Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Remembering poet Michael McCLure

 

Michael McClure in 2004
(c) Gloria Graham

Poet Michael McClure died a year ago today -- May 4, 2020. He was one of the longest-living central Beat Generation figures, and appeared in several Jack Kerouac novels: Ike O'Shay in The Dharma Bums; McLear in Big Sur; and, Patrick McLear in Desolation Angels.

It would be an appropriate remembrance to read some of his poetry today, which you can easily do via some Googling. Or if you're so inclined, click HERE.

RIP, Mr. McClure


Monday, May 3, 2021

"Jack Kerouac: Basking in the Golden Eternity" by Catherine De Leon

 


My friend, Cat -- who knows a lot about Jack Kerouac and the Beats -- recently had a piece on Kerouac published at Please Kill Me. I think Daily Beat readers would enjoy reading her thoughts on our boy. 

Click HERE to access the article.


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Remembering Kerouac friend, Ed White

                                             


Ed White, close friend of Jack Kerouac, died on this date -- April 29 -- in 2017. He appeared in several Kerouac works: as Tim Gray in On The Road; Ed Gray in Visions of Cody; Guy Green in Book of Dreams; and, Al Green in Book of Dreams (expanded edition).

It was White who originally suggested the practice of sketching in words to Kerouac. We discussed that when we wished White a Happy Birthday HERE in February.

RIP, Mr. White.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Happy Birthday to Carolyn Cassady

                                                 


On this date -- April 28 -- in 1923, Carolyn Cassady was born. She appeared in several of Jack Kerouac's works: as Camille in On The Road; Evelyn Pomeray in Book of DreamsBig SurDesolation Angels, and Visions of Cody; and, Cora in Beat Generation.

Cassady was married to Neal Cassady, famous as Kerouac's muse and a major subject of On The Road and the titular focus of Visions of Cody. We curated my copy of her book HERE.

I am afraid I have fallen into the trap of marginalizing Beat Generation women in my last paragraph, making it sound like Cassady's only claim to fame was being married to the Holy Goof. One need only Google her name for biographical details to see that she was a complex and talented person in her own right (e.g., writer, painter, theatrical designer, MA from U. of Denver), but was treated in a one-dimensional fashion in Kerouac's works (as was his approach to women in general). I'm not saying it was right for Kerouac to do that -- it just was.

So Happy Birthday in Beat heaven to Carolyn Elizabeth Robinson Cassady, who would have been 98 today!


Monday, April 26, 2021

Belatedly remembering poet Ted Joans

 


Because of a family emergency, we missed remembering poet Ted Joans, who died on April 25, 2003. He appeared in one of Jack Kerouac's works, The Subterraneans, as John Golz.

Joans moved to NYC in 1951, where he met and became friends with Kerouac, Ginsberg, et al. Click HERE for a website dedicated to Joans. He is credited with saying, "Jazz is my religion, and Surrealism is my point of view." HERE is a link to an obit in SFGate. In that obit you'll find this gem of a story:

Mr. Joans was born July 4, 1928, in Cairo, Ill. His father was a musician who worked aboard the riverboats of the Mississippi River, and he instilled in his young son a strong work ethic and love of jazz.

"The story goes that he gave Ted a trumpet when he was 12 years old and dropped him in Memphis with the words, 'OK, son, go make a living,'" recalled Gerald Nicosia of Corte Madera, a friend of Mr. Joans' for 40 years.

RIP, Mr. Joans.


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

On death

 

Screen grab from the Alan Watts lecture mentioned below

My partner Crystal's sister, Linda, died after a sudden illness on Monday night. I lost a good friend, Charlie, on March 13. I just learned about a high school classmate dying. Death is a constant companion these days. It comes with the territory of growing old. Death is on my mind, and I was thinking about Jack Kerouac's obsession with death and his statement in Visions of Cody, "I'm writing this book because we're all going to die (1993, Penguin Books, p. 368). Writing about death seems like the thing to do right now, so here goes.

My thoughts on death have changed over the past few years. It seems like I once dreaded it, and now it’s not that big of a deal. I see it as part of the way things are: we’re born, we live, we die. It’s the great equalizer. The rich die, the poor, the powerful. No one escapes it.

I do have some fear about the manner of my death. That is, I would prefer to avoid a painful death, and I would prefer to avoid a slow, agonizing one, especially if quality of life were poor. But that is about dying, not death itself. Finally, I would like death to come in due time, not prematurely. I don’t really know what I mean by prematurely. I’ve noticed that old age is always 15-20 years older than I currently am. Sixty-five used to seem old to me, but not any more.

On a practical note, it’s good to think about death from both a metaphysical (as we are doing here) and a practical perspective. That is, make your death easy on those left behind. Have your affairs in order and make sure those left behind have a clear idea of your wishes, where to find important information (bank account numbers, passwords, etc.). Having a legally executed will is very important. Now, back to the metaphysical.

Alan Watts poses the question: What would it be like to go to sleep and never wake up? If you ponder that deeply, it is a comforting question because we’re not afraid of sleep (well, most of us at least). He goes on to ask: What would it be like to wake up after never having gone to sleep? That is what happens when we are born. It’s another worthwhile question to frame our notions of death. Whatever we are – our essence – arises from emptiness and returns there. And it’s not a problem for us unless we make it one.

