Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Curation #13 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Howl, the movie

Item #13 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is a DVD of the 2010 film, Howl. As once would guess, it focuses around young Allen Ginsberg and his famous poem. The film was directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman and runs 84 minutes. This DVD has special features as well. Like other Kerouac-related DVDs I've curated, this is still in shrink-wrap because I bought it to show my Kerouac class at the University of Maine at Farmington and never got around to doing so.

I watched this once, when it first came out, and I remember liking it. However, I don't remember much about the film. In fact, in all honesty, my memory is that Crystal and I watched it in a motel room while traveling and I slept through some of it.

The film stars James Franco as Ginsberg, and Franco has been accused by several women of being sexually exploitative or inappropriate. For some reason, despite these accusations, he has pretty much avoided the wrath of the #MeToo movement compared to other Hollywood types.

Which brings up a larger point. When an artist or writer acts badly, does that give us a reason to boycott his or her work? If so, what about Kerouac? He was certainly no role model when it came to sobriety or fatherhood, and -- let's face it -- he repeatedly fucked very young prostitutes in Mexico (and probably Tangiers -- I can't remember but Mexico makes my point). He would incur the wrath of the #MeToo movement, for sure.

We never came to any unanimous conclusions in class, but my last one was in Spring 2017 and the current movement hadn't started yet. Some students said personal behavior didn't matter and some said it did when it came to patronizing an artist or writer. The issue of degree never seemed to get much traction in our discussions, although personally I think there are differences between bad behaviors: some are worse than others and the punishment should fit the crime.

I believe Ally Sheedy and the others and I have no reason to doubt that James Franco is a douchebag when it comes to treating woman. Why he is still working is beyond my understanding, but perhaps a reckoning awaits him yet. What about due process, you say? "Out here, due process is a bullet." Name the movie and you win a prize.

But I digress. Howl got some good critical reviews although viewers weren't so kind (e.g., 3/5 on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.8/10 on IMDB). I wouldn't steer you away from the film, but I would definitely encourage you to take half an hour and read the poem along with Ginsberg by using the following links:

"Howl," the text
Ginsberg reading "Howl"

I made my students do this and I am sure it left an impression on them all, one way or the other.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my Howl DVD (9th item in the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: On The Road, the film. Warning: I'm not going to be panning it like so many others have done.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Curation #12 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Kill Your Darlings (DVD)

Item #12 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is the DVD of the 2013 film, Kill Your Darlings. Directed by John Krokidas, it runs 104 minutes. I purchased this DVD with the intention of possibly showing it to my Kerouac class at the University of Maine at Farmington, but I never did. As such, it is still in the original shrink-wrap.

I watched this film once when it first came out, and haven't re-visited it. I remember not liking it all that much. It just wasn't compelling for me. Regular Daily Beat readers will know its background. It basically tells the story of several Beat Generation figures in the early years (Lucien Carr, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac), focusing around the 1944 murder of David Kammerer by Carr. I've said previously that I try not to get into the weeds of analyzing the accuracy of a film adaptation of a novel, but this film presents itself more or less as a true story. Lucien Carr's own son, Caleb (author of The Alienist) is on record as saying the film is terribly inaccurate, relying too much on Ginsberg's slanted recollections. A friend of mine, who will remain nameless but who knows a lot about the Beats and Carr in particular, hates this film for its inaccurate portrayal of Carr et al.

Hence, watch it with a grain of salt. Or skip it and read Burroughs' and Kerouac's version of events in And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks. Or do some Googling (Carr, Kammerer, murder) and read any of the dozens of articles on the subject.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my Kill Your Darlings DVD (8th item in the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Howl, the film.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Monday, February 26, 2018

800,000 pageviews for this Kerouac-obsessed blog!

Google stats for The Daily Beat

According to Google stats, we have now passed 800,000 total pageviews of The Daily Beat. We're closing in on one million (1,000,000), which will need to be celebrated in some extravagant manner.

Kristin Stewart topless is still the leading all-time post by pageviews. The top three have remained consistent, but there is variation in the rest. For example, compare the two charts below.

Current stats (May 2010 - February 2018)

Previous stats (May 2010 - January 2016)

You may notice that the stats only go back to May 2010 despite my blog starting in fall of 2008. That's because I didn't use Google stats for the first couple of years. There may be a way to capture the old data, but it's beyond my technical prowess.

Happy 800,000 pageviews!

