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.

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, 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. 

(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 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

Monday, May 23, 2022

Two friends of Kerouac died on today's date


Alan Harrington (left) and Lew Welch

Despite our continued experiences with COVID-19 deaths, we should not become inured to the tragedy and significance of the date when someone takes the "night train to the big adios" (movie reference there -- for those who'd like to guess the film, please comment with your answer). To wit, today's date brings us to remember novelist Alan Harrington and poet Lew Welch, two friends of Jack Kerouac who shuffled off this mortal coil (or in Welch's case, disappeared) on this date, May 23 (Harrington in 1997, Welch in 1971).

We opined about this important Kerouac date previously and in that post we identify who Harrington and Welch appeared as in five of Kerouac's works, as well as provide some background on each. You can read that post by clicking HERE. That saves me repeating myself and unnecessarily using up bandwidth.

RIP, Mr. Harrington and Mr. Welch.

Happy Belated Heavenly Birthday to Sebastian "Sammy" Sampas


On yesterday's date -- May 22 -- in 1922, Sebastian "Sammy" Sampas was born. 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). Here is how one from March 1943 starts (p. 43):
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!
For  1. Vodka
        2. Love
        3. Glory. 

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.

Happy Belated Heavenly Birthday, Sammy!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Happy heavenly birthday to poet Robert Creeley


Robert Creeley

On this date -- May 21 -- in 1926, the late poet Robert Creeley was born in Arlington, Massachusetts. Here's a link to a bio that contains a link to some of his poems: I particularly love Creeley's poetry, but that is not why we are honoring him on his birthday on The Daily Beat. It is because -- of course -- there is a Kerouac connection.

Creeley appeared as "Rainey" in two Kerouac books, Desolation Angels and Book of Dreams (expanded edition) (see Character Key to Jack Kerouac's Duluoz Legend). The two first met at Creeley's request of Allen Ginsberg to arrange a meeting. That meeting took place in 1956 at The Place, a North Beach bar in San Francisco frequented by the Beats. Creeley and Kerouac had a lot in common other than poetry, including drinking and jazz but also having grown up not far from each other in Massachusetts (from Gerald Nicosia's Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, 1994, University of California Press).

In his published letters, Jack mentions Creeley a number of times. Here is his first mention (from a letter to John Clellon Holmes on May 27, 1956):
There's a new writer called Robert Creeley who went to Harvard and knew Roger Lyndon but doesnt [sic] remember Harrington, out here, lonely, sad, restless, one eye, tragic Spanish dark, just spent 4 years in Mallorca Spain printing his Black Mountain Review, is reading his poems tonight nervously before a disapproving audience of women because Kenneth Rexroth's wife is going to run away with him somewhere. I am Creeley's friend and Rexroth has conceived a great hatred for me and thrown in poor Neal too who hasn't even done anything. (Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1940-1956, 1995, Penguin Books, p. 579)
Creeley talked about Kerouac as part of a panel at the 1982 (the referenced page says 1981 but I think that is incorrect) Kerouac Conference at Naropa -- you can read the transcript here.

So happy heavenly birthday to Robert Creeley, not considered a Beat Generation writer but certainly an accomplished and celebrated poet who hung out with the Beats and was a friend of Jack's.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Remembering Leo Kerouac, Jack's father


Joseph Alcide Léon Kirouack, known as Leo, died on this date -- May 17 -- in 1946 at the age of 56 in Ozone Park, Queens, New York. 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.

Leo's death greatly affected Jack, who promised Leo on his deathbed that he'd look after his mother, Gabrielle (and did -- some would say to a fault -- for the rest of his life). Jack tenderly and tragically describes his father's death at home from stomach cancer in The Town and the City (Chapter 3 of Part 5).

Leo is buried in the St. Louis de Gonzague Cemetery in Nashua, New Hampshire.

RIP, Mr. Kerouac.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Happy Birthday to poet Gary Snyder, Japhy Ryder from The Dharma Bums


Regular Daily Beat readers know that acclaimed poet and environmentalist Gary Snyder was immortalized in Jack Kerouac's best novel*, The Dharma Bums, as Japhy** Ryder (he also appears once as Gary, an editing error). He appeared as Jarry Wagner in Desolation Angels and Big Sur, and as himself in Vanity of Duluoz.