One thought about death that I want to convey is captured in the country song about living like you were dying. What would you do, how would you live if you knew you had one day left or one week or one month or one year? Using that as a guide, you are less likely to arrive at death’s door with a bunch of regrets. I’ve always said we regret more what we don’t do (missed opportunities) than what we do (behaviors we’re not proud of). The lesson here is to focus on living. Hunter S. Thompson is credited with saying:
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
Finally, as Alan Watts points out in his lecture on music and life, the point is to experience life as a musical thing and remember to dance all along the way versus thinking of it as a race to some finish line in the future. There is no future. There is only now. Be present and make the best of each moment.

Let death take care of itself.

And rest in peace, Linda, Charlie, Greg, and too many others. Too. Many. Others.




Sunday, April 18, 2021

Happy Birthday to Beat poet, Bob Kaufman

                                     


Beat poet Bob Kaufman, was born on this date -- April 18 -- in 1925.  He appeared as Chuck Berman in Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels.

We said the following about Kaufman when we remembered him back on January 12 and it's worth repeating:
You can read Kaufman's bio and some of his poetry by clicking here. Kaufman took a vow of silence the day President Kennedy was assassinated and didn't speak until the end of the Vietnam War. That's an impressive feat. 
Kaufman was part of the Beat poetry movement in San Francisco. He started the journal, Beatitude, with Allen Ginsberg and others. His most recent collection of poetry was published by City Lights in October 2019 (available here). 
Interestingly -- to me at least -- the couple of times that he is mentioned in Gerald Nicosia's Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, Kaufman is partying with Jack at significant transition points: once right after Gary Snyder leaves for Japan, and once right after Jack leaves Ferlinghetti's cabin in Big Sur. 
I get the sense that Kaufman is generally underestimated as a poet -- you would do well to check out his work.

Happy Birthday in Beat heaven, Mr. Kaufman.



Wednesday, April 14, 2021

RIP, Helen Weaver

 


According to reports on-line, Helen Weaver, who we interviewed for The Daily Beat in November 2019 HERE, died yesterday, April 13. She appeared in two of Jack Kerouac's works: as Ruth Heaper in Desolation Angels and as Eileen Farrier in Book of Dreams (expanded edition).

Ruth was a prolific literary translator and we reviewed her excellent memoir about her time with Jack Kerouac (yes, they were paramours), The Awakener: A Memoir of Kerouac and the Fifties, HERE.

I always greatly appreciated that she granted me an interview for this blog (making her one of two people who knew Kerouac that I've interviewed, the other being Al Hinkle). I hope her soul is flying on the wings of angels as she enters the great unknown.

RIP, Ms. Weaver.


Friday, April 9, 2021

Happy Birthday to Al Hinkle

                                         


Al Hinkle was born on this date -- April 9 -- in 1926. 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.

Regular readers need no introduction to Hinkle. We remembered him on December 26 -- click HERE.

Happy Birthday in Beat heaven, Mr. Hinkle.


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Buddhism-inspired poetry - UPDATED 4-11-21

 


Jacob Rabinowitz, whose book -- Blame it on Blake: a memoir of dead languages, gender vagrancy, Burroughs, Ginsberg, Corso & Carr -- we reviewed HERE in May 2019, has had two poems published in BUDDHIST POETRY REVIEW (click HERE). Check them out.

The connection to Jack Kerouac? Jack studied and knew a lot about Buddhism, referencing it frequently in his works. Four of his books are specifically about or are heavily influenced by Buddhism: Some of the DharmaWake Up: A Life of the Buddha; The Scripture of the Golden Eternity; and, The Dharma Bums (my favorite Kerouac work).  And that's not counting Desolation Angels, which has lots of Buddhist themes. The only book he took with him for 2+ months on Desolation Peak was Dwight Goddard's A Buddhist Bible and Jack had a practice of re-reading sections of "The Diamond Sutra" daily. That's according to John Suiter in Poets on the Peaks, but Thomas Holloway pointed out in a comment that Jack references in Desolation Angels another book he had up there, The God That Failed (see comment below). So it may be that Jack had more than A Buddhist Bible at hand. Maybe A Buddhist Bible was the only book he took with him, but there were other books awaiting him that had been left there by previous occupants? What do you think?

UPDATE 4-11-21
I've learned since posting this (never too old to learn) that Jack had a number of books at his disposal on Desolation Peak. How they got there is a mystery to be solved. Below is a list of books he had up there:

1. A Buddhist Bible by Dwight Goddard (ed.)
2. A John Barrymore biography (Good Night, Sweet Prince)
3. Devils in Baggy Pants by Ross Carter
4. A Kathleen Norris novel (title?)
5. The God That Failed
6. A "cowboy book" (title?)
7. A medical book (title?)
8. A synopsis of Shakespeare's plays (Tales from Shakespeare ed. by Charles and Mary Lamb)


Monday, April 5, 2021

Remembering Alan Ginsberg

 

Alan Ginsberg (left) with Jack Kerouac

Poet and core Beat Generation member, Alan Ginsberg, died on this date -- April 5 -- in 1997. Ginsberg needs no introduction to understand the Kerouac connection. He appeared in too many Kerouac works, under aliases of course, to mention here, but you can determine what those were by visiting the excellent Character Key to Jack Kerouac's Duluoz Legend. I will point out that in the two Kerouac novels -- On The Road and The Dharma Bums -- that inspired my book, The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions, Ginsberg appeared as Carlo Marx and Alvah Goldbrook, respectively.

Allen would be honored if you read -- or listen to him read -- some of his poetry today. You can find it in several places on-line. Here are a couple of links to get you started:

Poetry Foundation

Ginsberg reading "Howl"

It is an instructive exercise to read along while listening to Ginsberg read "Howl."

Despite his living until 1997, when I was 41, I never saw Ginsberg in person. I came into the Kerouac fold late in life, around 2002, 5 years after Allen passed.