Curation #11 from my Kerouac bookshelf -- William S. Burroughs: A Man Within (DVD)

Item #11 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is a DVD titled, William S. Burroughs: A Man Within. Directed by Yony Leyser, it was released in 2010 and has a run time of 87 minutes. It's available from Amazon (see link below).

I haven't watched this since last spring when I showed it to my Kerouac class at the University of Maine at Farmington. My students usually thought it was worth watching in order to get a perspective on Burroughs (who they read about as Old Bull Lee in On The Road). They were always surprised at the level of influence he had on pop culture, including bands they dug like Sonic Youth. This documentary explores Burroughs' life through never-before-seen archival footage and interviews with colleagues and confidantes such as director John Waters, musician Patti Smith, and many others. It's narrated by actor Peter Weller and the soundtrack is by Patti Smith and Sonic Youth.

If you're a Burroughs fan, you may not learn a lot of new facts from this documentary, but it is well-produced and will likely keep your interest. If you're not, this documentary will provide a number of important insights into this key member of the Beat triumvirate.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my Burroughs DVD (7th item in the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Kill Your Darlings, the film.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Curation #10 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Big Sur (the movie)

Item #10 in the curation project of my Kerouac bookshelf is my DVD of Big Sur.

This is a 2013 film directed by Michael Polish (run time = 81 minutes). Jean-Marc Barr plays Kerouac, Kate Bosworth plays Billie, Josh Lucas plays Neal Cassady, and Radha Mitchell plays Carolyn Cassady. You'd likely recognize Anthony Edwards as Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The character list goes on for a bit, from Patrick Fischler as Lew Welch to Stana Katic (of the TV show, Castle) as Lenora. Henry Thomas of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial fame has a fairly brief role as Philip Whalen.

You will note that I used the real-life names of characters as opposed to the pseudonyms Jack used in the novel. That is because the film uses the real-life names of characters (with on exception being Lenora for Roman instead of Lenore)! I'm not sure how they swung that legally, but it's definitely an arguable approach. Some will love it, some will not. I thought it was a non-issue and appreciated it. Purists may disagree.

Overall, I thought this was a decent adaptation of Kerouac's novel (which, by the way, is one of my favorites). The casting was acceptable. I liked Barr as Kerouac more than I thought I would from the trailers (but his toupé is awful). Bosworth as Billie and Mitchell as Carolyn were appropriate choices, and Josh Lucas is not a bad Neal Cassady. Fischler as Lew Welch seemed to strike the right notes.

I've never watched the film to analyze its accuracy with the novel. I try not to do that with films because it ruins my enjoyment of them. Directors and screenwriters always take liberties with novels when they bring them to screen, and I don't see the point of screaming over and over, "That's not how it was in the novel!" Films and novels are different genres, and what works for one doesn't necessarily work for the other. I do think Big Sur is more film-able than On The Road, but I am really waiting for the film adaptation of The Dharma Bums, my favorite Kerouac novel.

I thought the film captured the essence of the novel, adequately portraying Kerouac's angst and breakdown in Big Sur. The acting was serviceable if not above average. There are a sufficient amount of voice-overs using Kerouac's own words from the novel, and the cinematography is beautiful.

I've watched this film numerous times and I like it more each time. I found some of the dialogue tough to discern, but that is likely from my diminished hearing acuity (that's why they have closed captioning).

The DVD is available from Amazon (see link below), and I'd recommend it if you are a Kerouac fan.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my Big Sur DVD (6th item in the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: a William S. Burroughs documentary.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Saturday, February 24, 2018

At the End of the Road: Jack Kerouac in Mexico by Jorge Garcia-Robles

I just finished At the End of the Road: Jack Kerouac in Mexico by Jorge Garcia-Robles. It's a quick read (130 pages) and I finished it in one sitting.

I found it interesting to read about all of Jack's travels to Mexico back-to-back, and hadn't realized how many times he had actually traveled there. The translation seems less terse and repetitive than the parallel Burroughs book (see I recently posted about, despite it being the same translator.

There's a lot interpretation here -- as opposed to straight biography -- about Jack's motivations and the meaning of Mexico to his life and writing. While I might quibble with some of it, I can see it all making coherent sense. It's a worthwhile read for any Kerouac fan.

Now I have to return it -- along with the Burroughs book -- to Richard. Not sure what I'll read next. I started The Crooked Timber of Humanity by Isaiah Berlin, but it's a collection of essays and not a straight-through read (for me, at least). Heady stuff.


