Saturday, October 1, 2022

On hiatus for a spell

We are leaving Monday for a multiple month trip in our RV across the United States. While I'll have my computer with me, I don't anticipate using it daily or checking for Kerouac-related birth and death dates often enough that I wouldn't miss some. Rather than miss some dates, I am going to suspend posting about such dates until such time as I return home and have more of a routine. Hopefully, this doesn't bum any readers out too badly. I may still post from time-to-time as we hit Kerouac-related places along the way or the muse strikes me for some reason.

If you're really into knowing what Kerouac-related character was born or died on a given date, you can check the archives (over there on the right ----> -- you might have to scroll down) for past entries on that date.

Sorry for any inconvenience, but I think it's best to set low expectations for the next few months. May we get what we desire and never what we deserve.

"On the road" we go . . . . 



Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Happy Birthday to Joyce Johnson

                                              

Joyce Johnson was born this date -- September 27 -- in 1935, making her 87 years old today. She is a noted and award-winning author and appeared as Alyce Newman in Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels. Joyce wrote about her firsthand knowledge of Kerouac in Minor Characters and in The Voice is All, both mandatory reads for any true Kerouac fan. She was there when big Beat things went down, so her point of view is firsthand.

In an undated 1957 letter to Johnson (then Glassman), Jack describes the time he was on a Yugoslavian freighter on the way to Tangier and experienced a big storm:

During this ordeal I heard the words: EVERYTHING IS GOD, NOTHING EVER HAPPEND EXCEPT GOD -- and I believed and still do. (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969, 1999, Penguin Books, p. 11)

Happy Birthday, Ms. Johnson.


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

A significant date re: two notable Beat Generation women

 


Carolyn Cassady (left) and Edie Parker

On this date -- September 20 -- Carolyn Cassady died in 2013 and Edie Parker was born in 1922. Cassady 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. Edie also appeared in several of Jack Kerouac's works: as Marie in The Subterraneans; as Elly in Visions of Cody; as Edna in Book of Dreams; as Edna (Johnnie) Palmer in Vanity of Duluoz; and as Judie Smith in The Town and the City.

Don't fall into the trap of marginalizing these two influential Beat Generation women as being merely Neal's and Jack's wives. As we have said repeatedly in past posts, they were forces to be reckoned with on their own terms. Both left behind required-reading memoirs: Cassady: Off the Road: My Years with Cassady, Kerouac. and Ginsberg); Parker: You'll Be Okay: My Life with Jack Kerouac.

RIP, Ms. Cassady and Happy Heavenly Birthday, Ms. Parker.


Remembering Jack Kerouac's sister, Nin

 

Caroline with her brother, Jack

Caroline "Nin" Kerouac Blake died on yesterday's date -- September 19 -- in 1964. I'm sorry I missed posting about it. She was Jack Kerouac's older sister and appeared in several of Jack's works: Nin Duluoz in Doctor Sax and Visions of Gerard; Nin in Book of DreamsMaggie CassidyVisions of Cody, and Vanity of Duluoz; Ruth Martin in The Town and the City; and, Carolyn Blake in Book of Sketches. The excellent Character Key to Jack Kerouac's Duluoz Legend lists her twice for Maggie Cassidy (as Nin and Jeannette Bissonette). I asked Kerouac scholar and keeper of the key, Dave Moore, about that little wrinkle and he said (shared with permission):
Yes, it's weird. Both names are used in MC. In the first part, Jack wrote about his sister Nin, but later, when he's writing about the surprise birthday party, Nin is described as arranging it, but the hosts are described as Jeannette and Jimmy Bisssonette. (Nin married Charles Morisette in 1937.)
When I think of Nin, I always think of Jack's descriptions in The Dharma Bums (my favorite Kerouac novel) of staying with her and her husband and child at their house in Big Easonburg Woods near Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Which, of course, reminds me of the excellent book by John J. Dorfner, Kerouac: Visions of Rocky Mount (that you can purchase by contacting the author at johnjdorfner@gmail.com).

RIP, Mrs. Blake.


Saturday, September 17, 2022

Happy Heavenly Birthday to William Carlos Williams

 


Dr. William Carlos Williams

Poet William Carlos Williams was born this date -- September 17 -- in 1883. He was a significant influence on the Beat generation writers, especially Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg discusses a 1957 visit he and Jack Kerouac and Gregory Corso and Peter Orlovsky paid to Williams here (you need to ask permission to visit the site -- I can't even access it now and am not sure how to contact the author). Ginsberg says Kerouac romanced up Williams' wife, Flossie, in the kitchen. According to Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia, when the visitors asked him to impart some wisdom, the 73-year-old Williams pointed out the window and smiled, saying, "'There's a lot of bastards out there'" (Memory Babe, 1994, p. 541).

