Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 62 Kerouaction: On Now

The above passage from On The Road inspired Day 62 in The Beat Handbook.

Dean is the finger pointing at the moon, and any words I could write about Dean's behavior in this passage would be a finger pointing at a finger pointing at the moon.

If you understood that last sentence, further words are unnecessary.

If you didn't, further words are futile.

Sorry, but that's just the way it is. I'm in no mood for mollycoddling tonight.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 61 Kerouaction: On Obstacles to Going

This is the passage from On The Road that inspired Day 61 in The Beat Handbook. It reminds me of driving home from a high school girlfriend's one night, way out in the Pennsylvania boondocks, and the fog was so thick I was leaning out of my car door trying to see any glimpse of the road! I was beat and didn't know it. Hey, I wasn't gonna let a little fog keep me from go go going! Just like Dean.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 60 Kerouaction: On the Susquehanna

The above passage from On The Road inspired Day 60 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions.

As a Pennsylvania boy, I was duty-bound to include this passage. Indeed, for a number of years I worked in Harrisburg, a stone's throw from the Susquehanna. One year I parked on an island in the middle of the river and had to walk across a bridge to and from my office. It was a big metal bridge with a grate for a walkway and the winter wind was formidable on that walk.

The point here is to get yourself to the Susquehanna and do some walking. Walk where Jack walked. It's good for the soul.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 59 Kerouaction: On Barter

Day 59 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions, titled, "On Barter," was inspired by this Kerouaction-packed passage from On The Road.

First, if you weren't sure about it before, now you know that necking is a beat activity.

Second, when looking for a mate, go with nearsighted. That way, you don't have to be handy (a la Red Green's adage, "If they don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.").

Third, you don't need cash for things. Barter! And you don't need material stuff for bartering. Can you write or sing a song? Dig a ditch? Watch someone's animals? Sweep a floor? Split firewood? All of those skills and many more are worth something to someone. Find out who it is and practice bartering.

While you're bartering, if you meet a fellow barterer who's nearsighted and likes to neck, ask them what they want out of life!*


*Unless you're spoken for, of course, since this is a proven beat pick-up line.

October 7 is "Talk Like a Beat Day"

October 7 is "Talk Like a Beat Day." Click here for details. Below is some help to get you started (click here for the original source of the image).

For additional help, see my October 23, 2008 post.

Can you dig it?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 58 Kerouaction: On Possessions

Day 58 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions was inspired by this passage from On The Road.

When traveling the beat way, you don't traditional reading material because you can spend your time "reading the American landscape." This cuts down on stuff to carry, and, after all, don't most of us have too many possessions anyway?

Personally, I prefer to have a book with me at all times. Right now I am reading Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir by Joe Bageant. If you want to know what is wrong with our country, read this book. But don't buy it if you can borrow it. It just struck me that my friend Rick, who gave me the book and told me to pass it on when I was done, did so in accordance with values whose passing Bageant bemoans, such as community and sharing and frugality. Jack resonated with the underclass that Bageant so eloquently describes, spending much of his time in their company. I can't say I grew up a member of the "underclass," but I sure have an appreciation of their values and struggles, and all else being equal, I can relate better to a down-on-his-luck blue collar type than a theory-spouting academician any day of the week.

But back to the topic at hand. In the spirit of the beats, as a way of being green, to return to good old-fashioned common sense values, for the good of the dying art of reading a book: Pass along your books to others with the request that they do the same.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

L.A. Event

Kerouac fans may want to check out this article. Make sure to click on the link to Ed Ruscha's exhibition.

Day 57 Kerouaction: On Traveling Food

Day 57 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions was inspired by this passage from On The Road.

We - especially Americans - are way too cautious about refrigerating food. Salami will keep for days without refrigration. Jack knew that and made 10 sandwiches for his trip cross country. The only fault I can find in his method is making them in back of a parking-lot john. Gross.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 56 Kerouaction: On Parting

Day 56 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions was inspired by this passage from On The Road.

