Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jack Kerouac, free of that slaving meat wheel

Jack Kerouac's grave in Lowell, MA
(c) Rick Dale, October 9, 2014

In the 211th Chorus of Mexico City Blues, Jack Kerouac concluded:
Poor! I wish I was free
of that slaving meat wheel
and safe in heaven dead

Jack got his wish 45 years ago today. I've posted consistently on or around the anniversary of Jack's death dating back to this blog's inception. Click here for last year's post  (which includes links to all previous years' posts).

Were Jack still alive he would be 92. Of the real-life characters represented in On the Road, only Al Hinkle (Big Ed Dunkel) is still with us and he is 88 or so years young. Gary Snyder, Japhy Ryder in The Dharma Bums, is 84.

I guess it's therefore not inconceivable that Jack could still be alive, assuming he undertook a major lifestyle change early on and stuck with it. But would we have the canon as we know it?

Little matter. Jack's gone, but he left us a lot of prose and poetry to light our way. Read some today in his memory. Please.

RIP, Jack.




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Top ten Daily Beat posts of all time

The Daily Beat Top Ten Posts by Pageviews as of October 14, 2014

Every so often I check Google stats to see my blog's top ten list based on numbers of pageviews. As you can see, Kristen Stewart topless continues to be the leader by far. Sad by understandable.

After that, not surprisingly, is a link to the full text of On the Road. Why John Sampas hasn't shut that website down is beyond me, unless, as someone suggested, it is based in another country.

I'm glad to see the two Gerry Nicosia interviews still fare pretty well; I thought they were chock full of interesting information and insights.

Surprising to me is how well my spontaneous prose effort, Dimetapp dreams, is doing. I never would have thought my original writing would land in the same top ten list as Kristen Stewart naked. Who knew?

It's fun to see my Lowell story from 2011 doing well. I doubt I still look like Kevin Nash (if I ever did) given my haircut.

How to pronounce "Cannes" continues to stay in the top ten. I guess it didn't just mystify me.

Being a lover of words like Jack, I'm pleased to see the post about "fellaheen" doing well.

The On the Road movie official website is long past usefulness at this point.

Why a blog post about my next tattoo got so many hits is beyond me.

If you want to read any of these entries, the dates are listed and you can use the tool over on the right to access them by date.

Maybe I shall write a blog post titled, "Kristen Stewart on the road in Cannes getting a fellaheen tattoo of Dimetapp." That should get some traffic.

Dodge Poetry Festival



I had not heard of the Dodge Poetry Festival before today, but it's worth a look. This year features poet Gary Snyder, who readers of The Daily Beat know as Japhy Ryder in The Dharma Bums. There are a lot of other heavy hitter poets there as well.

Click here for details.

What does this have to do with Jack Kerouac other than Gary Snyder being there? Jack was a poet, perhaps first and foremost. You could cut up his prose into poetry and not know the difference. He even called prose "an endless one line poem."

By the way, Gary's times: 23rd @ 11:15 AM, 2:15 PM; 7:00 PM; 24th @ 10:50 AM; 25th @ 9:00 AM, 12:00 PM; 26th @ 10:30 AM, 12:00 PM, 1:30 PM.

In other words, you should be able to catch him any day.

So, if you're not doing anything October 23-26 . . . .


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Report from Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2014

We just got home (to Maine) from Lowell Celebrates Kerouac (LCK) and I thought I'd file my annual report before memory fades. We left Thursday morning (October 9) around 11:30. We stopped once: at the New Hampshire liquor store (conveniently located right off an exit on I-95) to stock up on some of the wine we like at very good prices. When we arrived at our hotel (UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center) around 2:30 our room wasn't ready so we waited in the lobby. Our good friend, Richard (who we only know thanks to LCK), had already checked in so we hung out with him while we waited. We also met Rich, another LCKer, and re-connected with Nancy (from Texas), who we see every year.

After we got checked in, we made our way, with Richard, to the gravesite for our annual visit. Thankfully, no one was there and we got to spend some private time with Jack. A couple of us, who will remain unnamed, were not too enthused by the new gravestone. It's a bit too Hollywood and we thought things were fine as they were.

Here is an excellent picture that Richard took (with his iPhone!) of Crystal reading from The Town and the City.




Crystal is at the gravestone that's always been there, and the new one is behind her.

Here's one of the gravestone as it looked when we got there (with the addition of a copy of my book, which I always leave behind, and the rose from Crystal).



Click on the links below to watch the videos we took of each of us reading from one of Jack's books. It was windy so the sound quality is sketchy.

Rick

Crystal

Richard

From the grave we returned to the hotel and then headed out on foot for an early dinner at The Worthen just in time for the pub crawl that started there at 5:30. 

Bill Walsh (pub crawl leader and Lowell/Kerouac docent) looked back as we crossed the street and pointed out what he called one of Lowell's best views. Here's pic.