You can read a little bit about Williams on the Friends of Kerouac site here. And, of course, you can Google him for more. Williams wrote the introduction to Ginsberg's most famous poem, "Howl."

Williams was Doctor Musial in Kerouac's The Dharma Bums. In Memory Babe, Gerald Nicosia says Kerouac's writing style was influenced by Williams' "attempt to write with the 'measured pauses' of speech" (1994, p. 453).

Before presenting one of Williams' more well-known poems, I want to point out that he was not just an acclaimed poet, but also a practicing physician in his hometown of Rutherford, N.J.

I love the following poem by Williams. This version is from Poetry Foundation, a comprehensive poetry site where you can read a bio of Williams here.



Happy Heavenly Birthday, Dr. Williams!


Friday, September 16, 2022

HERE COMES THE WAITING FOR THE SUN by Beat56: A review

 

Cover of HERE COMES THE WAITING FOR THE SUN

Beat56 is a friend of mine on Twitter about whom I know very little -- it's limited to what he Tweets about. Anyway, he has been referencing a poetry book he has self-published (HERE COMES THE WAITING FOR THE SUN) and so I bought one the other day from Amazon (click HERE). It was ten bucks and change and I'm glad I acquired this little poetry collection.

The back cover declares "Death drug Romantic poems" in large letters with a small picture of the author (above). Beat56's Twitter description is as follows:

obedient to high thoughts failed grunge guitarist/lake poet/beat gen x slacker poems published with expat laughingronin and athinsliceofanxiety
That description gives some insight into this poetry. It is rambling and follows few conventions. Beat56's poems are full of imagery and done in free verse. Here is an example:


Throughout the collection, the author deals with topics such as drugs, poets (e.g., Gregory Corso and Jack Kerouac), musicians (e.g., Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain), eastern topics (e.g., Buddhism and the Himalayas), movies (e.g., Star Wars and The Karate Kid), suicide, depression, and, of course, poetry -- which is fine despite being a tad meta.

Formatting is an issue -- it is sometimes hard to tell where one poem starts and another begins. Perhaps that was intentional. I felt trippy reading the poems straight-through, and maybe that was intentional, too.

Like I said, I'm glad I bought the book. It's probably not going to win a Pulitzer, but it is full of emotion and thoughtful imagery/references. It has a mystical quality to it that is rather inscrutable. On Twitter, Beat56 often bemoans the demise of poetry in this modern age. With this collection, he has done his part to make that complaint less salient.

P.S. Fittingly, I had a shot of whiskey -- my drug of choice -- before writing this review. I'll blame any typos on that.


Friday, September 9, 2022

A Kerouac 2-for-1 date

                                 


Famed photographer Robert Frank died on this date -- September 9 -- in 2019. We wrote about his death HERE and his birthday HERE.

Frank appeared in one Kerouac work (under his own name) -- an essay about their trip to Florida that appeared in the January 1970 Evergreen Review.

RIP, Mr. Frank.


Today we send birthday greetings to John Allen Cassady, son of Neal and Carolyn Cassady. He was born this date in 1951. John appeared in several Kerouac works: as Timmy Pomeray in Book of DreamsDesolation Angels. and Visions of Cody; as Timmy John Pomeray in Big Sur; and, as Jim Pomeray in Beat Generation (early draft).

You can visit his website HERE.

Happy Birthday, John.


Tuesday, September 6, 2022

September 6: A macabre date in the Kerouac saga

 

Natalie Jackson (L) and Joan Vollmer (R)

Two woman associated with Jack Kerouac died young in tragic ways and they share today's date, one because it's her birthday and the other because it's the day she died.

Natalie Jackson was born on this date -- September 6 -- in 1931. She was Rosie Buchanan in The Dharma Bums and Rosemarie in Desolation AngelsBig Sur, and Book of Dreams. She died from suicide at age 24 in 1955.

Joan Vollmer died on this date in 1951 at the age of 28 when she was killed by her common-law husband, William S. Burroughs, who was allegedly trying to shoot a water glass off her head in William Tell style using a pistol. Vollmer was Jane Lee in On The Road; Jane in The Subterraneans; June Evans in Book of DreamsDesolation Angels, and Vanity of Duluoz; June Hubbard in Visions of Cody; Joan in The Haunted Life and Other Writings; Mary Dennison in The Town and the City; and, "my old lady" in And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks.

It's no wonder Vollmer shows up prominently in Kerouac's works, given that she was a central figure in the early days of the Beats. The New York City apartment she shared with Edie Parker (who later married Kerouac) became the unofficial hangout for Beat figures between 1943-1944. Vollmer was an active participant in the famous marathon discussions that took place in apartment No. 62 at 421 W. 118th Street. According to Bill Morgan in The Beat Generation in New York, "Kerouac often said that the happiest days of his life were spent" there (p. 11).

