Saturday, October 21, 2017

In Honor Of Jean Bon Kerouac On The 60th Anniversary Of “On The Road” (1957)

In Honor Of Jean Bon Kerouac On The 60th Anniversary Of “On The Road” (1957)

By Book Critic Zack James

To be honest I know about On The Road Jack Kerouac’s epic tale of his generation, what he, or something associated with him, maybe the bandit poet Gregory Corso, called the “beat” generation (beat of the drum, dead beat, dread beat, beaten down, beatified like saintly you take your pick of the meanings-hell they all did, the guys, and it was mostly guy who hung out on the mean streets of New York, Chi town, North Beach in Frisco town) strictly second-hand as I was too young to have had anything but a vague passing reference to the thing through my oldest brother Alex. Alex, and his crowd, about more in a minute, but even he was only washed clean by the “beat” experiment at a very low level, mostly through reading the book and having his mandatory two years of living on the road around the time of the Summer of Love, 1967 an event whose 50th anniversary is being commemorated this year as well. So even Alex and his crowd were really too young to have been there, being an understanding there at the creation.         

Of course anytime you talk about books and my brother Alex the name that automatically comes up is that of the late Peter Paul Markin. Markin who Alex and the rest of the North Adamsville corner boys still alive recently had me put together tribute book for in connection with the Summer of Love since he, Markin, was the vanguard guy who got several of them off their asses and out to the West Coast to see what there was to see. (Like I said Alex was out two years and other guys from a few months to a few years.)  Alex, Frankie Riley the acknowledged leader, Jack Callahan and the rest, Markin included were strictly from hunger working class kids who when they hung around Tonio Pizza Parlor were as likely to be thinking up ways to grab money fast any way they could or of getting into some   hot chick’s pants as anything else. After all this was what was what for corner boys then, maybe now too although you don’t see many guys hanging on forlorn Friday night corners anymore.

What made this tribe different was Markin, Markin called by Frankie Riley the “Scribe” and that stuck all through high school. The name stuck because although Markin was as larcenous and lovesick as the rest of them was also crazy for books and poetry. Always had about ten billion facts running around his head in case anybody, boy or girl, asked him about anything so he was ready to do battle.

The books and poetry is where Jack Kerouac and On The Road come in. Markin was something like an antennae for anything that any working class guy did. Others too like Kerouac’s friend Allen Ginsburg and his wooly homo poem Howl from 1956 which Markin would read sections out loud on lowdown dough-less, girl-less Friday nights. And drive the strictly hetero guys crazy when he insisted that they read the poem, read what new breeze was coming down the road. Markin flipped out when he found out that Kerouac had grown up in Lowell a working class town very much like North Adamsville and that he had broken out of the mold that had been set for him and gave the world some grand literature and something to spark the imagination of guys down at the base of society with little chance of grabbing the brass ring. So Markin force-marched the crowd to read the book, especially putting pressure on my brother who was his closest friend then. So it was through Alex I got the Kerouac bug. And now on the 60th anniversary I am passing on the bug to you.           

On The 60th Anniversary Of Allan Ginsberg’s “Howl”*Beat Poet's Corner- Allen Ginsberg's "Howl"

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of the 1994 film documentary "The Life And Times Of Allen Ginsberg" reviewed in a separate entry in this space on this date.

