Thursday, December 31, 2020

2021 Kerouac-olutions and a report on 2020's


Before I address Kerouac-olutions for the new year, here is an update on how I did with 2020's.

2020 New Year's Kerouac-olutions UPDATE

1. Drink a bottle of 14-year-old Glenlivet single malt scotch (with help from Crystal)
2. Read Be Here Now by Ram Dass (who just died)
3. Use the treadmill at least twice a week, preferable three times (30 minutes per)
4. Lose some more weight
5. Stay off anti-depressants (which I recently weaned myself from)
6. Buy Crystal flowers at least 6 times
SUCCESS (if you count grocery store flowers she may or may not have paid for)
7. Read Kerouac (no particular titles or amounts)
8. Continue blogging in remembrance of the birth and death dates of real-life characters in Kerouac's world and works
9. Fulfill my 200-hour commitment to Crisis Text Line
10. See the California Dales in person
FAIL (thanks to COVID)

2021 New Year's Kerouac-olutions

In 2021, I hereby resolve to:

1. Stay alive one more year (this item partly inspired by COVID)
2. Drink a bottle of 21-year-old Bushmills and 18-year-old Tullamore Dew (with help from Crystal)
3. Use the treadmill at least 2 times per week
4. Lose 10 pounds
5. Be able to do 25 pushups in a row
6. Continue blogging in general and specifically about Kerouac-related births and deaths
7. Read a bunch of books, including some John LeCarre -- who just died (hard to quantify, I know)
8. See the California Dales in person (COVID may prevent this)
9. Read Kerouac (no particular amounts or titles)
10. Buy Crystal flowers at least 6 times

Nothing too heady or difficult here. Just keeping up a tradition of posting resolutions. What are yours?

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Remembering Al Hinkle


Al Hinkle (R) with Jack Kerouac

We remember Al Hinkle today, who died on this date -- December 26 - in 2018 (bonus trivia: wrestler Gorgeous George died on this date in 1963). He was represented in Jack Kerouac's works as follows: Big Ed Dunkel in On The Road; Slim Buckle in Desolation Angels and Visions of Cody; Ed Buckle in Book of Dreams; and, Al Buckle in Lonesome Traveler. Al was a childhood friend of Kerouac muse Neal Cassady, and was along for the ride on certain legs of the cross-country Cassady-Kerouac road trips made famous in On The Road.

Al was one of the last living original Beat Generation characters, and one of the only ones I met/saw in person (David Amram and Michael McClure being the only other two I can think of -- I haven't ever seen Gary Snyder). I interviewed Al in 2012 for The Daily Beat. Click here for my post on the occasion of his death -- there you can find links to my interview and our meeting. A little Googling will reveal several sources of info about this well-known Beat Generation figure where you can read up on his interesting life.

RIP, Mr. Hinkle.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Merry Christmas Eve Eve


I remember how, as a boy, I would get so excited about Christmas that I could hardly stand it. By the time Christmas Eve rolled around, I was beside myself.

I still get a sense of anticipatory joy, but it's not the same thing. And this year, the holiday will be bittersweet as we are not gathering with anyone outside our household. Our celebration will be different. We will chat by video with distant loved ones, and this year we decided not to get a tree. Instead, we have a small topiary-like tree with lights. Not doing stockings, either. Plus, our menu is completely different, leaning toward special treats and hors d'oeuvres instead of ham or turkey and all the fixings.

A COVID Christmas, indeed.

However or whether you plan to celebrate, I hope it's safe and as joyous as possible given the circumstances. HERE is a link to my 2016 post on whether Jack Kerouac said, "Merry Christmas."

Merry Christmas Eve Eve to all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Joan Anderson Letter: The Holy Grail of the Beat Generation by Neal Cassady


For my reading pleasure, my great friend Richard Marsh recently sent me his copy of Neal Cassady's The Joan Anderson Letter: The Holy Grail of the Beat Generation. This is one way we socialize during the pandemic in lieu of sitting together and reading Kerouac aloud.

Serendipitously, I just received an e-mail from Jami Cassady, Neal's daughter, asking me if I would provide information to The Daily Beat readers on how to acquire a signed copy of the book. Of course, I said I would do that.