After The Worthen we stopped by a gallery (whose name I have forgotten) as well as an exhibit of artists' interpretations of various haikus by Jack (this was at the Lowell Telecommunications Corp. across from the National Historical Park Visitors Center entrance on Market Street). By the time we got to the next pub stop, Ricardo's (Nicky's in Jack's time), we were flagged and decided to go back to the hotel and rest a bit. We're sure the pub crawl went on without a hitch despite our absence. They were slated to stop at Ward Eight and end up at Cappy's Copper Kettle. We met up with them there in time for the traditional LCK kick-off of music and readings. 

I neglected to take pictures (as I pretty much did all weekend), but it was a fun night, kicked off with music by Alan Crane and George Koumantzelis and highlighted by David Amram's musicianship and great story-telling/philosophizing. It culminated with a belly dance by Meg Smith with David playing a traditional wind instrument (whose name escapes me). Meg is the widow of the recently late Lawrence (Larry) Carradini, past President of LCK.

Friday was a low-key day as Crystal wasn't feeling quite up to par. We did make the "Talking Jack" session in the hotel at 3:30. It was well-attended and we got some good discussion going courtesy of enthusiastic attendees. One thing that stuck with me is the bumpersticker that Roxanne (from New Jersey) described having made for her car: "Sometimes only Jack Kerouac understands me." Nancy (mentioned previously) pointed out how Jack was capitalizing on archetypes, and . . . well, she's an English professor and I would go astray if I tried to go further with it here. Kurt (another friend I'd never have if it weren't for LCK) added his usual poignant observations as did Nomi (the facilitator). I chimed in that we forget that loving Kerouac is a pretty small club, really, and that makes connecting with fellow Kerouacians at LCK extra special. By the way, check out the "Kerouac in Lowell" Twitter feed by clicking here.

Crystal, Kurt, and I ate dinner at Ricardo's. Yummy. Kurt said it was the best steak he ever ate, and Crystal's lobster ravioli and my mushroom ravioli with scallops were both very good. As was the bottle of wine.





Crystal and I said goodbye to Kurt, who was headed to an LCK event, as we made our way to the Jolie Holland concert at the Luna Theater at Mill #5, sponsored by UMass Lowell. This is a new place in Lowell with a number of shops and it is a very cool space. Before Jolie started they screened the Andy Warhol film, Couch, featuring Kerouac and Corso and Ginsberg et al. Then they played a number of Warhol's "screen tests" behind Jolie's band. Jolie has a great voice and her band is very good and it was an interesting juxtaposition of media. Here's a pic from the audience point-of-view.



We headed back to the hotel before the end of the show. That's the kind of thing that happens when, as I heard Roger Brunelle say, you are in the "afternoon of the trip."

Saturday was a full day. We made it to the Commemorative at the Commemorative, which wasn't at the Commemorative because of rain. We parked on French street and walked to the rain location, the Boott Cotton Mill Museum. Below you can see my DHRMABM license plate and the Commemorative in the background.


The Commemorative was dedicated to Larry Carradini, and featured his wife and friends reading his works or his favorite Kerouac passages. It concluded with David Amram reading the penultimate chapter from On the Road.



Many attendees then left to go on the birthplace-to-gravesite bus tour with Roger Brunelle. We chose to attend a presentation on Japanese haiku and its connection to Jack Kerouac given by Yuko Utomo. It was an excellent talk, followed by artists reading the Kerouac haikus that inspired their pieces mentioned earlier (we were in that same gallery space for the talk).

We ate lunch at The Athenian across the street. Crystal has moussaka and I had pastitio, washed down with Greek beer, Mythos. Tasty.

I saw a stage at The Athenian with musical equipment and asked about music there. The waitress said they have music three nights a week - with a belly dancer. Just FYI.

From there it was over to the Parker Lecture by New York poet Steve Dalachinsky. He's always great to listen to and this was no exception. Sorry for the crappy picture quality.



After Steve's talk we took the car back to the hotel and rested a bit before catching a cab to The Worthen for open mike. It was well-attended and a lot of fun. I especially got a kick out of Roxanne's rendering of what On the Road would sound like from the point-of-view of Jack's rucksack, and there were several other notable readings as well (I'm terrible at names and don't want to slight someone). I read three of my poems available at my poetry blog: "Rosemary's Hike," "Empty Dreams," and "Falling Thoughts." I thought the latter was too pornographic for the venue but went with it anyway.

From The Worthen we walked to Cobblestones for dinner. Italian Wedding Rehearsal Soup (sausage not meatballs) and petite filet with crabcake. We split the latter entree, which is a good thing because we learned when we got the check that the soup was 10 bucks a pop. But we knew from past experience that this is an expensive place. We like it there and have made it a regular stop during LCK. After finishing our meals we were so full that . . . guess what? Correct. Back to the hotel and there we stayed for the night.

We did have an "incident" on the way back to the hotel. We walked, and it was night-time in a city, so I am always a little on my guard. We passed a recessed storefront on Merrimack Street and I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye.  I looked up to see a  young man standing back there facing the store. He turned around very suddenly and sped off. Fortunately, I looked down to see a river running across the sidewalk. I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go. We both missed stepping in it, thankfully, but it was not a pleasing encounter. Don't judge Lowell by this one incident, but do be careful where you walk at night.