RIP, Mr. Ginsberg. I'm sorry I never got to meet you.


Thursday, April 1, 2021

It's my son's birthday!

 

Today is my son Jason's birthday! Yes, he was born on April Fool's Day. That's the handsome devil up there with his lovely wife, Adri.

What does this have to do with Jack Kerouac, you ask? Not a whole lot, but then this is my blog and I can post about whatever I like. Beside, anyone connected to me is connected to Kerouac by default. So there's that. And there's this --

In January 2013 we visited The Beat Museum in San Francisco and Jerry Cimino took this picture of us in the car used in the On The Road film.

Rick, Crystal, Adri, Jason (L-R)


Today I'm thinking about a special day 41 years ago and wishing my son a Happy Birthday, health and happiness, and a long life.

Love . . . . Dad


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

A 3-for-1 date in the Kerouac world

 

John Clellon Holmes, Robert Creeley, Carl Solomon (L-R)

Today is a "3-for-1" date in the Kerouac world.

Jack Kerouac's "soul brother, " writer John Clellon Holmes died on this date in 1988. He appeared in a number of Kerouac's works: as Ian MacArthur in On The Road; Mac Jones and Balliol MacJones in The Subterraneans; Wilson and John Watson in Visions of Cody; James Watson in Book of Dreams; Clellon Holmes in Maggie Cassidy; and, Eugene Pasternak in Doctor Sax.

Poet Robert Creeley died on this date in 2005. He appeared as Rainey in two Kerouac books, Desolation Angels and Book of Dreams (expanded edition).

"Howl" muse Carl Solomon was born on this date in 1928. He appeared in two of Jack Kerouac's works: as Carl Rappaport in Visions of Cody and as Carl Solobone in Book of Sketches.

Want more info? We last wished Holmes and Creeley happy birthday HERE and HERE, and remembered Solomon HERE.

March 30! Who knew?


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Review of Is Baseball Holy? Jack Kerouac and the National Pastime

                                                     

We reviewed Gregory Stephenson's The ragged promised land: Jack Kerouac's America back on November 16 HERE. Now comes his latest foray into Kerouac, Is Baseball Holy? Jack Kerouac and the National Pastime (2021, Ober-Limbo Verlag).

Stephenson's book is an extended essay, 39 numbered pages in length, 5+ of which are taken up by endnotes. He begins with a reference to the text for the film, Pull My Daisy, in which "'Peter the saint'" asks of "'the bishop,'" "'Is baseball holy?'" Stephenson then provides a synthesis of authors who have opined on the religious/spiritual nature of baseball. Until I read this synthesis I had no idea so many authors have written about the holiness of the national pastime, from its expression of the stages of the foundational Christian narrative to its mystical proportions. Stephenson's thesis appears on p. 12:
Baseball was for him [Kerouac], as I hope to show, a "sacred space" - a solace and a sanctuary, a source of insight and inspiration, a lost Eden and a promise of Paradise.
He then supports his thesis with examples from Kerouac's works. He rightfully avoids going into an in-depth description of Kerouac's self-invented fantasy baseball league, leaving that to Isaac Gerwitz in Kerouac at Bat: Fantasy Sports and the King of the Beats. Kerouac has an epiphany watching New York Giants outfielder Bobby Thomson hit a "'miraculous homerun,'" and writing in his 1951 journal, "'There was . . . the sudden realization that winning is possible on earth'" (p. 17).

Stephenson proceeds to outline baseball references and their messages from a number of well-known Kerouac works, including On The Road, Doctor Sax, Maggie Cassidy, Desolation Angels, and Old Angel Midnight. I'll leave it to readers to discern those messages for themselves. Stephenson then suggests that Kerouac was the originator of the American baseball haiku and presents the following two with analysis:
Empty baseball field -
A robin,
Hops along the bench

How cold!
- late September
baseball -
the crickets

Stephenson goes on to analyze some short pieces that Kerouac wrote for Esquire and Escapade magazines in 1958 and 1959. At the end he summarizes nicely:
Played under open skies, on lush spring and summer grass remote from ever-running, rushing time and with outfields extending into infinity, baseball must have seemed to him [Kerouac] both the evocation of an unfallen world and a hint of heaven." (p. 33)

With my eyes now opened to the holy aspects of baseball and Kerouac's understanding of same, I'm motivated to go back and re-read a bunch of Jack's descriptions pointed out by Stephenson.

I think readers of The Daily Beat would dig this cool little book.

To get your own copy, click HERE.


Friday, March 26, 2021

Happy Birthday to Gregory Corso

 


Today is Beat poet Gregory Corso's birthday (born March 26, 1930). Corso appeared in a number of Jack Kerouac's works: Yuri Gligoric in The Subterraneans; Raphael Urso in Book of Dreams and Desolation Angels (also as Gregory in the latter); and, Manuel in Beat Generation.

We remembered Gregory back on January 17 (click HERE).

You can read a bio and some of his poetry HERE.

Happy Birthday in Beat heaven, Mr. Corso.


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Happy Birthday to Lawrence Ferlinghetti

 

Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading in front of City Lights

Today -- March 24 -- would have been Lawrence Ferlinghetti's 102nd birthday (he died a little over a month ago on Feb. 22, 2021)! He appeared in Jack Kerouac's Big Sur as Lorenzo Monsanto. Click HERE for a brief bio. Click HERE for his official Facebook page. Click HERE for a remembrance at The Allen Ginsberg Project. 