What you do at parting is critical. Didn't someone famous say "parting is such sweet sorrow"? Whatever you do when parting, make it memorable.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 55 Kerouaction: On Entertainment

Day 55 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions was inspired by this passage from On The Road.

Right now, drop whatever you are doing and go climb a tree. Preferably in a cemetery. While you're up there, sing Blue Skies.

That's all you need for entertainment, folks - a tree and a cemetery and a song. All free for the taking. Beatertainment, I call it. Start now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 54 Kerouaction: On Food

Day 54 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions was inspired by this passage from On The Road.

This passage provides us with a beat shopping list. When I learned that Jack was a fan of spaghetti and meatballs in a can, my love of Chef Boyardee was validated. I've been eating it since I was a kid and I still love it. Had some for lunch today as a matter of fact.

And do I love bread? Check. Butter? Check. Coffee? Check. Cake? Check.

I'm definitely on the beat diet. And you?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 53 Kerouaction: On Hope and Procrastination

This is the passage from On The Road that inspired Day 53 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Day of Kerouactions. It's split across two pages in my version, hence the two pictures.

I'm sick as a beat dog today, so that's all I have to say about that.* If you want to see what I said about the passage, you'll have to buy the book. Or borrow it. Or steal it. Or come to Lowell in two weeks and whisper Rumpelstiltskin to me. Or take the copy I'm leaving on Jack's grave.

*At least I had enough presence of mind to include a beat movie quote.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Check out Littourati. It's a blog that centers around actual physical places mentioned in books. The author presents a quote from the literary work being read, and then a set of thoughts that relates to the quotation. Typing "On The Road" in the search engine at the site brings up many hits, including Selma, CA ("Sabinal"), which we just blogged about this morning.

Nice site, Michael Hess.

Day 52 Kerouaction: On Food

Day 52 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions is titled, "On Food." It references the below passage from On The Road.

The Kerouaction here is simple: The beat diet includes Mexican food.

I hope I don't have to point out that eating at Taco Bell does not automatically count as eating Mexican food. First, you may be not in Mexico or southern California (I know there are authentic Mexican restaurants elsewhere, but read on). Second, your Taco Bell food may have been prepared by an American teenager who can't find Mexico on a map. Third, it's mass-produced junk food from an evil mega-corporation, so eating there definitely violates beat protocol.

You could prepare Mexican food yourself, which would be better than going to Taco Bell, although its authenticity will be limited by your training and cultural heritage.

Here's your best option: Head for Mexico (or southern California) right now. Drop whatever you are doing and start out. Hitchhiking is the best method of travel for this Kerouaction. Take a couple of bucks so you can buy tacos and mashed pinto beans rolled in tortillas at an authentic Mexican restaurant when you get there.

Let's clear up some confusion about where Sal was when eating his tacos and mashed pinto beans rolled in tortillas. At the time, "Sabinal" is where Sal (Jack) was living with Terry (real-life Bea Franco) in her brother Rickey's garage in this part of the book. Sabinal, Mexico is southeast of Tuscon, AZ and southwest of Las Cruces, NM, due south of the New Mexico/Mexico border. So it might seem to the casual observer that Sal was living in Mexico with Terry.

However, it makes no sense that Jack was talking about the real Sabinal, Mexico, because, first of all, it is 17 hours and a thousand miles from Madera, CA, where Sal, Rickey, and Ponzo go to see a farmer about some manure. You don't drive a thousand miles to see a farmer about manure. Second, Bea Franco was from Selma, CA. There is no Sabinal, CA. Third, Jack calls Sabinal "a little California town--a whistle stop on the SP."

Fourth, Jack describes eating this food in "Fresno Mextown." There is no Fresno, Mexico, but there is a Selma, CA just southeast of Fresno.

So, Sal was eating Mexican food in Fresno, CA. That makes it okay to eat Mexican food in a Mexican restaurant in Fresno, CA and call it beat. At the same time, Jack spent a lot of time in real Mexico, so an even beater action would be to head for Mexico for this particular meal.