Friday, February 23, 2018

Curation #9 from my Kerouac bookshelf: What Happened to Kerouac?

The 9th item to be curated from my Kerouac bookshelf is the 2-disc collector's edition of What Happened to Kerouac (2012). As intimated by the cover (see above), this documentary film includes interviews with a host of people who knew Jack -- too many to list here. Disc One runs 96 minutes and Disc Two runs 150 minutes.

Allen Ginsberg called this film "99 percent pure genius Kerouac."  It's still available pretty reasonably on Amazon (and probably other on-line sources). See link below.

Regular Daily Beat readers already know this is a "must-see" for Kerouac fans, and, indeed, it's on my bucket list to re-watch.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this Kerouac DVD set (5th item in the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Big Sur, the film.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Stray Bullet: William S. Burroughs in Mexico by Jorge Garcia-Robles

Yesterday I finished The Stray Bullet: William S. Burroughs in Mexico by Jorge Garcia-Robles. As faithful readers of The Daily Beat know from a previous post, I had borrowed it from Richard. It's a quick read (156 pages).

There weren't a lot of surprises here if you've read a lot of Beat history. The translation was a bit terse and at times repetitive. Overall, though, I enjoyed it, picking up a few new tidbits here and there. It includes a few pictures, two of which are gruesome shots of Joan Vollmer's dead body!

If you are seeking to read about Kerouac, Garcia-Robles does include mentions of Jack's visits to Mexico, but these sections are not too in-depth. The focus is, obviously, Burroughs. For an in-depth treatment of Jack's time in Mexico, I'll be reading Garcia-Robles' other book I borrowed from Richard, At the End of the Road: Jack Kerouac in Mexico. Stay tuned for my thoughts on that (it will be a little while until I get to it because Crystal has me reading The Glass Castle).

Curation #8 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg

Front cover


Rear cover

Curation item #8 from my Kerouac bookshelf is a 2-DVD set titled, The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg. It's a documentary film by Jerry Aronson, Academy Award-nominated director who accumulated over 120 hours of film on Ginsberg over 25 years. This was a birthday present from the California Dales (my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson) a couple of years ago -- I can tell because I wisely taped the gift card to the front of the case.

Disc One contains an 84-minute feature and 13 extras, including a "making of" featurette, interviews, and 2 photo galleries (Ginsberg's and the director's). Disc Two contains 29 interviews (from William S. Burroughs to Patti Smith to Bono to Hunter S. Thompson) and excerpts from the May 19, 1998 memorial at St. John the Divine in NYC.

The kids knew to get me this because it was on my Amazon Wish List. I wanted it primarily to show in my Kerouac class at the University of Maine at Farmington. If memory serves, I never got around to using it in class, and, thus -- believe it or not -- I have not watched much of it. That would take over 7 hours! That's just the run time of the video sections and doesn't account for how long one might linger on the two photo galleries.

Hence, I can't really comment on the content, but suffice to say that the set received great reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone and Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe. I'm certain it's worth my time given Ginsberg's literary and cultural contributions -- I just have to schedule it in. Being retired, I have little excuse, right?

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my Ginsberg DVDs (4th item in the pile) on the day I started curating my collection.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Curation #7 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Jack Kerouac Romnibus

Item #7 in my curation project is a case containing 2 CD-Rs that were given to me by a Kerouac scholar and friend who will remain nameless in case there are copyright violations afoot. The CD-Rs are identical (i.e., one is a copy of the other) and contain the Kerouac Romnibus. I can't remember why the case is labeled Kerouac, the Movie (King of the Beats) Romnibus. Maybe the King of the Beats documentary film is hiding in there -- I don't remember. That particular documentary used to be available free on YouTube but not anymore. It's a worthwhile purchase @ $3.99. I have it downloaded in Google Drive from when it was free. But I digress....

For the uninitiated, the Kerouac Romnibus is a Penguin-produced multimedia presentation of the life and work of Jack Kerouac via text, photographs, graphics, sound, animation, and video. It features the complete text of The Dharma Bums (multimedia enhanced), archival materials, biographical information, and interviews.

