

I just happened on a great little piece that readers of The Daily Beat will appreciate. Click here.

After quoting from a Ginsberg article about Kerouac in Tricycle magazine, the author, S.M. Abeles, concludes:
Oh!, such beauty about such beauty, it leaves one craving more. Criticism with insight, as good as the subject -- from writers who lived, ran, celebrated, mourned, wrote with and edited one another -- is special. Today we do more like what I do here -- provide links -- versus literature. It may be I write from ignorance -- I don't read a lot of criticism -- but maybe it's simpler: No one rolled together like the Beats rolled together, and only the insights gleaned from a shared life's battle can give rise to the kind of writing missed.


A Kerouac trolling expedition

If you've published a book, you know that there are multiple opportunities to edit it along the path to its final incarnation. My book, The Beat Handbook, came out in September 2008. During the back-and-forth with the publisher, I realized that I had included a statement in the Introduction that is quite disputable (I had sourced it, but not sufficiently). I was going to correct it, and then I decided it would be fun to leave it in and see if anyone called me out on it. Call it a "Kerouac troll" of sorts.

To date - almost three years later - no one has mentioned it. Is it because no one really reads my book (about 150 copies are floating around out there)? Is it because people read my book but not the Introduction? Is it because no one has noticed the mistake? Is it because no one cares?

It remains a mystery. Maybe a reader of The Daily Beat will solve it.

Filling in the Kerouac gaps

If you've read my book, The Beat Handbook, you know that each entry references a specific passage from either The Dharma Bums or On The Road. Originally, I was going to include those passages, but a NYC agent who deals with Penguin said I'd never get permission. So, I published it without the Kerouac passages, with an encouragement to readers to find them on their own. It's not that hard, given that my entries start at the beginning of The Dharma Bums and move through it in order, and then do the same with On The Road.

It came to me in a half-awake state this morning that I could easily, thanks to modern technology, share the actual passages here on The Daily Beat. So, I've decide to embark on a 100-day venture in which I will post a picture of the actual passage in Kerouac's novels that corresponds to a Kerouaction in my book.

Let's start with the cover, since you might want to know which version of Bums I used.

Now, Day 1 in my book is titled "Today's Kerouaction: On Vegetarianism." Here is the corresponding passage from Bums:

Let's hope I get into copyright trouble - it will be good publicity for my book.

Tomorrow: Day 2: On Sex as Meditation.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

I finally got around to watching "William S. Burroughs: A Man Within," a 54-minute documentary by Yony Leyser that was part of Independent Lens, an Emmy Award-winning weekly series on PBS. Since it's been reviewed extensively (given my delay in watching it), I won't bore you with a standard review. Suffice to say that it was well-worth watching, and I highly recommend it to Burroughs fans as well as beat generation fans in general.

Some highlights include the many interviews with Burroughs colleagues and confidant(e)s such as John Waters, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Gus Van Sant, etc., and lots of never-before-seen footage. It's narrated by actor Peter Weller, and features a soundtrack by Patti Smith and Sonic Youth. The documentary covers the highlights of Burroughs' life, from his heroin addiction to his estranged relationship with his son to his shotgun art to killing his wife playing William Tell, the latter event leading to his becoming a writer of such classics as Naked Lunch and Junky.

Burroughs, speaking of that event, quotes Edwin Arlington Robinson:
‎There are mistakes too monstrous for remorse
To fondle or to dally with, and failures
That only fate's worst fumbling in the dark
Could have arranged so well.

If you get a chance to watch "A Man Within," seize the opportunity.

Jack Kerouac: Feminist redux

If you missed my post from February 8, 2009, titled "Jack Kerouac: Feminist," you missed a link to a great little piece by Dr. Audrey Sprenger, a Kerouac scholar with something important to say to those who would rail against beat literature as anti-feminist. Unfortunately, that link had gone dead, but Dr. Sprenger just provided me with a link to an updated version of her article, which she posted in reference to the upcoming On The Road movie. You can read it here, and I have also replaced the dead link in my February 8, 2009 post.

Jack Kerouac and Alan Watts

I want to do some more research into the connection between Jack Kerouac and Alan Watts, but here are some initial thoughts.