Snyder turns 92 today! He is the only reader left alive from the famous 1955 Six Gallery poetry reading, and he's also one of a small number of close friends of Kerouac who are still around.

Click HERE for a brief bio and some of his poetry.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Snyder. And many more....

*Regular readers likewise know that I am just trolling them by calling The Dharma Bums Jack's best novel. It is, indeed, my favorite, but I would hesitate to argue that it's his best work.
**JAPHY is our RV's license plate.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Remembering poet Michael McClure


Michael McClure in 2004
(c) Gloria Graham

Poet Michael McClure died 2 years ago today -- May 4, 2020. He was one of the longest-living central Beat Generation figures, and appeared in several Jack Kerouac novels: as Ike O'Shay in The Dharma Bums; as McLear in Big Sur; and, as 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

Nice email out of the blue


I got a very nice email out of the blue written by a young person from another country who has discovered the Beats and has found this blog very helpful in exploring the Beat Generation. The emailer wrote just to tell me that and to say thanks.

It really made my day. I told the emailer that if more people took the time to express appreciation to others, it would be a better world.

I appreciate you for being a Daily Beat reader!

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Review of Brad Parker's Kerouac: The Man & His Visions


Brad Parker's new book on Kerouac -- signed by the author -- arrived last week via the mail and I've already read it. Given my reading habits of late, this is unusual, but I found it hard to put down once I got started. Titled Kerouac: The Man & His Visions, this is a 100th Birthday Tribute and Volume 1 of what apparently is to be a series. One caveat: Brad is a friend of mine so this review is necessarily biased.

Parker is the author of another (brief) Kerouac biography -- Kerouac: An Introduction -- published in 1989 by the Lowell Corporation For The Humanities, Inc. for the twentieth anniversary of Kerouac's death. Which raises the question: Do we need another Kerouac biography and, if so, what gaps in scholarship would be filled by it? I hope to answer that question as I continue on with my thoughts on the book.

276 pages, with 17 pages of endnotes, Kerouac: The Man & His Visions takes a deep dive into several aspects of Kerouac's life, informed by Kerouac's works, letters, and journals, including some items in the Berg collection, and various other biographers such as Gerald Nicosia. Of course, despite Kerouac's books being roman à clef, we know that he took many liberties in fictionalizing real-life events and timelines, so it is with caution that any biographer should rely on those books for facts, especially if not triangulated with the subject's own journals and letters and with other dependable sources of information. Parker does a good job with such triangulating.

A main feature of Parker's biographical approach is to pull disparate but similar experiences into one place. To wit, Chapter 1 of the book focuses on Kerouac's various times spent in Mexico. These seven visits to Mexico are spread across Kerouac's works, journals, and letters, but Parker pulls all such visits into one coherent description, beginning thus:

It was in a 1937 Ford two-door sedan jalopy that Kerouac entered Mexico City for the first time in June, 1950. He had been the driver for part of the 1700-mile route, but it was the frenetic Neal Cassady who commanded the car most of the way from Denver, where Jack had been signing copies of The Town and the City, published three months earlier to less than stellar acclaim. A new friend, Frank Jeffries, close in age to Kerouac and an ex-serviceman, rounded out the trio. (p. 1)

Chapter 2 delves into Kerouac's foray into Buddhism and details both his passion for as well as his misgivings about this eastern way of being in the world. Naturally, this chapter relies on works such as The Dharma Bums, Some of the Dharma, and The Scripture of the Golden Eternity, but also presents information gleaned from a number of letters as well. 

In Chapter 3 Parker describes no less than 20 times when Kerouac made his way across the United States (counting each coast-to-coast leg as one trip). I had no idea Kerouac had made so many trips, but Parker backs up each one with endnotes. This is one area where Parker relies a little too heavily on Kerouac's fiction and could bolster this section with more triangulation of facts.

