Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Beat Hotel in Paris: Here We Come

That awesome background is my workbench

I own and have used three of Bill Morgan's excellent guides: The Beat Atlas: A State by State Guide to the Beat Generation in America, The Beat Generation in New York: A Walking Tour of Jack Kerouac's City, and The Beat Generation in San Francisco: A Literary Tour.

Now I'm happy to say I own The Beats Abroad: A Global Guide to the Beat Generation, and I'm even happier to say that I am going to get a chance to use it since we are winging our way to France in less than three weeks. Our first stop is Paris, and of course one of our objectives will be to visit The Beat Hotel (9 Rue Gît-le-Cœur), now known as Relais Hôtel du Vieux Paris. Many Beat writers stayed there over the years (with the exception of our boy, Jack). In fact, we have a private walking tour scheduled and The Beat Hotel is where we are meeting our guide.

Morgan cites a number of specific street addresses in Paris where the likes of Corso, Burroughs, and Ginsberg stayed in Paris, and we may saunter by some of them during our perambulations. Of interest to me is famed bookstore Shakespeare and Company, which in the Beat heyday hosted many Beat writers overnight or for readings.

Jack Kerouac has his own entry for Paris and number of addresses where he either visited or stayed, so there's that to consider. We'll definitely visit the Louvre, where Van Gogh's paintings hit Jack with "'an explosion of light -- of bright gold and daylight'" (p. 31).

This is a vacation, though, and not a Beat history tour, so don't expect a lot of structure. We'll also be in Lyon and Servagette, France, and Venice and Amalfi, Italy. Venice has a few entries in Morgan's book, and Amalfi has one (but no address). We'll see what we see.

I guess what I really need to do is get out Satori in Paris and re-read it before we leave!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2017 (and the "secret word")

One year ago today I posted a reminder about Lowell Celebrates Kerouac in October and announced the "secret word," so it is time to do that again. Regular Daily Beat readers know that each year I announce a "secret word" that wins a free signed copy of my book -- The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions -- for the first person to come up to me and whisper it in my year (or just say it -- I'm not fussy).

Last year the secret word was "satori," and while some years no one takes me up on my offer, in 2016 we had a winner: Phil from Indiana. So far I have not allowed repeat winners, so we'll stick to that rule this year. And now the moment you've all been waiting for . . . this year's secret word -- in honor of the 60th anniversary of On The Road and a famous quote from the book and the fact that you will be shambling after me like one of these in order to win a book -- is:


Good luck.

But we're not finished. We need a reminder of details about the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac.

What:    An Annual Festival Celebrating Jack Kerouac
Where:  Jack's Hometown of Lowell, MA
When:   October 5-9, 2017

For places to stay, try I recommend the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center if you can get a room. It's the only hotel in the city proper, but of course there are hotel options outside the city as well as Air B&B,, a tent under the stars along the Merrimack, etc.

For directions to Jack's grave, a visit to which is on the agenda as part of the bus tour but you should make time for a private visit, search for Edson Cemetery (1375 Gorham Street) in your GPS system of choice. Go straight when you come in the gate and turn left on Lincoln Avenue. Find his grave on the right between 7th and 8th Streets.

Rick Dale at Jack Kerouac's grave on October 6, 2016

See you in October. We'll be fresh off a trip to Europe so ask me to see pictures of The Beat Hotel.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Happy Birthday to Diane di Prima

Today is award-winning beat poet Diane di Prima's 83rd birthday.

In celebration, read some of her work. Her most recently published collection is pictured above, or you can find some of her poetry on-line (e.g.,

Or, if you're in a randy mood, revisit your dog-eared copy of Memoirs of a Beatnik.

Happy Birthday, Diane.

Mystery in Greenwich Village: The Riviera Cafe (UPDATED 8-9-17)

I came across this article about the closing of The Riviera Cafe in New York's Greenwich Village (a place where once upon a time Crystal and I stopped for a drink while waiting to meet our friends, Richard and Michelle):

I shared the link with my friend Richard and we got to discussing whether it's the same place that Bill Morgan mentions in The Beat Generation in New York (1997, p. 71) as a beat hangout where Kerouac liked to go in 1955 and his friend Henri Cru was the bouncer.

What gave us pause was the article saying the place was closing after 48 years. That means it was something else before 1969. This article and Morgan's book both note the address as Seventh Avenue South, although Morgan adds 225 W. 4th Street (which is how the place is listed on-line).

I noted that the name of the current place is "The Riviera Cafe," yet Morgan lists it as "Cafe Riviera."

So we have a date and a name discrepancy. And a minor mystery.

Can anyone confirm that this is the same place (location) Morgan references, and, if so, explain the discrepancies?


