Friday, November 30, 2018

Jack Kerouac on this date in 1957

Writing to Allen Ginsberg from Orlando, FL, on this date -- November 30 -- in 1957, Jack said (this is an excerpt from a long letter):
I'm rather good novelist now, my in-progress work is THE DHARMA BUMS about Gary and 1955 and 56 in Berkeley and Mill Valley and is really bettern ON THE ROAD, if I can only stay sober enuf to finish now that I know I'm going to make a big fool of myself with evil Gilbert Millsteins ain New Yoik.
(Source: Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1957-1969 edited by Ann Charters, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 99)

I agree with Jack that The Dharma Bums is "bettern" On the Road. In fact, as regular readers know, it is my favorite Kerouac novel. I love the prose, of course, but I also love the climbing action, and the Buddhism, and the sex, and . . . well, I just love The Dharma Bums so much that I probably need to go re-read it for the umpteenth time. Have I mentioned it's the basis for my license plate? Oh, yeah, about a dozen times.

In this letter, Jack acknowledged the drinking problem that would eventually kill him, a problem excacerbated by the fame he garnered from On the Road. It is interesting that he mentions "Gilbert Millsteins." First of all, note that NY Times book critic, Gilbert Millstein, gave On the Road a rave review on September 5, a bit over a month earlier, and that helped start the fame train rolling. But there is no "s" at the end of Millstein's name. I think Jack was using Millstein's name as a universal stand-in for book reviewers, who he was predicting wouldn't like The Dharma Bums.

We've mentioned this before, but it is important to note that the regular book reviewer for the NY Times, Orville Prescott, was on holiday and that was the reason Millstein reviewed On the Road. It has been said that Prescott would not have been so enthusiastic.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Jack Kerouac on this date in 1959

Kenneth Rexroth

Today is Twofer Thursday: 2 posts about Kerouac on this date in  history.

We already posted from Jack's journal in 1965, but also on this date in 1959, poet and critic Kenneth Rexroth reviewed Kerouac's Mexico City Blues in the NY Times. Click here for a link to that review.

Rexroth was no fan of Kerouac as this review demonstrates. Rexroth introduced the poets at the famous Six Gallery poetry reading in San Francisco in 1955, and Kerouac described him thus in The Dharma Bums: "bow-tied wild-haired old anarchist fuds like Rheinhold Cacoethes." This was the event when Allen Ginsberg first read "Howl" in public; Jack didn't read but collected money for jugs of wine that he passed around while he cheered on the other poets with shouts of "Go! Go!"

Mexico City Blues and Kerouac have stood the test of time. Did you read any Rexroth in your college American poetry class?

Jack Kerouac on this date in 1965

On this date in 1965 -- November 29 -- Jack Kerouac wrote the following to Tony Sampas. Kerouac was in St. Petersburg, FL at the time and had just visited Lowell, where Tony and Jack's future wife, Stella, lived.

Dear Tony
     Got here fine--Talked with an Army major all the way, and the hostesses--found [Paul] Bourgeois, he came to my house and my mother threw him out calling him a bum--Saw Mitchell and had few drinks--Cliff came when I was taking captain's nap--I'm going to have to stop seeing all these guys down here and get back to work--
     With you had really greatest time of my life-- I know you said for me to send only 2 c's but you spend so much money everywhere--Anyway, see if you can get down here this winter--
     Bourgeois finally got a job as ice cream dispenser--Yelled in the bar "I'm not a chief I'm a THIEF"--Cops checked up whether he was wanted back in Lowell or not--
     I not feeling too good after those twenty days of boozing but coming around--Got two g's from England, which is good, hey?
     I hope you tell Stella about what I tell all the girls, and give my love to Ma and to Nicky and Mike, and I'm sending Jarvis that book today--I'll have the publishers send Charley my next book as review copy--Regards Jappy and Ruth Anne--And tell Buffalo Bill my cates smelled him all over my shirt and said "Who dat?"--
     I'm worried about signing my name to that article at Albany and will see what happens, they said they would mail it when published--
     It was a great experience to know you real well this time and to feel so at home everywhere we went.
     My mother sends best. See you, Antoni.


(Source: Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1957-1969 edited by Ann Charters, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 467)

Kerouac fans will recognize Paul Bourgeois as a Canuck Kerouac friend from Lowell who claimed to be Chief of the Four Nations of the Iroquois. According to Gerald Nicosia in Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, around this claim
Paul had woven an elaborate story, which included the "fact" that two of the tribes were name Kirouac and L'evesque (Mémère's maiden name)! Jack accordingly began calling Paul his "cousin." (p. 639)
This ruse ran its course and Bourgeois came clean, but Jack "conveniently didn't hear" (Memory Babe, p. 639). There are several other tales about Bourgeois in Memory Babe that provide insight into this wild friend of Kerouac's. This includes his blood-curdling Iroquois war whoops in the barrooms, and masquerading as Kerouac (and vice versa).

That's enough for today. As always, there is more to unpack in the above letter. Let me know if any of Jack's references are opaque and I'll try to shed light on them (e.g., Who was Jarvis? -- see Curation #131 here).

