Friday, January 29, 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The U.S. Presidential election: What would Kerouac do?

U.S. Presidential politics continues to heat up, with each campaign maneuvering to put its candidate over with the electorate. As loyal readers of The Daily Beat know, the thesis of my book, The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions, is that one only needs to do what Kerouac would do in order to be "beat." In other words, the beat path is discernible by answering the question: "What would Kerouac do?" So, what would Jack do regarding Presidential politics?

Here is a quote from William S. Burroughs in the documentary, Kerouac (click here):
Well, he seemed to me to be completely apolitical. I don't think he ever signed a petition or took part in a demonstration.
If that's true -- and I'm not about to research it further than Burroughs' own words -- then I'm going to offer some advice that differs from my usual slant on things: DON'T BE LIKE JACK IN THIS REGARD.

Elections matter. It's easy to crawl into a cave of apathy and say that all politicians are corrupt and it therefore doesn't matter who wins. It does matter. Maybe it is picking the lesser of two evils, but that's something! It's amazing that we live in a country where we can have elections and completely change the national leadership without violence, revolution, etc. Why don't we get more involved?

Here's something to think about. The next President may get to nominate as many as three U.S. Supreme Court justices. Don't tell me that doesn't matter. A certain composition on the Supreme Court could lead to overturning Roe v. Wade, or to ruling that Citizens United is unconstitutional, etc. Who the President is matters. Maybe not as much as it should, or could, but it matters.

So, if it's true that Jack was apolitical (and I know it's not as simple as Burroughs makes it out -- we can all find examples of Jack, especially in later years, opining about things political), please don't be like Jack. Sign a petition. Take part in a demonstration, Give money to the candidate of your choice. Volunteer to help a campaign. And for heaven's sake, when November comes around, vote!

I'm not going to try to persuade you whom to vote for: I just want you to care enough to get involved. Educate yourself about each candidate and then do what you can -- whether it's something big or something little -- to get her or him elected.

It matters.

Friday, January 22, 2016

All-time Daily Beat stats

For those of you following along at home, here are the all-time stats for posts on The Daily Beat between May 2010 and January 2016.

Obviously, seeing Kristen Stewart's tits continues to enthrall search engine users, as does accessing the full text of On the Road. It surprises me that pronouncing "Cannes" is so popular. Why the official OTR movie website got so many hits is beyond me. I'm happy about the "fellaheen" post being popular, as well as my spontaneous prose ramble ("Dimetapp dreams"). I guess I can understand why the release date of the OTR film was popular. It's a testament to Gerry Nicosia's staying power in the Kerouac world that my interview with him about the OTR film ranks 8th in all-time hits. U.S. Citizens traveling to Cuba? That was prescient for 2009 given what's happened since. Finally, my next tattoo is apparently of interest to a number of people.

If you want to read any of these posts, simply find them by their date over there on the right hand side of the screen. While you're at it, check out some of the other 1,195 posts I've published since the inception of this blog in 2008. The year 2012 was the winner in terms of number of posts (320), and 2014 was pathetic (33). I did the latter on purpose to honor that beer from Latrobe in my home state...not.

For context, my posts rarely get less than 40 pageviews but frequently get into the 3-digit range. Four digits is rare.

And so it goes....

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Kerouac redux

Classes at my university start today, and tomorrow I will be meeting with my First Year Seminar class for the first time. The theme for the semester? Jack Kerouac.

This will be my fourth time teaching the course, so I have a pretty good idea about what we'll be reading and doing. However, I'm curious about what knowledge, skills, and dispositions that readers of The Daily Beat would expect students to come away with from an introductory course on Kerouac.

I look forward to your comments.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Patti Smith performs a piece a la Jack Kerouac

Until today we haven't said much - if anything - about Patti Smith here on The Daily Beat, but regular readers are probably familiar with this amazing multi-platform artist. Click here for some info from Beatdom on Smith. My friend Richard Marsh recently bought me her book, M Train, and I've been enjoying that for the last number of days. I recommend it.

