Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Belatedly remembering Chandler Brossard


Chandler Brossard, who some claim wrote the first Beat novel (Who Walk in Darkness, 1952), died on yesterday's 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.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Happy Belated Heavenly Birthday to Gerard Kerouac, Jack's older brother


Jack Kerouac's brother, (Francis) Gerard, was born on yesterday's 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). 


Wednesday, August 16, 2023

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 meditated 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. At the latter link you will learn the name of Welch's famous stepson as well as what well-known advertising slogan he wrote.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mr. Welch.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Remembering Bea Franco, Jack Kerouac's "The Mexican Girl"


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

Today we 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). 

RIP, Ms. Franco.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Remembering David Kammerer


David Kammerer

Today -- 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.

Friday, August 11, 2023

ChatGPT builds a Kerouac quiz


I asked ChatGPT3 (an AI LLM) to build a 10 question multiple choice quiz about Kerouac and below is what it produced. Do you see any problems with it? One is obvious.

Question 1: What is the full name of the author commonly associated with the Beat Generation? a) John Steinbeck b) Allen Ginsberg c) Jack Kerouac d) Ernest Hemingway

Question 2: Which of the following novels is considered one of Jack Kerouac's most famous works? a) To Kill a Mockingbird b) On the Road c) The Great Gatsby d) 1984

Question 3: In which year was "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac first published? a) 1957 b) 1969 c) 1945 d) 1961

Question 4: Jack Kerouac's writing style is often characterized as: a) Traditional and formal b) Experimental and stream-of-consciousness c) Surreal and fantastical d) Gothic and horror

Question 5: Which fellow Beat Generation writer was a close friend of Jack Kerouac and is known for his poem "Howl"? a) William S. Burroughs b) F. Scott Fitzgerald c) T.S. Eliot d) Allen Ginsberg

Question 6: What is the title of Jack Kerouac's semi-autobiographical novel about his experiences working as a fire lookout in the Cascade Mountains? a) "Naked Lunch" b) "The Sun Also Rises" c) "Desolation Angels" d) "Brave New World"

Question 7: Which road-trip route is the main focus of Jack Kerouac's novel "On the Road"? a) Route 66 b) Pacific Coast Highway c) Route 101 d) US Route 50

Question 8: What is the title of the book in which Jack Kerouac chronicles his travels through Mexico? a) "Mexico Journals" b) "The Mexican Odyssey" c) "Visions of Mexico" d) "Tristessa"

Question 9: Jack Kerouac was known for his affinity for spontaneous prose and wrote a famous work in one continuous, uninterrupted draft. What is the title of this work? a) "The Catcher in the Rye" b) "Howl" c) "Naked Lunch" d) "Big Sur"

Question 10: In which city did Jack Kerouac pass away in 1969? a) Los Angeles b) San Francisco c) New York City d) Chicago

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

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).

And HERE is a remembrance of Huncke from The Allen Ginsberg Project.

RIP, Mr. Huncke.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

A collection of the Beat poets' works


(L-R) Bob Donlon, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Robert LaVigne, Lawrence Ferlinghetti 
photo (c) Allen Ginsberg, 1956

Check out this link -- -- for a collection of works by a number of Beat poets, including Jack Kerouac.

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!

Saturday, August 5, 2023

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!

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Happy Birthday to writer James Baldwin

Writer James Baldwin was born on this date -- August 2 -- in 1924. He didn't appear in any of Jack Kerouac works, but I wrote about the connection between the two HERE and figured it was worth celebrating his birthday here on The Daily Beat.

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

For a sense of the man, read Kerouac's February 1958 letter to Burroughs on pp. 133-135 of Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1957-1969 (Penguin, 1999). In part:

He is tall, with thin lips, spectacles, wears gray felt hats and walks down the street with a vigorous pump of his arms like a mad German genius of the 19th century, thru casbahs, medinas & Mexico Thieves Markets of the world.

RIP, Mr. Burroughs.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Happy 92nd birthday to Ramblin' Jack Eliot


Ramblin' Jack at Sweetwater
(c) 2013 Crystal Bond

Ramblin' Jack Elliott turns 92 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).

According to Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia in Memory Babe, Kerouac met Ramblin' Jack at Helen Parker's in 1953. Ramblin' Jack "pulled out his guitar and started playing Woodie Guthrie songs. Reciprocating the treat, Jack spent three consecutive nights reading aloud the entire manuscript of On the Road to him" (1983, p. 456).

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