Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy 90th Birthday to Neal Cassady

Neal Cassady, the fast-moving western hero immortalized in Jack Kerouac's On the Road and Visions of Cody and Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, was born this date in 1926. That means he would have been 90 years old today.

Can you picture Neal at 90? It boggles my mind to try. Anyway, Happy Birthday, Neal!

For past birthday posts at The Daily Beat, you might want to learn how to force Google to search a website. It's simple. To find every mention of the word "birthday" on this blog, just use this URL:


To get more specific, you could try:

Neal Cassady birthday

You can search any website using this format. That is:

search term site:URL

Pretty cool, huh?

Remember there's no space between the colon and the URL.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Happy 102nd Birthday to William S. Burroughs

I just realized that it's William S. Burroughs' birthday today. He would have been 102, having been born in 1914. Older than the rest of the Beat triumvirate, he still outlived them in age (Burroughs = 83, Kerouac = 47, Ginsberg = 70) as well as calendar date (Burroughs = August 1997, Kerouac = 1969, Ginsberg = April 1997).

Burroughs' birth date was one day after Neal Cassady died in 1968.

So Happy Birthday, Old Bull. Here's a passage about you from On the Road that's instructively descriptive, albeit "fictional":
It would take all night to tell about Old Bull Lee; let's just say now, he was a teacher, and it may be said that he had every right to teach because he spent all his time learning; and the things he learned were what he considered to be and called "the facts of life," which he learned not only out of necessity but because he wanted to. He dragged his long, thin body around the entire United States and most of Europe and North Africa in his time, only to see what was going on; he married a White Russian countess in Yugoslavia to get her away from the Nazis in the thirties; there are pictures of him with the international cocaine set of the thirties-gangs with wild hair, leaning on one another; there are other pictures of him in a Panama hat, surveying the streets of Algiers; he never saw the White Russian countess again. He was an exterminator in Chicago, a bartender in New York, a summons-server in Newark. In Paris he sat at cafe tables, watching the sullen French faces go by. In Athens he looked up from his ouzo at what he called the ugliest people in the world. In Istanbul he threaded his way through crowds of opium addicts and rug-sellers, looking for the facts. In English hotels he read Spengler and the Marquis de Sade. In Chicago he planned to hold up a Turkish bath, hesitated just for two minutes too long for a drink, and wound up with two dollars and had to make a run for it. He did all these things merely for the experience. Now the final study was the drug habit. He was now in New Orleans, slipping along the streets with shady characters and haunting connection bars. 
There is a strange story about his college days that illustrates something else about him: he had friends for cocktails in his well-appointed rooms one afternoon when suddenly his pet ferret rushed out and bit an elegant teacup queer on the ankle and everybody hightailed it out the door, screaming. Old Bull leaped up and grabbed his shotgun and said, "He smells that old rat again," and shot a hole in the wall big enough for fifty rats. On the wall hung a picture of an ugly old Cape Cod house. His friends said, "Why do you have that ugly thing hanging there?" and Bull said, "I like it because it's ugly." All his life was in that line. Once I knocked on his door in the 60th Street slums of New York and he opened it wearing a derby hat, a vest with nothing underneath, and long striped sharpster pants; in his hands he had a cookpot, birdseed in the pot, and was trying to mash the seed to roll in cigarettes. He also experimented in boiling codeine cough syrup down to a black mash - that didn't work too well. He spent long hours with Shakespeare - the "Immortal Bard," he called him - on his lap. In New Orleans he had begun to spend long hours with the Mayan Codices on his lap, and, although he went on talking, the book lay open all the time. I said once, "What's going to happen to us when we die?" and he said, "When you die you're just dead, that's all." He had a set of chains in his room that he said he used with his psychoanalyst; they were experimenting with narcoanalysis and found that Old Bull had seven separate personalities, each growing worse and worse on the way down, till finally he was a raving idiot and had to be restrained with chains. The top personality was an English lord, the bottom the idiot. Halfway he was an old Negro who stood in line, waiting with everyone else, and said, "Some's bastards, some's ain't, that's the score." 
Bull had a sentimental streak about the old days m America, especially 1910, when you could get morphine in a drugstore without prescription and Chinese smoked opium in their evening windows and the country was wild and brawling and free, with abundance and any kind of freedom for everyone. His chief hate was Washington bureaucracy; second to that, liberals; then cops. He spent all his time talking and teaching others. Jane sat at his feet; so did I; so did Dean; and so had Carlo Marx. We'd all learned from him. He was a gray, nondescript-looking fellow you wouldn't notice on the street, unless you looked closer and saw his mad, bony skull with its strange youthfulness--a Kansas minister with exotic, phenomenal fires and mysteries. He had studied medicine in Vienna; had studied anthropology, read everything; and now he was settling to his life's work, which was the study of things them-selves.-in the streets of life and the night. He sat in his chair; Jane brought drinks, martinis. The shades by his chair were always drawn, day and night; it was his corner of the house. On his lap were the Mayan Codices and an air gun which he occasionally raised to pop benzedrine tubes across the room. I kept rushing around, putting up new ones. We all took shots and meanwhile we talked. Bull was curious to know the reason for this trip. He peered at us and snuffed down his nose, thfump, like a sound in a dry tank. (Penguin Books, 1976, pp. 143-144)

Belated RIP to Neal Cassady

Neal Cassady, Holy Goof and Beat muse, died 48 years ago yesterday at the age of 41, just 4 days shy of his 42nd birthday. Jack Kerouac would follow Neal on the night train to the big adios just 1 year, 8 months, and 17 days later on October 21, 1969 at the age of 47.

