Thursday, December 28, 2023

Kerouac-olutions for 2024 and an update on 2023's

Here is last year's Kerouac-olution:

2023 New Year's Kerouac-olutions

I am maintaining my last year's resolution to practice kindness this year. We'll see how I do. I wish I could quantify what this resolution looks like in action, but I am bereft of ideas. Maybe you have some? One thing I want to do to buttress my kindness behavior is to practice breathing meditation more often.

UPDATE: I think I consciously practiced kindness more often this past year. For one example, I stayed away from politics on social media to a large extent. There is no point in making negative comments about "them," since "they" thrive on such and are too stupid and ignorant to carry on a rational discussion anyway. That was an example of the kind of statements I am trying to eschew.

As to practicing breathing meditation, I increased the number of times per day when I spend a minute or so consciously breathing and watching my thoughts. I did not practice dedicated sitting meditation more than a handful of times.

2024 New Year's Kerouac-olutions

I will maintain my last year's resolution to practice kindness this year. It will be especially hard given the state of the world, and thus especially important. I will make an effort to practice breathing meditation more often. Even though I do it sporadically through the day, I would benefit from practicing sitting meditation for 15-30 minutes daily. That's a reasonable goal because I'm retired.

Wish me luck. And good luck to you and yours in this upside-down world.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Remembering Al Hinkle


Al Hinkle (R) with Jack Kerouac

Today we remember Al Hinkle, who died on this date -- December 26 - in 2018 (bonus trivia: wrestler Gorgeous George died on this same date in 1963). Hinkle 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. Al was a childhood friend of Kerouac muse Neal Cassady, and was along for the ride on certain legs of the cross-country Cassady-Kerouac road trips made famous in On The Road.

Al was one of the last living original Beat Generation characters, and one of the only ones I met/saw in person (David Amram and Michael McClure being the only other two I can think of -- I haven't ever seen Gary Snyder). I interviewed Al in 2012 for The Daily Beat. Click HERE for my post on the occasion of his death -- there you can find links to my interview and our meeting. A little Googling will reveal several sources of info about this well-known Beat Generation figure where you can read up on his interesting life.

RIP, Mr. Hinkle.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Happy heavenly birthday to Kenneth Rexroth


Poet and critic Kenneth Rexroth was born this date -- December 22 -- in 1905. We have opined about him several times here on The Daily Beat (e.g., click HERE).

Most notably for Jack Kerouac fans, Rexroth was portrayed as Rheinhold Cacoethes in The Dharma Bums, my favorite Kerouac novel. To wit, a couple of excerpts (Penguin Books, 1976):
We got to his little shack as it grew dark and you could smell woodsmoke and smoke of leaves in the air, and packed everything up neat and went down the street to meet Henry Morley who had the car. Henry Morley was a be­spectacled fellow of great learning but an eccentric himself, more eccentric and outrĂ© than Japhy on the campus, a librar­ian, with few friends, but a mountainclimber. His own little one-room cottage in a back lawn of Berkeley was filled with books and pictures of mountainclimbing and scattered all over with rucksacks, climbing boots, skis. I was amazed to hear him talk, he talked exactly like Rheinhold Cacoethes the critic, it turned out they'd been friends long ago and climbed mountains together and I couldn't tell whether Morley had influenced Cacoethes or the other way around. (p. 39)
"My Buddhism is nothing but a mild unhappy interest in some of the pictures they've drawn though I must say some­ times Cacoethes strikes a nutty note of Buddhism in his mountainclimbing poems though I'm not much interested in the belief part of it." (p. 46)

Rexroth and Kerouac were not each other's fans, but we will leave that drama behind in honor of Rexroth's birthday. Click HERE for a brief bio and some of Rexroth's poetry. 

Happy birthday in heaven, Mr. Rexroth.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

The Iron Claw


The Von Erichs in real life: Kerry, Fritz, Kevin, Chris (front), Mike, and David (L-R).

In days past I have written about pro wrestling on this blog. There is a Kerouac connection. To wit, click HERE.

Today I wanted to point out -- to all you pro wrestling fans out there -- that tomorrow The Iron Claw hits theaters. (UPDATE: It['s on our local theater today!) It is the story of the famous wrestling family, the Von Erichs, who were very, very famous and popular in the 70s and 80s out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Kerry went on to solo fame in the WWE.  The father, Fritz, had been a wrestler and promoter and found his stride with his sons entering the business. Only Kevin remains alive as I type this.

The family is said to have been cursed, as five of six brothers died young. The firstborn son, Jack Jr., was electrocuted at the age of six in 1959 in a household accident. In 1984, David Von Erich (25 years old) died in Japan from an unconfirmed cause, although it is widely believed he died from a drug overdose (Kevin says it was a heart attack). Mike (23 years old), Chris (21 years old), and Kerry (33 years old) committed suicide in 1987, 1991, and 1993 respectively.

That's some bad juju going on in one family. I'm glad they made a movie about the Von Erichs and I hope it's good. It's by a known director and studio (Sean Durkin and A24), and stars well-known actors Zac Efron and Jeremy Allen White (Lip from Shameless plays Kerry -- I can't really see it because Kerry had a bodybuilder's physique), so it holds promise. Given my lifelong love of pro wrestling, if it's playing nearby I may sneak out and see it tomorrow. (UPDATE: I'm going today at 4 PM. Got ticket through Fandango,)

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Remembering Denise Levertov


Poet Denise Levertov died on this date -- December 20 -- in 1997. She appeared in Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels as Alise Nabokov. We wished her a happy birthday in heaven and posted some additional information about her HERE.

RIP, Ms. Levertov.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Birthday thoughts

Being as it's my birthday, I thought I would post something here to mark the occasion. First of all, I am blessed to have wonderful people in my life, and you know who you are. I received more than my share of gifts today as well as many warm wishes on Facebook and via text message. Second, I am grateful to have lived this long, albeit I have my age-related problems, not the least of which is Parkinson's Disease. The latter is progressing but slowly so I am thankful for that.

This particular age hit me kind of hard as it is on the downward slope between 65 toward 70. If that doesn't make sense, let me say it like this: I am closer to 70 than to 65 now (making me 68).

I don't feel 68. Mentally, I feel the same as I did in my young adulthood, just with a few more scars and maybe a little more wisdom. And I outlived Jack Kerouac by a good number of years (and counting). There's your connection to Kerouac.

December is a sparse month for Kerouac-related birth and death dates, and there hasn't been one yet (that I track at least). The first one to hit will be Denise Levertov on the 20th. There are only 3 the whole month.

Which leaves me to wonder whether I have anything else to say about Kerouac this month. Maybe I will mount a Christmas-related posting later in the month.

My shopping is nowhere near done, and my birthday always kicks me into full shopping mode. I use Amazon too much, but the convenience outweighs any anti-corporate animosity I feel. Tension between competing values is a fact of life.

Which brings me to the state of the world. Ever the pessimist, I intentionally started this post with things I am grateful for. But I can't leave two things unsaid. We as a country are in big trouble domestically and in foreign affairs. I see no good outcome of our 2024 election nor in the Middle East snafu. I won't opine more on those two things except to say character matters in our leaders and that we ought to be able -- as thinking creatures -- to find ways to get along without killing each other,

Finally, there are many families and friends grieving over lost loved ones -- either from war or the stupid gun crazy culture in this country (e,g,, Lewiston, Maine with a body count of 18 in basically one incident). I'm desperately sad over such things and wish there were something I could do to change the situation.

Which brings me to a book I am reading (a gift from my friend, Jim Perkins). It is by famous physicist (he worked on the Manhattan Project and won a Nobel prize) Richard Feynman's autobiography, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman": Adventures of a Curious Character (1985, W.W. Norton & Co.) Two passages struck me in particular as related to my despair over the state of the world.

And [John] Von Neumann gave me an interesting idea: that you don't have to be responsible for the world that you're in. So I have developed a very powerful sense of social irresponsibility as a result of Von Newmann's advice. It's made me a very happy man ever since. (p. 154)

You  have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It's their mistake, not my failing. (p. 199)

Now spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti would disagree with Dr. Feynman, saying that we are indeed responsible for war and such because we are in conflict within ourselves and it manifests outwardly.

So I am left to ponder what it means to be socially irresponsible and at the same time maintaining some level of empathy for others in this wonderfully fucked up world we find ourselves living in.

Birthdays cause me to think about such things. I hope yours do as well.

Until next time . . . . Rick