Sunday, January 28, 2024

Remembering Lucien Carr, original Beat Generation member


Jack Kerouac (L) and Lucien Carr at Columbia University

Regular readers of The Daily Beat are familiar with Lucien Carr, one of the core members of the inner circle of the New York Beat Generation in the 40s. Carr died on this date -- January 28 -- in 2005 at the age of 79. He appeared in a number of Jack Kerouac's works: Damion in On The Road; Sam Vedder in The Subterraneans and Book of Dreams (expanded edition); Julien in Big Sur; Julien Love in Book of DreamsDesolation Angels, and Visions of Cody; Claude De Maubris in Vanity of Duluoz; Claude in Orpheus Emerged; Kenneth Wood in The Town and the City; Kenneth in The Haunted Life and Other Writings; and, Phillip Tourian in And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks.

Infamous for his role in the David Kammerer affair (whose murder by Carr led to Kerouac's first marriage when he promised to marry Edie Parker for bail money from her parents -- more on that HERE), Carr really needs to be recognized for his role in the original Beat Generation circle; indeed, he has been described by Allen Ginsberg as the glue that held the group together. Carr was at the center of many formative intellectual and literary conversations held among the early Beats.

Speaking of friendships, here's a picture from September 2015 of my great friend Richard Marsh and me recreating the Kerouac-Carr picture. Note who got to play each role.

Richard Marsh (L) and Rick Dale at Columbia University

Here's an excerpt about Carr as Damion from On The Road. I would point out that Kerouac calls him the hero of Kerouac's New York gang, just as Dean (Neal Cassady) was the hero of his Western gang. It's important that Kerouac equates Carr with Cassady, thus confirming Carr's significance to the Beat Generation.

The parties were enormous; there were at least a hundred people at a basement apartment in the West Nineties. People overflowed into the cellar compartments near the furnace. Something was going on in every corner, on every bed and couch-not an orgy but just a New Year's party with frantic screaming and wild radio music. There was even a Chinese girl. Dean ran like Groucho Marx from group to group, digging everybody. Periodically we rushed out to the car to pick up more people. Damion came. Damion is the hero of my New York gang, as Dean is the chief hero of the Western. They immediately took a dislike to each other. Damion's girl suddenly socked Damion on the jaw with a roundhouse right. He stood reeling. She carried him home. (Penguin Books, 1976, p. 126)


Thursday, January 25, 2024

Remembering Kerouac friend, Allan Temko


Today we remember architectural critic, writer, and Pulitzer Prize winner Allan Temko, who died on this date -- January 25 -- in 2006. Temko met Jack Kerouac when they were students at Columbia, and he appeared in a number of Kerouac's works as follows: Roland Major in On The Road; Irving Minko in Book of Dreams; Irwin Minko in Desolation Angels; Allen Minko in Visions of Cody; and, Alan Minko in Book of Dreams (expanded edition).

When Kerouac (Sal Paradise) anticipates meeting up with Temko (Major) in Denver, he refers to him in On The Road as "my old college writing buddy" and ended up living with him in Tim Gray's folks' apartment there.
We each had a bedroom, and there was a kitchenette with food in the icebox, and a huge living room where Major sat in his silk dressing gown composing his latest Hemingwayan short story--a choleric, red-faced, pudgy hater of everything, who could turn on the warmest and most charming smile in the world when real life confronted him sweetly in the night. (1976, Penguin Books, p. 40)

Major (Temko) features prominently in the Denver story and then Kerouac runs into him again in San Francisco at Alfred's in North Beach where Major gets kicked out for rowdiness and the two go drinking at the Iron Pot.

For those readers who enjoy making connections, Temko's one-time girlfriend was Jean White, who was Ed White's sister. She appeared as Betty Gray in On The Road. Ed was the person who originally suggested the idea of sketching in words to Kerouac.

Temko won a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1990. Click HERE to read a transcript of him speaking in 1964 at a luncheon in New Mexico as part of a study he was conducting for UC Berkeley on the industrialized urban environment. Some Googling will find a number of articles he wrote.