Well-known for being the co-founder of San Francisco's City Lights Booksellers & Publishers and publishing Beat literature, Ferlinghetti was an accomplished writer and a well-regarded poet. To wit, here is an apropos example:


"PITY THE NATION"
(After Khalil Gibran)

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
   And whose shepherds mislead them
 Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
            Whose sages are silenced
  And whose bigots haunt the airwaves
 Pity the nation that raises not its voice
          Except  to praise conquerers
       And acclaim the bully as hero
          And aims to rule the world
              By force and by torture
          Pity the nation that knows
        No other language but its own
      And no other culture but its own
 Pity the nation whose breath is money
 And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed
      Pity the nation oh pity the people
        who allow their rights to  erode
   and their freedoms to be washed away
               My country, tears of thee
                   Sweet land of liberty!


Click HERE for the source and for more poems.

Happy Birthday in Beat heaven, Mr. Ferlinghetti.


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Joanne Kyger remembrance link

Yesterday I posted about Joanne Kyger and included a link to a really cool remembrance of her that I learned about in a Tweet from The Allen Ginsberg Project. I just now figured out that the link I used was incorrect (it linked to one of my own posts).

HERE is the correct link. It's worth checking out.

P.S. I also corrected the link in my original post.


Monday, March 22, 2021

Remembering poet Joanne Kyger UPDATED

 

Joanne Kyger

Today we remember poet Joanne Kyger, who died on this date -- March 22 -- in 2017. I don't think she appeared in any of Jack Kerouac's works, but she was married for 5 years or so to Gary Snyder (Japhy Ryder in The Dharma Bums).

We wished her a happy birthday on November 19. You can read that post by clicking HERE (it includes some information about Kyger and a link to a bio/some of her poems). 

UPDATE (3-22-21 2:30 PM Eastern): Click HERE for a really cool remembrance that I just learned about in a Tweet from The Alan Ginsberg Project.


Saturday, March 20, 2021

The raison d'être of this blog

The raison d'être of this blog was originally to hawk my 2008 book, The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions (click HERE to get your own copy). Over time, it morphed into simply a Kerouac-obsessed blog. The Daily Beat, the title (which was suggested by my partner Crystal), can be misleading because except for the first few months I have not posted every day. I have posted a total of 1,946 times (including today) and this blog has seen 1,086,941 pageviews since I started tracking them (some time in October 2008, I think).

All of which is to say it's been a long, strange trip indeed. Along the way, I've sold books all over the world, reviewed other's books, interviewed famous and not-so-famous Beat characters, honored real-life characters from Kerouac's books on their birth and death dates, curated my Kerouac bookshelves, reprinted each day of my book with the accompanying passage from On The Road or The Dharma Bums, cited various resources, waxed eloquently about many Kerouac-related topics from professional wrestling to his death being a murder, recounted trips to Kerouac locations like Lowell, MA, and NYC and San Francisco, held a Beat poetry contest, quoted from Kerouac's books and had readers guess which one, made New Year's Resolutions ("Kerouac-o-lutions"), noted Kerouac items in the media, hosted guest bloggers, celebrated milestones such as reaching a million pageviews, made various "Today in history" posts, rewrote The Dharma Bums in one sentence per chapter, suggested Christmas gift ideas, and so on to the tune of 1,946 posts. There's much more and it's all available for reading by exploring the "Blog Archive" over there on the righthand side.

Thirteen years and counting and we're not done by a long shot. See you in my dreams . . . .


  

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

I provide a Jack Kerouac quote and you figure out the book (11th in a series)

Avalokitesvara


This is the 11th in a series of posts where I provide a quote from one of Jack Kerouac's books and you figure out which one. Post your answer as a comment. Here's the passage:

. . . so I took a piece of paper about as big as a thumbnail and carefully printed on it: MAY YOU USE THE DIAMONDCUTTER OF MERCY and when I said goodbye to him at the pier I handed it to him, and he read it, put it right in his pocket, and said nothing.

Good luck!

Oh, and remember our policy on comments (over there on the right).



P.S. The reason I used a picture of Avalokitesvara is explained by reading my post from April 14, 2012. That will also give you the source of today's quotation!

Friday, March 12, 2021

Happy 99th Birthday to Jack Kerouac

Cat lover and birthday boy, Jack Kerouac

Our literary hero, Jack Kerouac, would have turned 99 years old today. He was born March 12, 1922 in the family home at 9 Lupine Road, Lowell, Massachusetts.

Jack Kerouac's birthplace: 9 Lupine Road in Lowell, MA
(c) 2011 Rick Dale

Given that this blog is singularly Kerouac-focused, it's difficult to say much about Jack that we haven't said over the past 13 years of this blog's existence. Let's therefore let Jack speak for himself about the day he was born:

March 12, 1922, at five o'clock in the afternoon, in Lowell, Mass. was the day of the first thaw. I was born on the second floor of a wooden house on Lupine Road, which to this day sits on top of a hill overlooking Lakeview Avenue and the broad Merrimack River. From this house my mother, God bless her dear heart, lay listening to the distant roar of the Pawtucket Falls a mile away; she has told me all this. Besides of which it was a strange afternoon, red as fire; "noisy with a lyrical thaw," as I said in my fictions of the past, and that is to say the snow was melting so fast you could hear it in a million small streams under the vast snowy banksides crumbling just a little in their middles from the weight of the moisture. Pines dripped like the seasonal maple, made gum and gummy firsmells in the air. Great shoulders of snow dropped precipitous from their bleak wood. These descriptions are necessary at this point, for the following reason. (December 28, 1950 letter to Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1940-1956, 1995, Penguin Books, pp. 248-249)

Jack goes on about his birth -- I encourage you to look up this letter and read it in its entirety.