by Allen Ginsberg

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and
saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes
hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy
among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy &
publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear,
burning their money in wastebaskets and listening
to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through
Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in
Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their
torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares,
alcohol and cock and endless balls,
incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and
lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of Canada & Paterson,
illuminating all the motionless world of Time between,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery
dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops,
storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon
blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree
vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn,
ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,
who chained themselves to subways for the endless
ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine
until the noise of wheels and children brought
them down shuddering mouth-wracked and
battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance
in the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's
floated out and sat through the stale beer after
noon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack
of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to
pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,
lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping
down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills
off Empire State out of the moon,
yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts
and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks
and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days
and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the
Synagogue cast on the pavement,
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a
trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall,
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind-ings and
migraines of China under junk-with-drawal in Newark's bleak furnished room,
who wandered around and around at midnight in the
railroad yard wondering where to go, and went,
leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing
through snow toward lonesome farms in grand-father night,
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telepathy
and bop kabbalah because the cosmos instinctively
vibrated at their feet in Kansas,
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary
indian angels who were visionary indian angels,
who thought they were only mad when Baltimore
gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,
who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Oklahoma on the impulse of winter midnight street
light smalltown rain,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston
seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the
brilliant Spaniard to converse about America
and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship to Africa,
who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving
behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees
and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fireplace Chicago,
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the
F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist
eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incomprehensible leaflets,
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting
the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,
who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union
Square weeping and undressing while the sirens
of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed
down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also wailed,
who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked
and trembling before the machinery of other skeletons,
who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight
in policecars for committing no crime but their
own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,
who howled on their knees in the subway and were
dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts,
who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly
motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,
who blew and were blown by those human seraphim,
the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love,
who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose
gardens and the grass of public parks and
cemeteries scattering their semen freely to
whomever come who may,
who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up
with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath
when the blond & naked angel came to pierce
them with a sword,
who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate
the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar
the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb
and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but
sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden
threads of the craftsman's loom,
who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of
beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a candle and fell off the bed, and continued along
the floor and down the hall and ended fainting
on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and
come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,
who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling
in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning
but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sun
rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked in the lake,
who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad
stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these
poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver-joy
to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls
in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses'
rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with
gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely petticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station
solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,
who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in
dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and
picked themselves up out of basements hung
over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third
Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemployment offices,
who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on
the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the
East River to open to a room full of steamheat and opium,
who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment
cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime
blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall
be crowned with laurel in oblivion,
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested
the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of Bowery,
who wept at the romance of the streets with their
pushcarts full of onions and bad music,
who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the
bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in their lofts,
who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned
with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded
by orange crates of theology,
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty
incantations which in the yellow morning were
stanzas of gibberish,
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht
& tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable kingdom,
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an egg,
who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot
for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks
fell on their heads every day for the next decade,
who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccessfully, gave up and were forced to open antique
stores where they thought they were growing
old and cried,
who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits
on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse
& the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments
of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the
fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors, or were run down by the
drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten
into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley
ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,
who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of
the subway window, jumped in the filthy Passaic, leaped on negroes,
cried all over the street,
danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed
phonograph records of nostalgic European
1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and
threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans
in their ears and the blast of colossal steam whistles,
who barreled down the highways of the past journeying
to each other's hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude
watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation,
who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out
if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had
a vision to find out Eternity,
who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who
came back to Denver & waited in vain, who
watched over Denver & brooded & loned in
Denver and finally went away to find out the
Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying
for each other's salvation and light and breasts,
until the soul illuminated its hair for a second,
who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for
impossible criminals with golden heads and the
charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet
blues to Alcatraz,
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky
Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys
or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or
Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the
daisychain or grave,
who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp
notism & were left with their insanity & their
hands & a hung jury,
who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism
and subsequently presented themselves on the
granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads
and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding instantaneous lobotomy,
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin
Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational
therapy pingpong & amnesia,
who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic
pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,
returning years later truly bald except for a wig of
blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad
man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the East,
Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid
halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul,
rocking and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench
dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a nightmare,
bodies turned to stone as heavy as the moon,
with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book
flung out of the tenement window, and the last
door closed at 4. A.M. and the last telephone
slammed at the wall in reply and the last furnished room
emptied down to the last piece of mental furniture,
a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger in the closet,
and even that imaginary,
nothing but a hopeful little bit of hallucination
ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and
now you're really in the total animal soup of time
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed
with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use
of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrating plane,
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space
through images juxtaposed, and trapped the
archangel of the soul between 2 visual images
and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun
and dash of consciousness together jumping
with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human
prose and stand before you speechless and intelligent
and shaking with shame,
rejected yet confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm
of thought in his naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown,
yet putting down here what might be left to say
in time come after death,
and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in
the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the
suffering of America's naked mind for love into
an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone
cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered
out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years.
What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open
their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unob
tainable dollars! Children screaming under the
stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men
weeping in the parks!
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the
loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy
judger of men!
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the
crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of
sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment!
Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose
blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers
are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo!
Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows!
Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long
streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose factories
dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose
smokestacks and antennae crown the cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch
whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch
whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch
whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen!
Moloch whose name is the Mind!
Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream
Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in
Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!
Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom
I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch
who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy!
Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch!
Light streaming out of the sky!
Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs!
skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic
industries! spectral nations! invincible mad
houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!
They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pave-
ments, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to
Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us!
Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies!
gone down the American river!
Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole
boatload of sensitive bullshit!
Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions!
gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! Despairs!
Ten years' animal screams and suicides!
Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on
the rocks of Time!
Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the
wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell!
They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving!
carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the street!
Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland
where you're madder than I am
I'm with you in Rockland
where you must feel very strange
I'm with you in Rockland
where you imitate the shade of my mother
I'm with you in Rockland
where you've murdered your twelve secretaries
I'm with you in Rockland
where you laugh at this invisible humor
I'm with you in Rockland
where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter
I'm with you in Rockland
where your condition has become serious and
is reported on the radio
I'm with you in Rockland
where the faculties of the skull no longer admit
the worms of the senses
I'm with you in Rockland
where you drink the tea of the breasts of the
spinsters of Utica
I'm with you in Rockland
where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the
harpies of the Bronx
I'm with you in Rockland
where you scream in a straightjacket that you're
losing the game of the actual pingpong of the abyss
I'm with you in Rockland
where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul
is innocent and immortal it should never die
ungodly in an armed madhouse
I'm with you in Rockland
where fifty more shocks will never return your
soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a
cross in the void
I'm with you in Rockland
where you accuse your doctors of insanity and
plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the
fascist national Golgotha
I'm with you in Rockland
where you will split the heavens of Long Island
and resurrect your living human Jesus from the
superhuman tomb
I'm with you in Rockland
where there are twenty-five-thousand mad com-
rades all together singing the final stanzas of
the Internationale
I'm with you in Rockland
where we hug and kiss the United States under
our bedsheets the United States that coughs all
night and won't let us sleep
I'm with you in Rockland
where we wake up electrified out of the coma
by our own souls' airplanes roaring over the
roof they've come to drop angelic bombs the
hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls collapse
O skinny legions run outside O starry
spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is
here O victory forget your underwear we're free
I'm with you in Rockland
in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-
journey on the highway across America in tears
to the door of my cottage in the Western night

