Wills, D., ‘The Zane Kesey Interview’ in Wills, D., (ed.) Beatdom Vol. 1 (City of Recovery Press: Dundee, 2007)
In getting an interview with Zane Kesey, son of the author Ken Kesey, I got my ‘ass kicked’, developed the e-mail interview idea further, and learned a lot about the legendary Prankster and his oddball son.
Firstly, Zane refused to be interviewed, but when I suggested yes/no questions, he seemed to get interested. Then, when I suggested he type only y or n, he got really interested. However, through his website I learned he was pissed hearing questions to which the answers were already out there to be found, so I read up a little common mistake trivia, and fired the following interview his way over a series of e-mails.
I quickly learned that he was more interested in talking about himself than his dad, and that a lifetime of having a famous father had turned him into rather petulant person. Weeks after the completion of the interview, and only days before the magazine hit the presses, Zane stalked me to my anonymous MySpace account and asked me, “Why insult people?”
It emerged that Zane had confused himself into believing me to be a fictional character called Roby Cronin, who was compiling some kind of school report… Therein lies the problem of conducting interviews with people who are, at the time, heavily dosed on acid.
The saga continues…
D: So, did Ken Kesey consider himself a Beat?
Z: y/n i don’t know? i doubt it?
D: Was he influenced by the Beats?
Z: y very…and Cassady was a hero before the bus ride!
D: Did he meet really meet Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg in New York?
D: Was the meeting amicable?
Z: y with allan not really with kerouac, i think he was sad to see cassady taken
D: Did he ever communicate with Kerouac again?
Z: ? probably not?
D: When he convinced Ginsberg to perform with him in 1997, did he consider this a ‘prank’?
Z: that was a part written for allen, many extra parts were written for famous friends if they ever showed up!
D: Did his opinions regarding drug use change in later life?
Z: n…he thought every drug had a use, or could have that use wasted or abused! he hated white drugs, but…
D: Did he really fake his own death?
D: So Cassady was a big hero of Kesey, was this because of fictional accounts like ‘On the Road’?
Z: to start with, then he met found that nobody was like cassady, he was working on so many more levels than anyone we had seen before. on the road is nearly non fiction…hard to make into a movie?
D: Or non-fiction (word of mouth, friends-through-friends)?
D: Did you personally ever meet Neal Cassady?
Z: i still don’t like to drive along cliffs!
D: Did Cassady really just appear at the Kesey home?
Z: it was known that he was a hero for dad…so when he was around people arranged the meeting
D: And did he say he related to the character of Randle P. McMurphy?
Z: ?? don’t know?
D: Did Kesey really prank the Smithsonian?
millionairs had come to see if dad would give them the bus and they would donate it to the Smithsonian
a book by dad about the 1964 bus trip was being published
dad wanted little flip pictures of cassady film in the corner so when you flip through the pages you see him move and twitch
the editor said this was too expensive, but if he brought further to the booksellers convention in vegas he would do it
he thought that impossible
dad saw a bus like the original for sale on the way home
we fixed and painted
the news came out to film us painting it
the news announced “kesey is fixing the original bus and taking it to the smithsonian” who were we to argue with the news….
more news came…networks…newspapers…wanting to ride this last bus trip to the “east coast”
SURE, COME ABOARD!
we loaded the news and headed for vegas “then to the smithsonian”
people along the highway waved and held up banners saying goodbye to furthur
when dad was doing a speech at a bookstore the news went in to watch, us kids “stole” the bus
the plan was to paint it blue and head back to oregon while the old folks flew home
we found a well lit loading dock in the desert and started painting it blue…to look like a church bus
the cops came, found us painting a “stolen” bus
we talked our way out of it…cameras rolling
the bus sat for months in the oregon woods hiding
the water base blue paint slowly dripped of to reveal the true colors
the news pretended they knew it was a prank the whole time…and acted like we were pranking the Smithsonian
the smithsonian did not know anything about the bus…we were pranking the news…i don’t think they liked it!!!!!
D: Are you aware of the influence of the Beats on your father’s ideas regarding drug use?
Z: no i ma sure it existed!
D: Did he come up with the name ‘Merry Pranksters’?
D: Was he the link between the Beats and the Hippies?
Z: i think cassady was!~!!
yer getting me warmed up…
i would kick but on the phone!
D: Perhaps the reason you’ve been kicking my butt is that I already read all the dispelled rumours on your website… No point asking something twice.
Z: LOL…i have more
that used to drive dad nuts…when reporters did not even check to see if the questions had already been answered a thousand times…
you found many i was unsure on as often my answers to peoples questions are from
answers i heard dad give
D: Loved the smithsonian story and your diversion from y/n answers!
Z: well…i have a 2 hour movie that documents it!
D: Did Kesey consider travel an important idea, like it was to the Beats?
Z: ideas were important MAGIC was utmost…travel was necessary
D: Is it true you are currently in possession of Further (or Furthur)?
Z: yes…we are working on having it restored to visit museums
D: Did Kesey consider himself similar to Kerouac in that they were both jock-writers?
Z: maybe? he wrote a piece on kerouac once saying that he did not think he was brilliant till he re-read Kerouac
D: Did Hunter S Thompson introduce Ken Kesey to the Hell’s Angels?
Z: something like that! i slept through the party
D: Was their meeting amicable, as reports suggest?
Z: yes…humor (pranksters) works well with fear (angels) they respected them and did not freak out on them…but…were happy to have them move on
D: Did Kesey introduce the Hell’s Angels to LSD?maybe??
Z: i doubt that was where they learned about it?
An interview with Ken Babbs.
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