Click here for a piece where Smith adapts a Kerouac poem, "The Last Hotel," to voice and guitar. If you want to read along from the source poem, it's on page 80 of Kerouac's Pomes All Sizes (1992, City Lights Books).

While you're at Brainpickings, check out another post about Kerouac here.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Keeping that Kerouac streak alive

I New Year's Kerouac-olutioned that I'd blog once a week (always, of course, related to Kerouac either directly or in some roundabout way), and this second full week of January is looking for a post in order to keep the streak alive (having posted the 1st, 7th, and 9th but not during this 2nd full week).

So here I sit staring at the blank screen and racking my brain trying to find something to post about that hasn't already been said a million times and has some remote value to Daily Beat readers.

I know: when in doubt, quote Kerouac.
If I had a buckskin stallion
I'd tame him down and ride away
Wait a minute. Crafty readers will know that's not Kerouac, and very crafty readers will know it's a lyric from a song by one of the best songwriters to ever grace this planet, Mr. Townes Van Zandt. I was listening to his "Best of..." CD in the car on the way home from the hand surgeon* this morning and I swore I was going to use that line somehow in the near future. Mission accomplished. And here's a link you might appreciate: Buckskin Stallion Blues.

But back to Jack. How about a quote from the 23rd page of Visions of Gerard? Why 23? It's a mystical number we've opined about before here at The Daily Beat (click here).
One night we're on the kitchen floor with the Boston American, I remember distinctly the pinksheet Hearst evening news, on the front page is the photo of a woman who's murdered someone, I take my scissors and stab her right in the eye impaling the paper on the linoleum--"Non non Ti Jean never do that!" Didn't understand (as I remember myself) the glee, the mindless happy glee that went into that vigorous stab--But to Gerard the mindlessness was precisely the horror and the currency of a hateful hopeless world....
How could a quote be more acutely relevant, given the mindless horror of the hateful hopeless world we live in, especially of late? Mindlessness. The opposite of which is mindfulness. The salvation of our world starts with each of us -- individually -- becoming mindful.


*Why the hand surgeon? During an annual check-up to get things burned off my skin, my dermatologist thought I might have a lesion under the fingernail of the middle finger of my left hand. Concerned that it might be cancer, or worse -- that it might prevent me from giving people the bird with my left hand -- she referred me to a hand surgeon. Said hand surgeon gave it the once-over and proclaimed, "I'm underwhelmed." The upshot is that he found nothing to worry about and I simply need to keep an eye on it. If it gets worse, starts to hurt, etc., I should give him a call.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Reading Kerouac aloud

If you want to experience Jack Kerouac fully, you must read his work aloud. My friend, Richard Marsh, and I just read Visions of Gerard aloud cover-to-cover - taking turns - over the last couple of days (he is visiting from Massachusetts). We agreed that we got more out of it than from any previous (silent, individual) readings (Richard has read VOG dozens of times).

If you can, try reading Kerouac aloud. It's fine to do it solo, but it's more fun with a friend. If you have such a friend to read aloud with, count your blessings. I do. Thanks, Richard!

Richard Marsh (L) and Rick Dale (R) reading Visions of Gerard aloud

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Seldom seen photo of Jack Kerouac

This photo, which recently appeared in the Jack Kerouac Facebook group courtesy of friend and Kerouac scholar Kurt Phaneuf, had not been previously seen by many members of the group, myself included. The only info I have about it is that it was taken at Nicky's in Lowell (now Ricardo's) -- where Jack used to hang out because it belonged to his in-laws and they looked out for/tolerated him -- around 1967.

By the way, if you are not yet a member of the Jack Kerouac Facebook group, I recommend asking to join (it's a closed group). Just go here and click Join. It features lots of scholarly as well as fan-based posts, and a treasure trove of archived photos and documents. The group is managed by several administrators who are well-versed in all things Kerouac, including Dave Moore from the U,K., a noted Kerouac scholar.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year 2016

The Daily Beat wishes all of our readers joy, kicks, darkness, love, travel, adventure, blessings, and music in 2016.