You can contact Jami by e-mail at and she will be glad to arrange the transaction.

This is essential reading for any Kerouac or Beat Generation fan, and in case you've read some of it before (on-line or in The First Third), the book also includes a 35-page introduction by A. Robert Lee plus scanned copies of the original letter in its entirety. Additionally, there is a copy of a (naughty) typewritten page that was included at auction but it's uncertain if it was part of the original letter.

Give Jami a shout-out for The Daily Beat if this inspires you to order a book from her.

Happy birthday to Kenneth Rexroth


Poet and critic Kenneth Rexroth was born this date -- December 22 -- in 1905. We have opined about him several times here on The Daily Beat (e.g., click here).

Most notably for Jack Kerouac fans, Rexroth was portrayed as Rheinhold Cacoethes in The Dharma Bums, my favorite Kerouac novel. To wit, a couple of excerpts (Penguin Books, 1976):
We got to his little shack as it grew dark and you could smell woodsmoke and smoke of leaves in the air, and packed everything up neat and went down the street to meet Henry Morley who had the car. Henry Morley was a be­spectacled fellow of great learning but an eccentric himself, more eccentric and outrĂ© than Japhy on the campus, a librar­ian, with few friends, but a mountainclimber. His own little one-room cottage in a back lawn of Berkeley was filled with books and pictures of mountainclimbing and scattered all over with rucksacks, climbing boots, skis. I was amazed to hear him talk, he talked exactly like Rheinhold Cacoethes the critic, it turned out they'd been friends long ago and climbed mountains together and I couldn't tell whether Morley had influenced Cacoethes or the other way around. (p. 39)
"My Buddhism is nothing but a mild unhappy interest in some of the pictures they've drawn though I must say some­ times Cacoethes strikes a nutty note of Buddhism in his mountainclimbing poems though I'm not much interested in the belief part of it." (p. 46)

Rexroth and Kerouac were not each other's fans, but we will leave that drama behind in honor of Rexroth's birthday. Click HERE for a brief bio and some of Rexroth's poetry. 

Happy birthday in heaven, Mr. Rexroth.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Remembering Denise Levertov


Poet Denise Levertov died on this date -- December 20 -- in 1997. She appeared in Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels as Alise Nabokov. We recently wished her a happy birthday in heaven and posted some additional information about her (click HERE).

RIP, Ms. Levertov.


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

A post about nothing (TV show reference there)

 It's been over a week since we had a Kerouac-related birth or death date to post about (the next one is December 20), plus I've been a little down and out after having surgery on my nose to remove a basal cell carcinoma. FYI, that's the good kind of skin cancer in that it doesn't metastasize.

So . . . what shall we post about? I say we as in the royal "we," since there's just little old me behind this blog enterprise. That's a movie reference, by the way, to one of the best movies ever made: The Big Lebowski. Which reminds me that I made this video back in 2008 to hawk my book. It's got a lot of "inside baseball" references from the movie, so it works best for fans of the film. You can still buy my book on Amazon thanks to print-on-demand technology. You could probably order one today and have it in hand by Saturday (or delivered to anyone with a mailing address as a gift). Or, if you want a signed copy you can e-mail me at We'll arrange a price that includes shipping in the U.S. Foreign orders are more complicated. 

Oh, I should tell you that my 65th birthday is this Friday, December 11. That means I became Medicare-eligible on December 1. Yay for socialized healthcare. I am saving about $600/month compared to my ACA (Obamacare) plan that I paid for out-of-pocket since retiring in 2017.

But enough about me. How are YOU doing during this pandemic? I hope you're being safe and doing things for your mental as well as physical well-being. For the former, meditating like Jack Kerouac did is a great idea; for the latter, a good walk outside (or inside on the treadmill) can work wonders for both attitude and physical well-being.

I'll leave you with this thought -- with which the the great man himself would likely agree: it's all about compassion, for yourself as well as for others. That includes not being hard on yourself for not writing the great American novel while you've been sheltered in place since March. Just surviving this thing is an accomplishment. However you do that still goes in the win column no matter how productive you've been (or haven't been, as the case may be). 

Peace out.