Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Curation #7 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Jack Kerouac Romnibus

Item #7 in my curation project is a case containing 2 CD-Rs that were given to me by a Kerouac scholar and friend who will remain nameless in case there are copyright violations afoot. The CD-Rs are identical (i.e., one is a copy of the other) and contain the Kerouac Romnibus. I can't remember why the case is labeled Kerouac, the Movie (King of the Beats) Romnibus. Maybe the King of the Beats documentary film is hiding in there -- I don't remember. That particular documentary used to be available free on YouTube but not anymore. It's a worthwhile purchase @ $3.99. I have it downloaded in Google Drive from when it was free. But I digress....

For the uninitiated, the Kerouac Romnibus is a Penguin-produced multimedia presentation of the life and work of Jack Kerouac via text, photographs, graphics, sound, animation, and video. It features the complete text of The Dharma Bums (multimedia enhanced), archival materials, biographical information, and interviews.

I have not figured out how to run the Romnibus on my current PC (something about having to install a certain version of QuickTime -- I can't remember how, but I got it to run on my old PC). This website says you can download the Romnibus, plus it gives details about what's in the program including a dozen or so screenshots: Check it out, but beware of viruses (I haven't tested it) plus this download doesn't include some videos. If you download it and it works, let us know in a comment. There is a fee (daily or monthly), and I assume Penguin has sanctioned it.

My memory of the Romnibus is that it is an extremely rich resource of great interest to Kerouac fans. One of the highlights for me was the enhanced version of The Dharma Bums, but there are many other gems in this multimedia extravaganza. Grab one if you get the chance, but realize that it's old technology and you may have to jump through hoops to get it to run on your PC or Mac. It's worth the hassle.

I need to play around with my copy and see if I can get 'er runnin'. I'll let you  know if I do....

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my Kerouac Romnibus (it's under yesterday's Nicosia DVD) on the day I started curating my collection.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Curation #6 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Public talk by Gerald Nicosia

The 6th item in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is a DVD of a public talk that Kerouac scholar Gerald Nicosia gave at the University of Maine at Farmington on April 24, 2013. This is my copy, which -- unfortunately -- skips. There is also a copy at UMF's Mantor Library, and I think I sent one to Gerry as well. So, it is a limited edition.

Some background. I brought Gerry to campus to teach my Kerouac class (twice) that week and to give a public talk. Wednesday evening, he spoke on "Why Jack is Back," focusing on why Jack and the Beats were back to change our lives once again (the On The Road movie had been in the news). Before a crowd of about 30 people (students, faculty, and community members), Gerry expounded on several things the Beats stood for: human interaction (community, presence, companionship); the evil of materialism; and, the dignity, value, and divine spirit in every human being. He gave plenty of time for questions at the end and there were a number of very thoughtful ones. Gerry demonstrated his profound knowledge of not only Jack Kerouac and the Beats but also about literature in general as well as the history of the United States.

For more on Gerry's visit, click here:

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my Nicosia DVD (it's under yesterday's Neal Cassady DVD that sits "atop" the pile -- couldn't resist the Kerouac reference -- of DVDs under the bobblehead) on the day I started curating my collection.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Monday, February 19, 2018

Curation #5 from my Kerouac bookshelf -- Neal Cassady: The Denver Years

Front cover
Back cover

The 5th installment of my curation project is the documentary DVD, Neal Cassady: The Denver Years. It's a product of Colorado Public Television and Mother Mind Studios, produced in 2015. I only see one left on Amazon (for 100 bucks!), but you should be able to order it from the estate for 25 bucks (

You can view an extended trailer here: (Note: There's a second clip after this one plays.)

I used to show this in my Kerouac class at the University of Maine at Farmington. It's based on Neal's writings (The First Third and the Joan Anderson Letter). As such, it includes a lot of voice-overs with relevant still pictures. It also includes interviews with a host of people who knew Neal, from his wife, Carolyn, to his children, to well-known Beat Generation figures like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, David Amram, and Al Hinkle.