Jackson, who was a model of Robert LaVigne's, gained Beat notoriety from having an affair with Kerouac muse Neal Cassady. She killed herself by slitting her throat and throwing herself off the roof of 1051 Franklin Street (reached from her apartment's roof at 1041) in San Francisco, supposedly over her fear of the consequences from having impersonated Neal's wife, Carolyn, to help him get money from the bank for a race track betting scheme. Kerouac describes Jackson's death in The Dharma Bums Chapter 15.

In summary, what links Natalie Jackson and Joan Vollmer is that they were Beat figures who died tragically and young and they share this important date, for one a beginning and for the other an ending. As the Oracle says in The Matrix, "Everything that has a beginning . . . has an end."

Here's to remembering Natalie's beginning and Joan's ending on this macabre date in the Kerouac saga.


Belatedly celebrating the anniversary of On The Road

 

My dog-eared and annotated copy of On The Road

We've been away at a bluegrass festival and thus I missed posting about the publication of Jack Kerouac's On The Road on September 5, 1957! It no less than launched our boy Jack into literary stardom (the latter of which contributed to his drinking and therefore to his early death).

For you math geeks, that was 65 years ago yesterday.

Congratulations, Jack!



Saturday, September 3, 2022

Without this birthday boy, there'd be no Jack Kerouac (as we know him)

                                          


On this date -- September 3 -- Justin W. Brierly was born in 1905. Brierly appeared in several Kerouac books: as Denver D. Doll in On The Road, Justin G. Mannerly in Visions of Cody, and Manley G. Mannerly in Book of Dreams.

Brierly is particularly noteworthy in the Kerouac saga as he was instrumental in grooming a young Neal Cassady during his Denver years. Brierly was a Columbia University graduate, and it is no stretch to say that he was responsible, at least in part, for Cassady and Kerouac connecting at Columbia (where Jack also attended). Another Columbia student, Hal Chase, was a Brierly protégé and he (Chase) introduced Cassady to Kerouac.

No Cassady-Kerouac connection, no On The Road, and so . . . no Brierly, no Kerouac. At least as we know him....


Friday, September 2, 2022

A Kerouac-related birthday of note

 

David Kammerer

For those of you steeped in Beat lore, the name David Kammerer needs no explanation. For those of you new to the subject or with only passing Kerouacian knowledge, Kammerer was the man killed by Lucien Carr (stabbed to death with a Boy Scout knife) and Kerouac -- in trying to help him cover up the crime -- was arrested as an accessory after-the-fact and ended up in jail (which resulted in Jack marrying Edie Parker to get bail money from her parents when his own father, Leo, wouldn't spring him, but that is another story).

Kerouac recounted this story in several works, and Kammerer appeared in Visions of Cody as Dave Stroheim, Vanity of Duluoz as Franz (Swinburne) Mueller, The Town and the City as Waldo Meister, Ramsey Allen in And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, and Alfred in The Haunted Life (Source: Character Key to Kerouac's Duluoz Legend).

My point? Kammerer was born this date -- September 2 -- in 1911. So even though he (allegedly) stalked Carr around the country and was murdered as a result, we remember him on his birthday as playing a significant role in the Kerouac saga.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Remembering Chandler Brossard

                                               


Chandler Brossard, who some claim wrote the first Beat novel (Who Walk in Darkness, 1952), died on this date -- August 29 -- in 1993.  Brossard appeared as Chris Rivers in Jack Kerouac's and William S. Burroughs' And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

I wrote about Who Walk in Darkness HERE. I was not that enamored of the book, but then Brossard was not enamored of being associated with the Beats. A whole lot of dis-enamoring going on in that last sentence! In any case, if you're interested in the Village scene in the 40s, you may enjoy Who Walk in Darkness. Brossard wrote other stuff as well. His papers are maintained by Syracuse University -- click HERE for access.


RIP, Mr. Brossard.



Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Happy Heavenly Birthday to Gerard Kerouac

                                                 

Jack Kerouac's brother, (Francis) Gerard, was born this date -- August 23 -- in 1916. His death at a young age was the impetus for Kerouac to write one of his best works, Visions of Gerard. Gerard appeared as Gerard Duluoz in Visions of Gerard, Doctor Sax, Visions of Cody, and Book of Dreams; and as Julian in The Town and the City.

Did you know that Gerard was a cartoonist? According to Gerald Nicosia in Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, "Gerard . . . had been Jack's first drawing instructor" (1983, University of California Press, p. 35). 

HAPPY HEAVENLY BIRTHDAY, GERARD!


Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Happy Heavenly Birthday to poet Lew Welch

 

Lew Welch

Poet Lew Welch was born on today's date -- August 16 -- in 1926. He appeared in two of Jack Kerouac's works -- Desolation Angels and Big Sur -- as Dave Wain.