Chapter 4 describes Kerouac's solo adventure on Desolation Peak in the Cascades, a trip to Europe, and concludes with publication of On The Road and instant fame. Some would say Parker's endnoting is a hindrance because it is so frequent, but I would counter and say it is not enough, as there are plenty of quotations that are not endnoted and the reader must make assumptions about the source. There is an occasional typo as well, but not enough to hinder comprehension.

In Chapter 5 Parker pulls together the stories of three major loves in Kerouac's life: Mary Carney (Maggie Cassidy), Alene Lee (Mardou Fox of The Subterraneans), and Esperanza Villaneuva Tercerero (Tristessa). It is interesting to read about Kerouac's three major relationships juxtaposed. I might have added a section on Bea Franco, the "Mexican girl" from On The Road.

Chapter 6 provides a brief look at each of three less well-known Kerouac works: Pic, Old Angel Midnight, and cityCityCITY. Chapter 7 focuses exclusively on analyzing Big Sur, Jack's "last significant book" (p. 240). Finally, Chapter 8 concludes the book and looks at Book of Dreams, starting with the caveat that one must be "careful about slipping into interpretation of Kerouac's dreams" (p. 250). This chapter, and thus the book, stops rather abruptly, which brings me to a small criticism. I was always taught that, in good writing, the author tells you what she is about to say (introduction), says it (content), and then tells you what she said (conclusion). Kerouac: The Man & His Visions is all content, and could be strengthened by a traditional introduction and conclusion.

I found Parker's book eminently readable, hard to put down (as I said before), and unique in its approach to a Kerouac biography, pulling together various but similar information into one place (e.g., Kerouac's 7 visits to Mexico, his 20 cross-country road trips, and his three major loves). I don't know of another Kerouac biography that attempts this, at least with these specific subjects. That uniqueness answers the question I posed earlier about the need for another Kerouac biography. Parker is obviously passionate about Kerouac and it shows in his writing -- some of it is Kerouacian prose in style. It is always interesting to see Kerouac through another person's lens, and I say keep the biographies coming if they fill a gap as Parker has done here.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Remembering Kerouac friend and influencer, 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.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Happy heavenly 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 heaven to Carolyn Elizabeth Robinson Cassady, who would have been 99 today!

Monday, April 25, 2022

Remembering Beat poet Ted Joans


Today we remember Beat 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.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Happy heavenly 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. Or click HERE for an excellent essay about Kaufman in Beatdom. 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. He broke his silence by reading one of his poems, "All Those Ships That Never Sailed."

Kaufman was part of the Beat poetry movement in San Francisco. He started the journal, Beatitude, with Allen Ginsberg and others. A collection of his poetry was published by City Lights in November 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. No references to Kaufman appear in the index to the two books of Kerouac's letters edited by Ann Charters, nor is he mentioned in the index of Kerouac's published journals, Windblown World.

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.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Report on our trip to Lowell during the centennial year of Jack Kerouac's birth to see the On The Road scroll

This blog's author, Rick Dale, at Jack Kerouac's grave April 13, 2022

On April 13, 2022, Crystal and I carried out our previously mentioned plan to meet up with our great friend, Richard Marsh, and his partner, Kim (who we'd never met), in Lowell, MA -- Jack Kerouac's hometown -- to see the On The Road scroll, visit Jack's grave, and generally catch up over lunch since we haven't seen each other in person since the year before the pandemic hit.

The Worthen in Lowell, host to many Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! activities

A selfie of Rick and Crystal at The Worthen
(L-R) Rick, Crystal, Kim, & Richard at The Worthen

We planned to meet at The Worthen around noon and Crystal and I were early so we ordered beer and mozzarella sticks. Richard and Kim arrived early, too, and we had a nice visit over lunch (and finally got to meet Kim!). After lunch we made our way over to the Boott Cotton Mill Museum where the scroll was being displayed. We parked in the private lot next to the museum but ended up moving our vehicles to a nearby parking garage when the attendant at the scroll told us we would likely get towed. Bill Walsh, our friend and Lowell docent, was at the scroll helping visitors so we caught up with him a bit.