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Jack Kerouac on this date in 1966

In our continuing series of posts presenting what Jack Kerouac wrote in his letters or journals on a particular date, we offer this letter to Allen Ginsberg dated November 28, 1966:

     Wedding would be after move to Lowell, maybe January--maybe before New Year's too, with speedy move & settle--I enmeshed in domestic & invalid problems, won't write till house in country (around Lowell) & private study & own door to trees--etc.--but hitting up to new lit'ry season shot.
(Source: Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1957-1969 edited by Ann Charters, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 488)

The marriage to which Jack refers is to Stella Sampas. "Invalid problems" likely refers to Jack's mother, who had suffered a stroke in September. Some say it was at least in part a marriage of convenience for Jack, providing him with a live-in caretaker for his mother.

And now for a little mystery. One date I find for Jack and Stella's marriage is November 18, 1966. That's according to Gerald Nicosia's Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac as well as and several other Internet sources. Ann Charters says November without a date in her Kerouac biography. In their respective Kerouac biographies, Dennis McNally and Tom Clark report it as November 19. Seems like biographers could get a wedding date correct.

In any case, it appears that Jack had already married Stella when the above letter was dated.

I have a couple of possible explanations. Someone has their dates wrong (Charters in the above letter or the biographers/sources mentioned), or Jack was already married and was misleading Ginsberg for some reason. Or maybe Jack had written the letter before getting married and it never got postmarked until the 28th and that is the date Charters used. Or I am missing something . . . .

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Jack Kerouac on this date in 1947

Yesterday we looked at what Jack Kerouac had written in a letter postmarked on that date in 1960. Continuing in that vein, below is an excerpt from his journal written on November 27, 1947 (he labeled it THANKSGIVING):

Rich duck dinner, a little movie with my mother, and celebrated by reading Dostoevsky at night -- "A Raw Youth" -- and also the life of Goethe, he and his "psychic cataclysms" and none the less great for it. My mother and I held long gossipy conversations. I'm learning so much from her nowadays. She speaks of the fat, happy Russian women, the peasant women, and how, if Russia is ruined by Communist Politburos and Sovietism and all that "planned" scientific coldness of the system, Russia might yet be saved when "the women bring the men down to their knees." (!) -- the women, mind you, not the "political" women and the "women"-soldiers of Russia, but the fat, happy peasant women. A really astonishing and profound remark. What did Joan Adams Burroughs say about it? "Sounds like a veiled threat of castration." -- that particularly with an allied remark my mother had made: "A man is not a man if he doesn't respect women." What about all this! Tonight, wrote 2000-words (interrupted by visit.) (Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954 edited by Douglas Brinkley, Viking Penguin, 2004, p. 31)

What strikes me about the above paragraph is the parallel with this line from Part Two Chapter 3 in On the Road:
My aunt once said the world would never find peace until men fell at their women's feet and asked for forgiveness. (Viking, 1976, p. 122)

The aunt in this case is, in real life, Jack's mother. She had definite thoughts about the innate power of women, and it makes me wonder what she -- and Jack -- would think about the groundswell of women in politics in America today. Maybe if we fall at their feet and ask their forgiveness, they'll save us from ourselves? 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Comments, comments, comments!

These are the kinds of comments we receive every day at The Daily Beat. I have to assume they are spam as they are nonspecific and anonymous. Delete, delete, delete . . . (a pro wrestling reference in honor of Jack's father, Leo Kerouac).

Jack Kerouac on this date in 1960

Occasionally it's fun to see what Jack Kerouac was doing or thinking about on whatever calendar day it happens to be at the time. In a letter postmarked this date, November 26, in 1960 addressed to his sister, Caroline Kerouac Blake (Nin), Jack wrote:

You see I'm probably the only "famous" writer in the world who pays no attention to his mail--A lot of it I just throw away, a lot of it I just file away in my Interesting Letters or Fan Letters files--When I get embossed invitation from Sherman Billingsley to attend the Celebrity Party at the Stork Club I'm hep to know (1) He only wants me to get in the habit of spending $200 a night for drinks and steak in his joint, (2) His reasons for inviting me are not because of what I wrote but because I'm a "writer" so I just file the embossed invitation away and dont [sic] answer him at all. (Then he's not offended, he thinks I've never gotten it)--See? Or when the committee for a Better Africa invites me to Nigeria as a goodwill ambassador I simply pretend I'm out of town for a long time by not answering. (This is what [Marlon] Brando does, he simply doesnt [sic] answer his public type mail, he didnt [sic] even answer me about filming ON THE ROAD three years ago, he's smart. He goes about his business, which is making movies, period). Me, too. I just go about my business of writing and trying to stay home as much as possible and playing with the cats and eating with Ma and watching TV and studying my books, like I always did. Otherwise I'd let myself be snaked into the position of great writers like Steinbeck who lost his greatness because he did everything everybody wanted him to do: attended dreary luncheons. lectured around the country, joined pestiferous Lit'ry Guilds with more luncheons, more talk, more kudos, wrote articles when asked (as though he had written Grapes of Wrath on order like that!) and finally deteriorated into a businessman with a secretary and piles of mail. I want to go on being a bum: that's the secret of my joy, and without my joy there's nothing to write about . . . . (Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1957-1969 edited by Ann Charters, pp. 314-315)

Jack was living at 49 Earl Avenue in Northport, Long Island, NY with his mother at the time of this letter (click here for a picture of the house). We know from biographies that he was deluged with fans showing up at his door in addition to writing him letters. I wonder if those files labeled Fan Letters (and Interesting Letters, too) are in the Berg Collection. They would be something to see, right? The collection overview (click here) indicates that it includes "incoming and outgoing correspondence."