RIP, Mr. Temko.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Happy Heavenly Birthday to Kerouac friend Alan Ansen


Alan Ansen in 1973

We wrote a pretty lengthy piece remembering Jack Kerouac's friend, poet and playwright Alan Ansen, on November 12, 2021 -- click HERE -- and today we are celebrating his heavenly birthday (January 23, 1922).

Born the same year as Jack Kerouac, Ansen met Kerouac through his association with W.H. Auden. Ansen appeared in several Kerouac works: as Rollo Greb in On The Road; Austin Bromberg in The Subterraneans; Irwin Swenson in Book of Dreams and Visions of Cody; Amadeus Baroque in Doctor Sax; and, Allen Ansen in Book of Sketches.

Jack frequently wrote to or about Ansen, who appears 11 times in the index of Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969 and 5 times in the index of the 1940-1956 collection.

Happy Birthday in Heaven, Mr. Ansen. We aspire to having "IT," like you obviously did (see my November 12 post above). Go go go . . . .

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Jack Kerouac speaks at the Brandeis University Club of New York in 1958

If you've never heard Jack Kerouac speak at the Brandeis University Club of New York in 1958, click HERE to listen.

Mill Valley Literature Review January 2024 Winter Special Edition


Back in October 2020, I reviewed J. Macon King's rollicking novel, Circus of the Sun (click HERE). As mentioned in that review, the author is the publisher of the Mill Valley Literary Review, the new issue of which is available HERE

This issue features an anniversary celebration of "Beat at the Sweet" at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, California, an event I attended and detailed in January of 2013 HERE.

There's a lot to digest in the current issue of Mill Valley Lit, so check it out!

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Belatedly remembering Gregory Corso


(L-R) Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, & Gregory Corso

Streetwise Beat poet Gregory Corso died on yesterday's date -- January 17 -- in 2001 at the age of 70. It was a record-keeping error on my part,

An important inner circle Beat Generation figure (and youngest), Corso appeared in a number of Jack Kerouac's works: as Yuri Gligoric in The Subterraneans; Raphael Urso in Book of Dreams and Desolation Angels (also as Gregory in the latter); and, Manuel in Beat Generation.

Corso had a tough upbringing and experienced foster homes, orphanages, prison, and even time in Bellevue Hospital. You can read a bio and some of his poetry by clicking HERE.

I never met Corso and only know him from reading about him. He strikes me as the kind of person who keeps you off balance and you never know when he is serious. The kind of person who enjoys fucking with your head. Admittedly, this is one of my least favorite personality types. Nevertheless, he was an accomplished poet and an integral member of the Beat Generation. And I may be wrong about him -- let me know if you have reason to think so.

I glanced through my copies of Kerouac's selected letters and noticed that several times he wrote to Corso along with Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, but there is one lengthy letter written to Corso alone when Jack was in Northport on October 13, 1956. An excerpt follows:
I just read your latest letter to Allen about Zen-nutty and you're right, in fact I've not been able to "meditate" or make any buddhist scene now for a long time and have actually started writing catholic poems and sending them to Jubilee Magazine tho I'm aware that all the scenes are the same empty scene. Your criticism of buddhism in other words is fairly accurate but you mustnt let yourself be fooled every moment of your life into believing there's any special "reality" to either life or death, you say people die real deaths but in a few hundred years who's to remember or notice that it was real death? (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969, 1999, p. 178, Penguin Books)
And HERE is a clip of Corso discussing Kerouac.

RIP, Mr. Corso.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Happy Heavenly Birthday to Kerouac friend, Alan Harrington


Today, January 16, is Alan Harrington's birthday (1919). He appeared in several Kerouac novels: as Hal Hingham in On The Road; Early Wallington in Book of Dreams; and, Worthington in Book of Dreams (expanded edition).

Harrington introduced Jack Kerouac to John Clellon Holmes, no small matter given the deep friendship that ensued between them -- "brother souls" as my great friend Richard Marsh would point out.

An interesting blog post with info about Harrington is available HERE. I still haven't read any of his work, but it's on my (long) list of things to do.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mr. Harrington.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Happy Belated Heavenly Birthday to Beat Poet Lenore Kandel


I got side-tracked yesterday, so today we wish Lenore Kandel a happy belated birthday in Beat poet heaven (January 14, 1932). She appeared in Jack Kerouac's Big Sur as Romana Swartz.