I have not figured out how to run the Romnibus on my current PC (something about having to install a certain version of QuickTime -- I can't remember how, but I got it to run on my old PC). This website says you can download the Romnibus, plus it gives details about what's in the program including a dozen or so screenshots: Check it out, but beware of viruses (I haven't tested it) plus this download doesn't include some videos. If you download it and it works, let us know in a comment. There is a fee (daily or monthly), and I assume Penguin has sanctioned it.

My memory of the Romnibus is that it is an extremely rich resource of great interest to Kerouac fans. One of the highlights for me was the enhanced version of The Dharma Bums, but there are many other gems in this multimedia extravaganza. Grab one if you get the chance, but realize that it's old technology and you may have to jump through hoops to get it to run on your PC or Mac. It's worth the hassle.

I need to play around with my copy and see if I can get 'er runnin'. I'll let you  know if I do....

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my Kerouac Romnibus (it's under yesterday's Nicosia DVD) on the day I started curating my collection.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Curation #6 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Public talk by Gerald Nicosia

The 6th item in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is a DVD of a public talk that Kerouac scholar Gerald Nicosia gave at the University of Maine at Farmington on April 24, 2013. This is my copy, which -- unfortunately -- skips. There is also a copy at UMF's Mantor Library, and I think I sent one to Gerry as well. So, it is a limited edition.

Some background. I brought Gerry to campus to teach my Kerouac class (twice) that week and to give a public talk. Wednesday evening, he spoke on "Why Jack is Back," focusing on why Jack and the Beats were back to change our lives once again (the On The Road movie had been in the news). Before a crowd of about 30 people (students, faculty, and community members), Gerry expounded on several things the Beats stood for: human interaction (community, presence, companionship); the evil of materialism; and, the dignity, value, and divine spirit in every human being. He gave plenty of time for questions at the end and there were a number of very thoughtful ones. Gerry demonstrated his profound knowledge of not only Jack Kerouac and the Beats but also about literature in general as well as the history of the United States.

For more on Gerry's visit, click here:

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my Nicosia DVD (it's under yesterday's Neal Cassady DVD that sits "atop" the pile -- couldn't resist the Kerouac reference -- of DVDs under the bobblehead) on the day I started curating my collection.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Monday, February 19, 2018

Curation #5 from my Kerouac bookshelf -- Neal Cassady: The Denver Years

Front cover
Back cover

The 5th installment of my curation project is the documentary DVD, Neal Cassady: The Denver Years. It's a product of Colorado Public Television and Mother Mind Studios, produced in 2015. I only see one left on Amazon (for 100 bucks!), but you should be able to order it from the estate for 25 bucks (

You can view an extended trailer here: (Note: There's a second clip after this one plays.)

I used to show this in my Kerouac class at the University of Maine at Farmington. It's based on Neal's writings (The First Third and the Joan Anderson Letter). As such, it includes a lot of voice-overs with relevant still pictures. It also includes interviews with a host of people who knew Neal, from his wife, Carolyn, to his children, to well-known Beat Generation figures like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, David Amram, and Al Hinkle.

There are some excellent insights into Neal's life here. I enjoyed this documentary and so did my students, plus I learned a few things about Neal's early life and about Denver. I think you'd find it worth the price.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my Neal Cassady DVD on the day I started curating my collection (just under the bobblehead).

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Recent Kerouacian experiences on the road

We got back today from a visit with Richard and Michelle at their new house in Massachusetts. While we were talking in the car on the way to go bowling, we somehow got on the subject of dilettantes and applied it to certain persons who exemplify that characteristic toward being beat. Beat wannabes, if you will. Or quasi-bohemians. Richard came up with the term "fauxbo," and it was perfect. Get it? Faux (fake) hobo.

Unfortunately, the term is already on Urban Dictionary with a definition of "fake boyfriend." Hearing that, Michelle suggested "phobo," which is a portmanteau of phony and hobo. Not bad. But, sadly, that term is on Urban Dictionary as well (meaning: xenophobe). And "Phobos" is a moon of Mars.

So we thought perhaps we had created a neologism, but fell a bit short. I'm not sure if you can suggest alternative definitions to Urban Dictionary for existing words....

While out for dinner Saturday night (before seeing the energetic Gaelic Storm in concert at The Calvin in Northampton), a young guy sat on the bench seat next to Crystal and asked her if she were leaving. She said no and then he asked her if he could share something with her. She assented and he said, "Jesus loves you." She smiled and said something like "Yay for Jesus!" and turned away to resume talking with the rest of us. He took the hint.