I've mentioned Watts in several posts on The Daily Beat (e.g., this one on January 1, 2009). It is hard to read about Jack at any length and not encounter Watts, if for no other reason than their common interest in Buddhism. In my view, Watts is one of the more interesting Western teachers of Eastern spirituality; in particular, I love his sense of humor. If you want an excellent introduction to Watts' teachings, I recommend "The Essential Alan Watts." Of course, as you can imagine, there are dozens of videos of Watts on YouTube. One of my favorites is a Watts recording that Trey Parker and Matt Stone (of South Park fame) animated called, "Life and Music." See it here. There are many others - just enter "Alan Watts" in the YouTube search box and be prepared to spend a few hours.

One of Watts' salient characteristics was that he was an autodidact. That has particular fascination for me, and I discuss that a bit in my post mentioned above. It strikes me that Jack manifested quite a streak of autodidacticity as well. Like Jack, Watts struggled with alcoholism, which may have hastened his death although he lived to be 58, eleven years older than Jack. Lest you think too harshly of Watts, remember that Buddhist master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche died at age 48 from cirrhosis of the liver stemming from his alcoholism. (Note to self: Look into the connection between studying Buddhism and alcholism.)

Watts shows up in two Kerouac novels, as Arthur Whane in The Dharma Bums and as Alex Aums in Desolation Angels. Since Jack's novels are largely roman à clef, you can get a sense about Jack's view of Watts from these two novels.

What I want to delve into here in a future post is what actually transpired when the two met face-to-face, as well as whether there was any written correspondence between the two. If you've got a research lead for me on the latter points, I'd love to hear about it.

In the meantime, if you haven't delved into the teachings of Alan Watts before, I highly recommend it. His autobiography, In My Own Way, is fascinating and not a bad place to start.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2011

Just booked our room for LCK 2011 October 6-9: a king bed with a patio overlooking the locks.

Note: What used to be the Doubletree at 50 Warren Street (which is the best located hotel for the event, being right in downtown Lowell and within walking distance or a short taxi ride from everything) is now called the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center.

Have you made your plans yet? If you're a Kerouac fan, this is a must-attend event.

See you there! Come up and introduce yourself if you read The Daily Beat.

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2011

My beautiful sweetheart and I are planning to go to Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2011 (it will be our third time there). This year we want to go on Thursday so we can do the pub crawl hosted by Mike Wurm (see T-Shirt above). Click here for information about the event. coming soon!

The following just in from e-News at UMass Lowell on 7-22-11 (for original article, click here):

Funds, Plans Ensure University is Go-To Kerouac Source

He’s ours, after all.

Jack Kerouac may be famous the world over for “On the Road” and other works, but he is inexorably tied to Lowell.

Born Jean-Louis Kerouac in Centralville, Kerouac is as much of the city as he is from it. He graduated from Lowell High School, worked at the Lowell Sun, is buried in Edson Cemetery and was recognized posthumously with an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from UMass Lowell in 2007. Five of his many novels are set here, including "The Town and the City," "Visions of Gerard," "Doctor Sax," "Maggie Cassidy," and "Vanity of Duluoz."

“Jack Kerouac is Lowell’s leading identifying element across the country and around the world,” says Paul Marion, executive director of community and cultural affairs and editor of “Atop an Underwood” – a book containing previously unpublished early Kerouac works.

To capitalize on the artist’s connection to the city, the University worked with the National Park Service to create a Jack Kerouac Orientation Exhibit for the Park's Visitor Center downtown, which has a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for the annual Kerouac Literary Festival in the fall.

Now, thanks in part to a $5,000 Mass Humanities Award, Marion and English Prof. Michael Millner will oversee part two of their plan to lay claim to the famed scribe by developing the definitive Kerouac website. These funds are in addition to a 2010 Creative Economy grant of $35,000 from the UMass President's Office.

“(Kerouac estate executor) John Sampas is allowing us to use the web domain name,” says Marion. “We’re creating the best, most inclusive and accurate site for all things Jack.”

According to Millner, a key element of the website will be a virtual tour of the exhibit – beefed up with multi-media tabs and important links to key reference sites like the New York Public Library which houses the writer’s papers.

“People from around the globe are interested in Kerouac. This site will be a wonderful resource for them while reinforcing his significant connections to our city,” he says.