Here in Maine we're having a couple days of thaw as Jack described. His description is spot on. It was a good day to be born.

Happy Birthday in heaven, Jack. Say "hi" to Lawrence for us.

Happy Birthday to John Clellon Holmes

                                                     



Writer John Clellon Holmes, one of Jack Kerouac's closest friends, was born on this date -- March 12 -- in 1926. He appeared in a number of Kerouac's works: as Ian MacArthur in On The Road; Mac Jones and Balliol MacJones in The Subterraneans; Wilson and John Watson in Visions of Cody; James Watson in Book of Dreams; Clellon Holmes in Maggie Cassidy; and, Eugene Pasternak in Doctor Sax.

For an in-depth look at Holmes and his relationship with Kerouac, get yourself a copy of Ann and Samuel Charters' Brother Souls: John Clellon Holmes, Jack Kerouac, and the Beat Generation (note the proper use of the Oxford comma in that title -- thank you, Ann and Samuel). I read this book on the basis of a glowing recommendation from my great friend, Richard Marsh, whose judgment on books I trust very much. It's now one of my favorite Kerouacian biographies, right up there with Gerald Nicosia's Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac.

I realize today is also Jack's birthday, but we will take that up in a separate post.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Holmes.


Sunday, March 7, 2021

Remembering poet Philip Lamantia

                                                 


Poet Philip Lamantia died on this date -- March 7 -- in 2005. He appeared in two of Jack Kerouac's works: as Francis DaPavia in The Dharma Bums and as David D'Angeli in Desolation Angels. Lamantia read at the famous event at the Six Gallery in 1955 that many point to as kicking off the San Francisco poetry renaissance. (He didn't read his own work, but rather that of his dead friend, John Hoffman.)

In a May 10, 1952 letter to Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac described visiting Lamantia:
In Frisco, the last week, I visited Lamantia with Neal, he is living in the former stone small castle overlooking Berkeley Calif. he was reading "The Book of the Dead," was reclined in a sumptuous couch with furnishings and turned us on, three friends from Calif. U. dropped in, a psychology major who is apparently his Burroughs, a tall handsome owner of the house (who is somewhat the Jack K.) lounging on floor and sleeping eventually [. . . .]  and a young eager intelligent kid who was like you; this was his circle, and of course he was being Lucien, they talked about psychology in terms of "I saw that damned black background to the pink again in yesterday's peotl," "Oh well (Burroughs), it won't hurt you for awhile" (both snickering). [. . . .] Lamantia showed me his poems about the Indian tribes on the San Luis Potosi plateau, I forget tribe name, they deal with his visions on Peotl and they, the lines are,
                                    arranged
                                                    like
                                                            this, for effect, but more
complicated. (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1940-1956, 1995, Penguin Books, p. 349)

We celebrated Lamantia's birthday on October 23 HERE; there's a link there to some of his poetry. Reading some of it today would be a Beat thing to do.

RIP, Mr. Lamantia.


Thursday, March 4, 2021

Remembering William Carlos Williams

                                 


Poet William Carlos Williams died on this date -- March 4 -- in 1963. Williams was Doctor Musial in Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums. We wrote about Williams on his birthday in 2019 (we missed it in 2020), so you can click HERE for some details on this influential person in the Kerouac world, including his advice to Jack and Allen Ginsberg et al. along with one of his poems.

In a September 11, 1955 letter to editor Malcolm Cowley, Jack explains his developing writing style and describes it as:
RHYTHMIC--It's prose answering the requirements mentioned by W. C. Williams, for natural-speech rhythms and words-- (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1940-1956, 1995, Penguin Books, p. 515)
Rest In Poetry, Dr. Williams.


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Gary Snyder remembers Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Click HERE for a piece by Gary Snyder (Japhy Ryder in The Dharma Bums) in remembrance of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. It concludes thus:

From start to finish, he was the biggest, clearest, most consistent supporter of radical, adventurous, experimental writing on the whole west coast.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Remembering Sebastian Sampas

                                         


On this date -- March 2 -- in 1944, Sebastian "Sammy" Sampas died at age 21. Sampas was one of Jack Kerouac's closest and dearest friends, and it would be hard to overstate the significant influence one had on the other (especially in ways literary and intellectual). Jack's third wife, Stella, was Sebastian's sister. Sampas appeared in the following Kerouac works (Source: Character Key to Kerouac's Duluoz Legend):

Kerouac Work                                               Character Name

Doctor Sax                                                    Sebastian
Visions of Cody                                             Sebastian
Book of Dreams                                            Silvanus Santos
Vanity of Duluoz                                            Sabbas (Sabby) Savakis
Visions of Gerard                                          Savas Savakis
Atop an Underwood                                      Sam
The Town and the City                                  Alexander Panos
The Haunted Life and Other Writings           Garabed Tourian

There are some wonderful letters back and forth between Sebastian and Jack in Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1940-1956 (1995, Penguin). In a November 1942 letter Jack calls Sampas his "mad poet brother (p. 31). (The original letter is on sale HERE for $12,500!)

Here is how a letter from March 1943 starts (p. 43):
Sebastian!
You magnificent bastard! I was just thinking about you, and all of a sudden, I feel
very Sebastianish,
very Bohemian!
very Baroque!
very GAY!                                                                                                         (TURN!)
I was thinking, in a flash of glory, about all the things we've done!!!--and all the others we're going to do!
AFTER THE WAR, WE MUST GO TO FRANCE AND SEE THAT THE REVOLUTION GOES WELL! AND GERMANY TOO! AND ITALY TOO! AND RUSSIA!
For  1. Vodka
        2. Love
        3. Glory. 
Alas, there was no "after the war" for Sampas -- he was killed by wounds received in the Battle of Anzio during WWII while serving as an army medic.