Welch famously drove Kerouac and another friend, Albert Saijo, cross-country in 1959, composing poetry along the way that became Trip Trap: Haiku on the Road. Kerouac mentioned this trip in a Dec. 7, 1959 letter to Lawrence Ferlinghetti:

Dear Larry--

Thanx again for getting me the cash . . . We had a great enlightening trip, Lew Welch talked all the way & showed great knowledge of American subjects (dialects, lit., folk songs, logging, football, track, girls etc.) and Albert Saijo mediated most of the way. We wrote a joint book of poems called TRIP TRAP. Albert is like my guru now. (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969, 1999, Penguin Books, p. 265)

Welch was an accomplished poet in is own right, and we reviewed his poetry collection, Ring of Bone, HERE. He roomed with Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen at Reed College. More on Welch can be found HERE.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mr. Welch.


Belatedly remembering Bea Franco

 

Bea Franco with son, Alberta -- Photo/Beatrice Kozera estate
Bea Franco with son, Alberto
Photo/Beatrice Kozera Estate

Today we belatedly remember Bea Franco, who died on August 15, 2013. We wished her a happy birthday in October 2021 HERE. She was represented as Terry in Jack Kerouac's 1957 classic novel, On The Road. An excerpt about Terry, titled "The Mexican Girl," was published as a stand-alone short story in Paris Review in 1955; you can read it here. Bea also appeared in Book of Dreams as Bea.


Also of note, author Tim Z. Hernandez found Bea alive in 2010 after a multi-year search and as a result wrote the award-winning novel about her life, Mañana Means Heaven, which we reviewed here at The Daily Beat (click here). We also curated the book twice (click here and here), and featured a guest blog by the author (click here). 




Monday, August 15, 2022

Belatedly remembering David Kammerer

 

David Kammerer


Yesterday -- August 14 -- was the anniversary of David Kammerer's death in 1944. We wrote about Kammerer on his birthday in September 2020 HERE. Kammerer appeared in Visions of Cody as Dave Stroheim, Vanity of Duluoz as Franz (Swinburne) Mueller, The Town and the City as Waldo Meister, Ramsey Allen in And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, and Alfred in The Haunted Life (Source: Character Key to Kerouac's Duluoz Legend).

Kammerer was most likely a sexual predator, and we remember him only because he figured into the early Beat Generation -- if only as a dark presence.


Monday, August 8, 2022

Remembering Herbert Huncke

                                                     

On this date-- August 8 -- in 1996, Beat Generation core figure Herbert Huncke died. Huncke was Elmer Hassel in Jack Kerouac's On The Road; Huck in Desolation AngelsBook of Dreams, and Visions of Cody; Hunkey in Lonesome Traveler; and Junkey in The Town and the City.

Regular readers of The Daily Beat need no introduction to the man from whom Kerouac likely learned the word, "beat." Click on the link above if you want to read a short bio.

We curated a Huncke biography by Hilary Holladay HERE. You can listen to him read three poems HERE (at the Chelsea Hotel in 1994).

RIP, Mr. Huncke.



Saturday, August 6, 2022

Happy Heavenly Birthday to Beat poet, Diane di Prima

                                     



Today -- August 6 -- is award-winning Beat poet Diane di Prima's birthday. She was born in 1934. I don't think she appeared in any of Jack Kerouac's works, but he appeared in hers in a randy sex scene in her Memoirs of a Beatnik. I liked that book a lot, in particular how she graphically but sensitively described her various sexual experiences.

We reviewed her 2015 poetry book, The Poetry DealHERE, and curated it HERE. We curated Memoirs of a Beatnik HERE.

In honor of her birthday, you can read about Diane and find some of her poetry HERE.


Happy Heavenly Birthday, Ms. di Prima!



Friday, August 5, 2022

Jack Kerouac's father was born on this date in 1889

                                             


Leo Kerouac, Jack Kerouac's father, was born on this date -- August 5 -- in 1889 in Saint-Hubert-de-Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec, Canada as Joseph Alcide Léon Kirouack. Leo appeared in several of his son Jack's books: Emil Alcide Duluoz in Visions of Gerard, Emil (Pop) Duluoz in Doctor Sax/Visions of Cody/Vanity of Duluoz, George Martin in The Town and the City, Emil in Maggie Cassidy/Desolation Angels, Pa in Book of Dreams, Charlie Martin in The Sea is My Brother, and Joe Martin in The Haunted Life and Other Writings.

Happy Heavenly Birthday to the man without whom there would be no Jack Kerouac!



Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Remembering William S. Burroughs

(c) Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Core Beat Generation member, writer, and cultural iconoclast William S. Burroughs died on this date in 1997. He needs no introduction to regular readers of The Daily Beat. His importance to the Jack Kerouac story cannot be overestimated.

