Sept. 5th 1957 — Jack Kerouac’s On The Road published
Sept. 5th 2018 — Brian Hassett’s On The Road with Cassadys published
The third book in Brian Hassett’s Beat Trilogy has just been released — On The Road with Cassadys, and Furthur Visions.
Hassett has been involved closely with the Beat writers and movement since hitchhiking to their largest gathering in history — the Kerouac summit in Boulder in 1982 — which became the subject of his first book of the trilogy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.
At that event, he began a friendship with Ken Kesey and many of the original Merry Pranksters, including last year touring the East and West coasts doing a Kerouac & Cassady show with original Prankster George Walker who, if they had a hierarchy, would be the #3 ranking after Kesey & Babbs. This Adventure spawned How The Beats Begat The Pranksters.
He also became close friends with Beat icon Neal Cassady’s family, particularly the matriarch Carolyn Cassady, who he lived with for three months in England besides being friends for decades, and her and Neal’s only son John Allen (named for Kerouac and Ginsberg). This ongoing relationship with the decedents of the core catalyst of the generation was the impetus for the third book, On The Road with Cassadys.
Continuing a long literary trilogy tradition that includes fellow Beat William Burroughs’ the Nova trilogy, as well as Sophocles’ Oedipus trilogy, Faulkner’s Snopes trilogy, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy (eventually & comically expanded to five), and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, this new addition to the rarified genre was:
— written and published in sequence;
— written in the same style at the same desk at the same window on the same laptop;
— written so each stands alone or all can be experienced as an interconnected whole;
— has recurring themes and recurring real-life characters across multiple books;
— riffs with the same book design and uses the same designer (David Wills);
— and features an average of over 60 different photographs per book, including a dozen in color on each cover.
With the Burroughs’ Nova trilogy appearing over 50 years ago, this doesn’t happen very often in Beatlandia.
The real-life Beat & Prankster Adventure Tales covered span 35 years — 1982 to 2017.
The writing of the books spanned — 2013 to 2018.
But the Adventure Tales are the key. The embrace of life. The next mile of road coming our way.
“Everything is wonderful in Hassett world, even bad luck. Every cloud he sees has a silver lining. This attitude takes him far. It’s the sheer unbridled enthusiasm that pours from Hassett that is so engaging.” Beat Scene magazine
“He’s disarmingly easygoing and always has a big grin on his face, but he absolutely knows where he’s going and why, and whatever emotions or meanings or memories he’s trying to smuggle in, you can count on it that he will. That’s how Brian Hassett writes.” Levi Asher, Literary Kicks
“You’re not an On The Road scholar — you’re an On The Road character.” Teri McLuhan, Marshall’s filmmaker daughter
Divided into three sections for each of the Cassadys covered . . .
And like the haiku inspired by Carolyn, the book is broken into 5 – 7 – 5 utterances comprising a poetic whole.
The third & final book in “The Beat Trilogy” — this volume does what no book has done before — bringing to life the youngest Cassady (John) and the eldest (Carolyn) — on Roads & Adventures from New York to L.A. — including taking the reader inside the room as history’s made at Christie’s Auction House in New York when Kerouac’s original On The Road Scroll was sold for more than any manuscript in history; and inside clubs in New York and L.A. when the book was brought to life by rock stars & movie stars. Readers can curl up with scholarly yet rollicking essays from Rolling Stone to Bloomsbury, then roll up some bombers and slip down to San Miguel in Mexico (where Neal died) with his old Prankster pal George Walker. You can go On The Road with On The Road film director Walter Salles, then to the Grateful Dead at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and enjoy that Cassady World with “Neal’s kid” as Jerry Garcia & the boys used to call son John; then go hang at a party with the closest & coolest parent-child relationship in all Beatlandia (Carolyn & John); or stay up all night in New York with Kerouac’s principal musical collaborator David Amram; or party into the wee hours in the Hollywood Hills with millionaire ne’er-do-wells reading Kerouac to an L.A. breeze, all while enjoying stories written and lived over decades of flashbulbs and flashbacks.