It would take an entire book to describe adequately the deep and loving friendship Sampas and Kerouac shared, so I won't attempt it here. Suffice to say that you can get a good sense of it from Kerouac biographies, letters between the two, and, of course, Jack's own words about Sampas in the above listed works.

RIP, Mr. Sampas,



Monday, March 1, 2021

Happy Birthday to Lucien Carr

 

(L-R) William S. Burroughs, Lucien Carr, and Allen Ginsberg
(for more photos see https://allenginsberg.org/2021/03/m-m-1/)

Proto-Beat Lucien Carr was born on this date -- March 1 -- in 1925. He appeared in a number of Jack Kerouac's works: as Damion in On The Road; Sam Vedder in The Subterraneans and Book of Dreams (expanded edition); Julien in Big Sur; Julien Love in Book of DreamsDesolation Angels, and Visions of Cody; Claude De Maubris in Vanity of Duluoz; Claude in Orpheus Emerged; Kenneth Wood in The Town and the City; Kenneth in The Haunted Life and Other Writings; and, Phillip Tourian in And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks.

We remembered Carr a little over a month ago on January 28 (click HERE), so we won't repeat biographical details except to say that Carr was an influential member of the early Beat Generation whose name is too often omitted when speaking of same (see Catherine De Leon's eye-opening article about Carr HERE). Carr has a rather extensive entry on Wikipedia in case you want to read more about him. Wikipedia gets a bad rap all the time, but I often find it to be a useful tool in getting the sense of a person, concept, or event. 

Here is an excerpt from a February 24, 1956 letter from Jack Kerouac to Lucien Carr:
Are you reading your Diamond Sutra daily like a good boy?--I got it divided into days--that is the best thing you'll ever read, it is the only thing ever written that has any value. The Bible is for shits. The Diamond Sutra is for ding-dong Buddha gongs. The words and the paper of this letter are emptiness, the words and the paper of this letter aint different from emptiness, neither is emptiness different from the words and the paper of this letter, indeed, emptiness is the words & the paper of this letter. (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1940-1956, 1995, Penguin Books, p. 564)
My copy of A Buddhist Bible

I've been in a Buddhist frame of mind of later, and that passage rang out to me. If you're a Kerouac fan, you must have a copy of this book. It is the only book he took with him to Desolation Peak. The Diamond Sutra starts on page 87 of my edition above. Happy reading...

...and Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mr. Carr.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Guest post by Robin Andrea: the 1982 Kerouac Conference in Boulder and more

 

Abbie Hoffman, Johanna Lawrenson, Gregory Corso and Timothy Leary (L-R) on the deck
of one of the little cabins Naropa had rented for the 1982 Kerouac Conference
(c) Gregory Mansur

I received the below e-mail (between the *******) from Robin Andrea and got her permission to publish it as a post here on The Daily Beat. She also sent me the above picture taken by her ex-husband, Gregory Mansur, at the famous 1982 Kerouac Conference at Naropa in Boulder, CO.

HERE is a link to Robin Andrea's blog -- check it out. Thanks for reaching out, Robin. Fascinating stuff! It's unexpected e-mails like this that make my blogging efforts worthwhile!


*******

Hello Rick Dale,

I found your blog today while googling around for some information about Lawrence Ferlinghetti and CU Boulder. After reading the sad news about Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s death, I was trying to remember if I had taken my parents to see Ferlinghetti reading poetry there back in 1982. Turns out it wasn’t Ferlinghetti but Gary Snyder, who I had taken them to see. Snyder was supposed to be at the conference but couldn’t make it. Your blog showed up during my search, and the very first image I saw on it was the poster from the Kerouac Conference of 1982. I was the Volunteer Coordinator at that conference. I wrote this on my blog about it several years ago:


"The closest I ever got to Jack Kerouac in spirit was to place flowers on his grave in Lowell, Massachusetts. The closest I ever got to him in life was to be with his dearest friends at a gathering in his honor back in 1982, during the 25th anniversary celebration of the publication of On the Road. It was a week-long celebration at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Naropa has a Writing and Poetics Department called the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (begun by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman in 1974), so a gathering of this sort was absolutely essential to the curriculum. I had just moved to Boulder and was looking to do something before I started classes at CU, so I volunteered to be the volunteer coordinator for this event. For months many of us joyously labored to gather all the old beat authors and bring them together to do readings, hold workshops, teach classes, and celebrate the life of Jack Kerouac. Quite a gathering it was-- Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ken Kesey, Gregory Corso, Abbie Hoffman, Tim Leary, even the obscure characters from Kerouac's books like Herbert Huncke, Carl Solomon (to whom Ginsberg's Howl is dedicated) came. Jan Kerouac, Jack's daughter, was there, as well as Neal Cassady's widow, Carolyn. What an occasion. Kerouac was truly honored by those who knew and loved him. They read his words, they sang his praises, and we raised our glasses in his honor."

I have a copy of that Kerouac Conference poster as well signed by almost all of the attendees, even by some whose names are not on the list— like Jack Micheline and John Clellon Holmes. It’s been almost 40 years, and some of the signatures have faded with time.