Sabinal would be a nice touch. On the other hand, Selma, CA, would suffice. And they have a Taco Bell. Sigh.... At least take your copy of The Beat Handbook with you and get the cook to autograph page 121.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2011

Kerouac fans, your chance to hang out in Jack's beautiful hometown of Lowell, MA, and experience a tour of our favorite author's bars, poetry readings at Jack's gravesite, music by David Amram, and a host of other happening events is fast approaching (October 6-10). If you don't yet have reservations at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center, their phone number is 800-321-2211. Mention Lowell Celebrates Kerouac. It might be too late, in which case you can still get a room somewhere nearby. Last year we stayed in Chelmsford, and it was a quick drive into Lowell. This year we scored a room at the aforementioned establishment, which we stayed in three years ago. It's a great place in a perfect location.

Click here for the LCK 2011 schedule.

Here's your extra incentive for attending this year. If you come up to me during the weekend and whisper "Rumpelstiltskin," I'll give you a free copy of my book, The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions.

We'll also be reading from Book of Sketches at Jack's grave (videography and subsequent YouTube posting included), drinking some 16-year-old Bushmills, and leaving a copy of the book there, so that's one other chance you have to score a free copy (signed, of course). If you're there when we're there, we'll put you in the video (click here for proof from 2009).

If you're a Kerouac fan, you'll be there. Period. No car? Hitchhike. No money? Don't need any - events are free. No lodging? Sleep under a tree. No food? Dumpster dive.

A real beat would not let anything get in the way of attending Lowell Celebrates Kerouac.

See you in Lowell.

Day 51 Kerouaction: On Interconnectedness

"'We're all in this together!' yelled Ponzo."

Would someone please tell that to the Republicans?

But I digress. The point here is that we're born, we die, and in between we experience - with everyone else - life. The common human experience connects us all. It reminds me of Madame Griggs, my high school French teacher, who used to say:

The ins and outs
The ups and downs
The comings and goings
Of life and death
Are here to stay*

Jack would appreciate the French reference. But, again, I digress.

Dig the ride and remember that you are not the only passenger!

*Google translated this to French follows. Yvan, what would it be in Quebecois?

Les tenants et aboutissants
Les hauts et les bas
Les allées et venues
De la vie et la mort
Sont là pour rester

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Day in the Life of ... Dean Moriarty

Click here to read a mildly amusing essay.

Anyone want to tackle a similar assignment as Jack?

Day 50 Kerouaction: On Priorities

Before we get started, I want to point out that we are halfway through our sojourn through the books that inspired The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions. By the time we're done, faithful Daily Beat readers will know each passage from The Dharma Bums and On The Road that inspired an entry in my book. This is in lieu of trying to publish the book with the Kerouac passages, something I was advised against by a New York agent who works with Penguin Books.

Day 50 in The Beat Handbook, titled "On Priorities," is based on the below passage from On The Road.

Beats know how to prioritize. Drink or work? That's a beat no-brainer. If you don't have money for a drink, work a little bit until you do and then buy some booze. Drink up. Repeat. Any questions?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 48 Kerouaction: On Movies

Jack loved movies, as evidenced by this passage from On The Road. Sorry it's split across two images, but that's how it is in my super-top-secret official version of "THE BOOK." You can handle it.

This passage inspired Day 48 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions. The nub of this passage is that it is beat to seize on a movie line and repeat it ad infinitum. I sprinkle movie lines throughout my daily conversations. Sometimes folks pick up on them, and sometimes they don't. You'll find them throughout my book and this blog, all evidence of a misspent youth. Shit, this would be the perfect place for one, yet I've drawn a blank. Well, a man's got to know his limitations.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 47 Kerouaction: On Boredom

Jack doesn't say he was bored in the above passage from On The Road, but it did inspire me to write an entry titled "On Boredom" in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions.

Why did I title it thusly? I can't recall exactly what was in my head in 2007 when I wrote that particular entry, but it struck me that many people complain of being bored. Given what Jack's example teaches us about how to have an interesting evening, complaining about being bored is rather unnecessary. You need booze, the outside, and company.

