Sunday, April 23, 2017

Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades by John Suiter

Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades

A few months ago, this book arrived in the mail unexpectedly -- a surprise gift from my Kerouacian friend and brother, Richard Marsh. I started reading it immediately but got side-tracked, and yesterday -- a lowery Maine day -- I spent a little more time with it. I am in the beginning section about Gary Snyder's fire lookout time on Crater Mountain in the North Cascades. Author John Suiter's pictures are a great supplement to the very detailed information. I can't wait to get to the Kerouac section (another good thing about retirement being 38 days away!). Here is part of the description on Amazon:

Based on scores of previously unpublished letters and journals, plus recent interviews with Snyder and Whalen and several others, Poets on the Peaks creates a group portrait of Kerouac, Snyder, and Whalen that transcends the tired urban clich├ęs of the "Beat" life. Poets on the Peaks is about the development of a community of poets, including the famous Six Gallery reading of October 1955, and contains unexpected cameos by fellow poets and mountain-climbers Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Rexroth, Philip Lamantia, and Michael McClure. Poets on the Peaks is also a book about Dharma and the years of Dharma Bums--from the 1951 roadside revelation in the Nevada desert that led Gary Snyder to drop out of academia and head for Japan, to Kerouac's lonely vigil with The Diamond Sutra on Desolation Peak, to Philip Whalen's ordination as a Zen priest. Finally, Poets on the Peaks is the story of the birth of a wilderness ethic, as well as a photographic homage to the Cascades landscape, a landscape virtually unchanged since these men journeyed there thanks to the environmental protections they helped inspire.
On a related Kerouac note, sending your friends unannounced gifts for no particular reason is a very Beat thing to do. I can think of several times in Kerouac's novels where he gives or receives without expectation of anything in return. Can you?

Oh, and here's the Amazon link if you want your own copy: . Yes, it'd be better to buy it from a local used bookstore, but just in case that's not possible....

Monday, April 17, 2017

Jack Kerouac's Stations of the Cross and the Grotto protected in perpetuity

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

For those readers wondering about the fate of Lowell's Stations of the Cross and the Grotto that Jack Kerouac lovingly wrote about, it seems from a recent article in the Lowell Sun that they will be protected "in perpetuity."

Here's a link to the article:

So mote it be.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?

Here are some recent newsy pieces related to Jack Kerouac. The first is a story about the future of Kerouac's St. Petersburg house. The second is a related story which indicates that John Sampas' nephew, Jim Sampas, will be running the estate as opposed to his adopted son, John Shen-Sampas, who had been rumored to be the successor. The third is a weird little piece about Renault using artificial intelligence to get an electric car to write Jack Kerouac fan fiction.

Whither Kerouac's St, Petersburg house?

Whither the Kerouac estate?

Whither human intelligence?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Jack Kerouac on Reddit

Screenshot of the Jack Kerouac subreddit

I've mentioned this before on The Daily Beat (circa 2012), but for new readers and also for faithful readers who may have missed it, here's a plug for Reddit, particularly the Jack Kerouac subreddit.

What is Reddit? That's a little hard to answer because it's sort of a combination social media site/discussion board/messaging service (according to this Pew Research Center article). The section titled "Understanding Reddit" in Part 1 is especially good as a brief overview.

Who uses Reddit? According to the Pew Research Center, users tend to be young, male, and self-identify as liberal. Seems like a perfect place for discussions about Jack Kerouac, n'est-ce pas?

To wit, I created the Jack Kerouac subreddit (subreddits are pages in Reddit devoted to certain topics) several years ago and just noticed that there has been an uptick in activity lately.

If you want to explore Reddit, just click here. If you're like me, you may have to play around a bit to figure out how to navigate the site. I don't find it intuitive (but young, male, liberal, digital natives do -- according to my partner's sons).

If you want to go directly to the Jack Kerouac subreddit, click here.

Once in a while I will post a link to my blog in the Jack Kerouac subreddit, but I try to avoid that as I am the moderator and I guess doing so violates Rediquette.

There's also a Beat subreddit here and you may find that interesting (although, like the Jack Kerouac subreddit, it is not very active).

It seems to me that a Jack Kerouac subreddit is a natural for Reddit given the demographics of Reddit users, and I am glad to see some activity there of late. There's nothing in it for me other than the satisfaction of providing another place for people to share about Jack Kerouac on-line.

Check it out and please feel free to post a question or a link -- or just say hi.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

I was just looking at stats for The Daily Beat and noticed that a fairly recent post (December 4, 2016) has crept up to #7 on the all-time pageviews list. I can't explain it like I can other posts in the top ten list (e.g., the one titled "Kristen Stewart Topless in On The Road" continues to be the top pageview-getter of all time -- duh).

This particular post doesn't have a salacious title, and the content is homegrown. That is, it's just some original Kerouacian musings on a Sunday morning titled, "Jack Kerouac and the Tao of fried eggs."

If you haven't read it, click here to do so.

I wish I knew why it got so popular compared to my other 1,296 posts since 2008. I'd like to think it's because of decent writing and not just the quirky title, but that's probably not how pageviews happen. It's more about how Google indexes a particular post and its title, how much the link to the post gets shared by others and where (e.g., social media), and other obscure reasons, I'm sure.

Maybe in retirement I will spend some time learning how to optimize a blog for readership, and get a million followers, and monetize The Daily Beat, and become rich, and . . . well, after all, it is April Fool's Day.

Happy Saturday, dear readers.

And Happy Birthday to my son, Jason, born this date 37 years ago.