The letter goes on past the above quote. Jack had a lot on his mind this date in 1960. If you haven't read his letters, I recommend it highly. It's an enlightening exercise to read his own words about what was going on in his life and not just depend on biographies for such insights.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Be constructive or be gone

Read the following paragraph:
Next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not fail me as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, but I truly thought that you would have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you could fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.

The above is an example of a recent comment to The Daily Beat that I refused to post. I get multiple comments per day that I consider spam. The above -- despite being snarky and unhelpful -- was posted on this post, one that has no complaining in it whatsoever. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the comment was from "Anonymous." Real gutsy.

Maybe I'm oversensitive, but the above kinds of nonconstructive comments just aren't going to get posted. Besides, all I care about is getting attention, so why would I post anything negative about myself? (Note: I have done so in the past when it was a constructive criticism.)

And the beat goes on . . . .

Sunday synchronicity: Jack Kerouac and Kris Kristofferson

You never know what connections you'll find when you go down the Internet rabbit-hole. Today I was thinking about Sunday and a great song, "Sunday Morning Coming Down," came to mind. Next I thought of its songwriter, Kris Kristofferson, and wondered about possible connections between him and Jack Kerouac. Kristofferson was only born 14 years after Jack, so they may well have crossed paths in person.

Naturally, I started with Google, and the first article to appear was about Hayes Carll, a country singer-songwriter who I just last week learned about from our friends, Frank and D.d. Here's a quote from the article:
Hayes Carll is often considered the logical heir to songwriting greats Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, and Townes Van Zandt, but if it hadn’t been for a chance encounter during his adolescence he could just as easily have been the next Jack Kerouac.

So there's a Kristofferson-Kerouac connection: both of them mentioned in the same sentence. But what else might there be?

Well, in Mary G. Hurd's Kristofferon biography -- Kris Kristofferson: Country Highwayman -- she asserts that Kristofferson was influenced by the Beat poets:

In his continuous quest for liberation, both physical and spiritual, Kristofferson found in the Beat poets during the early 1950s inspiration and affirmation of the need to challenge social conformity. (p. 15)

Hurd also states that Kristofferson was greatly influenced by William Blake, who likewise influenced Allen Ginsberg, who influenced Kerouac (and vice versa).

 I can't find any mention of a meeting between Kristofferson and Kerouac, or that Kerouac was influenced by Kristofferson. Jack likely didn't know about him as Kristofferson's debut album came out in 1970, the year after Kerouac died.

And there's this (the only mention of Kristofferson in the Jack Kerouac Facebook group -- written by yours truly -- but I had forgotten about it):
I was just reading Chapter 3 in Lonesome Traveler (The Railroad Earth, which was published in Evergreen Review as "October in the Railroad Earth"), and noticed this phrase: "on the sunny Sunday afternoon sidewalk." It made me think of Kris Kristofferson's excellent song, Sunday Morning Coming Down, which has the phrase, "on the Sunday morning sidewalk." Probably not enough here to make anything about, and I didn't find anything on-line, but is there a connection here? Was it an homage to Jack?
That could lend support to Hurd's position, that Kerouac influenced Kristofferson. Or it may be nothing at all.

The only time Kristofferson has been mentioned previously on The Daily Beat was in this guest post by Gerald Nicosia about the 1982 Jack Kerouac Conference, and that was a tangential connection at best (click here).

What connections between the two do you know about?

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Last Bohemians: A blog about the history of Greenwich Village

My great friend, Richard Marsh, told me about The Last Bohemians, a blog that focuses on the history of Greenwich Village. Check it out here. The most recent post is an interview with Al Koblin, night bartender and former half-owner of the Lion's Head on Christopher Street (the physical bar that is now the Kettle of Fish, which moved there from MacDougal Street and where the famous picture of Jack Kerouac and Joyce Johnson was taken in front of the neon sign saying, "bar" -- read about that here).

We visited the new Kettle of Fish in July and September 2015 and I posted about it here and here (with pics!).

Back to the point of this post: check out The Last Bohemians if you are interested in the history of the Village. Without the Village, would Kerouac have been Kerouac? I would venture to say no, at least not in quite the same way.

Friday, November 23, 2018

A blog mystery (Caution: Nothing about Kerouac in this post)

Every so often I drill down into my blog statistics just to see if anything jumps out at me. Today I noticed that this post from 2010, "And when I die," is leading pageviews for the day (n=62), week (n=234), and month (n=234). I don't know how many it has received for all time (I don't think Blogger provides that info), but it hasn't cracked the top ten for all time (#10 is at 2,197 pageviews).