No waiting, no regrets, no ordinary moments

During a particularly juicy time of my life a recent few years ago, I was influenced by the work of Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) and Dan Millman (Way of the Peaceful Warrior). Today, a Facebook post by my friend Kath referencing this article by James Altucher made me think of an episode of Six Feet Under in which Claire is in an art class at college and gets a substitute teacher (Olivier Castro-Staal played by Peter Macdissi) who basically blows the students minds with his "take-no-prisoners" attitude toward art, which reminded me of the phrase which is the title of this post and which I pieced together from Tolle and Millman:

No waiting, no regrets, no ordinary moments.

That is, there is no gain living for the future, worrying about what might happen, hoping that some day you'll be happy, rich, thin, important, whatever. As Tolle reminds us, there is only NOW. No waiting!

Related to that, there is no point living in the past, feeling angst about what you did or didn't do, obsessing about the shoulds you didn't heed, etc. Again, as Tolle reminds us, there is only NOW. Indeed, the past and the future are fictions we create. They do not exist except in our minds. Even when we think about the past or the future, it is NOW. No regrets.

Finally, Millman emphasizes the importance of living fully in each moment. No moment is ordinary unless we allow it to be so. No ordinary moments.

Unfortunately, most of the time many of us forget that this moment is all we have and that it's our choice whether to be present and awake and appreciating it for what it is. We spend our "moments" anxious about the future and guilty about the past, when it's only in the present moment that we have any choice.

We too often forget what Chuck Palahniuk told us in Fight Club: "This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time."

All of this is the essence of what Jack Kerouac was trying to teach us, especially in his Buddhist-inspired writing, but in general he espoused (and lived) the value of extracting the full measure of life from each moment.

Jack's epitaph bears witness: He honored life.

No waiting, no regrets, no ordinary moments.

Kerouac license plates request: UPDATED October 15, 2019

So far, I only have two examples of Kerouac-inspired license plates to share with readers of The Daily Beat. THERE HAVE TO BE MORE OUT THERE! This is a plea for help. Next time you see one, snap a pic with your phone or your camera and e-mail it to The Daily Beat (

I'll post it here on The Daily Beat (and give you credit).

Please share this request with your Blogger friends, Facebook friends, Twitter friends, etc. Let's get the word out there and create a real collection of Kerouac-inspired license plates! Thanks!


This below came in from Dave on April 20, 2014.

This below came in from The Beat Museum's Jerry Cimino April 20, 2014.

The below was posted by writer, Milena Oda Láska, to the Jack Kerouac Facebook group on March 31, 2017. Check out her work here:

The below came from Brooks, who saw this plate in rural Pennsylvania in May 2018.

From Edward via e-mail October 15, 2019:

And, of course, here is our RV license plate:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jack's Ghost: A Kerouac Poem by Rick Dale

I trippled down Adler
hoping to meet Jack’s ghost
but ended up sitting on the floor
upstairs in City Lights
reading the blues
when a sexy gone voice behind me
said "who’s your favorite?"
and without looking to see
my angel in waiting
I wrote “Kerouac” on a blank page
in my little black notebook
stuck my pen in the fold
and passed it behind me
without looking
I felt it taken out of my nervous hand
an eternity fell on my shoulders
before a giggle
a sweet silky titter of a laugh
too afraid I still didn’t look
Something touched my shoulder
I reached up, felt my notebook
under Jack’s name was written
“I was here”
I turned around...
she(?) was

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Quotable Magnets

If you're not yet a patron of, check it out. They have the above Kerouac quote, as well as others. I think Quotable Magnets make great gifts: words plus functionality (most folks have a refrigerator begging for another magnet).

Dharma Bum Books

The following is from Town Topics, Princeton's weekly community newspaper, on this date:
Dharma Bum Books, named after the novel The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac, is currently taking shape at a storefront at 45 West Broad Street in Hopewell [NJ]. The store will carry works by Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, and other literary giants of the Beat Generation. Gombar sees the shop not as a money-maker, but rather as an antidote to big-box stores and a refuge for people who share his nostalgia for an era gone by and his love for the printed word.

Click here for more details. The store will open officially in September.

Alas, there goes one name I was considering for the bookstore I'm going to open some day. Damn.