There are some excellent insights into Neal's life here. I enjoyed this documentary and so did my students, plus I learned a few things about Neal's early life and about Denver. I think you'd find it worth the price.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my Neal Cassady DVD on the day I started curating my collection (just under the bobblehead).

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Recent Kerouacian experiences on the road

We got back today from a visit with Richard and Michelle at their new house in Massachusetts. While we were talking in the car on the way to go bowling, we somehow got on the subject of dilettantes and applied it to certain persons who exemplify that characteristic toward being beat. Beat wannabes, if you will. Or quasi-bohemians. Richard came up with the term "fauxbo," and it was perfect. Get it? Faux (fake) hobo.

Unfortunately, the term is already on Urban Dictionary with a definition of "fake boyfriend." Hearing that, Michelle suggested "phobo," which is a portmanteau of phony and hobo. Not bad. But, sadly, that term is on Urban Dictionary as well (meaning: xenophobe). And "Phobos" is a moon of Mars.

So we thought perhaps we had created a neologism, but fell a bit short. I'm not sure if you can suggest alternative definitions to Urban Dictionary for existing words....

While out for dinner Saturday night (before seeing the energetic Gaelic Storm in concert at The Calvin in Northampton), a young guy sat on the bench seat next to Crystal and asked her if she were leaving. She said no and then he asked her if he could share something with her. She assented and he said, "Jesus loves you." She smiled and said something like "Yay for Jesus!" and turned away to resume talking with the rest of us. He took the hint.

I borrowed two highly recommended books from Richard, both by Jorge Garcia-Robles -- The Stray Bullet: William S. Burroughs in Mexico and At the End of the Road: Jack Kerouac in Mexico. Richard's book collection is quite something (it's in a fantastic space above his garage that they call the East Wing). Their new house is fabulous.

We spent some time listening to Jack's recording of Dr. Sax. And talked Kerouac and Beat Generation stuff as you can imagine.

On the way home, along I-95 in New Hampshire, a guy in a green Jeep Cherokee with NH plates passed me on the right and then slowed down in order to roll down his window and stick his arm out with a big thumbs-up. We could only imagine it was because of my license plate (see below). He had to be a Kerouac fan!

This is an old picture so don't call Maine State Police on me for an outdated sticker!

One more adventure (in addition to Google Maps taking us in a circle when we left Richard's and we went back by his road in the opposite direction) was when we stopped to get gas and the fuel door wouldn't open to let me fill up! I've always wondered what you're supposed to do in such a situation. In this case, with Crystal pulling the release lever inside the car and me prying with my Swiss Army Knife (Victorinox, never Wenger) on the outside, we got it open. Not without scratching the paint, though. I may need to take it to the dealer and say WTF? That's a mechanism that just can't fail. Oh, and Crystal noticed a chip in my windshield on the way home.

We had a great visit and now it's back to routine before we head out west in March. It's also back to the curation project tomorrow. If you don't know what that is, read my last few entries here.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Curation #4 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Kerouac bobblehead

My Jack Kerouac bobblehead in its original packaging (sorry about the plastic)

The back of my Kerouac bobblehead's box

Next in my curation project (#4) is my Jack Kerouac bobblehead. This was a promotion by Lowell's Red Sox minor league baseball team. the Spinners, in consort with the UMass Lowell English Department. It was given out to the first 1,000 fans at the August 7, 2012 Lowell Spinners game, but it was also available by mail (the latter being how I got mine). This is the second such Kerouac bobblehead -- I don't have the first one. The first one goes for about 90 bucks on eBay and was given out on August 21, 2003. Click here for a Spinners bobblehead history.

The second version (mine) goes for about 30 bucks. If you're interested in having one of your own, just search for "Kerouac bobblehead" and you'll get there. Or offer me $1,000 cash for mine and I'll think about selling it. I note that the second version has a bobblethumb as well as a bobblehead.

