Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Kerouac anniversary of sorts

Note the author's name in the original edition

If you've never read The Town and the City, Kerouac's first published novel, it is required reading for Kerouacians. According to the Cosmic Baseball Association's Jack Kerouac Chronology, a resource I recommend and which you can visit here, on this date in 1949 The Town and the City was accepted for publication by Harcourt Brace. Jack was to receive a $1,000 advance in monthly installments. I have not triangulated this date and event, so if someone has conflicting information, let me know.

Kerouac refers to money from this book in On the Road at the very beginning of Part 4 when he says:
I came into some money from selling my book. I straightened out my aunt with rent for the rest of the year.

As my great friend Richard Marsh would say, the beginning of the The Town and the City is a beautiful start to a book:
The town is Galloway. The Merrimac River, broad and placid, flows down to it from the New Hamsphire Hills, broken at the falls to make frothy havoc on the rocks, foaming on over ancient stone toward a place where the river suddenly swings about in a wide and peaceful basin, moving on now around the flank of the town, on to places known as Lawrence and Haverhill, through a wooded valley, and on to the sea at Plum Island, where the river enters an infinity of waters and is gone. Somewhere far north of Galloway, in headwaters close to Canada, the river is continually fed and made to brim out of endless sources and unfathomable springs. 

Thanks, Harcourt Brace. Thanks, Jack.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Spontaneous prose on a lowery afternoon

Sitting here without a breath to my name it seems ludicrous to avoid any insurgent uprisings volcano-like but brown not white even so they call me by a number not a name lord lord gotta do my time song lyrics bluegrass but then who cares about it even in the middle of the oceanic gateway to the stars. So what? he said and I told him so what but he went ahead and finished anyway saying no time like the present despite your protestations to the contrary Contrarian Blues seems like a good name for a band or maybe a song. Or both. Not to wax musical in a Kerouac blog but this is my lame effort (is that politically incorrect?) to post something spontaneous in keeping my streak alive with at least one blog entry per week which I've done for a number of weeks now, inspired by Kathleen Thompson whose book The Project-Driven Life you should really buy from Amazon but then you should buy a lot of books from Amazon not the least of which is Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, a beautiful book I am re-reading along with All the Wild That Remains by ??? about Abbey and Wallace Stegner. I can fill in those question marks later but then is it spontaneous so maybe I'll add the author's name as a post-script for those interested enough to find out. I've been reading more lately than lately than lately and one of the books I am reading isn't even a book it's a bunch of ones and zeros in my phone: You Can't Win by Jack Black 1922 or something a big influence on Burroughs but I'm also reading Victor Wooten's The Music Lesson (a birthday gift from TG) initials for confidentiality for no particular reason I don't think Tom would mind my invoking his name here on The Daily Beat perhaps it would be a good thing, I don't know, sort of like cheesecake when it goes bad and the cedar waxwings won't stick around long enough to do anything about it. I tell my students when I assign a spontaneous write to use a pen because the temptation to edit on the fly while typing gets in the way but I am typing this and yes editing on the fly for spelling because I cannot stand to let a misspelled word stay on the screen for more than the time it takes me to backspace and fix it and yes, I know there are grammatical issues afoot but I can live with them for some reason. Spelling is different. I can't abide misspelled words, even if they are in a draft and I can fix them later. I suppose there are two types of people: those who care about spelling and monsters. I saw that on a meme on Facebook about some other behavior and found it funny. That's probably enough for now and at least it keeps my streak alive and if you stayed with me throughout this ramble, I apologize, I apologize, I apologize: Deadwood was a great show and fans will get the reference. Ian McShane needs to be in more movies or maybe he is and I just need to seek them out. Richard and I learned about a film titled Next Stop: Greenwich Village that we both want to see. I need to see if it's available from the library. Wouldn't be hard to ascertain that what with the Internet and all. This hasn't seemed all that spontaneous but trust me it's the words that spewed out of my mind with as little conscious interference or interferon as possible. Don't judge me because it's not as profound as you wish or as shallow as you hoped for. Nothing is impossible if you live in a dream state and sleep outside on a ledge in a sleeping bag at least once a year. That's it I am done and done and done and plum ran out of dried prunes wait a minute I got that backwards funny what goes through the mind. Teaching about Buddhism next week a little bit in preparation for reading The Dharma Bums am I a bad person if I go back through this free write and italicize book titles? If so, let me be a bad person in that regard or any regard for that matter meter metier metronomic Kerouac riff raff Ginsbergian soliloquy amaranthine (new word my friend Vick taught me today) and a beautiful soul-stirring word it is at least to me and that's the first person to please where new words are concerned. I'm off to the races now so keep my seat warm and run the engine a little bit every day to make sure you keep the battery charged - my battery - filled with gasoline, too (spelled that gasoling and fixed it on the fly - told ya). Oh well, not every free write is a success wait a minute define success did I write endlessly for several minutes or not (the answer is yes although I forgot to consult a timepiece watch clock digital or analog or otherwise) random words are floating down the hallway like "primary care" and I don't want to know more than that but I can guess. What will you do with your one wild and precious life thanks to Mary Oliver? So be it.