I borrowed two highly recommended books from Richard, both by Jorge Garcia-Robles -- The Stray Bullet: William S. Burroughs in Mexico and At the End of the Road: Jack Kerouac in Mexico. Richard's book collection is quite something (it's in a fantastic space above his garage that they call the East Wing). Their new house is fabulous.

We spent some time listening to Jack's recording of Dr. Sax. And talked Kerouac and Beat Generation stuff as you can imagine.

On the way home, along I-95 in New Hampshire, a guy in a green Jeep Cherokee with NH plates passed me on the right and then slowed down in order to roll down his window and stick his arm out with a big thumbs-up. We could only imagine it was because of my license plate (see below). He had to be a Kerouac fan!

This is an old picture so don't call Maine State Police on me for an outdated sticker!

One more adventure (in addition to Google Maps taking us in a circle when we left Richard's and we went back by his road in the opposite direction) was when we stopped to get gas and the fuel door wouldn't open to let me fill up! I've always wondered what you're supposed to do in such a situation. In this case, with Crystal pulling the release lever inside the car and me prying with my Swiss Army Knife (Victorinox, never Wenger) on the outside, we got it open. Not without scratching the paint, though. I may need to take it to the dealer and say WTF? That's a mechanism that just can't fail. Oh, and Crystal noticed a chip in my windshield on the way home.

We had a great visit and now it's back to routine before we head out west in March. It's also back to the curation project tomorrow. If you don't know what that is, read my last few entries here.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Curation #4 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Kerouac bobblehead

My Jack Kerouac bobblehead in its original packaging (sorry about the plastic)

The back of my Kerouac bobblehead's box

Next in my curation project (#4) is my Jack Kerouac bobblehead. This was a promotion by Lowell's Red Sox minor league baseball team. the Spinners, in consort with the UMass Lowell English Department. It was given out to the first 1,000 fans at the August 7, 2012 Lowell Spinners game, but it was also available by mail (the latter being how I got mine). This is the second such Kerouac bobblehead -- I don't have the first one. The first one goes for about 90 bucks on eBay and was given out on August 21, 2003. Click here for a Spinners bobblehead history.

The second version (mine) goes for about 30 bucks. If you're interested in having one of your own, just search for "Kerouac bobblehead" and you'll get there. Or offer me $1,000 cash for mine and I'll think about selling it. I note that the second version has a bobblethumb as well as a bobblehead.

As you can see, in the first version Jack is writing. In the second he is hitchhiking. Both have him wearing a backpack.

The 1st Kerouac bobblehead

I should point out that I am still waiting for Richard to take me to a Spinners game.

Next? We work our way down through that pile of CDs and DVDs. However, that won't be for a few days as we are headed to visit Richard for the weekend.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my bobblehead on the day I started curating my collection.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Curation #3 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Kerouac grave rubbing

Charcoal rubbing from Jack Kerouac's grave made by Charlie and Chris in 2009

This is the third item from my Kerouac bookshelf curation project. It's that mysterious tube I teased about previously (see pic below). Click here for that reference.

Indeed, this is a charcoal rubbing from Jack Kerouac's grave in his hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts. When we visited the grave during Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2009, two fans from Michigan -- Charlie and Chris -- were there making charcoal rubbings and they gave us one! It adorned my office wall at work (tacked to my bulletin board) from 2009 until 2017 when I retired, and now it sits unfurled atop my Kerouac bookshelf. Why don't I display it? I don't know -- it's a hassle for one thing. It's gets everything around it dirty when it's unfurled. Plus, I don't have a good wall space for it. I took the above picture by weighting it down on my workbench using what I could grab -- a can of WD-40, a can of Liquid Wrench, a propane cylinder, and a pair of pruning shears (cropped from the photo) -- on the corners. Now you know the status of my workbench: cluttered. At least I had enough space to spread out the rubbing!

Click here for pictures of Charlie and Chris (scroll down when you get there) and the "rest of the story."

For kicks, here's a pic from my first visit to Jack's grave in December 2005. You can see that the symbol of the dove is actually to the left of the inscription, not underneath it as in the rubbing. Charlie and Chris had to get creative because of the limits of their paper size.

Rick Dale at Jack Kerouac's grave, December 2005
Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf as it existed the day I started curating it. The next post in this series? My Jack Kerouac bobblehead....