There are over 50 photos spanning the Adventures, from family albums to book covers, from Amsterdam stages to Beatnik sages. There’s haiku transcribed from Carolyn’s lips in England, and jokes recorded with John’s dry delivery while staying lubricated on a couple of coasts over a couple of millennia. There’s a massive interview with the guy who bought Kerouac’s Scroll minutes after he did so, and an endless bar-hopping night with the guy who preserves it. There’s cameos by Annie Leibovitz and Sonic Youth, and comments by every member of the Grateful Dead on how much both Cassady and Kerouac meant to them. There’s meditations on friendship, and on The Power of The Collective. There’s a deep exploration of the decade at the middle of the last century, as well as the decade that started this one. There’s an ever-present uplifting refrain of playfulness both in the actions and the language. There’s lessons from the masters implemented by proteges practicing in the present. There’s touching tributes to fallen giants, and afternoon playdates with decades-old children. There’s On The Road meets carpe diem, and corporate per diem meets Prankster performers. There’s vivid accounts of the celebrations in New York and L.A. for the 50th anniversary of Jack writing the On The Road Scroll, and of the 40th anniversary of his writing Big Sur in Northport.
There’s been a million words spilled by Kerouac, Kesey, Wolfe & others about father Neal — but far too little on the only family he ever really knew. Carolyn kicked some intellectual ass, and John was always open for a long-bomb pass, and this is the first book to really take the two of them for a ride. It’s been in the works for over 20 years, and finally by the grace of beers, the gears got spun and the words got wrung from memory’s tongue into the light and everything’s right.
The Road didn’t end in ’47 or ’59 or ’68, hike! It didn’t end with Neal’s passing or Jack’s passing or Jerry’s passing or Kesey’s passing — but they were all just passing the torch — lighting The Road — and here’s more miles where we kept it lit from California to the New York island.
But mostly it’s about Love. Cuz that’s All You Need. Between friends. Between surrogate parents and children. Between generations, and coasts, and continents, and hemispheres. There’s a love of Adventure, of Spirit, of curiosity, of openness, of words, both past and present, and an embrace of life at it’s fullest — of how to live — and why.
Brian Hassett, a lifelong Road Adventurer, has been friends with the Cassady family since the 1990s, and has been writing about Jack Kerouac and the Beats for nearly 40 years, including in the 2018 “Kerouac On Record” collection, and helping put together and write two of the keynotes essays for 1999’s “The Rolling Stone Book of The Beats” — all of which are included in this new book.
He’s also produced (booked, stage managed, hosted) many Beat-related multimedia events with many of the living leading lights in various downtown clubs in Manhattan, as well in L.A., Toronto, London, Amsterdam and elsewhere. In Winnipeg in the 1970s he helped organized a series of Acid Tests with multiple bands and light shows and everything that goes with it. By age 17 he was touring Western Canada with the rock band Yes, and by 20 working with Bill Graham producing The Rolling Stones 1981 tour. In the 1980s he became close friends with Edie Kerouac Parker and Henri Cru, and by the Beat boom years of the ’90s fell in with Carolyn Cassady and just about everybody else. He also hosted Carolyn and son John’s first-ever stage appearance together as they all inducted Neal & Jack into the Counterculture Hall of Fame in Amsterdam.
He has performed both his own work and Kerouac’s writing, often with musical accompaniment, at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, the Beat Museum, the Knitting Factory, Wetlands, the Bitter End, the Bowery Poetry Club, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and many other subterranean saloons. In 2001 he produced the multimedia “50th Anniversary of Jack Kerouac Writing On The Road” shows — on the day he started it, April 2nd, in New York, and on the day he finished it, April 22nd, in L.A., each with a long list of celebrity readers and performers. He wrote “The Temp Survival Guide” about how to make a living without having a job, and ended up for many years as an Executive Aide-de-Camp at MTV working with CEO Tom Freston, president Judy McGrath and others.
His work on the Beats can be found in High Times, Relix, the Toronto Star, Beat Scene, DharmaBeat, Ken Kesey’s Intrepid Trips, Literary Kicks, Levi’s Jeans ads, and many other places. He maintains an active website with all sorts of current adventures — including falling back in with the Merry Pranksters and the Furthur bus at Yasgur’s Farm in 2014 — at – BrianHassett.com
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac: The Adventure of the Boulder ’82 On The Road Conference — Finding Kerouac, Kesey and The Grateful Dead Alive & Rockin’ in the Rockies (2015) (ISBN: 978-0-9947262-0-9)
How The Beats Begat The Pranksters & Other Adventure Tales (2017) (ISBN: 978-0-9947262-1-6)
On The Road with Cassadys & Furthur Visions (2018) (ISBN: 978-0-9947262-2-3)
More background on Brian Hassett here —
Interviews and other press here —
Numerous live performance videos here —
Reviews and reader feedback on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac here —
More reviews and feedback including from original Pranksters & Beats here —
Yet another batch of rave reviews and feedback here —
Background on the writing of The Beat Trilogy here —
A ton of photos on Facebook here —