After I posted the above to the Facebook Kerouac group, Kerouac researcher extraordinaire Kurt Phaneuf replied with the following information that seems to verify that it's probably the same place with a small change in names. As Kurt says, perhaps management changed in 1969, hence the 48 year longevity reported in the article.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Article in this month's Esquire mentions Jack Kerouac

In my endless quest to keep you apprised of Jack Kerouac mentions in the news and popular culture, I note that an article in this month's Esquire (which Jack wrote for) mentions our hero. The article is titled, "Making s SPLASH in the CITY," and recounts author Dwight Garner's quest to swim the hidden rooftop pools of New York City a la John Cheever's character, Neddy Merrill (played by my hero, Burt Lancaster, in the movie version), in the short story, "The Swimmer" (available here). In the story, Merrill realizes at an early afternoon cocktail party that he might be able to "swim" the eight miles home by hopping in and out of the pools of friends.

Garner concludes the piece thusly in the context of his visit to the rooftop pool of the Hotel Americano in Chelsea (where he doesn't take a swim but does have dinner with a friend):

The martinis up there are good. The soulful Mexican food is even better. I felt I could almost see my house out across the horizon, the way that Neddy, in Cheever's story, sensed, "with a cartographer's eye, that string of swimming pools, that quasi-subterranean stream that curved across the country." Cheever made this stream of pools sound as happy as one of Jack Kerouac's western highways. I began to wonder if I could swim home.

I wonder: Did the passage mentioning "subterraneans" invoked Kerouac in Garner's mind in some way, consciously or otherwise?

Book on WWII Merchant Mariners

The below article recently appeared in the local paper. I thought it might be of interest to readers given that Jack Kerouac was a merchant mariner. The gist of the article is that a local couple, Arthur and Florence Moore, were honored for a book they wrote in 1983 that helped chronicle the sacrifice of merchant mariners during WWII (when Jack served). Their "meticulous log" of all merchant mariners who died will -- thankfully -- not include Jack, but their list of merchant ships that sunk likely includes the Dorchester, on which Jack served as a scullion.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Overcoming Writer's Block Part 2, or What Would "Tony the Mouth" do?

Another week has rolled by and here I sit at the laptop with another case of writer's block. That's how this post starts. How will it end? It could end with a fizzle, or a swizzle, or a remonstrable whizzle, or it may not ever end at all and just continue ad infinitum ad nauseum (a phrase I seem to remember learning from my high school French teacher, Madame Griggs) from week to insufferable week until my vast readership of 108 followers (but about twice that many pageviews on any given day, depending on the topic) dwindles down (that is like Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price saying on Meet the Press this morning that Obamacare is "imploding upon itself" -- it's redundant, like our 11th grade English teacher Brian Stahler taught us using "revert back" as one example and I suspect Strunk & White address that in their epic work The Elements of Style but my brief thumb-through didn't reveal a reference -- you should get a copy of that book, by the way, if you fancy yourself a writer -- the copy I still use is the one Mr. Stahler had us buy way back in 1971).

But I ramble, and that is the point. When experiencing writer's block, write. One good exercise is the 5-minute free-write. I used to have my Kerouac class do that activity (outside of class) and it was always interesting to read their reflections on that exercise. I free-wrote a blog post in this space back in 2012 (read it here at your own peril). For some reason, that particular piece is one of my all-time highest viewed posts. Go figure....

But what does that have to do with Kerouac? It's about writing, and above all else, he was a writer. So there's your connection if you must have one. One of these days I'm going to break tradition and post something that doesn't link to Kerouac. Or maybe that's impossible, given that I've repeatedly said that everything links to Kerouac in some way or another (struck out for redundancy). Given the amount of detail we have about him from his novels and letters and many biographies, there's almost always a connection to be made. Which reminds me of the very excellent PBS series, Connections. If you haven't ever seen it, it's worth your time.

And there you have it. We've made it to the whizzle (note second link below). Whether it will be remonstrable is the remaining question (the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Chief Counsel James Sheehan taught me to be careful of saying "whether or not" -- the not being redundant -- I rather remember him saying never use it, but I think the answer is "it depends," which is a legal heuristic I also learned during my time at PDE either from Jeff Champagne or Sam Bashore -- RIP -- or both; here is a NYTimes piece on the matter that will leave you almost as confused as trying to read Infinite Jest).

Whizzle = 1. whiz; especially: make a whizzing sound; 2. to get by stealth or cunning.

Remonstrable = 1. demonstrable, evident; 2. deserving of remonstration or protest; objectionable.

Well, I got to the end by cunning meta-writing, and here is a link to your whizzle. Finally, we will make the end of this post meet both definitions of remonstrable and call it a day. It's a day.


*If you are offended by my use of the F-word, let me remind you that I am merely following the lead of the White House Director of Communications, Anthony "Tony the Mouth" Scaramucci. Ain't leadership grand? Anyway, feel free to complain directly to him via phone, e-mail, or letter.