From Veterans For Peace On November 11th-Armistice Day

From Veterans For Peace On November 11th-Armistice Day   

Armistice Day

Veterans For Peace calls on all members and all peace-loving people to take a stand for peace this Armistice (aka Veterans Day), Saturday November 11. We call for nationally coordinated local actions to demand diplomacy not war with North Korea, and the abolition of nuclear weapons and war. Veterans For Peace joins with the wider peace movement for actions before and after November 11th.   
In 2017, ninety-nine years after the end of  World War I, “the war to end war”, the world finds itself on the brink of a nuclear war, again. The threat of a horrific nuclear exchange is possibly higher than it has ever been. The President of the United States Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to attack North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea - DPRK), going so far as to say, while speaking to the U.N., that the U.S. will “totally destroy” the country. North Korea has also caused great alarm with its own threats, while testing long-range missiles and nuclear bombs. Twitter confrontations and saber rattling have only served to escalate tensions.
The road to war is a slippery slope on which one misstep can lead to the beginning of catastrophic war. Even the use of conventional weapons would lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Millions will die if there is a nuclear exchange. Such horrific acts of violence can spread like a virus and easily lead to further global instability and a new world war. The people of North and South Korea should not face the possibility of horrible killings and destruction that they experienced during the 1950-53 period in the Korean War. The people of the world must speak out and act together to demand peace.
Veterans For Peace calls for the observance of November 11 to be in keeping with the holiday’s original intent as Armistice Day, to be “a day dedicated to the cause of world peace," as it was celebrated at the ending of World War I when the world came together to recognize the need for lasting peace. After World War II, the U.S. Congress decided to rebrand November 11 as Veterans Day. Honoring the warriors quickly morphed into honoring the military and glorifying war. Armistice Day, as a result, has been flipped from a day for peace into a day for displays of militarism.
This year with a rise of hate and fear around the world it is as urgent as ever to ring the bells of peace. We in the U.S. must press our government to end reckless rhetoric and military interventions that endanger the entire world.
Instead of celebrating militarism, we want to celebrate peace and all of humanity. We demand an end to all forms of hate, patriarchy and white supremacy and we call for unity, fair treatment under the law and equality for all. We call for a tearing down of walls between borders and people. We call for an end to all hostilities at home and around the globe.
Today the U.S. has a president who says diplomacy with North Korea is a waste of time. Diplomacy is in fact the only hope, no matter the cost. War is the immoral and tragic waste. The world has said it before and is saying it again now.  NO to WAR!
If you need tabling materials or VFP promo items for Armistice Day, please e-mail! No matter what action you decide to take, please let us know so we can promote the work that you're doing.