We weren't allowed to take pictures that showed the text of the scroll itself, but we were allowed to take pictures of the case and any of the displays. There were many displays on the wall, but museum lighting and glass covers made it tough to take pictures.

The sign welcoming scroll visitors at the Boott Cotton Mill Museum

Entryway to the scroll exhibit

Richard and Rick standing next to the scroll case
holding our copies of the scroll edition of On The Road

Kim standing next to the scroll case

Crystal standing next to the scroll case

Stills from Jack's funeral;
Richard says these are from the missing Corso film of that event

Examples (maybe?) of Jack's traveling gear

Jack's backpack (maybe)

A collage of The Dharma Bums scroll,
Dwight Goddard's A Buddhist Bible, a map of the North Cascades, and Jack's backpack

I wanted to read at Jack's grave from the On The Road scroll edition a section that was displayed at the museum. I zeroed in on a passage in the scroll and tried to find it on my copy of the scroll edition and lo and behold, that section was previously highlighted in my book. Kismet. You can hear me reading that passage on YouTube HERE. In that passage in the scroll, there are words x-ed out  -- I assume by Jack -- and they are not readable. It looks like this:

I woke up as the xxx sun was reddening; xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, that I didn't know who I was . . . 

The whole scroll is full of such cross-outs as well as hand-written annotations, tough to read in the museum lighting and under glass. It's a would-be scholar's paradise.

I noticed for the first time the typo in the first line of the scroll, which is faithfully reproduced in the scroll edition: "I first met met Neal not long after my father died . . . ." Anyway, I assume the doubling of the word "met" is a typo. Crystal noticed it and pointed it out.

All in all, it was worth the trip to see the holy grail, so to speak, of Keroucianism. Richard had seen the scroll in Lowell once before, and he said the displays and set-up were similar. I got a little choked up at times, thinking about the importance of that document and how many people's lives it has influenced and picturing Jack toiling over its creation in 3 weeks fueled by coffee and benzedrine. If you get a chance to see the scroll, do so. It's a holy experience.

After we left the museum, we walked over to the commemorative at Jack Kerouac Park.

(L-R) Rick, Crystal, and Kim at Jack Kerouac Park

Richard at the commemorative, reading from one of the obelisks

It was nice to see that they honored the late Kerouac docent and friend of ours, Roger Brunelle, with a plaque at the park. We said goodbye to Roger HERE.

From the commemorative we drove to Edson (my middle name) Cemetery to visit Jack's grave. It had more mementos left by fans than usual, probably because of it being the 100th year since Jack's birth. I read at the grave (see link above). HERE is Richard reading a passage.

How Jack's grave appeared on 4-13-22 after I 
left a copy of my book there (far right in plastic bag)

Crystal, Richard, and Kim (holding the Bob Dylan whiskey)

Kim, Richard, Crystal, and Rick toasting Jack's memory

We toasted to Jack with Bob Dylan's Heaven's Door Straight Bourbon Whiskey. I know it's anathema to some people for us to drink alcohol in honor of someone who died of alcoholism, but it's become a ritual and it'd done with good intentions. We thought is was fitting to use Dylan's whiskey as he was a Kerouac fan and has visited the grave himself. I left a copy of my book -- The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions -- sealed in a ziplock freezer bag with "STEAL THIS BOOK!" written on the outside (an homage to Abbie Hoffman). Hopefully, someone will. Let us know if it is you. I just hope my book is there when Jay Gaffney takes his daily photograph of Jack's grave (click HERE).

Richard and Kim were heading home after the grave visit so we said our goodbyes and then made our way to the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center to check into our room. After resting a bit, we Ubered with Linda to Cobblestones where Crystal had haddock tacos and I had crabcakes. And beer. And wine. We Ubered back to the Inn with Edward and got a night's rest. Continental breakfast in the morning (meh) and then it was on the road back home and the end of another exciting adventure to Jack Kerouac's hometown.

P.S. Please pardon my frozen, scowling face in the pictures. It's a symptom of my Parkinson's Disease, and the meds I'm on haven't affected it.