I am wondering why all of a sudden a fairly innocuous 2010 post is getting traffic. I have no way to tell - Blogger doesn't show sources by post, only for one's overall blog -- but if I had to guess I would say that some piece of content in that blog is causing it to pop up in Internet searches, and/or someone has linked to that post on social media or a website or blog.

Below are the only things I am guessing might have been the aforementioned content:
Blood, Sweat, & Tears
Laura Nyro
Kate McGarrigle

On-line there are recent newsy items about all four topics, but none that seem significant enough to have spurred searches that landed folks on my post. So, it will remain a mystery unless a bunch of folks who visited that post comment and tell us why. Or, if someone fesses up to linking to that post for some reason.

Mysteries abound, and all we can do is abide them . . . .

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jack Kerouac would be especially happy with the middle pie in this picture (apple). Pies are ready, potatoes are peeled, turkey's in the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Big Cage by Robert Lowry

In Jim Christy's The Long Slow Death of Jack Kerouac (curated here), he mentions a 1949 book by Robert Lowry titled, The Big Cage. I blogged about purchasing that book here. FYI, my copy is a paperback second printing from October 1952.

While I'm not curating Lowry's book per se, I did want to mention it again after having read it. Here is what Christy said about The Big Cage:
Not too long after reading On the Road, I discovered the works of Robert Lowry, particularly The Big Cage, in which his autobiographical hero covers much the same territory during the same years as Kerouac's characters. (p. 40) 

In short, The Big Cage is an autobiographical Bildungsroman. Similar to Kerouac in Visions of Gerard, Lowry's central character remembers things from a very early age. In this case, his "baby bunk." And the novel unfolds from there as the protagonist experiences the trials and tribulations of youth and early adulthood, the writing life, women (not that much sex despite the covers implying such), reading, family matters, travel, and so on.

I say "and so on" because there is a lot here to digest (415 pages), but it never once gets so bogged down with details that one wants to stop reading. At least that's how it was for me. Lowry's writing style is very traditional -- not like Kerouac's -- but it gets the job done for a memoir-like novel.

You can find this book on-line at various outlets like Amazon and Abebooks and eBay. Or you could use, a useful resource my great friend Richard turned me on to. You probably wouldn't regret the 10 or so bucks you'd need to plunk down to buy it. The cover's worth that.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Jack Kerouac's FBI file redux

My recdent curation project got me thinking about whether Kerouac indeed has an FBI file despite my previous attempts to ascertain that possibility (Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4). Perhaps I used the wrong name for them to search when I requested that info from the FBI before, or perhaps they searched for "Kerouvac" as indicated in the subject line of their response. I don't recall the names I used, but I know I didn't use Jean Louis Kirouac, which could be how they have him identified. This time I used that spelling as well as provided alternative names: Jack Kerouac and John L. Kerouac.

Between the asterisks is the text of my Freedom of Information Act request sent October 27, 2018 (in case you want boilerplate to do your own search for someone's file):

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Records/Information Dissemination Section
170 Marcel Drive
Winchester, VA 22602-4843

Dear Sir or Madam:

This is a request for records under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

I request all records concerning a deceased individual named Jean Louis Kirouac,
most famously known as Jack Kerouac but also John L. Kerouac.

This individual was born on March 12, 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts and died on
October 21, 1969 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Jean Louis Kirouac was the birth certificate name of famous author Jack Kerouac,
who lived in various places in the country including Lowell, MA, New York City,
Florida, and San Francisco.

As proof of death, I enclose a printout of a Wikipedia article.

Please search both your automated indices and the older general (manual)

Please also search the ELSUR electronic surveillance indices. Please also search
the indices of all Field Offices.

I authorize you to spend up to two hours searching for responsive records, but no more.
This is an individual request for research and study purposes, and I agree that
I will pay up to $30 for fees, if necessary. Please notify me in advance if fees are
expected to exceed that amount. If the file is likely to result in more than 250 pages,
I would appreciate receiving a digital copy of the file on a CD-ROM rather than
in paper form.
If you have any questions, please call me at ###-###-####.


Dr. Richard E. Dale


Below is page one of letter I received yesterday (dated November 13, 2018). Page 2 is irrelevant (it's the closing). The FBI stated, "We were unable to identify any main file records responsive to your request and; therefore, your request is being administratively closed."

Grammar aside, it looks like the FBI is saying that our buddy Jack has no FBI file. I still find that hard to believe, but I've exhausted my efforts in this regard so we'll leave it at that. I know Allen Ginsberg has one: see What about William S. Burroughs?

Monday, November 19, 2018

Snowy morning musings: Jack Kerouac, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and . . . John F. Kennedy

I've posted about this before here, but to summarize -- I was intrigued that two major influences on me had the same initials: JK. The influences are Jack Kerouac, of course, and also Jiddu Krishnamurti. Faithful readers already know I have a large collection of Kerouac or Kerouac-related books (160+), but I have about 25 books by or about Krishnamurti.

I have blogged about the Kerouac-Krishnamurti connection here.

It strikes me that another figure of epic stature that often weighs on my mind is John F. Kennedy, who -- if you remove his middle initial -- has the initials JK.