P.S. David Gessner wrote that Abbey/Stegner book....

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Happy 97th Birthday to Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Poet and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti turns 97 today. Co-founder of San Francisco's City Lights Books in 1953 with Peter D. Martin, Ferlinghetti was instrumental in getting Beat literature into print, not the least of which was Allen Ginsberg's Howl, over which a famous obscenity trial was held in 1957 (and the good guys won!). Click here for the website of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.

Perhaps most notably for Kerouac fans, Ferlinghetti was Jack's publisher and friend. It was Ferlinghetti's cabin in Bixby Canyon that Jack retreated to in 1960, an experience about which he wrote his desperate 1962 novel, Big Sur, about the dark night of the soul he experienced there.

Jerry Cimino, founder of The Beat Museum (on Broadway, literally within view of City Lights Bookstore on Columbus Avenue), wrote a great piece today in honor of Ferlinghetti's birthday. It contains some essential biographical information as well as links where you can read and listen to Ferlinghetti read his poem, "Sometime During Eternity..." (click here). (A poem -- and this is very tangential -- that reminds me of what my poet friend Charlie James told me was the Beatnik trinity: Daddy-o, Laddy-o, and Spook.)

If you're ever in San Francisco, you absolutely have to visit City Lights Bookstore. While you're at it, make it a three-for-one and visit Vesuvios's across Jack Kerouac Alley and The Beat Museum across Columbus and Broadway. It's a required Beat pilgrimage.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Ferlinghetti. May you live to be a hundred and a hundred more!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Patti Smith's M Train

I just finished Patti Smith's M Train, a gift from my great friend and fellow Kerouacian, Richard Marsh. Richard has been a fan of Patti Smith for some time, I think, whereas I have never listened closely to her music nor read her work at all. Until now.

This book is delicious. There were passages that moved me to tears, memories that read like my own, descriptions that transported me to exotic places, references to writers that crept onto my to-read list, and so much more. Patti Smith is so present in these pages that I feel like I know her, that we could sit down for coffee at one of her beloved cafés and it would be like two old friends meeting after a long absence.

This book left me just about wordless. That is how moving it is. Get your own copy and devour it.

Oh, and the Kerouac connection? Smith was great friends with William S. Burroughs. Need more? Click here. Or here. And, she mentions Kerouac in the first chapter of M Train.

Aram Saroyan's Play about Beat Poet, Lew Welch: This Friday in Venice, CA

I saw the following on Aram Saroyan's Facebook page:
as Lew Welch in
The Life and Times of Lew Welch, Beat Poet 
Written and Directed by ARAM SAROYAN
Beyond Baroque Friday, March 25, 2016, 8:00 P.M.
681 N. Venice Blvd. Venice, CA 90291 Ph: 310-822-3006

Faithful readers of this blog will know Aram as the son of William Saroyan, an author who influenced Kerouac, but Aram is an accomplished writer in his own right. Click here for a great essay he wrote titled, "Beat America." Aram participated with Ted Berrigan in the famous interview with Kerouac and his mother at their Lowell home which was published in The Paris Review in 1968 (click here).

Lew Welch, of course, was an acclaimed poet (click here for my review of his work) and friend of Kerouac who appeared as Dave Wain in Big Sur and who co-wrote Trip Trap: Haiku On the Road with Kerouac and Albert Saijo.

Here's a link for information on the setting of the performance:

If you're a Kerouac fan and can get yourself to Venice on March 25, go go go!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Review: Gerard: The Influence of Jack Kerouac's Brother On His Life and Writing

One of my Kerouac class students is writing his research paper on the influence of Jack Kerouac's brother, Gerard, on Jack's life and writing. Last week students turned in an outline of their paper, and I asked them to provide references they were going to be using. I ask for five references in total, with three being from scholarly journals (if possible -- that is not always easy depending on the thesis, but they can at least use three scholarly sources). They already submitted a research question earlier in the semester. Next a rough draft is due, and then, finally, the final paper. I required these waystations toward a paper -- research question, outline, rough draft -- because I know that some students need such structure to make sure they don't begin their paper the night before it's due (and thus turn in something that is inevitably not very thoughtful, let alone that they probably don't learn much in the process).