Below are some links to past postings on this subject. I was too lazy to hotlink them, but you know how to cut-and-paste, right?

Sorry I missed the actual date by a day. RIP, Neal.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Published and unpublished Kerouac work

Below is an entry I posted on Blackboard last week in response to student questions from my Kerouac class. Members of the Facebook Kerouac page can also click here for a list of Kerouac books compiled by Dave Moore.

-------Start of post-------

I received two questions on an index card from class yesterday and thought I'd answer them with some resources to check out that may have future use. That is, they may come in handy for your research paper.
Question 1: How many different published pieces did Kerouac have?
For an answer to this, check out this page from Literary Kicks, a site you might want to check out in general:
Note that the above does not include the numerous pieces Jack had published in magazines, such as this poem from Bastard Angel #2 in Spring 1974 that is unpublished elsewhere:

Question 2: How many unpublished ones (estimated) did he have?
For an answer to this, check out Paul Maher, Jr.'s (a noted Kerouac biographer) piece at Empty Mirror (another site you might want to become familiar with):

You also might want to check out the catalog of the Jack Kerouac Papers archived at the New York Public Library here:

Friday, January 29, 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The U.S. Presidential election: What would Kerouac do?

U.S. Presidential politics continues to heat up, with each campaign maneuvering to put its candidate over with the electorate. As loyal readers of The Daily Beat know, the thesis of my book, The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions, is that one only needs to do what Kerouac would do in order to be "beat." In other words, the beat path is discernible by answering the question: "What would Kerouac do?" So, what would Jack do regarding Presidential politics?

Here is a quote from William S. Burroughs in the documentary, Kerouac (click here):
Well, he seemed to me to be completely apolitical. I don't think he ever signed a petition or took part in a demonstration.
If that's true -- and I'm not about to research it further than Burroughs' own words -- then I'm going to offer some advice that differs from my usual slant on things: DON'T BE LIKE JACK IN THIS REGARD.

Elections matter. It's easy to crawl into a cave of apathy and say that all politicians are corrupt and it therefore doesn't matter who wins. It does matter. Maybe it is picking the lesser of two evils, but that's something! It's amazing that we live in a country where we can have elections and completely change the national leadership without violence, revolution, etc. Why don't we get more involved?

Here's something to think about. The next President may get to nominate as many as three U.S. Supreme Court justices. Don't tell me that doesn't matter. A certain composition on the Supreme Court could lead to overturning Roe v. Wade, or to ruling that Citizens United is unconstitutional, etc. Who the President is matters. Maybe not as much as it should, or could, but it matters.

So, if it's true that Jack was apolitical (and I know it's not as simple as Burroughs makes it out -- we can all find examples of Jack, especially in later years, opining about things political), please don't be like Jack. Sign a petition. Take part in a demonstration, Give money to the candidate of your choice. Volunteer to help a campaign. And for heaven's sake, when November comes around, vote!

I'm not going to try to persuade you whom to vote for: I just want you to care enough to get involved. Educate yourself about each candidate and then do what you can -- whether it's something big or something little -- to get her or him elected.

It matters.

Friday, January 22, 2016

All-time Daily Beat stats

For those of you following along at home, here are the all-time stats for posts on The Daily Beat between May 2010 and January 2016.

Obviously, seeing Kristen Stewart's tits continues to enthrall search engine users, as does accessing the full text of On the Road. It surprises me that pronouncing "Cannes" is so popular. Why the official OTR movie website got so many hits is beyond me. I'm happy about the "fellaheen" post being popular, as well as my spontaneous prose ramble ("Dimetapp dreams"). I guess I can understand why the release date of the OTR film was popular. It's a testament to Gerry Nicosia's staying power in the Kerouac world that my interview with him about the OTR film ranks 8th in all-time hits. U.S. Citizens traveling to Cuba? That was prescient for 2009 given what's happened since. Finally, my next tattoo is apparently of interest to a number of people.

If you want to read any of these posts, simply find them by their date over there on the right hand side of the screen. While you're at it, check out some of the other 1,195 posts I've published since the inception of this blog in 2008. The year 2012 was the winner in terms of number of posts (320), and 2014 was pathetic (33). I did the latter on purpose to honor that beer from Latrobe in my home state...not.

For context, my posts rarely get less than 40 pageviews but frequently get into the 3-digit range. Four digits is rare.

And so it goes....