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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Remembering Helen Weaver

Helen Weaver, who we interviewed for The Daily Beat in November 2019 HERE, died one year ago today on April 13, 2021. 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 in the great unknown.

RIP, Ms. Weaver.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Lowell bound


A plan has emerged wherein tomorrow we will be driving to Lowell, MA -- Jack Kerouac's hometown -- to see the On The Road scroll at The Boott Cotton Mill Museum. We're going to meet my great friend, Richard Marsh, and his partner, Kim, at The Worthen for lunch, after which we'll either head directly to the scroll and then visit Jack's grave or vice versa. In any case, as per my custom I will be leaving a signed copy of my book on the grave, sealed in a gallon baggie with "STEAL THIS BOOK!" written on the outside. Drinking a shot at the grave is also required. If you happen to be near The Worthen around noon tomorrow, stop in and mention this post and I'll buy you a draft beer or a shot of Jack Daniels. In Jack's memory, the only wine I'll buy you is port.

Pictures or it didn't happen.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Happy heavenly 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. He is one of the only core Beat Generation figures that I had the pleasure of meeting. We remembered him (belatedly) on December 27 -- click HERE.

Happy Birthday in Beat heaven, Mr. Hinkle.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Remembering Allen Ginsberg


Allen Ginsberg (left) with Jack Kerouac

Poet and core Beat Generation member, Allen 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 "How l"

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.

Here's a snippet from a letter Jack wrote to Ginsberg on August 26, 1947, seeking to smooth over tensions between several in their circle. Note both the Christian and Buddhist concepts in just this short paragraph:

"In this unworldly state wherein I move/ my father and hope are hellish currency."

So you find from the Hal* experience, and Temko's* condescension, White's* aloofness. Your kingdom is not of this world, therefore you're found to be hellish--but mistakenly of course, of that I'm sore convinced. They don't understand you, that's true. You say it very well. It's only that they are not seeking love as you are--that you must understand. You must doubt your disappointment in them, that is, you must doubt whatever irks you about them, doubt their valuelessness: for they have value, and they have hope, on their levels, they will be reached by you. Form no ideas about them. Forgive everything! (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1940-1956, 1995, Penguin Books, p. 121

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

*Hal Chase, Allan Temko, and Chad White

Monday, April 4, 2022

Upcoming review of new & revised Memory Babe in Le Trésor des Kirouac


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.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Happy heavenly birthday to Henri Cru


Today we celebrate the birthday in 1921 of Henri Cru. Jack Kerouac met and befriended Cru while attending the Horace Mann School, a prep school in New York City. Cru appeared in several Kerouac works: as Remi Boncoeur in On The Road; Henri Cru in The Dharma Bums; Deni Bleu in Book of Dreams, Desolation Angels, Lonesome Traveler, Visions of Cody, and Vanity of Duluoz; and Hank in Book of Dreams (expanded edition). Cru had been Edie Parker's boyfriend and introduced her to Jack, who ended up marrying her.

Edie Parker's and Henri Cru's papers are stored HERE and there is biographical information on both at this site.

Gerald Nicosia, in the new & revised Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, says that Cru was Jack's best friend from Columbia University days (2022, Noodlebrain Press, p. 45).

Jack had first met Cru at Horace Mann, where Cru used to sell daggers to the younger kids. Raised in Paris, he spoke French elegantly, and somewhere he had acquired a penchant for elegant naval uniforms larded with "scrambled eggs," which set off his dark good looks. This giant dandy had a great sense of humor perfectly complemented by Jack's, for while Cru could laugh at Jack's "peasanty" ways (a favorite Kerouac word), Jack had a humorous appreciation of Cru's princely vanity. More importantly, they responded to each other's basic, childlike kindness and decency and to their mutual joi de vivre. (p. 125)

One of my favorite sections of On The Road is about Jack (Sal Paradise), Cru (Remi Boncoeur), and Remi's girlfriend, Lee Ann (real life Dianne Orin) and their various escapades: Sal and Remi working as barracks guards, or checking out the rusty freighter in the bay where Lee Ann sunbathes in the nude, or the couple fighting heatedly, or eating with Remi's stepfather at swanky Alfred's in North Beach.

Happy birthday in heaven, Mr. Cru, and thanks for providing Jack with such great fodder to write about.