Being a pragmatist, I use -- and encourage my students to use -- Google as one way of identifying sources. Granted, it is fraught with scholarly danger, but I tell them that if they find something that isn't clearly scholarly to ask me if it's at least credible. To wit, I don't think Beatdom or LitKicks or similar sites are peer-reviewed by definition in academe, but they often have credible articles that are on point and are, at the very least, good starting points. As is Wikipedia, but I daresn't say that because I will get drummed out of the academy. Naturally, I show them how to access and encourage them to use our own library's scholarly databases.

I queried Google to see what I might find (and suggest to this student). I used the phrase "Gerard influence Kerouac," and the second hit was Donald Motier's book, Gerard: The Influence of Jack Kerouac's Brother On His Life and Writing," available via Amazon, I had not heard of it before and it had no customer reviews (although it's fixing to), but I bought it anyway, thinking it serendipitous that my friend Richard and I recently did a marathon reading of Visions of Gerard. I thought that if the book came soon enough, I could lend it to the aforementioned student, given that it might take a while to get it by interlibrary loan (if he even wants to reference it). It didn't hurt that Gerald Nicosia, author of Memory Babe, wrote this blurb for the book (as it turns out, it's on the back cover):

There is no understanding Jack Kerouac without understanding the power his brother Gerard had over his heart and his imagination. Donald Motier provides the book every Kerouac student must read. This is a many-faceted flashing mirrored ball with gleams and insights into Gerard hitting you from every direction and, pervaded by the reverence and sincere love Jack and Motier himself feels for this child saint who inaugurated the Beat Generation.
I just read the book this morning, in one sitting of about half an hour or so -- it's that brief -- and I must admit that Gerry is not far off in his praise for the book. The version pictured is the one I purchased, and it has a 2010 copyright by Publish America (a self-publisher for you self-righteous academics who will now not give the book any consideration); however, a read of the introduction reveals that it first appeared in 1991 courtesy of Beaulieu Street Press (the latter has little on-line presence and I cannot ascertain whether it is a self-publisher).

This little book, 65 numbered pages, is full of Gerard's spirit just as Gerry points out. It includes a brief introduction that sketches out how the author became interested in the topic, followed by a short biographical sketch of Gerard that features quotes from Lowellians who knew Gerard: Roger Ouellette and his sister, Pauline. It also features the text of Gerard's obit from the Lowell Sun. This is followed by a creative and informative "interview" with Gerard, a piece previously published in John Montgomery's Kerouac at the Wild Boar & Other Skirmishes (1986).

This is followed by a one-page entry titled, "Gerard's Influence on Jack's Life," concluding with a powerful quote from Kerouac's Book of Sketches.

The next section is titled, "Gerard's Influence on Jack's Writing." In it we learn all of the places Kerouac mentions Gerard in his writing, and get to read a number of passages with analysis. We also find a copy of Gerard's birth certificate (with Kerouac spelled Keroack), death certificate, and various other documents as well as relevant pictures from Lowell. The author experiences several visions of Gerard during the visit, hits many Lowell Kerouac hot spots on a boozy tour with Father Spike Morissette, and even has to relieve himself in the wash basin of a chapel (at Spike's suggestion).

Next is another previously published piece which appeared in the Spring 1991 issue of The Kerouac Connection. It's titled, "Revisiting Nashua-Lowell on the 60th Anniversary of Gerard's Death." For me, this spontaneous-style journal-type entry alone justified the price of the book. It's exactly the kind of thing I love to do -- visit Kerouacian sites, meet interesting characters, and write about it.

If you are looking for an exhaustively researched and comprehensive treatise on the influence of Gerard on Kerouac's life and writing, this is not it. On the other hand, if you are looking for something on the subject that is heartfelt and contributes a few unique contributions to the topic at hand, I doubt you'd be unhappy about buying Motier's book.