Booze? You are allowed to spend $3.38 (that's how much $.35 has inflated since 1947). Or you could use the five-finger discount method, although I discourage you from breaking the law.

Outside? Anywhere will do, but the higher the better (for the view), and water is always nice. But so is a jangly railyard. A fire is a nice touch, especially on a crisp night.

Company? Grab your sweetheart for one, and beyond that, go for the mad ones, especially bums and hobos if you can find 'em.

Bottom line: You're bored because you are boring. Sorry to harsh your mellow.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Look what's in the October Vogue!

I hope someone saves me a copy. Click here for a pic.

Day 46 Kerouaction: On Taking Action

Day 46 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions is titled, "On Taking Action," and references the below passage from On The Road.

Get a copy of my book to read a related (and fantastic) quote from a John Greenleaf Whittier poem. You'll also learn the name of the TV show that turned me on to that particular Whittier poem.

As Goethe said, "Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it."

Jack did that, and it paid off.

In the words of a famous movie boxer, "Go for it."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 45 Kerouaction: On Women

Day 45 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions is titled, "On Women," and references the below passage from On The Road.

This passage has always resonated with me. It obviously resonates with others, too, since it is often quoted, especially the last sentence. I think it speaks to fantasy, and "what-ifs," and longing, and any number of other deep-rooted human drives. I can remember being in New York City in 1964 and seeing a girl sitting across from me on the subway and fantasizing about her, about being in love with her, and all the rest. I was nine years old! It was such a vivid experience that I remember it to this day.

It may be rather a male affliction, born of the hunter-psyche with which we are genetically predisposed. I don't know. I do know it's worth resisting for the right woman, something I'm not sure Jack understood.

Jim Carrey's character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fell in love with every women he saw who paid him the least bit of attention. In Jack's case, attention was unnecessary - he could fall in love from afar. It strikes me that falling in love from afar, like I did on the subway, is a strategy that ensures safety because there is no risk (intimacy) involved. But there's also no reward.

Even though he was married three times and had many lovers, Jack made his way through life fighting incredible loneliness. The world was just too much for him. At times it seems that way to each of us, and the only thing that gets us through is love. For Jack, even a promise of love was better than nothing, but, in the end, his only solace seemed to come from writing. Part of me is sad about that, and the other part is glad, glad that someone so affected by the world chose to write it down for me to experience in relative safety.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 44 Kerouaction: On Clothing

If you aspire to beathood, you must be thrifty. I wrote about this on November 20, 2008. The beats were green before green was cool because they acquired (I say "acquired because sometimes they bought, sometimes they bartered, sometimes the gave, and sometimes they stole) clothing, food, gasoline, cigarettes, and other necessities "on the cheap."

For example, in the above passage from On The Road, Sal (Jack) references the flimsy Army raincoat he bought in Oakland for three dollars. Now, for perspective, $3.00 in 1947 would be $28.96 today. Could you get a flimsy Army raincoat for $28.96 today? The answer is . . . yes. Click here for proof.

In fact, Jack got ripped off! But, assuming it was a used raincoat, at least he recycled.

Go to your local Army surplus, Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc., and donate a bunch of old clothes. If you haven't worn it in a year, donate it. You're allowed to pick up one item while you're there. Make is a plaid flannel shirt, a canvas rucksack, or a flimsy Army raincoat. In honor of Jack.

Oh, I almost forgot. This passage inspired Day 44 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions. It would be very thrifty of you to purchase one, read it, and give it away. There are even some used ones on Amazon!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 43 Kerouaction: On Best Laid Plans

Here's the passage from On The Road that inspired Day 43 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions.

Jack and I disagree that his trip's outcome was disastrous. Hell, based on his "disastrous" trip, he wrote a best-selling novel that defined a generation.

But let's get to the nub of the issue here. It's not about the destination (or outcome). It's about the journey! Even if you get somewhere and it's not what you expected and you have to turn back because you run out of road, money, whatever, it's still worthwhile as long as you dig the ride along the way!

Plus, it's not too late to see America by road (preferably hitchhiking but driving is fine, too)! Take Jack's route if you can. I provided you a map of Jack's travels back on March 26, 2009. Have any of you used it?