I will assume that you have read plenty of Kerouac by now. If you are not familiar with Krishnamurti, here is a good place to start. At that site there is text and video and audio and it is all searchable. As far as books go, you might want to start with Think On These Things.

Where Kennedy is concerned, I will assume that you have read a lot about him already. I have to admit that I have yet to read Profiles In Courage, but it is on my bucket list. Of course there are any number of books about Kennedy, many of which focus on his assassination in 1963.

Now I am off to search for other JKs of note. And wouldn't you know that the Internet made this easy: click here. John Krakauer? Yup - influence on me (great writer). Jared Kushner? Major asshole. Jack Kornfield? Buddhist connection there. Jack Kemp? Republican before they became Trumpists. John Keats? Poetry connection there. Jerry Kramer? Green Bay Packer who wrote a great book, Instant Replay. Johnny Knoxville? At least he gets it re: the R-word. Jan Kerouac? How could we leave her out?

And that's just what stuck out to me from the first half of the list. I guess I need to see who I share initials with next. But can you think of any famous JKs I missed?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Quoting Jack Kerouac

If you have occasion to quote Jack Kerouac -- or anyone, for that matter -- it is important to make sure of two things:

1. The quoted person actually said or wrote the words.

2. The quoted words are accurately reproduced.

This is easier said than done in the Internet age, as quotes run amok on-line. 

Your safest bet to quote Kerouac and be sure he said or wrote the words (#1 above) is to get your quote directly from one of his published books. You then can rest assured that he wrote them (more or less -- publishers fuck up, too). It helps to cite the book title and copyright date and publisher and page number(s). Then quote away. Even if it doesn't meet #2 above, you can blame it on the source (as long as you reproduced accurately). This includes his published letters, which, again, if it doesn't meet #2, you can blame it on the source. Another option that is less safe is to quote a legitimate secondary source such as one of the many well-regarded biographies. This won't ensure meeting #2, but, once again, you can blame it on the source.

What you should not do is take a quote from Goodreads or any of the many other quotation sources on-line. They are often not cited at all, or correctly cited, and they are often not accurate. That is, they don't meet #1 or #2 above. Note the difficulty in capturing an accurate Kerouac quote that I posted about here.

One exception to this rule seems to be the Jack Kerouac Wikiquote. It seems to meet #1 and #2 and even includes a list of misattributed Kerouac quotes. If you find a mistake on there, fix it. Be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Still, your best bet is to open a book like On The Road and carefully transcribe your Kerouac quote directly from the source.

And cite your work. For posterity. Please.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Kerouac: Beat Painting

I didn't know there was another book of Kerouac's paintings in addition to Departed Angels: The Lost Paintings by Jack Kerouac (curated here). This is "the catalog of an exhibition mounted, between December 2017 and April 2018, at the MAGA Gallery at Gallarate in northern Italy" according to this article in the Los Angeles Review of Books. The Amazon description (see link below) says that most of the 80 paintings and drawings included here have never before been published, so you may want to get this for your Kerouac bookshelf as a supplement to Departed Angels.

Hopefully, MAGA doesn't stand for an American political slogan. I think it stands for Museo Arte Gallarate, but, if so, why the extra A? Asking for a friend . . . .

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Recent book sales and a subversive idea

I had 2 sales of my book on Amazon last month. That is infinitely better than most months (during which I sell zero books). This is a shout-out and a thank you to the person or persons who made the purchases. You rock and I hope you (or the recipients if it's a gift) enjoy it.

FYI, a while back I started donating my book royalties to a podcast -- Middle Theory -- that doesn't charge for its content but relies solely on donations from listeners. It doesn't amount to much as I don't sell many books and, when I do, the royalty is only about 27% ($7.96 total for those last two books with a cover price totaling $29.98). By the way, I highly recommend the Middle Theory podcast -- it's the only one I listen to regularly.

I know I've been hawking my book a lot this week, but Christmas is coming and it makes a great gift. It's versatile, too. You can use it as a drink coaster, kindling for a fire, wobbly table leveler, frisbee, papier-mâché material, journal (lots of white space), or -- and this is a subversive thing you can do with it -- as an item to reverse shoplift. That is, buy a copy and sneak it onto the bookshelf at a brick-and-mortar bookstore just for a prank. Finally, you could leave a copy at a Beat landmark like the White Horse Tavern in NYC or Vesuvio's in San Francisco. In fact, if you are inclined to do either of the latter and want a free copy for doing so, send me an e-mail with your plan. I'll pick the best proposal I get after a couple of weeks go by and send the chosen person an inscribed book to leave at the identified location. My e-mail is

Now let's get cracking with those proposals . . . .

Click here to purchase or use the link over on the right ----> 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Kerouac backstory on a photographer from Pull My Daisy

Happened on this article today and thought it would be of interest to readers. The author's father was a photographer who worked on the famous Beat short film, Pull My Daisy, adapted from Kerouac's play, The Beat Generation. You'll have to read almost the whole piece to find that tidbit.

Here's a link to Pull My Daisy in case you haven't seen it: click here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

10 Kerouac Christmas gift ideas

Christmas gift idea #1

If you're reading this blog, I presume it means you are a Jack Kerouac fan or at least interested enough in Kerouac to land on this post. That means you might have family or friends who are interested in Kerouac, and since Christmas is coming, perhaps you would entertain some Kerouac-themed gift ideas.