As you can see, in the first version Jack is writing. In the second he is hitchhiking. Both have him wearing a backpack.

The 1st Kerouac bobblehead

I should point out that I am still waiting for Richard to take me to a Spinners game.

Next? We work our way down through that pile of CDs and DVDs. However, that won't be for a few days as we are headed to visit Richard for the weekend.

Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of my bobblehead on the day I started curating my collection.

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Curation #3 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Kerouac grave rubbing

Charcoal rubbing from Jack Kerouac's grave made by Charlie and Chris in 2009

This is the third item from my Kerouac bookshelf curation project. It's that mysterious tube I teased about previously (see pic below). Click here for that reference.

Indeed, this is a charcoal rubbing from Jack Kerouac's grave in his hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts. When we visited the grave during Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2009, two fans from Michigan -- Charlie and Chris -- were there making charcoal rubbings and they gave us one! It adorned my office wall at work (tacked to my bulletin board) from 2009 until 2017 when I retired, and now it sits unfurled atop my Kerouac bookshelf. Why don't I display it? I don't know -- it's a hassle for one thing. It's gets everything around it dirty when it's unfurled. Plus, I don't have a good wall space for it. I took the above picture by weighting it down on my workbench using what I could grab -- a can of WD-40, a can of Liquid Wrench, a propane cylinder, and a pair of pruning shears (cropped from the photo) -- on the corners. Now you know the status of my workbench: cluttered. At least I had enough space to spread out the rubbing!

Click here for pictures of Charlie and Chris (scroll down when you get there) and the "rest of the story."

For kicks, here's a pic from my first visit to Jack's grave in December 2005. You can see that the symbol of the dove is actually to the left of the inscription, not underneath it as in the rubbing. Charlie and Chris had to get creative because of the limits of their paper size.

Rick Dale at Jack Kerouac's grave, December 2005
Below is a picture of the top shelf of my Kerouac bookshelf as it existed the day I started curating it. The next post in this series? My Jack Kerouac bobblehead....

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf and the mysterious white tube

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Curation #2 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Jack Kerouac Collection 3-CD Set

The top of my Kerouac bookshelf

We are already at the second item on my Kerouac bookshelf in this curation series. As you can see above, underneath the pile of books on the left is an item labeled The Jack Kerouac Collection 3-CD Set (well, you can't read all of that in the picture so you'll have to trust me). It's still available from Amazon (see below) for $33.99. I don't remember what I paid for mine or how long I've had it (it's been years).

The cover

The CDs and the accompanying booklet

Sadly, CDs are just about extinct, as are CD players. Do new cars even have them anymore?

Nevertheless, this collection is audio gold for Kerouac fans, including  3 CDs: Poetry for the Beat Generation; Blues and Haikus; and Readings by Jack Kerouac on The Beat Generation. It includes a great booklet stuffed full of information about the set, starting with a reflection by Jack's daughter, Jan Kerouac, and moving through instructive pieces (some long, some short) by David Perry, Allen Ginsberg, Gerald Nicosia (2 pieces), Jerry Garcia, Stephan Ronan, Ann Charters, Steve Allen, William Burroughs, Michael C. Ford, Robert Frank, Ray Manzarek, Edie Kerouac Parker, Michael McClure, and Harvey Robert Kubernik. It concludes with a sessionography, bibliography, and a producer's note. It includes pictures throughout.

This booklet is worth the price of the set, but it's really about the recordings. Below is a picture of the sessionography that you'll likely have to enlarge to read. As I intimated above, it's a Kerouac gold mine. Everything here is Jack reading Jack.


Hence, what are you waiting for if you are a Kerouac fan and don't have this collection? I know I need to revisit the insert and listen to the CDs again -- it's that valuable and entertaining. And I would go so far as to say you don't even need to be a Kerouac fan to enjoy the recordings. Jack reading Jack is a thing all unto itself. Mellifluous is a word that comes to mind.

While we don't have nearly enough audio of Jack, at least a chunk of it is in this collection.

Happy listening.