I wonder if Mr. Gombar got permission from the appropriate source(s) (Penguin? The Kerouac estate?). Not trying to cause trouble, but I know what would happen if I opened a business with a Kerouac novel's title in its name. Sue city, and we're not talking Iowa.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Excellent Kerouac blog

Daily Beat readers will definitely want to check out the blog of writer David W. Berner (click here). He is a writer-in-residence at The Kerouac Project of Orlando, a cottage that was Jack's home when On The Road was published and where he wrote the original manuscript of The Dharma Bums.

I especially enjoyed David's July 6 blog about "Kerouac Hunters" (since I would unabashedly be one, but hopefully not a nuisance).

David: Good luck with your remaining time there and best wishes. You're living a dream!

On The Road movie news

Jerry Cimino, founder and curator of The Beat Museum, wrote this article about The Movie. In it, we find out that director Salles and Garrett Hedlund (Cassady) blasted 4,000 miles across the U.S. in a '49 Hudson in April 2011 in order to boost authenticity. According to Cimino, Hedlund and the Hudson got pulled over more than once but never got a ticket, even going over 100 MPH. It reminds me of the time Neal talked his way out of a ticket while driving Furthur (according to The Electric Acid Kool-Aid Test).

Great article, Jerry. Thanks for the inside scoop!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Upcoming interview with Travis Tribble: Beat Hero #1

You will recall reading about Travis Tribble, who I dubbed Beat Hero #1 in a post on June 25, 2011. I reached out to Travis and he responded, agreeing to an e-mail interview. I just sent him a list of questions and will be posting them here on The Daily Beat as soon as he responds.

How cool is that?

Jack Kerouac: Artist

Many folks don't realize that Jack Kerouac was not only a prose stylist and poet, but he also dabbled in painting and drawing (click here to purchase a book of his visual art). One example is his above hand-drawn cover for On The Road.

Another example is his collaboration with Italian artist Franco Angeli on the above painting titled, "The Deposition." It's currently on display with Angeli's personal photographs at Rome's Museum of Imperial Forums.

I want to head over there right away!

Click here to read more.

Monday, July 11, 2011

In the night-time heat

In the night-time heat, June bugs buzzing on the screen - don't they know it's July? - I sit motionless, feeling the sweat roll down my chest. I hear a car idling across the street and wonder what it's doing there, whether the occupants are perhaps enjoying an air-conditioned respite from their sweltering house, or maybe they are moonlight lovers sneaking in a sweaty rendezvous, their temperatures rivaling the outside's. Who knows what can happen on a night like this? Murder, mayhem, music, booze, sex, drugs all melting together on a sultry summer night revolving in its own steamy torture. Sleep won't come so a writer writes and down in the heartless city an old man dies of heat stroke. Alone in the endless world.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Recommended website

Daily Beat readers might want to check out the writing on Timothy Grayson's website, starting with this Kerouac-inspired piece.

A poem about Jack Kerouac

Here's a poem about Jack I just discovered via Twitter. Click here.


Not sure if this will work, but try clicking here.

Reading Jack Kerouac

My current reading strategy is to always have a Jack Kerouac book going even if I'm diligently reading something else. For example, over the last couple of months, I read Mexico City Blues cover-to-cover. I read at least two poems each day (or night - mostly it was a pre-sleep endeavor). At the same time, I was diligently reading other books. I finished A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin and am a couple of hundred pages into A Storm of Swords. I also read Beat Atlas, The Long Slow Death of Jack Kerouac, and Kerouac in Florida: Where The Road Ends while reading Mexico City Blues.

Now I have started Book of Sketches. Next? Who knows. I still have quite a pile of Kerouac or beat generation books to read for the first time. Perhaps Go by John Clellon Holmes.

Neal Cassady's son speaks

Click here for an article about The Movie and other upcoming beat movies, including a video with an interview of Neal Cassady's son, John Allen Cassady.

According to this article, The Movie is set for a December release.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Kerouac license plates

As promised, here's the official picture of my Kerouac license plate.

That makes two I know about. There must be others! If you see one, snap a pic and send it along. I'll post it here on The Daily Beat.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fortune's 100 Great Things About America mentions Jack Kerouac

Click here and see #2.

Yay, Jack!

More on the Denver street art

Click here for a follow-up article related to my last post about the Denver street artist stenciling Jack's image around Denver at places he hung out as a protest over The Movie not filming on location there.