As the volunteer coordinator I matched other volunteers with conference participants. Volunteers picked up people at the airport and took them to the places where they were staying during the conference. If I remember correctly we booked a place in a state park that had cabins. I chauffeured Abbie Hoffman and his partner Johanna Lawrenson. I have a photo of them with Tim Leary and Gregory Corso. If I remember correctly, one evening I drove William Burroughs back to where he was staying. On the way back, he said in the most gravelly cryptic voice, “Please stop at the store so I can get some strawberries.” The way he said strawberries has stayed with me all these years!

I was fortunate enough to do an apprenticeship with Allen Ginsberg that summer. He read my poetry ( I am embarrassed to admit! ) and I filed away some of his paper work at his home in Boulder. He had a filing cabinet with many folders labeled “Faded Yellow Newspaper Clippings.” 

It was a wonderful summer back then in 1982. I love remembering it even on a sad day as this. Here is a link to a blog post I did about running into Lawrence Ferlinghetti a couple of years ago. 

I’m also a little embarrassed that my husband and I chose to call our blog The New Dharma Bums back in 2004. We are both such fans of the beats, we couldn’t resist. 

I hope you don’t mind me sharing these stories with you. I’m hoping you enjoyed them.

A fellow Kerouac fan,
Robin

*******


Remembering Beat poet Elise Cowen

                                     


Beat poet Elise Cowen died on this date -- February 27 -- in 1962. She appeared as Barbara Lipp in Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels and was a close companion to Allen Ginsberg (indeed, it is reported that they were lovers for a brief time). The bulk of her work, tragically, was destroyed after her death by suicide, but some of it survives, including the two poems here (after the bio -- which starts with an enlightening quote from Gregory Corso about the lack of women representation in the Beat movement).

Here's an excerpt from Kerouac's Desolation Angels
We stayed together for an awful long time, too, years—Julien called her [Alyce] Ecstasy Pie—Her best friend, the dark haired Barbara Lipp, happened by circumstance to be in love with Irwin Garden— Irwin had steered me to a haven. In this haven I slept with her for lovemaking purposes but after we were done I’d go to the outer bedroom, where I kept the winter window constantly open and the radiator shut off, and slept there in my sleepingbag. Eventually that way I finally got rid of that tubercular Mexican cough—I’m not so dumb (as Ma always said). (1995, Riverhead Books, pp. 329-330
Click here to read an interesting article about Cowen and her connection to poetry giant Emily Dickinson.

RIP, Ms. Cowen.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Sunday 2-28-21 online event to remember Lawrence Ferlinghetti

 


Click HERE for info on an online event to remember Lawrence Ferlinghetti happening Sunday 2-28-21 from 11 AM - 2 PM EST. It's being held by London's Bookmarks, The Socialist Bookshop.


Remembering Carl Solomon

                                     


Carl Solomon died on this date -- February 26 -- in 1993. He appeared in two of Jack Kerouac's works: as Carl Rappaport in Visions of Cody and as Carl Solobone in Book of Sketches.

Allen Ginsberg met Solomon in a psychiatric hospital and subsequently dedicated his famous poem, "Howl," to Solomon. Solomon worked as an editor for Ace Books, owned by his uncle A. A. Wyn. There are several published letters from Jack Kerouac to Solomon discussing Ace possibly publishing On The Road. The latter never happened, but Ace did publish William S. Burroughs' Junkie; Solomon wrote the Publisher's Note in one version and the Introduction in another. Here's an excerpt from an April 7, 1952 letter from Kerouac to Solomon:
But here's my main idea in this note (and apart from fact that I feel you're okay and wish you'd like me more), I have an idea we could publish ON THE ROAD regular hardcover and papercover, extracting 160-page stretch for 25c edition (the sexy narrative stretch, I'll designate it when I mail in full manuscript some time soon). (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1940-1956, 1995, Penguin Books, p. 342.
Click here to read a 1973 interview with Solomon by John Tytell titled, "Carl Solomon On Not Publishing Jack Kerouac." Oops.

RIP, Mr. Solomon.


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

RIP, Roger Brunelle

 
Roger Brunelle

I learned last night that our friend, Roger Brunelle, died on February 10 at age 86. The last time I saw Roger was in October 2016 at the annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac event in Lowell, MA.

Roger explicating about the Lonesome Traveler quote at the Kerouac Commemorative during
Lowell Celebrates Kerouac, October 2016

Roger was a longtime Lowellian and founding member of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac. He gave Kerouac tours of the city for 35 years. I often referred to him in blog posts as a Kerouac docent.

Roger loved Jack and he loved Lowell. He was of French-Canadian heritage and spoke and taught French, which connected him to Jack in an intimate way. A fond memory of Roger is from March 2016 during the annual celebration of Jack's birthday in Lowell. My great friend, Richard Marsh, and I had lunch at the Worthen and Roger had a beer while we ate. When Roger said he was going up to pay for his beer he surprised us and paid for our lunches, too.

Roger had a quick wit and I always got the impression that he did not suffer fools gladly. I used to love going on his Lowell tours -- he had deep Kerouac and Lowell knowledge -- and listening to him read sections from Jack's books that were relevant to where we were, using his 3x5 notecards that he lovingly prepared in advance.

I'm very sad to learn of Roger's death -- sad for myself and for his loved ones and friends, sad for Lowellians, and sad for future generations of Kerouac fans who will never benefit from Roger's  Lowell-Kerouac knowledge.

HERE is a link to Roger's obituary in the Lowell Sun.

Say hi to Jack for us, Roger, and rest in peace.


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

RIP, Lawrence Ferlinghetti

 

I just learned from my great friend Richard Marsh that poet and book publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti died Monday morning, February 22, at the age of 101 at his Bay Area home. We had wished him a happy 101st on March 24 last year (click HERE). Ferlinghetti appeared as Lorenzo Monsanto in Jack Kerouac's Big Sur, the devastatingly honest account of Jack's mental health decline at the hands of alcohol and his futile effort to forestall the same at Ferlinghetti's Big Sur cabin near the Bixby Canyon Bridge.