To wit, below in no particular order (except #1) are 10 Kerouac-themed gift ideas for Christmas.

1. The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions by Rick Dale
This book -- my book -- answers the question, "What would Kerouac do?", by mining The Dharma Bums and On The Road. Click here to order it from Amazon. It's a great companion reader for ##7 and 8.

2. A Kerouac T-shirt
There are any number of places on-line to order Kerouac T-shirts. Just Google "Kerouac T-shirt" and you'll see options like Etsy and Teepublic, etc. Zazzle used to have some but I think the estate got after them. I only know that because they discontinued one that I created, citing copyright reasons.

3. A Kerouac coffee mug
Again, just Google the phrase and you will see options like Zazzle (not sure why the estate didn't get after them about this one) and CafePress.

4. A Kerouac button
Like the one my friend, Richard Marsh, got me as a surprise gift. You can find it on eBay by clicking here.

5. A Kerouac poster
At Redbubble you will find not only posters but also T-shirts and mugs. Click here.

6. A Kerouac video
There are lots of choices here, not the least of which would be one of the film adaptations like On The Road or Big Sur. Or the documentary, One Fast Move or I'm Gone would be a good choice. Check out The Beat Museum gift shop for some videos as well as other Kerouac schwag.

7*. On The Road by Jack Kerouac, first edition first printing inscribed by Kerouac
This is only $89,378.06 at Abebooks. What a present this would be for someone! If you need my mailing address, let me know . . . .

8*. The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac, first edition first printing
Click here. Not as expensive as #7, but still pricey. Again, let me know if you need my mailing address . . . .

9. The Portable Jack Kerouac edited by Ann Charters
Here's a lot of Jack in one spot for that special someone on your list.

10. A bottle of Blanton's Kentucky single barrel bourbon whiskey
I know some will say it's heresy to include booze on a Kerouac-themed Christmas gift list since he died of alcoholism, but I'm hedging my bets in case someone uses this list for ideas for me and happens upon this item. I love this bourbon like no other I've tried. Expensive. You can buy it online here.

10a. Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades by John Suiter.
This is an alternative to #10 in case it offended you. This is a beautiful, beautiful book and would be a great gift for anyone, Kerouac fan or not.

So there you have it. 10 Kerouac-themed Christmas gift ideas to spur you on as you tackle your shopping this season. If you have other ideas, let us know in a comment.

Have fun!

*A nice, cheap used copy of On The Road or The Dharma Bums or any other Kerouac novel would also be a great gift. Good alternatives are Visions of Gerard or Big Sur or Dr. Sax or The Subterraneans.

Monday, November 12, 2018

RIP to Kerouac close friend William "Billy" Koumantzelis

One of Jack Kerouac's close late-in-life friends from his hometown of Lowell died last month. William "Billy" Koumantzelis was 92. You can read about him here in the Lowell Sun.

Here's a picture of Billy that I took at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac in October 2012.

That's Billy to the left of David Amram (center, partially hidden by microphone).

Hearing Billy speak that night was a highlight of the festival for me. You can read my report from LCK 2012 here.

RIP, Billy. Say hi to Jack for us . . . .

Sunday, November 11, 2018

A Kerouac-inspired film: The Long Dumb Road

Keep your eyes peeled for The Long Dumb Road, a film inspired by Kerouac's On The Road. I can't really vouch for the film because I haven't seen it, but it may be worth checking out. Here's a snippet from Deadline Hollywood about it:
The Long Dumb Road came out of a road trip a friend of filmmaker Hannah Fidell had taken some years back. The friend was obsessed with the Jack Kerouac classic novel, On The Road, so set out for a life experience and along the way befriended a drifter while en route to Los Angeles.
Here's a link to the entire article (scroll to the end): The film got 6.9/10 on IMDB and 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, so it probably doesn't suck.

What's not to love about a decent road/buddy movie?

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Tao of Kerouac

Sometimes a title for my next book -- yes, I just put that concept out there into the universe so now I need to make it manifest -- comes to me without much in the way of an overall theme or plot. Yesterday, for some unknown reason, the title, "The Tao of Jack Kerouac," popped into my mind.

I really like that title for several reasons. First, I think it's catchy. Second, it lends itself to a lot of directions, not the least of which is exploring the Eastern religious aspects of Kerouac's life and work (remember, The Dharma Bums is my favorite Kerouac novel). Finally, it hasn't been used yet.

Or so I thought. Just in case, I Googled the phrase and found this article from December 2016: The Tao of Jack Kerouac. I didn't find a book by that title.

Not wanting to be accused of copying but undaunted, next I Googled "The Tao of Kerouac." Nothing by that title -- either book or essay -- came up, although I did happen across this: "The Beat Generation Worldview in Kerouac’s On the Road." It contains a section titled, "The Tao of On the Road." As I expected, my own blog post, "Jack Kerouac and the Tao of Fried Eggs," appeared in the search results, but it appears that no one has written a book or essay titled, "The Tao of Kerouac."

