Saturday, November 18, 2017

The path to world peace?

In On The Road, Jack Kerouac wrote:
My aunt once said the world would never find peace until men fell at their women’s feet and asked for forgiveness. (Penguin, p. 122)
You're thinking two things right about now. First, as a man, how dare I enter the fray of current events related to sexual misconduct by men? Second, where do I get off using Jack Kerouac's words to make a point in this matter given his track record of misogynistic words and actions?

Well, I tend to agree with the first point. I acknowledge that, as a man, I cannot possibly fathom the trauma that women live with daily because of our bad behavior toward them. And, I will admit that I have certainly strayed over the line in the past with a crass remark or joke or even an action. Most definitely I have had and still have inappropriate thoughts that should never see the light of day. I could blame societal conditioning for it but the bottom line is that there is no excuse. Guilty as charged. Despite the danger of weighing in this subject, however, I think there is a point to be made here that may not get made otherwise. Perhaps it will add constructively to the conversation.

To the second point, I admit that Jack Kerouac is not a beacon of light where the treatment of women is concerned. But he did make the above comment, and maybe he was, on the one hand, admitting his flaws in this regard, and on the other, presenting a way forward.

That is, and this is big, men -- and in particular our treatment of women -- are the reason the world is a fucked-up mess, and the sooner we realize that and make amends for it -- by our actions and not only our words -- the sooner we may solve the existential crises facing us like war and ecological disaster and disease, etc. I swear if women were in charge of things we'd be a whole lot better off.

So, to every woman on the planet -- past, present, and future -- I ask your forgiveness for my failings in this regard and I promise to reflect on my thoughts, words, and actions toward you in hopes that I can be a better man -- a better human being -- and thus contribute to peace in the world. I promise to believe you when you claim sexual mistreatment by men. I promise to stand with you in your efforts to bring abusers to justice. I promise to hold men accountable for their actions toward women, in the voting booth, with my voice, and in any other way available to me. I promise to think about how I'd want my granddaughter treated and act accordingly. I'll fall short, but I promise to try and that is all I can do.

That's it. If I've missed the mark here somehow, I'm willing to listen and learn.

May men everywhere take this cultural moment to reflect likewise.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Mystery Jack Kerouac button

This button showed up in the mail yesterday (the only thing in the package). I suspect it's a surprise gift from RM (who is being coy about it). Of course, it may be that my Alzheimer's is acting up and there's another explanation (e.g., I ordered it and forgot). But I think it's the former. Thanks, RM.

If you search for "Jack Kerouac button" on eBay, it's the first item that shows up (in case you want to send one to a Kerouac friend).

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Happy Birthday to Denise Levertov

Poet Denise Levertov was born this date in 1923 (she died in December of 1997). She appeared in Kerouac's Desolation Angels as Alise Nabokov. Levertov was an influence on my poet friend, Charlie James (whose excellent and award-winning collection of poems, Life Lines, is available here). Charlie turned me on to her husband, Mitchell Goodman, via his activist treatise, The Movement Toward a New America. It's so classic we own multiple copies and have given it as a gift several times.

Check out a brief bio and several of Levertov's poems here:

Also, you can check out her bio on the Duluoz Character Key here. Just do a Control-F and type Levertov in the search window. This is an indispensable web resource for Kerouac fans (in case you didn't already know of it), and it gets better all the time with the addition of new information (thanks to the continuing efforts of Dave Moore, the editor, and contributors like Kurt Phaneuf).

Monday, October 23, 2017

Happy Birthday, Philip Lamantia

Today is Philip Lamantia's birthday. Born in 1927, he would have been 90 years old today (he died in 2005).

Appearing in Kerouac novels (Francis DaPavia in The Dharma Bums and David D'Angeli in Desolation Angels), Lamantia was a poet whose work influenced Allen Ginsberg and other Beats. Lawrence Ferlinghetti said, "Philip was a visionary like Blake, and he really saw the whole world in a grain of sand." Lamantia read at the famous event at the Six Gallery in 1955 that many point to as kicking off the San Francisco poetry renaissance. (He didn't read his own work, but rather that of his dead friend, John Hoffman.)

You can read some of Lamantia's poetry here: You'll encounter passages like this:
The winter web minute
flutters beneath the spider’s goblet
and the whores of all the fathers
bleed for my delight
Checking out Lamantia's poetry in honor of his birthday would be a Beat thing to do.

P.S. This is the anniversary of my mom's death in 2009, and I am just now connecting this date to Lamantia.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

In Memoriam: Jack Kerouac

The last time I visited Jack's grave, October 6, 2016

Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac died this date in 1969. Were he still alive, he'd be 95 years old. As it was, he died at age 47, leaving us to wonder what he might have written in his 50s, 60s, etc.

As a tribute to our hero on this auspicious date, below are links to past memorial posts on The Daily Beat, dating back to 2008 (the year we started this blog).



10/20/10 (not his death date but I posted an RIP anyway)



10/21/12 (a particularly good one, if I do say so myself)





Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Blade Runner - Beat Generation connection

Since Blade Runner 2049 is in theaters, I thought readers might be interested in this piece explaining the connection to the Beat Generation:

If you haven't seen the original, put it on your movie bucket list. As for the sequel in theaters, I haven't seen it yet but plan to do so this week.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Denise is this year's book winner!

Denise is the winner of a signed copy of The Beat Handbook for being first to reply to my previous post with this year's secret word (dingledodies). Denise, send me your snail mail address to and I will send you your copy right away.

The annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac festival is under way as I write this. If you're there, hoist one for me in Jack's honor.