Click HERE for Michael Dennis' poetry blog post about Lenore; it includes some of her poetry as well as analysis. Warning: It's not for the faint of sexual heart and it's most definitely Not Safe For Work (#NSFW).

Happy Belated Heavenly Birthday, Ms. Kandel.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Remembering Bob Kaufman


Today we remember Beat poet Bob Kaufman, who died on this date -- January 12 -- in 1986.  He appeared as Chuck Berman in Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels.

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.

RIP, Mr. Kaufman.

*Tangential note: I just finished reading Dick Gregory's The Man Who Knew Too Much, the story of Richard Case Nagall and his role in the Kennedy assassination saga. It is a lengthy and detailed account of an intriguing player in the whole rotten mess, and I highly recommend it. The stuff we don't know about the workings of our own government, especially the intelligence- and security-related agencies, is mind-blowing. Some of that stuff is unknown because people don't take the time to read or they dismiss the Dick Gregory's of the world, and some is unknown because of the sinister steps our own government takes to keep certain facts secret. After all, we can't let it be known that the CIA was involved in killing a President, can we? Cue the surveillance to start now that I typed that last sentence.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

A Kerouac "two-for-one" date


Herbert Huncke (L) and Amiri Baraka

Kerouac muse Herbert Huncke and noted writer Amiri Baraka share this date, Huncke having been born on January 9, 1915 and Baraka having died on January 9, 2014.

Huncke was Elmer Hassel in 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. Baraka appeared under his actual former name, Leroi Jones, in Lonesome Traveler.

Both of these Kerouac contemporaries led fascinating lives and I encourage you to read up on them if you are not already familiar with their stories. Kerouac is often credited with coining the phrase, "Beat Generation," and he likely got the term "beat" from Huncke (click HERE for bio). Baraka was an accomplished poet and activist -- click HERE for some biographical info on him as well as some of his poems.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mr. Huncke and RIP, Mr. Baraka.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Happy Heavenly Birthday to Alan Watts


Writer/philosopher and self-professed spiritual entertainer Alan Watts was born on this date -- January 6 -- in 1915. He appeared in two Kerouac novels: as Arthur Whane in The Dharma Bums and as Alex Aums in Desolation Angels.

Watts was a big influence on my thinking about spiritual matters, and I encourage you to seek out his books and videos (many on YouTube). He is thought-provoking, instructive, and witty.  Click HERE for one of my favorite Watts lecture segments animated by the creators of South Park

I posted about Kerouac and Watts on July 24, 2011 (click HERE).

Happy Birthday in heaven or wherever you are, Mr. Watts.

Monday, January 1, 2024

How did Jack Kerouac ring in the new year on January 1, 1957?


While living at his sister Caroline's new house in Orlando, FL in 1957, Jack Kerouac was a busy boy, sending this update on a card dated January 1, 1957 to his agent, Sterling Lord (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969, ed. by Ann Charters, 2000, Penguin Books, p. 2):

Dear Sterling -- 

     I understand how you're low--fortunately I'll get fare from G.--the ms. of ROAD is all ready for the printer, please tell Keith and Malcolm to have complete confidence in the libel-clearing thorough job I did on it . . . they will be pleased . . . I imagine they'll want to see it first, I'll show it them on Jan. 8 . . . I am typing up the new novel DESOLATION ANGELS (rich, good) . . . Have you located "cityCity CITY" and TRISTESSA mss.? I have to add them . . . Till I see you, as ever,


"G." is likely Jack's mother, Gabrielle. ROAD is On The Road, a version Kerouac considered to include the finishing touches before acceptance by the publisher, Viking Press. Malcolm is Malcom Cowley and Keith is Keith Jennison, Jack's editors at Viking. Jack had his typewriter set up on his rolltop desk on Caroline's porch. In addition to the works he mentioned in his card to Lord, Jack also cranked out a retyped version of The Subterraneans while in Orlando (from Charters' notes on p. 1). 

You might wonder why Jack put "cityCityCITY" in quotes. I'm guessing because he considered it more a short story than a novel, but it may be simply that is was confusing to capitalize it all like he did his novels given the unique capitalization scheme he used.

Happy New Year to all our readers. I hope you read some Kerouac today in honor of the new year being up on us.