Here's the Amazon link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Gerard-Influence-Kerouacs-Brother-Writing/dp/144895519X

P.S. Below is a cover of the first edition, which Dave Moore pointed me to.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/29873672@N02/sets/72157631933085625

P.S.S. Below is a letter from Motier published in The Kerouac Connection in 1992 which, again, Dave Moore alerted me to on the Kerouac Facebook page.
From The Kerouac Connection (1992)

Friday, March 18, 2016

Spontaneous human combustion, Forteanism, synchronicity, and Jack Kerouac

For pretty much as long as I can remember, I have had a fascination with unexplained ("anomalous") phenomena: ghosts, the Loch Ness Monster, UFO sightings, Bigfoot, etc. For the past few weeks I have been listening to a podcast by Micah Hanks called The Gralian Report, in which he takes up such topics from a critical but not dismissive perspective (as well as other topics in the news, psychology, culture, government secrecy, and technology -- all of which are equally interesting to me). I have lots of time to listen to podcasts as I drive an hour each way to work.

From Mr. Hanks I learned the term, Fortean, which means someone who is interested in topics such as those mentioned above. The term derives from Charles Hoy Fort, an American writer and researcher into such anomalous phenomena. But I digress....

On this morning's drive the subject was spontaneous human combustion (SHC), a fascinating topic, and it reminded me of a bluegrass song my band, North Fork, used to perform: Time Left to Wander. We learned it from Country Gazette, one of the best bluegrass bands of all time. It was on their album, Out to Lunch (and also Sunny Side of the Mountain, I think).

I tried to find a version of the song on-line but came up with nothing. I typed the first line as a Google search and found this page: http://bigsurinternet.com/Drifters/jimrichmond.htm. It's an elegy written to a guy named Paco Huch, and it features many of the lines from the song.

Below are the lyrics. If you compare it to the above article, you will see verbatim passages. I am left to wonder if the songwriter borrowed from this article or vice versa! It's a mystery I'd love readers to solve. Let me know if  you have some insight into this.

TIME LEFT TO WANDER by Bill Martin  
It was pure speculation what became of him
It was clear he disappeared from his easy chair last night
In a ball of light 
So the local TV station sent a camera crew
To his home where he lived alone
And the scientist said in the interview 
Now he has time left to wander
Yes he's far away from the wind and the falling rain
Now he has time left to wander
And there's nobody left but the family dog 
And they say he was a hermit always kept to himself
Eyes of grey and far away
Always lost within his books upon the shelf 
So they offered Maharishi a professional fee
To disclose just what he knows
Of his routes and whereabouts in the galaxy

Those are the lyrics as I remember them. You can hear some of the song here: http://www.allmusic.com/album/country-gazette-live-sunny-side-of-the-mountain-what-a-way-to-make-a-living-mw0002222602. How many songs do you know about spontaneous human combustion?

Of course, regular readers are wondering by now: What is the Kerouac connection?

Well, the URL of the Paco Huch elegy contains the term Big Sur and is hosted by Big Sur Internet, and that was enough for me, although I suspect Paco was a beat character from what I've read. Besides. the topic of the song has the term "spontaneous" in it, so there's another Kerouac link. Oh, and the songwriter's name was Martin, so there's another Kerouac connection (the family name from The Town and the City).

Like I always say: everything connects to Kerouac. Everything.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Celebrating Jack Kerouac's 94th birthday in Lowell, MA -- March 12, 2016

Roger Brunelle convenes the multitudes at the Commemorative (Richard, Rich, and Bill are in this shot)