Take Action - Here are some ideas! Let us know what you have planned here!

  • Join together with others for local actions (peace march, rally, vigils) to call for No War on North Korea. March in the Veterans Day Parade with signs calling for “No More Korean War; From Armistice to Peace Treaty with N. Korea; End the Korean War Now; Yes to Talks, No to Bombings, etc.
  • Partner with local peace groups to hold an event (forum, film showing, etc.) in honor of Armistice Day.
  • Ring bells at 11am on November 11th, as was done at the end of World War One. (Approach churches and ask them to ring bells at 11am on November 11th)
  • Share Your Vision of Peace! Submit a 10–20 second video illustrating your vision of peace. When you create your video, please state your name and city/state and complete the following sentence: "As a veteran, I believe peace is possible when _______________."
  • Take action on Twitter! Use these sample tweets:
    • I will be celebrating #VeteransDay as a day dedicated to peace #ArmisticeDay @VFPNational
    • Veterans will ring 11 bells this year to remember #ArmisticeDay, a day of #Peace @VFPNational  

An Encore -In The Time Of Elvis' Time-One More Time Down 1950s Record Memory Lane

An Encore -In The Time Of Elvis' Time-One More Time Down 1950s Record Memory Lane


Sam Lowell, considered himself a corner boy from the time in the early 1960s when in the working-class neighborhoods of America were filled to the brim with such guys hanging out on the corners, in his case North Adamsville not far from urban Boston. Here is the progression not too atypical of corner boys with too little money and too much time on their hands which underscored the corner boy 1960s night plight (and which still plagues corner boys even though they no longer for the most part hang on corners but malls and other places where there are not any “No trespassing, police take notice” signs to harass young men still with not enough dough and too much time on their hands). If you grew up in the Acre, Sam’s growing up section of town you progressed from one place in elementary school, another in junior high school when corners and who was on what corner started to get sorted out in earnest, and high school where the corners were doled out hard as steel in high school.

Places like South Boston (an all Irish enclave then where even those who like Sam’s maternal grandparents had moved out of the enclave to an Irish neighborhood in North Adamsville were considered suspect, were looked at with jaundiced eye even by the relatives left behind), Main Street in Nashua (at the time a dying city what with the mills heading south to cheaper labor and eventually overseas and so a tough place to dream in), New Hampshire, 125th Street in high Harlem< New York City  (with all the excitement of jazz and be-bop but with all the high segregation of the South except for the formality of Mister James Crow’s laws),  any of a million spots on Six Mile Road in Detroit (never a place of dreams but of steady work in the golden age of the American automobile for those from Delta Mister James Crow black refugees to the Okie/Arkie white rabble coming out of the hills and dustbowls), the same on Division Street in Chi town (the beat street divide of many of Nelson Algren’s tales of drugs, urban lost-ness, and sullen back streets disappointments), the lower end of North Beach beyond where the “beats” of a few years before did their beat thing (the places where the longshoremen and waterfront workers did their heavy drinking after work and where the sailors off their Pacific ocean ships fought all- comers from the Artic to the Japan seas).


Jack Slack’s was the last port of call for the Acre crowd, for that motley collection of corner boys picked up and discarded along the way although the core of Frankie , Jack, Jimmy, Allan, Markin and Five-Fingers held throughout which had started at Doc’s Drugstore complete with sofa fountain and shiny glass penny candy-case to draw selections from after  school to energize up for the real world activities of kid-dom in elementary school, Miller’s Diner for the jukebox in junior high when they were just becoming aware of girls, maybe having to dance with them, and maybe trying to figure out, the eternal trying to figure out how to approach them without them giggling back and Salducci’s Pizza Parlor in early high school before the new owners decided that unlike Tonio, the previous owner who sold out to go back to Italy from when he came as a boy they did not want colorful rough-necked boys standing one knee against the wall in front of their family friendly establishment scaring the bejesus out of the important Friday and Saturday give Mom a break family trade.