I've never see Ferlinghetti in person, although I've been to his bookstore, City Lights, in San Francisco. You can read about his life in this L.A. Times obit (click HERE).

It would do him a great honor if you read some of his poetry today, or something he published at great personal and professional risk, like Allen Ginsberg's "Howl."

You lived a long, fascinating, and accomplished life, Mr. Ferlinghetti. Well-played, sir. Rest in peace.





Saturday, February 20, 2021

Richard Brautigan and Jack Kerouac (UPDATED 2-26-21)

 


I just finished the final book in this 3-parter by Richard Brautigan (1935-1984). It was published in 1989 and includes his famous Trout Fishing in America (1967), a poetry collection The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1968), and the prose piece In Watermelon Sugar (1968). I read them in that order and wanted to say something about all three and about Brautigan in general.

Of course, we have to dispense with the question, "What does this have to do with Jack Kerouac?" I don't know if Brautigan was a Beat author. Some say yes, some say no, some say he was a later-Beat. Indeed, he didn't make his way to San Francisco until 1956, which of course post-dates the Beat-rich 40s and early 50s but pre-dates the publication of On The Road. Brautigan certainly hung with the Beat crowd in Frisco (Allen Ginsberg, e,g.), although I can't confirm he met Kerouac from any of the biographies whose index I thumbed through or based on my Internet searching. The general sense in the Jack Kerouac Facebook group is that Brautigan and Kerouac never met face-to-face, although Kerouac scholar Dave Moore, the group's administrator, posted that Brautigan said, "I was a little disappointed over a critical reaction that tended to associate 'Confederate General' with the work of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, etc. I did not write my novel in an effort to imitate those writers." He is referring to hsis first published novel (1965), A Confederate General from Big Sur.

Brautigan and Kerouac have similarities. They both died in their 40s, Brautigan of a self-inflicted gunshot and Kerouac of self-inflicted alcoholism (Brautigan was an alcoholic, too). Their prose is poetic and quasi-autobiographical. They both spent time in the hospital with mental health diagnoses. Brautigan married twice and Kerouac married thrice.

Moving on. I liked Trout Fishing in America. It is hard to describe. It's a series of titled anecdotes that revolve around places in America and the people who inhabit them. There are some recurring themes and characters but no real plot as you would expect in a "novel." "Trout Fishing in America" is a phrase that's used in various unusual ways: person, place, and thing. Wikipedia has a pretty good overview of the book. It's definitely poetic prose, and satirical, comical, and worth checking out.

The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1968)is a collection of 98 poems. The title poem is below:
The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster

When you take your pill
it's like a mine disaster.
I think of all the people
    lost inside of you.
The poems are mostly short and cover a variety of topics. Based on this collection, I can't say Brautigan is one of my favorite poets but he is certainly competent and worth reading.

In Watermelon Sugar was my favorite of the three works. It's similar in its experimental style to Trout Fishing in America, but has more of a plot and is even more fantasy-laced. It's about a group of people who live in a place called iDEATH and who make everything out of watermelon sugar, from clothing to building materials. I've heard its style referred to as magical realism. Once again, Wikipedia has a useful entry on the book. I note that the chapter titled "My Name" blew my mind -- I'm not sure why. Click HERE for an excerpt (about half the chapter). I was enthralled with the whole story, and I hope you will consider reading it if you haven't done so already.

Will I read more Brautigan? Yes. Do you have any suggestions based on what I've said above about what to read next? Maybe A Confederate General from Big Sur?

UPDATE (2-23-21): The following was posted in the Jack Kerouac Facebook group (which you definitely want join if you haven't already done so):

Back in 1991 when I was cataloguing books by other authors found in Sampas home on 2 Stevens St, Lowell, that belonged to Jack - I found a copy of Brautigan's "All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace." The book was not signed or inscribed by Brautigan but Jack had the book on his shelf.

UPDATE #2 (2-26-21): The following was posted in the Jack Kerouac Facebook group:

Maybe this helps, Rick--this is from William Hjortsberg's Brautigan biography, 'The Jubilee Hitchhiker':
"Jack Kerouac’s thirty-one-year-old daughter, Jan, sat in the hotel’s breakfast room with her companion, Milo, when Brautigan came lurching in, wearing jeans and a red T-shirt emblazoned with a Montana logo. Suffering from jet lag, Richard slumped at a nearby table, burying his head in his hands, “muttering something about a bottle of whiskey.” Jan and Milo started a conversation with the disheveled stranger. Brautigan told them about his close encounter in Harlem. When finished, he pulled his funny hat from his back pocket. “So, you see,” Richard said, “this hat saved my life.”
Kerouac left Milo alone with their new friend. Brautigan wasted no time before buying a bottle of whiskey and getting Milo “thoroughly plastered.” When Jan returned early in the afternoon, she found them both unconscious on her hotel room floor. Richard, Milo, and Jan started hanging out together. She made no mention in her memoir, Trainsong, of the time Brautigan encountered her father passed out under a urinal in a Big Sur bar. Perhaps he never told Jan that story. When Richard related the episode to Greg Keeler, “he seemed to light up—as if passing out under a urinal was . . . one of the top things a guy could do.” Jan Kerouac estimated that Brautigan consumed at least six quarts of whiskey over the next three days before his scheduled poetry reading. In the end, she thought Richard had drunk himself sober."