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf and the mysterious white tube

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Curation #2 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Jack Kerouac Collection 3-CD Set

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

We are already at the second item on my Kerouac bookshelf in this curation series. As you can see above, underneath the pile of books on the left is an item labeled The Jack Kerouac Collection 3-CD Set (well, you can't read all of that in the picture so you'll have to trust me). It's still available from Amazon (see below) for $33.99. I don't remember what I paid for mine or how long I've had it (it's been years).

The cover

The CDs and the accompanying booklet

Sadly, CDs are just about extinct, as are CD players. Do new cars even have them anymore?

Nevertheless, this collection is audio gold for Kerouac fans, including  3 CDs: Poetry for the Beat Generation; Blues and Haikus; and Readings by Jack Kerouac on The Beat Generation. It includes a great booklet stuffed full of information about the set, starting with a reflection by Jack's daughter, Jan Kerouac, and moving through instructive pieces (some long, some short) by David Perry, Allen Ginsberg, Gerald Nicosia (2 pieces), Jerry Garcia, Stephan Ronan, Ann Charters, Steve Allen, William Burroughs, Michael C. Ford, Robert Frank, Ray Manzarek, Edie Kerouac Parker, Michael McClure, and Harvey Robert Kubernik. It concludes with a sessionography, bibliography, and a producer's note. It includes pictures throughout.

This booklet is worth the price of the set, but it's really about the recordings. Below is a picture of the sessionography that you'll likely have to enlarge to read. As I intimated above, it's a Kerouac gold mine. Everything here is Jack reading Jack.


Hence, what are you waiting for if you are a Kerouac fan and don't have this collection? I know I need to revisit the insert and listen to the CDs again -- it's that valuable and entertaining. And I would go so far as to say you don't even need to be a Kerouac fan to enjoy the recordings. Jack reading Jack is a thing all unto itself. Mellifluous is a word that comes to mind.

While we don't have nearly enough audio of Jack, at least a chunk of it is in this collection.

Happy listening.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Curation #1 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Beat Handbook

Per my recent blog entry (click here), here is my first entry discussing what's on my Kerouac bookshelf. As I said, I'm starting at the top and going left-to-right. Below is the picture I'm using for this curation effort.

As you can see, the first item on the left of this uppermost shelf (the top of my bookshelf/case) is The Beat Handbook. I am going to treat that pile of 8 copies as one item. Since I frequently hawk my book on this blog, I'm not going to say too much about it.

This pile of 8 books comprises all the hard copies I currently have on hand (for selling or giving away). My book is an example of print-on-demand publishing. That is, when someone orders it on Amazon, a copy is printed in response to that order and then shipped. As the author, I can buy them cheaper than the Amazon cost (currently $14.99 and Prime eligible). FYI, my book was published in 2008 by BookSurge. Since then, the company was bought by Amazon and is known as CreateSpace. I recommend the company if you are interested in self-publishing. I've used the company since Amazon bought it. I self-published my friend Charlie's book of poetry and it won first place for poetry in the Writer's Digest 18th Annual Self-Published Book Awards -- see a link to purchase Charlie's book over on the right side of this blog.

Allow me to repeat the story of my book. In 2005, I visited Jack Kerouac's grave for the first time on my way from Pennsylvania to see my long-distance girlfriend in Maine, Crystal, who is now my life partner (and I live with her in . . . wait for it . . . Maine). At the grave, I met a couple who were there on their honeymoon. Of all things! The young man said he was an aspiring writer and that if he ever got a book published he was going to leave a copy on Jack's grave in tribute to him as well as in thanks for the inspiration.

That motivated me to get off my ass and write a book. I don't know if I had started The Beat Handbook at that time but I do remember committing -- in my mind -- to writing a book and leaving a copy on Jack's grave. That is something I have done numerous times over the intervening years and have discussed the repercussions here on The Daily Beat.

I suspect that if I pulled out some journals from that era I could identify when I actually started writing the book in earnest. If I end up doing that I will post about it. It seems odd that the book took me 3 years to write....

I wanted to write a book related to Kerouac, but I knew a biography was beyond my ability -- and it had been done . . . repeatedly. But no one had written -- to my knowledge -- a book answering the question: What would Kerouac do? The thesis of my silly little book is that to know what Jack would do -- and therefore know what a true Beat would do -- one need only look to the actions of the characters in his novels.