That time, those early 1960s times for some reason known only to them, was time that you had best have had corner boy comrades when you hung out on date-less, girl-less, dough-less Friday and Saturday nights to have your back if trouble brewed (that “comrade” not a word to be used then in the tail end of the height of the red scare Cold War night not if you wanted knuckle sandwiches from the unthinking patriotic guys but that does convey the sense of “having your back” critical to your place in those woe begotten streets).


That corner boy business extended through the 1960s after high school for a couple of years when in addition to being a corner boy Sam became a “flower child” along with his long mourned and lamented friend the late Peter Paul Markin heading out west on the hitchhike roads when the world turned upside down later in the decade. (Markin who met a horrible end down in sunny Mexico after the fresh breeze of the 1960s turned in on itself and he got flat-footed by the backlash ebb tide riptide and could no longer hold back his “from hunger” wanting habits held in check through summers of love and a tight tour of Vietnam and made the fatal, very fatal, mistake of trying to broker an independent drug deal and got two slugs to the back of his head for the attempt.) Sam, now a sedate grandfatherly semi-retired lawyer filled with respectability and memories had to laugh about how much he of late had been thinking about the 1950s, about not just those corner boy days but about the music that drove every corner boy, including Markin, make that perhaps most of all Markin, to distraction as they tried to eke out a sound that they could call their own. A jailbreak sound that was not something their parents would approve of at a time when titanic generational battles were foaming at the mouth.

Thinking about the 1950s the times when he came of age, came of musical age, an age very mixed up with that corner boy comradery, that hanging at Doc’s and Miller’s Diner when he started noticing girls and their charms (amid the first blush of giggles which he soon figured out was their rational response to whatever was going on inside their bodies just like guys like Sam were going through in their bodies). Those first noticings started his life-long journey of trying to figure out what made them tick, what they wanted, wanted of him, from a girl-less family making everything that much harder. Noticing that they too hung around Miller’s in order to play that fantastic jukebox which had all the latest tunes and plenty of oldies too (oldies being let’s say we are talking about 1958 then maybe 1955 hits like Eddie, My Love, Rock Around The Clock, and Bo Diddley showing that teen time, youth time anyway is measured differently from old man lawyerly time, measured in days, weeks, months at the most-years were beyond the pale) drawing away from the music on his parents’ family living room radio and their cranky old record player music.

Music in the teen households emphatically not on Miller’s jukebox or there would have been a civil war no question, a civil war avoided in his own home after his parents had bought, to insure domestic peace and tranquility if he remembered correctly, his first transistor radio down at the now long gone Radio Shack store and he could sit up in his room and dream of whatever coming of age boys dreamed about, mainly how those last year’s bothersome girls became this year’s interesting objects of discussion (by the way in that small crowded upstairs bedroom, shared with his two brothers, he found out he could discover the beauty of the “hold up to your ear”  transistor radio and drown out the world of brotherly scuffings). 


More than that though, more than just thinking about the old days like every old guy probably does, even guys who had not been lawyers as a professional career, guys who you see sitting on park benches, a little disheveled, maybe some crumbs in their unkempt beards, feeding the birds and half-muttering to themselves about how when FDR was around everybody stood tall, every country bent it knees in homage to America, or else, or old bag ladies rummaging through trash barrels looking for long lost lovers or their faded beauty Sam had been purchasing compilations of what are commercially called “oldies but goodies” CDs. Doing so via the user-friendly confines of the Internet, at Amazon if you need a name like today anybody, except maybe three people up in heathen Alaska or the Artic,  doesn’t know that is the site to get such material these days instead of traipsing over half the East Coast trying to cadge a few examples from the dwindling oldies and used records emporia, and  purchasing several record compilations of the “best of” that period from a commercial distributor (and also keeping up to date on various versions of the songs on YouTube) and through his friend and old corner boy Frankie Riley been spilling plenty of cyber-ink on Frankie’s blog, In The Be-Bop ‘50s Night, going back to the now classic age of rock and roll.