Burroughs appeared in several of Kerouac's works: as Old Bull Lee in On The Road; Frank Carmody in The Subterraneans; Bull Hubbard in Book of DreamsDesolation AngelsDoctor Sax, and Visions of Cody; Bull in Tristessa; Bill/William Seward Burroughs in Lonesome Traveler; Wilson Holmes Hubbard in Vanity of Duluoz; Bill Dennison in The Haunted Life and Other Writings; and, Will Dennison in The Town and the City and And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks


RIP, Mr. Burroughs.


Monday, August 1, 2022

Happy 91st Birthday to Ramblin' Jack Elliott

Ramblin' Jack at Sweetwater
(c) 2013 Crystal Bond

Ramblin' Jack Elliott turns 91 today. Elliott appeared as Jack Elliot in Jack Kerouac's Book of Dreams.

Here's some Kerouac scoop from Dave Moore's excellent Character Key to Kerouac's Duluoz Legend.

In January 2013, at a live Beat Poetry event at Sweetwater in Mill Valley, Jack asked the crowd not to take pictures during his show. People didn't comply, and he then really admonished the crowd, saying he would pose naked on his horse after the show, but during the show, NO PICTURES! I don't know what his peeve was -- he didn't give a reason -- and it's sad that this is the main thing I remember about him from the show. Crystal was at the bathroom during the original warning, and what do you think she did when she came back? Yup -- she took a picture (see above).

Happy Birthday, Mr. Elliott. I hope it's okay that I posted your picture.


Sunday, July 31, 2022

A three-4-one Kerouac date

 

Gore Vidal, Elise Cowen, and Ruth Weiss (L-R)

Writer and bon vivant Gore Vidal died on this date -- July 31-- in 2012, Beat poet Elise Cowen was born on this date in 1933, and Beat poet Ruth Weiss (<---link includes details on how Jack Kerouac and Ms. Weiss met) died on this date in 2020. Vidal appeared in Kerouac's The Subterraneans as Arial Lavalina and in Old Angel Midnight as Gore Bedavalled. Cowen appeared as Barbara Lipp in Desolation Angels. I could not verify that Weiss appeared in any of Kerouac's works.

Given my personal history with depression, I should note here that Cowen ended her own life (not dissimilarly to Natalie Jackson) by throwing herself out of her parents' 7th floor window.

If you are thinking about suicide or just need someone to talk to about emotional distress in your life, you can text Crisis Text Line at 741741 or call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.

RIP, Mr.* Vidal and Ms.* Weiss, and Happy Birthday, Ms.* Cowen.



*These are guesses at preferred salutations. If I'm wrong, let me know.



Monday, July 18, 2022

Happy Heavenly Birthday to Chandler Brossard

                                                          


On this date -- July 18 -- in 1922, American writer Chandler Brossard was born. He would have been 100 years old today. Brossard appeared as Chris Rivers in Jack Kerouac's and William S. Burroughs' And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks. Some claim Brossard's Who Walk in Darkness (1952) was the first Beat novel. Brossard was not pleased with being associated with the early Beat writers, but given the content of Darkness it is hard to dismiss the connections. I wrote about that book HERE.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mr. Brossard!


P.S. Hunter S. Thompson -- who was not a Beat but sometimes gets associated with them -- was born this date in 1937.



Friday, July 15, 2022

Happy Heavenly Birthday to Robert LaVigne

                             


On this date, July 15, artist and Jack Kerouac friend Robert LaVigne was born in Idaho in 1928. He was Guy Levesque in Kerouac's Desolation Angels.

We said a bunch about LaVigne back on February 20 (click HERE), so there is no need to repeat ourselves today. Don't believe what Ginsberg said in the above picture about LaVigne being Robert Browning in Big Sur. See my February 20 post for an explanation.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mr. LaVigne.

Friday, July 8, 2022

A two-fer Kerouac-related heavenly birthday

 

Stanley Twardowicz (L) and Peter Orlovsky

Two important Kerouac figures were born on today's date -- July 8: painter Stanley Twardowicz in 1917 and long-time Allen Ginsberg partner Peter Orlovsky in 1933. Twardowicz appeared in one Kerouac novel, Satori in Paris, under his own name. Orlovsky appeared in several Jack Kerouac works: as George in The Dharma Bums, Simon Darlovsky in Desolation Angels, Simon in Book of Dreams, and Paul in Beat Generation.

You can read more about each in our recent remembrances HERE (Twardowicz) and HERE (Orlovsky).

Happy Heavenly Birthday to Messieurs Twardowicz and Orlovsky.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Happy Heavenly Birthday to Ted Joans

                                                 


Jazz poet and trumpeter Ted Joans was born this date -- July 4 -- in 1928. 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.

