Monday, April 29, 2024

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.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Happy Birthday in Heaven 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 101 today!

Thursday, April 25, 2024

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. 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.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

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.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Belatedly remembering Helen Weaver


Helen Weaver, who we interviewed for The Daily Beat in November 2019 HERE, died 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. Sorry I missed the actual date, but I have COVID and am pretty ill.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

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 on December 26 -- click HERE.

Happy Birthday in Beat heaven, Mr. Hinkle.

Friday, April 5, 2024

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 "Howl"

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Happy birthday in heaven 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 DreamsDesolation AngelsLonesome TravelerVisions 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.