Monday, November 6, 2023

Happy Heavenly Birthday to "Wildman" Bill Cannastra


Recently, on October 12 (click HERE), we noted that it was the date when William "Bill" Cannastra died in 1950. Today -- November 6 -- we celebrate his birthday in 1921.

Cannastra was apparently a "wild man" figure* in the early Beat days, and he appeared in Jack Kerouac's works as follows: Finistra in Visions of Cody; Cannastra Finistra in Book of Dreams; and (probably) Charley Krasner in The Subterraneans. We have mused previously (click here) that without Cannastra in the Beat story, we may not have had the same Kerouac we love and we may not have had Jan Kerouac at all (Jack married Jan's mother, Joan Haverty, a few weeks after Cannastra's death and she had been the latter's girlfriend).

Of further import, Kerouac supposedly got the paper from Cannastra on which he (Jack) typed On The Road. You can read more about that and other things Cannastra by clicking here (it's a link to a piece by Brian Hassett).

Happy Birthday in Heaven, Mr. Cannastra.

*Cannastra's antics are well-documented in Gerald Nicosia's Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac. There you can read about Bill appearing at a party dressed as a palm tree wearing only a jockstrap and enormous headdress, or the time he and Jack ran around the block naked.


Anonymous said...

I love knowing that Cannastra might have been the one who gave Kerouac the paper that he typed On The Road on. Interesting detail.
I am commenting as anonymous because my old email account and blog were hacked and I am no longer logging into blogger. So... the New Dharma Bums blog is gone. (NewRobin13)

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Sorry to hear about your blog!