According to editor Ann Charters in a note on page 211 of Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969 (1999, Penguin Books), Joans was present at the poetry reading on February 15, 1959, at the Artists Studio in Manhattan where Fred McDarrah took the famous picture of Kerouac reading from On The Road, standing on a stepladder, arms outstretched (see below).



Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mr. Joans.


Monday, June 27, 2022

Pics of Jack Kerouac's favorite bar in Hyannis, MA

 My great friend Richard Marsh has been staying on Cape Cod for his honeymoon and sent me these pictures of the 19th Hole Tavern (affectionately known as The Hole), a bar that Jack Kerouac hung out in when he and his mother lived in Hyannis briefly in 1966 (at 20 Bristol Avenue according to Bill Morgan in Beat Atlas). HERE is a link to a story about the place and below are some pics Richard sent me. Richard says there is a difference of opinion as to which spot in the bar was Jack's.


(c) Richard Marsh 2022


Wow, that looks like me sitting at the bar!
(c) Richard Marsh 2022

(c) Richard Marsh 2022


(c) Richard Marsh 2022


(c) Richard Marsh 2022


(c) Richard Marsh 2022




Sunday, June 26, 2022

Remembering Philip Whalen

 

Philip Whalen (L) & Jack Kerouac


Today we remember Beat poet Philip Whalen, who died on this date -- June 26 -- in 2002 at the age of 78. He appeared in several Jack Kerouac works: as Warren Coughlin in The Dharma Bums; and Ben Fagan in Desolation Angels and Big Sur.

Whalen was a force behind the San Francisco poetry renaissance of the mid-50s, and was one of the poets who read at the famous Six Gallery reading on October 7, 1955.

To get a sense of Whalen's place in Kerouac's world, I highly recommend reading John Suiter's Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades. This is my favorite Kerouac-related book of all time (a gift from my great friend, Richard Marsh).

Whalen was a Buddhist, close with Lew Welch and Gary Snyder (who all met at Reed College in Oregon), and a much greater piece of the Beat Generation puzzle than he gets credit for, especially the West Coast aspect. You can read a brief bio and some of his poetry HERE. Whalen and Kerouac were also close, evidenced by the more than two dozen letters from Kerouac to Whalen included in Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969 (Penguin Books, 1999).

RIP, Mr. Whalen.



Saturday, June 25, 2022

A belated heavenly birthday to Beat poet Ruth Weiss

 


Noted Beat poet Ruth Weiss was born on yesterday's date -- June 24 -- in 1928. I could not verify whether she appeared in any of Jack Kerouac's works.

HERE is a link to a documentary film about Weiss. You can read about her interactions with Kerouac HERE. It's a bit of a challenge to find her poetry online, but with some Googling you can find some.

Happy heavenly birthday, Ms. Weiss.


Saturday, June 18, 2022

Happy Heavenly Birthday to Helen Weaver


Today -- June 18 -- is Helen Weaver's birthday. Weaver appeared in two of Jack Kerouac's works: as Ruth Heaper in Desolation Angels and as Eileen Farrier in Book of Dreams (expanded edition).Weaver granted me an interview in 2009 that you can read HERE. Happy heavenly birthday, Ms. Weaver.

Note: Am currently camped at a bluegrass festival so this post, if it works, is from my smartphone.


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Happy Birthday to Hettie Jones

 

Hettie Jones

Today is poet/writer Hettie Jones' 88th birthday. She never appeared in a Jack Kerouac work, but her husband, LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka), appeared in Lonesome Traveler under his own name.

Jones published many of the Beat writers, including Kerouac, in her poetry magazine, Yugen, established with her husband. She went on to publish others in Totem Press. A brief bio and one of her poems can be read HERE. In addition to her poetry, Jones published a couple of memoirs and several children's books.

Happy Birthday, Ms. Jones.



Sunday, June 12, 2022

Remembering Stanley Twardowicz

 

Stanley Twardowicz

Jack Kerouac's Northport friend, painter/photographer Stanley Twardowicz, died on this date -- June 12 -- in 2008. He appeared in one Kerouac novel, Satori in Paris, under his own name. To wit --

Spend most of the time talking to big corpulent Breton cabdrivers, what I learned in Brittany is "Don't be afraid to be big, fat, be yourself if you're big and fat." Those big fat sonumgun Bretons waddle around as tho the last whore of summer war lookin for her first lay. You can't drive a spike with a tack hammer, say the Polocks, well at least said Stanley Twardowicz which is another country I've never seen. You can drive a nail, but not a spike. (Satori in Paris & Pic, 1988, Grove Press, p. 108)
In January 1968, Jack wrote to Twardowicz, thanking him for a Christmas gift.
Dear Stanley:
When your fruitcake arrived as usual, as wd. be expected from a fruitcake, Stella said to me: "Now who is it that remembers you at each Christmastime?" I said: "Gordo?" She said: "Guess again?" I said: "Lucien? Allen? Peter? John the Baptist?""Awright," I shouted, "Ho?" She said "Stanley." Thank you, will eat, it, and love to "Blondie" too.
                                                                                                        Jack

The Bishop orders you not to beat it too much. (Beat the Bishop)

 (Source: Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 507)

I don't know if Jack intended that comma after eat or if it's a typo.