Sunday morning we headed out to eat and I took this shot from the hotel parking lot. Except for some of Saturday the weather was perfect the whole time! What's that song Jack sings in On the Road? Something about "blue skies" . . . .



We ate at Jameson's, a place that's very walkable from the hotel and was recommended by the desk clerk.


I had Irish Benedict. Bagel not English muffin. Home-made hash not Canadian bacon. Awesome. And an excellent waitress. We'll go back there.

Below is a view from our walk back from breakfast.



As usual, we missed a lot of events. The "Serious Amram Jam" was starting at the Lowell Beerworks a little after we left for Maine, and there were more Sunday and Monday events as well.

Crystal is a real trooper about my Kerouac obsession, and it's good not to push it too hard. Plus what Roger said.

We made it back to Maine without incident. All in all, it was another great trip. I wish I'd taken more pictures, but, honestly, sometimes feeling an obligation to take pictures gets in the way of my enjoying what's going on.

If you're a Kerouac fan (which I assume is a pretty good bet if you are reading this), a trip to Lowell in October for Lowell Celebrates Kerouac is something for your bucket list (unless you've already done it, in which case you should do it again). You can also help the cause by donating at the LCK website (click here).

Sadly, this year no one whispered the secret word in my ear to win a free copy of my book. The secret word was Caroline (or Nin). See my blog entry from August 8 (click here) for background. I should have given a copy to Cliff Whalen, who introduced himself and said he reads The Daily Beat. Cliff, I'll save you one for next year!

I'm inspired from LCK this year on two fronts. One is to learn more about the art of haiku and write a few based on that learning. It's way more than three lines of 17 syllables (5-7-5).

Another is to read The Haunted Life, which I think someone got me for Christmas and I never picked up. If you're reading this, Todd, sorry it's taken me so long . . . .

That's my report from Lowell Celebrates Kerouac in the Year of our Lord 2014. Long live Jack Kerouac.




P.S. If you spot inaccuracies, omissions (given my memory of late), and the like in my report, please let me know and I'll make corrections.

P.S.S. I have decided that next year everyone in Dave Moore's Jack Kerouac Facebook Group must come to LCK. No excuses. Let's make it more epic than ever.











Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jack Kerouac gets a new gravestone



I've written a lot about Jack in the past 6 years on this blog, and faithful readers know that I've made a pilgrimage to his grave almost annually since 2008. Today we learn that Jack got a new headstone. Click here for the story.

I don't know if the old headstone is still there, but I hope so. I always thought it was perfect. Unassuming. Inscribed, "He honored life." And what about Stella? I don't see her name on the new stone.

 I'm going to wait to weigh in on the new stone until after I see it in person in a couple of weeks. I'll definitely let you know what I think in my 2014 Report from Lowell Celebrates Kerouac.

Regardless of what I think, Jack doesn't care. He's safe in heaven dead.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Jack Kerouac's On the Road is 57 years old today



On the Road was published 57 years ago today. It's always a good time to go back in time and read the rave review that helped launch Kerouac into literary fame. Click here to read it.

As reviewer Gilbert Millstein said on September 5, 1957:
"On the Road" is the second novel by Jack Kerouac, and its publication is a historic occasion in so far as the exposure of an authentic work of art is of any great moment in an age in which the attention is fragmented and the sensibilities are blunted by the superlatives of fashion (multiplied a millionfold by the speed and pound of communications).... 
Just as, more than any other novel of the Twenties, "the Sun Also Rises" came to be regarded as the testament of the "Lost Generation," so it seems certain that "On the Road" will come to be known as that of the "Beat Generation." There is, otherwise, no similarity between the two: technically and philosophically, Hemingway and Kerouac are, at the very least, a depression and a world war apart.


Thank you, Jack.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Random Kerouac musings on a late August morning

The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, near "home"
It's starting to feel like fall outside, especially in the morning it seems, and so my thoughts often turn to Jack Kerouac.

It's widely thought that October was Jack's favorite month. As he said, in On the Road, "Everybody goes home in October." One of my strongest memories of adolescence is returning home from college for "homecoming weekend," especially my first year (when I was a "freshman," a no longer politically correct term because we've lost our minds in service to tolerance). There was just something about standing around the huge bonfire on the baseball field, eating a hot dog from the concession stand, watching football players you actually had gone to school with, seeing high school friends who similarly left for college but returned for the weekend, and reminiscing about high school life.

But as one of Jack's favorite authors, Thomas Wolfe, titled a novel: You Can't Go Home Again.

One can visit, though, and this faux fall weather seems to be pulling me back toward "home." Honestly, while Maine is my home and I love it here and I love my life, Pennsylvania still feels like "home." I haven't been back in a few years, yet a trip in the near future is doubtful. I want to use Christmas break to see my grandson for the first time, and I'm using fall break for our annual trip to Lowell.

Now that I think of it, going to Lowell feels like going home. Figure that one out if you can. I'm a surrogate for Jack, going "home" in October?

See you in October, my Kerouacian friends.