March 12, got an early start from Maine headed to Lowell to dig other Kerouacians celebrating Jack's 94th birthday -- by early I mean earlier than planned to give me time, time to get lost, time to get stuck on I495 traffic -- but 8 miles and 12 (seemed longer) minutes Lowell-ward I realize I still have my house shoes on. Now, house shoes, as everyone knows, are easy-on sloppy shoes you only wear around the house and aren't fit for walking redbrick city streets on a crisp spring day, so I exit and re-enter I95 heading the opposite direction, the wrong direction -- of course, I startle her with my return and explain why I'm back and naturally my stomach isn't cooperating so I visit the w.c., making me even later and now later by 20 minutes than my latest planned start time and I worry about being late for the big rendezvous with my friend Richard at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center (where you can park for free as long as you get your ticket validated). So, I drive like Dean Moriarty all the way to Lowell and pull into the parking lot at the NHPVC two minutes ahead of Richard and it's good to see my friend and we make our way to the Visitor Center to get validated and use the john (sucks to be old but beats the alternative) before making our way across Market Street and over to Merrimack to walk in the sun to the Jack Kerouac Commemorative at Bridge and French Streets where I learn that my phone -- my only camera -- is about dead from acting as a GPS for the trip despite being plugged into the "cigarette lighter" (quotes meaning it hardly is that anymore). We give Roger Brunelle, Kerouac/Lowell docent extraordinaire and tour leader, hugs -- he looks well and we are happy about that -- and chat a bit and also greet Lowell/Kerouac docent extraordinaire Bill Walsh and Rich from Long Island who we see virtually every October at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac which also is putting on this day's activities -- not the usual October crowd but about 20 or so people (see pic above) are gathered among the Commemorative's stones and Roger starts the downtown walking tour with background about the Commemorative with a few minutes to browse all the Kerouac passages chiseled in stone before following him over to Merrimack Street where he reads some Kerouac passages from well-thumbed index cards's he's used a million times and we are transported back to the time when young Jack worked at the Sun newspaper whose building dwarfs us like it did Jack -- and on up Merrimack we go stopping here and there and the traffic and sirens drowning Roger out on occasion but it doesn't matter because we're in Lowell on Jack's birthday and there's La Bon Marché Building where Jack held a booksigning for The Town and the City and there's Lowell High School and the clock (under which Jack may have kissed Mary Carney but there's some dispute about when that clock was actually installed -- I even blogged about it but forgot I had done so and Richard thought Roger thought it was installed too late for Jack to have been there but today he and Bill didn't think that necessarily) and City Hall and Pollard Memorial Library where he went to read books instead of attend class and kept his grades up anyway or because of it and now just like that it's lunchtime so we have lunch at an old hangout of Jack's -- the Worthen House -- right around the corner...the hot meatloaf sandwich with cheese and Cajun mayo makes my mouth water -- and I forgot to say that Roger joined us and wouldn't you know he paid for our lunches on the sly when we thought he was just paying for his drink and Rich joined us later, too, and we got some inside scoop on various Lowell and Kerouacian things and talked about being retired and teaching and the usual guy stuff. Next up Richard and I made time for a stroll around Lowell looking for coffee but the new organic fru-fru place is packed with a line and we see another one along Merrimack and an old guy hears us pondering it -- something about hypertext book cafe or something -- and warns us it's expensive and there's a Dunkin' Donuts in the next block so we go there and drink our coffees strolling the path that leaves Market Street and meanders along the canal and then over to Merrimack, Richard asking a young father taking pictures of his young son if he'd like a shot of both of them -- Sure! -- and Richard snaps a pic and I almost don't make it to the Visitor Center bathroom before committing a misdemeanor along the parking garage but I make it and we both make it to Steve Edington's talk on time (our Worthen excursion made us late for Bill Walsh's Pollard Memorial Library tour and we had skipped that, feeling guilty about it now) comparing the lives of Jack and Woody Guthrie and it's very informative and well done and David Amram gets up to play his pennywhistle/flute thingie behind Steve's conclusion and gives a talk about various things including the importance of finding an outlet for your creativity including self-publishing a book if that's what it takes and I think about my book which I'm fixing to again leave at Jack's grave but that is tomorrow -- afterwards we have a little time before the open mike at The Worthen so I follow Richard to my hotel (my GPS is out of commission like my camera) and we get a little lost and go around the rotary twice and he sees Stephens Street (more on that later and it may be v not ph) but we finally take the correct exit off the rotary and I get my key form the Courtyard desk clerk and park and grab my stuff for the rest of the day and Richard gives me a lift to The Worthen saving me cab fare but first we must go drive along Stephens Street where he says John Sampas lives then it's on to The Worthen where we part ways as he is heading home and I am continuing on. Upstairs is only Rich and Cliff Whalen is setting up so I go downstairs to grab a Baxter's (from Maine) Stowaway IPA and see Cat DeLeon from Lynn -- the artist we've mentioned here before -- and we say hi for the first time in person with a hug and chat a little and then we retire upstairs where there ends up being me and Rich and Cat and her nephew and her friend and Cliff and Bill Walsh so not much reading happens -- I read the last few paragraphs of On the Road, reciting the last paragraph by heart -- and Cat reads an excellent original for Jack's birthday and then some unpublished Lucien Carr letters -- and no one else wants to read so it turns into a Talking Jack session (LCKers will know what that title means) where we sit around and muse about things Kerouacian and wow do we muse -- lots about Kerouac's class consciousness and the influence of Lucien -- and I learn that Moxie was invented in Lowell not Maine and was called Moxie Nerve Food Tonic (thanks, Bill Walsh) and over an hour flies by so it's time for dinner -- Rich and I grab a  burger at the Wicked Irish Pub - 'twas good -- before heading to the UnchARTed Gallery to wait for jazz by the The Moody Street Sound and drink Naragansett (brewed in Rochester, NY) but the only seats are the couch in the back pointing at the bar and not the music but good thing we take it because there's enough room for Bill Walsh to squeeze in later and he and I get a chance to shoot the breeze and laugh at the guy during intermission doing a performance piece called "Iceberg Lettuce" -- several Naragansetts later (Bill says sportscaster Curt Gowdy used to advertise it and take a sip during the commercial) this old Kerouac fan is tired and I say my goodbyes to various folks and call Yellow Cab with my phone I charged a little at The Worthen -- hope they don't mind and I was glad I remembered to stow my charger in my backpack -- and wait in the flashing lights of some emergency vehicles down Market a ways -- the cab is timely enough and comes from the opposite direction I anticipated and cabbie makes sure I don't get in on the traffic side and I get a good cab ride -- safe and just chatty enough -- for a fitful night's sleep in a strange bed to recharge enough to visit Jack's grave the next morning which I do first thing and leave a book and then make my way back to Maine thinking about all the great Kerouac people I get to hang around even though one of them -- I won't say which one -- brings up our crazy Governor mostly because of his French-Canadian background and I'm sad that I didn't take my usual raft of pictures but I did get a couple as you can see and it was safe and efficient travel back to my sweetie in Maine and Karma the cat was happy and now it's back to the work-a-day world and no one said the secret word this year (again) but there's a brand new signed copy of The Beat Handbook (may get rained on - didn't bring my usual plastic bag for it) on Jack's grave in Edson Cemetery and I even rinsed off the Massachusetts road dust from my car this morning, thinking about Lowell and Jack and how like we talked about instead of open miking every seemingly at the time "little" decision makes up your life's trajectory and I think about how different my life would be if it weren't for Jack Kerouac. I'm happy, me.