So let the word go forth from this time and place that I am place-holding "The Tao of Kerouac" as a potential future book title. If someone jumps on it before I get around to using it, so be it and you're welcome.

What will it be about? Translated, it means "The Way of Kerouac." I can think of lots of different directions to take that concept, but I need a thesis. But could the world stand one more book about Jack Kerouac? What are your thoughts?

Friday, November 9, 2018

Ntozake Shange and Jack Kerouac

You've probably been wondering about the connection between poet/playwright Ntozake Shange (she wrote For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf), who died recently, and Jack Kerouac. Or maybe you haven't, but remember: everything connects to Jack Kerouac.

I was reading a remembrance piece about Ntozake in the San Francisco Chronicle and came across this line:
In addition to her well-known connections to the Black Arts Movement, Shange had Bay Area influences, including the Beats, the first artists she heard combining music and poetry . . . .
Click here for a link to the article.

So the Kerouac connection is clear: Jack and his Beat compatriots were an influence on Ntozake. We'll probably learn more about those connections when Gerald Nicosia finishes the biography he has been working on about her.

Here is the article link for future reference:

Thursday, November 8, 2018

"A Slightly Embarrassing Love for Jack Kerouac" by Amanda Petrusich

I've been catching up on my on-line Kerouac content. I've been so focused on my Kerouac bookshelf curation project since February that I haven't been keeping current with Kerouac news and articles.

Click here for an article from the New Yorker by Amanda Petrusich titled, "A Slightly Embarrassing Love for Jack Kerouac."

It's a good essay, honest and insightful, published to coincide with Jack's birthday week. I missed it in March but I enjoyed it this morning -- I think you will, too.

Here's the actual link for future reference:

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Beats and Catholicism

I just ran across this article in Angelus-- dated today -- about the Beats and Catholicism. I don't agree with the author on every point. I agree that religion influenced Beat literature, but to say the dominant religious influence was Roman Catholicism is a stretch once you go beyond Kerouac. Fortunately, the article focuses mainly on Jack, whose writing explicitly reflects his Catholic upbringing and beliefs.

Angelus appears to be the magazine of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (the word means a Catholic devotion commemorating the Incarnation). It's interesting to see an article about the Beats in a Catholic magazine -- I suspect they will take some grief for the subject matter since the Beats espoused behaviors that were antithetical to Catholic dogma.

Here is the actual link for future reference:

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

For once, don't follow my book's advice

Click here to find the answer to "What would Kerouac do?"

The thesis of my book (above) is simple: To be a Beat, answer the question, "What would Kerouac do?" Then do that.

Just for today, I disavow that advice because -- as far as I can ascertain -- Jack didn't routinely vote. If and when he did, he likely voted Republican (e.g., see this NBC news transcript). Especially later in life, Jack espoused conservative views. But that is another blog post.

Now, it is not my place here to tell you how you should vote, but I am going to encourage you to do so (if you haven't done so already). The direction of the country is at stake, so if you like the way things have been going, or you don't, make your voice heard -- VOTE!

As for me, this time around I am voting to send a message that governing by negativity, hate, fear, lying, bullying, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, bigotry, racism, greed, chaos, conflict, division, and by being anti-poor, anti-old, anti-sick, anti-disability, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, anti-healthcare, anti-Medicare, anti-Medicaid, and anti-Social Security is not okay with me. Not. Okay. With. Me. And while I've voted for Republicans in the past, the current situation in this country is such that I will not vote for a Republican for any elected office. As Crystal says, not even for dogcatcher ("Animal Control Officer" for PC folks).

If my being honest about my voting preferences turns you off from reading my blog in the future, while that makes me sad, it says more about you than it does me.

Support democracy and VOTE!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Reminder about Jack Kerouac on reddit

This is just a reminder that there is a Jack Kerouac page on reddit (a "subreddit") that focuses on all things Kerouac. It's not a very busy place (yet), but there are some interesting posts there. For example, 2 days ago someone posted that they were having a cognac at the Tangerrin, where Jack and the Beats drank. I think it's this place (albeit the spelling differences).

Click here to visit the Kerouac subreddit.

If you're not familiar with reddit, give it a chance. It takes some exploring to get used to how it works, but there is a lot of information there. Do some searching and if you find subreddits you like, subscribe to them and posts there will then show up in your reddit home feed.

Self-disclosure: I am the creator and moderator of this subreddit, but there's nothing in it for me except having just one more place on-line devoted to Jack Kerouac.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Kerouac's Mexico: Photo-Essay by John Suiter

Kerouacophiles know how important Mexico was in Jack's life journey and writing, yet for one reason or another I had not run across the below photo-essay by John Suiter until today.* You will remember that we curated Suiter's book, Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades, here. It is one of my very favorite Kerouac-related books, and I can't wait to check this photo-essay out more carefully. It should be good for two reasons: John Suiter plus it's a legitimate Kerouac website (UMass Lowell's The Jack and Stella Kerouac Center for the Public Humanities).

Here's the link: Kerouac's Mexico.


