Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Happy Heavenly Birthday to Helen Weaver

                                                 


Today -- June 18 -- is Helen Weaver's birthday. Weaver, one of Jack Kerouac's paramours, appeared in two of Jack's works: as Ruth Heaper in Desolation Angels and as Eileen Farrier in Book of Dreams (expanded edition).Weaver granted me an interview in 2009 that you can read HERE.

There are two letters from Jack to Helen in Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969 (Penguin Books, 1999). In that same volume, in a long letter to bestie John Clellon Holmes, Jack writes the following about Helen:

Yes, I'll bring my mother [to Holmes's house in Old Saybrook], we'll come over en route to Lowell on the NYNHH [railroad] or whatever they call it, or else a nutty weekend with my favorite doll Helen Weaver who isnt mad at me no mo . . . . sends me cigars . . . .beautiful girl, but Lucien doesnt like her . . . . I think because he can't snowjob her and also she doesnt like to get drunk ... but is mad. (p. 92)

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Ms. Weaver.


Saturday, June 15, 2024

Happy Birthday to Hettie Jones

 

Hettie Jones

Today -- June 15 -- is poet/writer Hettie Jones' 90th birthday. She never appeared in a Jack Kerouac work, but her husband, LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka), appeared in Lonesome Traveler under his own name.

Jones published many of the Beat writers, including Kerouac, in her poetry magazine, Yugen, established with her husband. She went on to publish others in Totem Press. A brief bio and one of her poems can be read HERE. In addition to her poetry, Jones published a couple of memoirs and several children's books.

Happy Birthday, Ms. Jones.







Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Remembering Stanley Twardowicz

 

Stanley Twardowicz

Jack Kerouac's Northport friend, painter/photographer Stanley Twardowicz, died on this date -- June 12 -- in 2008. He appeared in one Kerouac novel, Satori in Paris, under his own name. To wit --

Spend most of the time talking to big corpulent Breton cabdrivers, what I learned in Brittany is "Don't be afraid to be big, fat, be yourself if you're big and fat." Those big fat sonumgun Bretons waddle around as tho the last whore of summer war lookin for her first lay. You can't drive a spike with a tack hammer, say the Polocks, well at least said Stanley Twardowicz which is another country I've never seen. You can drive a nail, but not a spike. (Satori in Paris & Pic, 1988, Grove Press, p. 108)
In January 1968, Jack wrote to Twardowicz, thanking him for a Christmas gift.
Dear Stanley:
When your fruitcake arrived as usual, as wd. be expected from a fruitcake, Stella said to me: "Now who is it that remembers you at each Christmastime?" I said: "Gordo?" She said: "Guess again?" I said: "Lucien? Allen? Peter? John the Baptist?""Awright," I shouted, "Ho?" She said "Stanley." Thank you, will eat, it, and love to "Blondie" too.
                                                                                                        Jack

The Bishop orders you not to beat it too much. (Beat the Bishop)

 (Source: Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 507)

I don't know if Jack intended that comma after eat or if it's a typo.

RIP, Mr. Twardowicz.





Friday, June 7, 2024

Belatedly Remembering Kenneth Rexroth

 

Kenneth Rexroth

Poet and critic Kenneth Charles Marion Rexroth, who we wished a happy birthday in December 2023 (click HERE), died on yesterday's date -- June 6 -- in 1982. Rexroth appeared in only one of Jack Kerouac's books, The Dharma Bums (my favorite), as Rheinhold Cacoethes.

Rexroth and Kerouac were not chums. As Gerald Nicosia points out in Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, Rexroth often put Jack down with snide remarks (1994, University of California Press, p. 491). Jack returned the favor by naming him "Cacoethes," which means "the irresistible urge to do something inadvisable."

Notably, Rexroth was the master of ceremonies at the famous Six Gallery poetry reading in October 1955. You can read more about him HERE as well as some of his poetry.

Random thought: I rather think the younger Rexroth looks like actor Steve Zahn.


A young Rexroth

Actor Steve Zahn


RIP, Mr. Rexroth.


Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Remembering Jan Kerouac

                                             


Writer Jan Kerouac, Jack's only child, died on this date -- June 5 -- in 1996. We wished her a happy birthday and provided some info about her previously. You can access that post HERE.

A fitting book to check out today, in addition to any of Jan's own novels (Baby DriverTrainsong, and Parrot Fever (the latter unpublished but a chapbook is available from Gerald Nicosia @ gnicosia@earthlink.net) would be Nicosia's The Last Days of Jan Kerouac (Noodlebrain Press). Click HERE for a European Beat Studies Network interview with Nicosia about this book.

Like her father, Jan died too young (age 44) and had a promising writing career cut short, most likely from similar lifestyle choices involving intoxicants. To which I say: Life is short. Live every minute of it.

RIP, Ms. Kerouac.


Monday, June 3, 2024

Happy Heavenly Birthday to Allen Ginsberg

 


Allen Ginsberg

Poet and core Beat Generation member Allen Ginsberg was born on this date -- June 3 --  in 1926. He appeared in a number of Jack Kerouac's works: as Carlo Marx in On The Road; Alvah Goldbook in The Dharma Bums; Adam Moorad in The Subterraneans; Irwin Garden in Big SurDesolation AngelsVisions of CodyBook of Dreams, and Vanity of Duluoz; Leon Levinski in The Town and the City; Allen Goldbook in an early draft of Beat Generation; Bleistein in The Haunted Life and Other Writings; Allen Ginsberg in Pull My Daisy; and Leo in Orpheus Emerged.

The influence of Ginsberg on the other Beat writers, including acting as their agent/promoter, and his impact on the culture from the 50s to the 90s cannot be overstated. One need only read the above list of appearances in Kerouac's works to imagine his importance to Jack. You can read a short bio and some of his poetry by clicking HERE.

In honor of his birthday, Allen would dig it if you read some of his poetry, especially aloud. Even better, read along while listening to him read his own work. It's all out there on the interwebz.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mr. Ginsberg.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

A doubly important Kerouac date

 


Gerard Kerouac (left) and Albert Saijo

On this date -- June 2 -- two important figures in Jack Kerouac's world died, his brother Gerard in 1926 and his friend Albert Saijo in 2011. 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. Albert appeared as George Baso in Big Sur and co-authored Trip Trap: Haiku on the Road with Kerouac and Lew Welch based on a road trip across America in Welch's Jeep.

In honor of Gerard, here's a passage from Visions of Gerard (Penguin Books, 1991, pp. 32-33):
"Ainsi soit-il," amen, none of them knowing either what that meant, "thus it is," it is what is and that's all it is--thinking ainsi soit-il to be some mystic priestly secret word invoked at altar--The innocence and yet intrinsic purity-understanding with which the Hail Mary was done, as Gerard, now knelt in his secure pew, prepares to visit the priest in his ambuscade and palace hut with the drapes that keep swishing aside as repentent in-and-out sinners come-and-go burdened and dismembered as the case may be and is, amen--

In honor of Albert, here's a haiku of his from Trip Trap (City Lights/Grey Fox, 1998, p. 32).

    Grain elevators on 
                Saturday lonely as
Abandoned toys


RIP, Masters Kerouac and Mr. Saijo. We remember you on this day.