Go go go and dig the ride, brothers and sisters!

Tomorrow: On Clothing.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 42 Kerouaction: On Exploring

Day 42 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Day of Kerouactions references the below passage from On The Road:

The Kerouactions? Several.

1. Sunbathe naked.
2. Take risks and explore things.
3. Read some Jack London.

Any questions?

P.S. If you manage to do all three things at once, let us know. You might be our next Beat Hero.

P.S.S. Tomorrow: On Best Laid Plans (and no, we're not talking about sex).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 41 Kerouaction: On Stealing

Here's the passage from On The Road that inspired Day 41 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions:

Bottom line: It's not beyond the beat way to steal shit from time to time. I'm not advocating breaking the law, but if you have to steal some food or whatever from a mega-corporation to survive, I say go for it. Try not to hurt anyone in the process. This does not include stockholders. Fuck them.

In this instance, Sal (Jack) and Remi (real-life Henry Cru) are stealing food from the barracks they are supposedly guarding. Remi justifies it by saying, "'Paradise, I have told you several times what President Truman said, we must cut down on the cost of living.'"

Sorry for the profanity. Well, not really. It's a sign of my frustration with the economy and the rich bastards who are reinventing the American Dream - for themselves only. Steal from them? I have no problem with it. Turnabout is fair play.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 40 Kerouaction: On Livelihoods

Here's the passage from On The Road that inspired Day 40 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions:

Here's the passage from my book that references it:

Day 40
Today’s Kerouaction: On Livelihoods

A beat policeman? This seeming paradox – someone who typifies the “anti-establishment” lifestyle becoming a law enforcement type – indeed tells us that it is okay to use the system to beat it. That is, if money is a necessary strategy for doing those things you want to do, and you are at a point where doing something beat to earn money is not happening, it’s okay to earn money doing pretty much anything. Even being a policeman. I bet Kerouac looked at it as a necessary evil, an ironic act, a way to take advantage of the system. So if you can earn a living writing or playing music, go for it. If you can’t, consider homelessness and mooching. As a last resort, get a job. Any kind will do as long as you don’t let it kill your soul.

Suggested Kerouactivity:
Make a list of five ideal beat jobs. Find a newspaper and see if any listings match entries on your list.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 39 Kerouaction: On Nicknames

Day 39 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions is titled, "On Nicknames," and references this passage from On The Road:

I remember my friends and I talking to each other in the 60s and prefacing comments with "Yo." Until I read this passage, I only thought of it as a way to get someone's attention, not as an appellation.

Anyway, I wonder where we picked up this particular language usage and whether it had some relationship to the beats.

Because, as you know, all roads lead to Kerouac.

On The Road published this date in 1957

Our favorite author's most famous work (not his best) was published on this date in 1957. The NY Times review of On The Road (click here) launched Jack Kerouac's literary career and, some would say, marked the beginning of his early death at 47 (12 years after publication of On The Road). Simply put, fame and all the bullshit accompanying it got the better of Ti Jean.

For related posts on The Daily Beat, see:
February 23, 2009
October 6, 2010

Huzzah, Jack!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 38 Kerouaction: On Courting

Day 38 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions references the below passage from On The Road.

Here's the actual entry from my book:

Day 38
Today’s Kerouaction: On Courting

Whereas the beat generation – and especially the hippie generation it spawned – has a reputation for meaningless, casual sex, it would seem that the "king of the beats" advises that there is more to it than that. Granted, we might be talking about an uncommitted, "one-night stand," but even within that context we ought to attempt a soul-to-soul connection in addition to the physical. This may explain the pick-up line which is the subject of Day 37. Depending on the situation, of course, this line may be seen as merely a pick-up line, even if delivered with sincerity. Timing is important as well as delivery. Find your own way to get into “real straight talk about souls” when you are “courting” – either short-term or long-term. It will reap beat dividends, because you are after "IT" (see Day 85).

Suggested Kerouactivity:
Write a beat love poem here. You never know when it might come in handy!