*It's also possible I'd seen it and forgotten about it.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Kerouac Bookshelf Curation Project: Afterword

I'd be interested to know from readers what you thought of my recently concluded Kerouac bookshelf curation project, in which I curated every item on my Kerouac bookshelf starting on February 12, 2018 and proceeding through the 169 items that were on that shelf -- in order, top to bottom and left to right -- on that date. Did it inspire you to curate your own collection, or at least take a picture of it for posterity? Was it tedious in length or in similarity of posts (despite my efforts to put in some unique and relevant piece of information about each book)?

If the length bothered you, be glad I had 13* Kerouac or Kerouac-related items scattered about the house (living room bookcase, basket by the fireplace, bedside table, or even my Kerouac bookshelf but after I started the official curation -- a recent acquisition, say). Here's proof (picture taken today):

Kerouacophiles will be able to tell why I included all of these titles (5 of which are easy because they include -- exclusively or in part -- Kerouac's own writing).

1. City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
2. Selected Poems by Robert Creeley
3. Sleeping with Bad Boys: A Juicy Tell-All of Literary New York in the 1950s and 1960s by Alice Denham
4. A Buddhist Bible by Dwight Goddard
5. Mindfield by Gregory Corso
6. The Unknown Kerouac: Rare, Unpublished & Newly Translated Writings edited by Todd Tietchen
7. The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
8. Escapade magazine from December 1959
9. The Last Days of Jan Kerouac by Gerald Nicosia
10. Trickster Feminism by Anne Waldman
11. The Big Cage by Robert Lowry
12. Pomes All Sizes by Jack Kerouac
13. The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

 If I had included all 13 of these items on my Kerouac bookshelf, the grand total would be 182. That qualifies me for the Kerouac Hoarder Awared given out yearly by the American Hoarder Society based in Dungsville, Indiana.

Seriously though, assuming I am not going to curate those 13 items (which is a good assumption), what in the world am I going to blog about henceforth? What hasn't been said about Jack Kerouac here or elsewhere? What would Kerouac do?


* There may be more than 13 -- I didn't hunt very long or hard.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Curation #169 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Last Man Standing...Al Hinkle, interview with Stephen D. Edington


Item #169 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is a three-fer (it all came in one mailing): 2 signed photographs of Al Hinkle and a Stephen P. Edington interview titled, Last Man Standing...Al Hinkle. 38 pages (no page numbers), the book measures about 5.5" x 8.5" and is in very good condition. It is hand-marked 28/200 and inscribed thus:

Happy Trails
Al Hinkle
In Freedom & Liberty
Dear Rick Thanks so much
for the Books -- I enjoy
two or three Kerouactions
a day. Keep "the beat" going.
Feb 2012

The glossy pics measure about 8" x 10" and, yes, that is Jack Kerouac in one and Neal Cassady in the other.

The provenance of these items is that Al sent them to me after I interviewed him for this blog here, and had sent him a copy of my book, The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions. I note in his inscription of the book that he mentioned my term, Kerouactions! How cool is that?

For those who are not diehard Kerouac fans, Al Hinkle is one of the last living characters represented in On the Road -- hence the book title. He was portrayed as Big Ed Dunkel in On the Road.

This book is a lengthy interview with Stephen D. Edington, whose book we curated here. It also includes another short piece by Edington titled, "Neal and Ike--A Meeting of the Icons," and a short piece by Al titled, "My Friend, Allen Ginsberg: A Short Ride with Al Hinkle."

There's some priceless stuff here. Remember that Al was in the car on that famous 1949 road trip that Kerouac immortalized in On the Road.

I don't know how you'd get your hands on a copy of these items other than contacting Al directly, and I couldn't get to work just now. Mine aren't for sale (unless you have a lot of dough to part with).

Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this item (23rd from the top of the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. In the past, this space has been reserved for "Next Up," but as we said above, this curation project is officially at a stopping point. If you enjoyed this post, there are 168 others that you can read by using the blog archive over on the right-hand side.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Curation #168 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Beat Generation: Glory Days in Greenwich Village by Fred W. and Gloria S. McDarrah

Item #168 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this 1996 Schirmer Books 1st printing of Beat Generation: Glory Days in Greenwich Village by Fred W. and Gloria S. McDarrah. 286 pages, it measures about 8.5" x 11" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that it was a Christmas gift from my son and daughter-in-law (via Amazon's handy gift list feature). Stamped on the top edge is "Columbus Metropolitan Library," so we know where it resided at one time.

I don't know what to say about this book. It is simply fabulous. In hundreds of vivid black-and-white pictures -- and text -- the McDarrahs* take us back to the Beat scene in the Village circa 1959. The McDarrahs were there, man, and they capture it like no others have or will. From the classic cover photo of Kerouac reading at the famous Artist's Studio to Ginsberg reading at the Living Theater to a cameo of Gary Snyder in NYC, it's all here, including a lengthy list of biographical sketches (a Who's Who of the Village Beat heyday).

If you haven't seen this book, order it right away, digest it, and then put it on your Kerouac bookshelf where it belongs.

*Google the McDarrahs if you aren't already familiar with them. Hint: Fred was a staff photographer for the Village Voice for years and he took some of the classic photos of Jack with which you are familiar.

Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this item (22nd from the top of the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Last Man Standing...Al Hinkle: An Interview with Stephen D. Edington.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf