Thursday, November 29, 2018

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).

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