The clock at Lowell High School under which Jack may have kissed Mary Carney (Maggie Cassidy)

The evening's beer of choice ($3 a can)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Whither Lowell's Stations of the Cross?

Stations of the Cross in Lowell, MA

The Grotto at the Franco American School in Lowell, MA
(c) 2015 by Rick Dale 

With the closing of the Franco American School in Lowell at the end of this academic year, many are wondering what will happen to its Stations of the Cross and the Grotto, a religious site that Jack Kerouac was familiar with from his youth and which he made famous in Dr. Sax.

Click here for a Lowell Sun article about the matter.

Those of us Kerouacians who have visited the Stations and the Grotto can attest to the solemn importance of this place, and I think we have an obligation to take action.

It probably would help to contact board members of the Franco American School, who can be found listed here. This is the name and address of the chair:

Robert Audet, Chair
Board of Directors
Franco American School
357 Pawtucket Street

Lowell, MA 01854

Also, it might help to contact Stephen Sowell, administrator of the Lowell Historic Board, which is responsible for historic preservation in Lowell. His contact information is here or you can contact him as follows:

Stephen Stowell, Administrator
Lowell Historic Board
375 Merrimack Street
2nd Floor, Room 51

Lowell, MA 01854

You could also write to the Chancellor of UMass Lowell, the latter being mentioned in the Sun article as a potential buyer of the property. Her contact information is:

Dr. Jacqueline Moloney, Chancellor
UMass Lowell
University Crossing
220 Pawtucket St., Suite #400

Lowell, MA 01854-5120

E-mail: Chancellor@uml.edu
If the school and historic board (and the Chancellor) were to receive a number of phone calls and e-mails from concerned Kerouacians around the world, it might persuade them of the importance of the Stations and the Grotto to many people beyond the confines of Lowell itself.

It takes five minutes to zap off an e-mail. Just do it.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Burroughs mesostics

Recently in my Kerouac class we listened to John Cage's 4'33" and looked at the mesostic poetic form, which Cage is known for using. Cage, of course, is not considered a member of the Beat Generation, but he was their contemporary and certainly approached art from a nontraditional perspective. He was involved in some way in establishing the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder (click here).

Over the last couple of classes, we have been watching A Man Within, a 2010 William S. Burroughs documentary, because we recently hit that part of On the Road where Sal, Dean, Marylou, and Ed travel to see Old Bull Lee (Burroughs). I asked the students to complete a mesostic using what they learned from the documentary as a way of note-taking during it. The results were fascinating to read. It's interesting to see the different take-aways from the same information source. Some of the students gave me permission to post their mesostics. Remember, these were done on the fly for note-taking purposes and not edited/corrected. Sorry if they are a bit hard to read. I think you can click on each image to enlarge it.