RIP, Mr. Twardowicz.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Remembering Kenneth Rexroth

 

Kenneth Rexroth

Poet and critic Kenneth Charles Marion Rexroth, who we wished a happy birthday in December 2020 (click HERE), died on this date -- June 6 -- in 1982. Rexroth appeared in only one of Jack Kerouac's books, The Dharma Bums (my favorite), as Rheinhold Cacoethes.

Rexroth and Kerouac were not chums. As Gerald Nicosia points out in Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, Rexroth often put Jack down with snide remarks (1994, University of California Press, p. 491). Jack returned the favor by naming him "Cacoethes," which means "the irresistible urge to do something inadvisable."

Notably, Rexroth was the master of ceremonies at the famous Six Gallery poetry reading in October 1955. You can read more about him HERE as well as some of his poetry.

Random thought: I rather think the younger Rexroth looks like actor Steve Zahn.


A young Rexroth

Actor Steve Zahn


RIP, Mr. Rexroth.


Sunday, June 5, 2022

Remembering Jan Kerouac

                                         


Writer Jan Kerouac, Jack's only child, died on this date -- June 5 -- in 1996. We wished her a happy birthday and provided some info about her back in February. You can access that post HERE.

A fitting book to check out today, in addition to any of Jan's own novels (Baby DriverTrainsong, and Parrot Fever (unpublished but a chapbook is available from Gerald Nicosia) would be Nicosia's The Last Days of Jan Kerouac (Noodlebrain Press, PO Box 130, Corte Madera, CA 94976-0130). Click HERE for a European Beat Studies Network interview with Nicosia about this book.

Like her father, Jan died too young (age 44) and had a promising writing career cut short, most likely from similar lifestyle choices involving intoxicants. To which I say: Life is short. Live every minute of it.

RIP, Ms. Kerouac.


Friday, June 3, 2022

Happy Heavenly Birthday to Allen Ginsberg

 

Allen Ginsberg

Poet and core Beat Generation member Allen Ginsberg was born on this date -- June 3 --  in 1926. He appeared in a number of Jack Kerouac's works: as Carlo Marx in On The Road; Alvah Goldbook in The Dharma Bums; Adam Moorad in The Subterraneans; Irwin Garden in Big SurDesolation AngelsVisions of CodyBook of Dreams, and Vanity of Duluoz; Leon Levinski in The Town and the City; Allen Goldbook in an early draft of Beat Generation; Bleistein in The Haunted Life and Other Writings; Allen Ginsberg in Pull My Daisy; and Leo in Orpheus Emerged.

The influence of Ginsberg on the other Beat writers, including acting as their agent/promoter, and his impact on the culture from the 50s to the 90s cannot be overstated. One need only read the above list of appearances in Kerouac's works to imagine his importance to Jack. You can read a short bio and some of his poetry by clicking HERE.

In honor of his birthday, Allen would dig it if you read some of his poetry, especially aloud. Even better, read along while listening to him read his own work. It's all out there on the interwebz.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mr. Ginsberg.



Thursday, June 2, 2022

A doubly important Kerouac date

 

Gerard Kerouac (left) and Albert Saijo

On this date -- June 2 -- two important figures in Jack Kerouac's world died, his brother Gerard in 1926 and his friend Albert Saijo in 2011. Gerard appeared as Gerard Duluoz in Visions of Gerard, Doctor Sax, Visions of Cody, and Book of Dreams; and as Julian in The Town and the City. Albert appeared as George Baso in Big Sur and co-authored Trip Trap: Haiku on the Road with Kerouac and Lew Welch based on a road trip across America in Welch's Jeep.

In honor of Gerard, here's a passage from Visions of Gerard (Penguin Books, 1991, pp. 32-33):
"Ainsi soit-il," amen, none of them knowing either what that meant, "thus it is," it is what is and that's all it is--thinking ainsi soit-il to be some mystic priestly secret word invoked at altar--The innocence and yet intrinsic purity-understanding with which the Hail Mary was done, as Gerard, now knelt in his secure pew, prepares to visit the priest in his ambuscade and palace hut with the drapes that keep swishing aside as repentent in-and-out sinners come-and-go burdened and dismembered as the case may be and is, amen--

In honor of Albert, here's a haiku of his from Trip Trap (City Lights/Grey Fox, 1998, p. 32).

    Grain elevators on 
                Saturday lonely as
Abandoned toys


RIP, Master Kerouac and Mr. Saijo. We remember you on this day.


Monday, May 30, 2022

Remembering Peter Orlovsky

 


Famous Ginsberg photo of Orlovsky (Left), Kerouac (Middle), and Burroughs (Right) on a Moroccan beach in March 1957
(c) Allen Ginsberg

On this date -- May 30, in 2010, Peter Orlovsky died. The obvious Kerouac connection here is that Orlovsky was a longtime partner of central Beat Generation figure Allen Ginsberg. Orlovsky appeared in several Jack Kerouac works as follows:

Character Name           Book

George                            The Dharma Bums
Simon Darlovsky           Desolation Angels
Simon                            Book of Dreams
Paul                               Beat Generation


Here are a couple of links for more information:

NY Times obit

Rebellious Love: Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky

You can also check out his brief bio on friendsofkerouac.com, which features a great picture of Orlovsky with Ginsberg.

Below is an entire letter that Kerouac wrote to Orlovsky in September 1956. I include this as it is the only letter in the two collected letters volumes edited by Ann Charters that Jack wrote just to Peter (as opposed to Peter and Allen et al.).

Dear Peter,

    I went  home to rest & work--I'll meet you and Allen here on Saturday night unless you change plans by phoning me. Tell Allen the piece of Burroughs I suggest for Black Mountain [Review] would be the whole vision of the Yage City. 
                                                                                                                         Jack 

(Source: Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1940-1956, 1995, Penguin Books, p. 586)

 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

My review of the new & revised Memory Babe is in print

The Association des Familles Kirouac publishes Le Trésor des Kirouac several times a year. It comes with membership in the association, which is open to anyone regardless of ancestry.

The upcoming issue  (#138) will include my brief review of the new & revised Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac by Gerald Nicosia. The above picture of me holding the new book with my Kerouac bookshelf in the background will accompany the review.

This is a screenshot of only part of the TOC for 
Issue 138

You will want to become a member of the Kirouac Families Association per the link above and get your own copy of Issue 138. In the meantime, below the ******* is the text of my review:

*******

Gerald Nicosia’s Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac was first published by Grove Press, Inc. in 1983, making it one of the earliest Kerouac biographies and earning the author the Distinguished Young Writer award from the National Society of Arts and Letters while still a work-in-progress. After Grove put it out of print, Penguin published it from 1985-1992. University of California Press published it in 1994 but put it out of print in 2001. That is the version I have turned to for in-depth Kerouac biographical details over the years as attested to by the rough shape my copy is in, not to mention the many annotations and Post-It flags adorning it. For a number of reasons, not the least of which is the blacklisting of Nicosia by the Sampas family in Lowell, MA, keepers of the Kerouac estate, Memory Babe has now been out of print for over 20 years! It is a delight to see it being published by Noodlebrain Press in time for the 100-year anniversary of Kerouac’s birth in 1922.

The Centennial Edition of Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac was due to be published September 6, 2022. New rules for review in some important publications make it necessary for Nicosia to move the official publication date up to November 1, 2022. However, advance copies can still be obtained from the author by emailing him at gnicosia@earthlink.net. New and revised, this edition maintains the substance of Nicosia’s critically acclaimed work, but includes additional material and corrections, including over 110 photos, many of which are new. There is an introduction to the new edition by R.B. Morris in which he itemizes some of the new material, including updated information about Kerouac’s ancestry, “more firsthand knowledge regarding his death” (p. 20), new details on the famous Six Gallery reading in San Francisco in 1955, and updates about the recent discovery of Neal Cassady’s long-lost Joan Anderson Letter.

One of the distinguishing features of Memory Babe, in addition to its detailed and deep insights into Kerouac’s life, has always been Nicosia’s foray into a literary analysis of Kerouac’s major works, including Mexico City Blues, Visions of Cody, and Doctor Sax among others. I can’t stress enough how much more a reader can glean from Kerouac’s works by using Memory Babe as a companion reading guide.

The Centennial Edition includes the author’s preface to the 1994 edition, but also includes a completely new 16-page prelude in which Nicosia provides a critique of the general state of Kerouac scholarship as well as background on his work being blacklisted by Kerouac estate executor John Sampas. In this section Nicosia gives his opinions on the value of several posthumously published Kerouac works, including Some of the Dharma and Book of Sketches. It is in this same section where we find detailed background information on the Joan Anderson Letter. The prelude concludes with advice for where the critical study of Kerouac needs to go in the future. The valuable information in this prelude alone is worth the cost of the book.

Nicosia has worked hard to bring Memory Babe (Jack’s nickname among childhood peers because of his prodigious memory) back into print, and he succeeded in not only making the content of the previous editions available again, but also in bringing forth new information that has come to light over the years. Kudos to Mr. Nicosia for making it possible for Kerouac scholars and fans to once again access the definitive Kerouac biography.

Advance copies are available now by contacting the author at gnicosia@earthlink.net.