I was originally going for a year's worth (365) of entries, but I settled on 100 and focused only on On The Road and The Dharma Bums. In effect, my book is a companion reader to those two novels, providing a daily meditation of sorts on actions (I call them Kerouactions) the characters take. There are entries on everything from sex to eating to parking to courtship to partying. Every entry also includes a Kerouactivity: something concrete you can do regarding that day's Kerouaction. Sometimes these are writing assignments and there is plenty of white space in my book for that.

And I said I wasn't going to write too much about the first item on my Kerouac bookshelf! But there is more to say than even the above, and I am going to stop here.

As a teaser, the item I will discuss next is the 3-CD set called The Jack Kerouac Collection, and then it is on to that mysterious white tube. Oh, and if you want to buy a copy of my book, below is a link. Happy Monday!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

What's on YOUR Kerouac bookshelf?

I'll assume, since you are reading this blog, that you have a bookshelf or two dedicated to Jack Kerouac. In my case, it's an entire 5-shelf bookcase (plus I use the top). There are also various Kerouac or related books strewn throughout the house at any given time (next to the bed, on the bookshelves upstairs, etc.). For the most part, though -- I'd say 95% -- my Kerouac and related books are on what is affectionately known in my house as my "Kerouac bookshelf" (albeit it is a bookcase).

Before we get to pictures, I want to share an idea to spur future blog entries. As with all ideas, I don't know where it came from, but I think it's a pretty good one. What if I go through my Kerouac bookshelf in order -- top to bottom and left to right -- and discuss each book? One per blog entry per item. Such entries might be critiques of said book (or item -- there are a couple of non-book items), a story about how I acquired it (if I can remember), a quote from within, meaningfulness, copyright details, and so on. In other words, I will riff a little about each item on the bookshelf.

I plan to get started with this project soon, maybe tomorrow. It will last a while as there are approximately 160 discreet items! That will give me blog fodder for months.

And that was really the genesis of my idea: What the Hell do I have to write about that hasn't already been said? The answer was to write about my collection of Kerouac and related books. It's a curation of sorts, more for my benefit than anything else, but it may generate some interesting posts.

The pictures will drive the order -- whatever the order was when I took the below pictures is the order in which I will discuss the items. This is because the actual physical order might change. For example, when Richard visits he usually borrows a book or two to read during his stay and it's not necessary that it goes back exactly where he got it. Or, I might add some books along the way (I'm trying not to do that so much anymore, being on a fixed retirement income and thinking about having less stuff, not more). The few relevant books in other parts of the house I can add on at the end or at some point along the way. I know, for example, that The Unknown Kerouac and The Holy Barbarians are on my bedside table, as is Pomes All Sizes. I think there's a book of Ferlinghetti's poetry floating around upstairs somewhere (and it might belong to Crystal -- I've lost track).

So, without further ado, herewith are pictures of my Kerouac bookshelf as of 10:30 AM on February 10, 2018. I did not fancy it up or organize it in advance. This is the actual state of the situation as I found it this morning. Please note: The position of a book on the shelf is irrelevant to its importance and has more to do with whether it is Kerouac-authored or related as well as where it happened to physically "fit" at a given point in time. I know you can't read each title very well (maybe you can if you enlarge the pic), so stay tuned and I will get to it in time.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf -- Miscellaneous items

Shelf #1 -- All Kerouac-authored

Shelf #2 -- Some Kerouac-authored plus Kerouac-related books

Shelf #3 -- Biographies and Kerouac-related books

Shelf #4 -- Biographies and Kerouac-related books

Shelf #5 (bottom shelf) -- Kerouac-related books and items

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Happy 92nd birthday to Neal Cassady

We just acknowledged Neal Cassady's death date (February 4) and now it's time to remember his birthday. He would have been 92 years old today. While it doesn't seem that much of a stretch to live that long these days, keep in mind that life expectancy for those born in 1926 -- like Neal -- was 55.5 for men. For those born this year it's close to 80. Big difference!

But longevity is not the only factor in a life well-lived. Quality matters. And one must admit that Neal, to borrow from an old bluegrass standard, lived a lot in his time. From Beat Generation muse to Merry Prankster bus driver, Neal crammed a lot into his 41 years of life.

So here's to Neal Cassady, fast-moving Western hero of the ages, on his birthday. In his honor, read his autobiography, The First Third, today. Or watch the documentary, Neal Cassady: The Denver Years.Or read his letters in Neal Cassady: Collected Letters 1944-1967 

Yass. Yass. Ahem....

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Jack Kerouac: The Duluoz Legend (UPDATED 1-8-21)

In his preface to Big Sur, Kerouac writes:

My work comprises one vast book like Proust's except that my remembrances are written on the run instead of afterwards in a sick bed. Because of the objections of my early publishers I was not allowed to use the same personae names in each work. On the Road, The Subterraneans, The Dharma Bums, Doctor Sax, Maggie Cassidy, Tristessa, Desolation Angels. Visions of Cody and the others including this book Big Sur are just chapters in the whole work which I call The Duluoz Legend. In my old age I intend to collect all my work and re-insert my pantheon of uniform names, leave the long shelf full of books there, and die happy. The whole thing forms one enormous comedy, seen through the eyes of poor Ti Jean (me), otherwise known as Jack Duluoz, the world of raging action and folly and also of gentel sweeness seen through the keyhole of his eye.

On February 1, 2018 in the Forest Lake Times, Brad O'Neil wrote a piece in which he recommends reading the books in The Duluoz Legend in order (click here for article). I agree with the recommendation, but I have a question about his list. He includes the following 13 books (in order):

1. Visions of Gerard
2. Doctor Sax
3. Maggie Cassidy
4. Vanity of Duluoz
5. On The Road
6. Visions of Cody
7. The Subterraneans
8. Tristessa
9. The Dharma Bums
10. Desolation Angels
11. Lonesome Traveler
12. Big Sur
13. Satori in Paris

There are arguments that all of these books can be seen as part of The Duluoz Legend, and they are in the correct chronological order for the narrative of Jack's life.

I wonder, however, if there is not a book missing from O'Neil's list:  The Town and the City. This is included in the list appearing at DHARMA beat (click here), with Lonesome Traveler omitted (there is a note that it is sometimes included along with Book of Dreams, but neither is a novel). You'll note that they also include Atop an Underwood, which is not a novel).

Here is what DHARMA beat's list looks like (and it comports with the one on

1. Atop an Underwood
2. Visions of Gerard
3. Doctor Sax
4. The Town and the City
5. Maggie Cassidy
6. Vanity of Duluoz
7. On The Road
8. Visions of Cody
9. The Subterraneans 
10. Tristessa
11. The Dharma Bums
12. Desolation Angels
13. Big Sur
14. Satori in Paris

I don't want to open up a can of worms here, but am simply pointing out that there is not 100% agreement on which Kerouac books comprise The Duluoz Legend. David Barnett in The Guardian (click here) identifies 13 books, basically the same list as O'Neil, arguing that it makes sense to only go with novels (which Atop and Underwood and Book of Dreams are not).

I can go with that argument, in which case one could argue that The Town and the City should make the list but not Atop an Underwood and Book of Dreams). Such a list would look like this:

1. Visions of Gerard
2. Doctor Sax
3. The Town and the City
4. Maggie Cassidy
5. Vanity of Duluoz
6. On The Road
7. Visions of Cody
8. The Subterraneans 
9. Tristessa
10. The Dharma Bums
11. Desolation Angels
12. Big Sur
13. Satori in Paris

Dave Moore, Kerouac scholar extraordinaire, posted the below list of 12 books in the Jack Kerouac Facebook group as a reaction to the O'Neil piece. His list comports with O'Neil's except he omits Lonesome Traveler.

What is the definitive list of Kerouac books in The Duluoz Legend? Who knows? Jack's dead and he's not going to weigh in short of conducting a seance. It's a matter of opinion, and everybody's got one. It depends on the parameters one sets. Novels only gets you one kind of list. Going beyond novels gets you another. Etc.

Personally, I think we are close enough to agreement to say that we know which books are definitely on the list (Dave Moore's 12-item list, e.g.). Going with the "novels only list," Dave's list only omits The Town and the City.

I own and have read all the books mentioned -- most more than once -- and now I have a bucket list goal to read each book in The Duluoz Legend back-go-back and in order. I just have to decide which list to use. I'm leaning toward Dave's, given that Kerouac himself doesn't list The Town and the City in his 1960 notebook. But he does list Railroad Earth (whatever that is) and Book of Dreams and Lonesome Traveler, so confusion remains. Maybe using Jack's list is the way to go.

What are your thoughts on the matter? I'd like to know.

By the way, I think it's pronounced dew'-lou-oz (3 syllables).

P.S. I blogged about the origin of the name, Duluoz, in a subsequent blog post HERE.