The things I do in pursuit of the true Jack Kerouac . . . it’s always daunting driving into New York City from the landscaped suburbs over the George Washington Bridge down the Henry Hudson Parkway passing 115th Street by the river (the scene of the David Kammerer murder) continuing south to the lower numbered streets and then finding and squeezing into a parking space, not ever knowing for sure if the car will be there when we get back. There’s a great deal of anxiety driving into and around the island of Manhattan, even if you’ve been doing it for fifty years. We park the car on 21st Street and Ninth Avenue, close to the apartment where Jack lived with Joan Haverty on West 20th Street, stop for a tiny Manhattan-priced crème brulee doughnut next to the Chelsea Hotel, and walk the twenty blocks north to the Beaux-Arts landmark New York Public Library, navigating scores of tourists both on the streets and throughout the corridors of the great marble building. Continue Reading…
Archives For November 2013
When I get old
I want to be
Blue haired Madame G. K. Rachou
La Patronne de la Bohème Latin Quarter
With curtains of lace
And a charming French face
Singing like Mimì
There lies the heart
On rue Git-le-Coeur
And thus the start
With red roses from poets
And champagne with Lee
Cut ups and tea and Old Gold
And sun and shine from the last White Imperial Russian
And chocolates from everyone
Raspberry jam on the Left Bank at 9
Paintings of water lilies
Life will be merry and gay
In Paris fog and gray
But even so
Life will never be boring or dull
As in leafy plum suburbs
Down the road from bard physician of Rutherford
And me in the house
Like Emily Dickinson mouse
Shouting liberté, égalité, fraternité
To no one
Miles, Barry. The Beat Hotel. (New York: Grove/Atlantic, 2000).
In the upcoming movie-themed issue of Beatdom, we will be talking to Aaron Brookner – son of film-maker Howard Brookner, who made the 1983 classic, Burroughs: The Movie. Aaron has been working a project to digitally remaster and rerelease his father’s film, much to the excitement of Beat fans around the world.
Beatdom is delighted to bring you the trailer that the team have just put together:
Paris in search of a name
Meaning house in the field
Love Suffer and Work is thy motto
The loneliest man in Paris
Visited Bibliothèque Nationale
on rue de Richelieu
(but the best library in the west
is the New York Public Library)
Literature is companionship, quoth John
(because a Merchant Marine can’t call himself Jean)
Perfumed les femmes and French kisses
Crackling bread fresh from the baker
Creamy Breton butter in little clay butter bucket
(favorite last meal saith Jacques Pépin)
Raincoats and rain at foggy midnight
The lost suitcase weighed a ton
Homesick on the Côtes du Nord of the Atlantic
Inn on the sea in Finistère
Waving wine bottles by the sea, sea, sea
Cognac and Alsatian beer
Wild and powerful Gitane gypsy smokes
Hot strong coffee
He walked in the wet night
Where are the gendarmes?
He missed the three minute train
O, Anna Karenina, and the train, train, train
He drank in Brest Brittany 3:00 am bars
Kerouac, Jack. Satori in Paris. (New York: Grove Press, 1966).
While the name Herbert Huncke may not be well-known among the general population, it is certainly familiar to readers of the Beat Generation. You simply cannot tell the life story of Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, or Jack Kerouac without it, and he appears quite obviously in some of their most important works, including Junky, On the Road, and “Howl.” These three writers, among the most important in American literature, each befriended Huncke, learned from him, and came to be known by a label that was coined by him – “beat”. Continue Reading…
By Cabell McClean and Matthew Levi Stevens
Cabell McLean was born in 1952, a descendant of the visionary American writer James Branch Cabell (author of Jurgen), for whom he was named. After attending the University of Virginia, he first met William S. Burroughs when he attended Naropa College as a grad student in the late 1970s. He came to the attention of the poet, Larry Fagin, who told him: “Where you need to be is with William. You’re writing stories here, not poetry. Bill’s the one you should be talking to.” Anne Waldman and Michael Brownstein gave similar advice: “Go see Bill.” He decided to attend one of Bill’s classes before making up his mind about approaching him. This is his story. Continue Reading…
The Town and the City is a complete joy, Jack Kerouac’s holiday present to the world.
As the New England chill turns to cold and colored leaves fall from trees, girls and boys, it’s time to dust off copies of The Town and the City and settle down to an autumnal read for the fall season of football games and big Thanksgiving turkey dinners and American life seen through the glorious, golden, rose-colored glasses of Jack Kerouac. Nostalgia never tasted so good: big families, hometown USA Galloway, life along the river, mother and father, brothers and sisters who are best friends, dozens of neighborhood and school pals, big roast beefs and eggs and bacon and coffee smells, cakes and pies, cigars, cigarettes, and whisky, a wonderful jubilation of Christmas and New Year’s holidays and dances and songs, followed by spring and summer and swimming under shade trees.
A delight to read and fun, sentence after sentence, there’s a bounce to the words, a spark and sparkle, like firecrackers crackling on a big night. In a stunning essay “The Blind Follow the Blind” (The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats) Carolyn Cassady states, “Kerouac’s appeal was his joyous celebration of life . . . giving us descriptions so intimate, intense and colorful, few others have matched his gift.” This is especially apparent in The Town and the City where warm-hued descriptions break wave after delightful wave. As in this scene when Mr. Martin [father] and young Mickey [a brother] win at the track. “Now we’ll go to Boston and have a big feed . . . Whattayou say we both eat a couple of steaks apiece, . . . All the ice cream you want! . . . All the steaks and chops and lobster you want . . . all the ice cream and pie and cake in the world! Everything! Fried Clams! hot dogs! hamburgers! sauerkraut and franks! . . .” The excitement, the good times, the adventure is delicious: grab a slice of life and relish it.
The book is divided into five parts; about half is set in the town of Galloway, Massachusetts, a time of idyllic youth, and the other half, after World War II, is set in the city, New York City, that is, mainly Manhattan. The second half is less innocent than the first. The war has changed the world and life has changed the Martin family. The kids have grown up and the family’s fortunes have dwindled. The protagonist has met up with “wild” friends, who of course turn out to be Levinsky, Dennison, and Wood [Ginsberg, Burroughs, Carr] and the whole gang. Mr. Martin muses, “I wish Petey [Jack] could make friends with some nice normal young people,” which of course is hilarious, and how dull things would have been without such intimates. He continues, “I’m proud of you to have dope fiends and crooks and crackpots for friends.” Pete defends his choices, his friends, and just as he thinks he’s found the meaning to love and life, the police come to the door, and then another explosion from the old man, and tears from Ma.
This is a family saga that comes full circle, ending where it began for Dad, George Martin, in the green rolling hills of New England, surrounded by family, home, tradition. But Jack is who he is, “And Peter was alone in the rainy night . . . on the road again, traveling the continent westward . . .” The rest is history, his story, Jack’s stories, autobiographical poetic prose.
Lucien Carr said about Jack (Jack’s Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac), “I tell you, you will never find as pure a man as that.” And Jack’s purity, his light-shining spirit certainly illuminate the five hundred pages of this, his first published novel. Originally, the novel was about a thousand pages, but the publishers insisted on cuts.
Here at Beatdom we prefer words to numbers, and it is particularly rare that our research takes us in the direction of line graphs and pie charts. However, in studying the films dealing with the Beat Generation, we have uncovered some interesting information that might be best presented as such: