Monday, March 19, 2007

excerpts from Empty Phantoms: Interviews and Encounters with Jack Kerouac

(a.k.a. the last book I ever read. the one before that? Daphne A. Brooks' treatise on Jeff Buckley's Grace from the 33 1/3 series. also worth noting, though not exactly read, the five book grouping by photographer Henry Wessel: California and the West, Odd Photos, Las Vegas, Real Estate Photographs, Night Walk. good, good stuff)

from Dan Wakefield's "Kerouac at the Village Vanguard," originally published in 1958 in The Nation - "Richard Wilbur was born in 1921 and is thereby entitled to inclusion as a member of the Beat Generation. He wears, however, a Brooks Brothers suit, has never recited from his work in the Village Vanguard, quotes heavily from Greek and medieval philosophers, and is currently teaching a Shakespeare course at Wesleyan University. Richard Wilbur is thirty-six years old and Jack Kerouac is thirty-five. The painful difference is that Wilbur is a man and Kerouac is a kid.
To go from university lecture hall to the Village Vanguard the Friday night before Christmas was to realize that there is no such thing as a 'generation'; that there are born each year a certain number of men and a certain number of boys; that out of each era in our national history there come a few poets and few poor boys who wander with words, and that no grand generalization can tie them together. Jack Kerouac sweats beneath the spotlights of a nightclub to bring his novel back the the best-seller list. He is now 'On The Town.' Lo and behold-it is Richard Wilbur who is one the road; who has been, all along."

from "Interview with Jack Kerouac: Lowell Author Gives His Version of the Beat Generation" by Mike Wallace which first appeared in the New York Post, also in 1958 - "'You must meet my friend, Philip Lamantia,' said Kerouac casually on departing. 'He was knocked off a bench by an angel last week.'"

from "He Scorns Beatniks," a UPI piece which also ran in 1958, this time in the Detroit News - "Kerouac's recent best-seller, On the Road, is a powerfully written novel describing the deeds and misdeeds of a group of twenty-year-olds during a frenetic trek back and forth across the United States in stolen and borrowed automobiles . . .
"Kerouac feels no sense of leadership toward those groups of young Bohemians in New York and San Francisco who have been identified with his Beat Generation term.
'The so-called 'beatniks' of San Francisco wouldn't even talk to me when I was wailing there in the late forties,' he says. 'Why, those guys who picketed the Giants coming to San Francisco in the name of the Beat Generation don't realize that I used to be a center fielder for the Boston Braves in my dreams.'
'When I was in high school, I used to be like DiMaggio after deep or short flyballs. I was a wrist hitter, fourteen home runs in ten games. I even had a tryout with the Woonsocket Sputniks, or somebody.'"

two interesting articles by Newsday's Stan Isaacs regarding Kerouac's self-derived fantasy baseball game. the second, titled "Playing Baseball with Jack Kerouac," begins: "The snow was a few feet deep outside, but the cry of the hot dog vendor and the crack of the warm-up ball against the catcher's mitt sounded inside writer Jack Kerouac's house in Northport recently as the Pittsburgh Browns prepared to take the field against the visiting Chicago Blues in a battle for fifth place."

and some weirdness from "Beat Is Rhythm, Not An Act" by Robert E. Boles for the Yarmouth Port Register: "He had married twice before. But this was different. Stella, older than Jack, a virgin, came from managing a cleaning plant in Lowell to be the wife of a man, famous, who had lived well and more lives than most, and found that his life was an entanglement of relationships, friends, ideas, and words.
She guarded the doors.
She cooked and laundered.
She found his manly needs repulsive."

from Larry Vickers' "Jack Kerouac-End of the Road": "Well maybe he did come to Florida to die. He came to Florida and talked about his mother and his/her cats in the house in St. Pete, and among the deeds he probably set free a couple of people otherwise lined up for newspaper sports-writing careers; set them free maybe to go back to school, or to tend bar, or to go crashing through the cool Florida night-sweet countryside guzzling Moselle and hollering at one another, with the driver taking part as well as the revelers, with nobody ever staying sober to get the rest home and often not getting there anyway."

from Jack McClintock's piece for Esquire, "This Is How the Ride Ends," published in 1970: "He was wearing unpressed brown trousers, a yellow-and-brown-striped sport shirt with the sleeves rolled to the elbow. The shirt was unbuttoned, and beneath it the T-shirt was inside out. His belly was large and round, oddly too large for the stocky body. He pointed to it.
'I got a goddamn hernia, you know that? My goddamn belly button is popping out. That's why I'm dressed like this . . . Well, I got no place to go anyway. You want a beer? Hah?'
He picked up a pack of Camels in a green plastic case. 'Some whiskey? I'm glad to see you 'cause I'm so lonesome here.'
We sat there and drank and talked for the rest of the evening. It was the first of perhaps a dozen such visits, and there was never a time until the last one or two visits when he didn't mention his loneliness. When I left that night about midnight, he said, 'Are you coming back to see me?'
I said yes, and would phone before dropping in if he would give me the number.
'I don't have a phone,' he said. 'I don't have anybody to call. Nobody ever calls me. Just come. I'm always here.'"

and Carl Adkins' "Jack Kerouac: Off the Road for Good": "Jack Kerouac is off the road for good now: he died Tuesday, October 21, 1969, in a St. Petersburg, Florida hospital. He was forty-seven.
To some of us who knew him, the wonder is not that he died so young but that he lasted as long as he did."

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