Sam had to laugh about that situation back in the day as well since he had been well known back on the corner, back holding up the wall in front of Salducci’s Pizza Parlor, on many of those date-less, date-less because although he might have been an all “hail fellow, well met” hard-assed corner boy full of bluster and blah he was sister-less and hence baffled by girls and their ways and very shy around the question of asking for dates although he was quite willing to tell each and every girl who would listen to him about ten thousand fact on any of sixteen subjects, not excluding science, philosophy, and the poor fate of the Red Sox then. Although those ten thousand facts would come in handy when he got to college a couple of years later and he had girls hanging off the walls in debate class waiting for him to ask them out then those precious facts did not add up to a date by osmosis but rather incomprehension even by girls like Patty Lewis and Mary Shea who liked him and would have be glad if he asked them for a date without the ten thousand facts, thank you.

Here though is something about the mores of the time that young people today might not comprehend girls just waited for guys to make a move, or moved on to the next guy who would, especially if he had a boss ’55 Chevy, like Patty and Mary did. Also girl-less (already explained but here the question is having a serious girl and the just mentioned facts will hold here as well), and dough-less (self-explanatory in working-class North Adamsville, the sorry fate of the working poor, the marginally employed like his father, no money when the rent was due and Ma had not money for the damn rent collector much less discretionary money for dates with girls) on Friday and Saturday nights when he  proclaimed to all who would listen (mainly Frankie, Markin, Jimmy Jenkins, Jack Callahan, Kenny Hogan and Johnny “Thunder” Thornton and an occasional girl who all wondered what he was talking about) that “rock and roll will never die.”


Mainly, through the archival marvels of modern technology, pay-per-song, look on YouTube, check out Amazon Sam had been right, rock and roll had not died although it clearly no longer provided the same fuel for later generations more into hip-hop-ish, techno music, or edge city rock. But Sam always though it funny when kids, his grandkids, for example, heard (and saw) Elvis, all steamy, smoldering and swiveling in some film clip to make the older almost teenage girls among them almost react like the girls in his time did when they saw him on the Ed Sullivan Show and had half-formed girlish dreams about personally erasing that snarl from his face. Especially that flip clip of the prison number in Jailhouse Rock. Bo Diddley proclaiming to the whole wide world that he in fact had put the rock in rock and roll and who could dispute that claim when he went bonkers in some Afro-Carib number with that rectangular guitar. Say too Chuck Berry telling a candid world, a candid teenage world which after all was all that counted then, now too from what Sam had heard from his grandchildren, that Mister Beethoven from the old fogy music museum had better take himself and his cronies and move over because a new be-bop daddy, a new high sheriff was in town, was taking the reins, making the kids jump on jump street. Ditto curl-in-hair Buddy Holly pining away for his Peggy Sue.

Better, mad monk swamp rat Jerry Lee Lewis sitting, maybe standing for all Sam knew telling that same candid world that Chuck was putting on fire everybody had to do the high school hop bop, confidentially. And how about Wanda Jackson proclaiming that it was party time and an endless host of one hit wonders and wanna-bes they went crazy over. Yeah, those kids, those for example grandkids jumping around just like the young Sam who could not believe his ears when he had come of age and, yeah, jumping around for those same guys who formed his musical tastes back in the 1950s when he had come of age, musical age anyway. Jesus, Jesus too when he came of teenage age and all that meant of angst and alienation something no generation seems to be able to escape since the world had no less dangerous, no less incomprehensible today.


Sam had thought recently about going back to those various commercially-produced compilations put out by demographically savvy media companies that he had purchased on Amazon to cull out the better songs, some which he had on the tip of his tongue almost continuously since the 1950s (the Dubs Could This Be Magic the great last chance dance song that bailed him out of being shut out of more than one dance night although his partner’s feet borne the brunt of the battle, and the Teen Queens Eddie My Love, where Eddie took advantage of the girl and she was wondering, maybe still is, when he is coming back, a great love ‘em and leave ‘em song and the answer is still he’s never coming back, are two examples that quickly came to his mind). Others like Johnny Ace’s Pledging My Love or The Crows Oh-Gee though needed some coaxing by listening to the compilations to be remembered.


But Sam, old lawyerly Sam, had finally found a sure-fire method to aid in that memory coaxing. Just go back in memory’s mind and picture scenes from teenage days and figure the songs that went with such scenes (this is not confined to 1950s aficionados anybody can imagine their youth times and play). But even using that method Sam believed that he was cheating a little, harmlessly cheating but still cheating. When he (or anybody familiar with the times) looked at the artwork on most of the better 1950s CD compilations one could not help but notice the excellent artwork that highlights various institutions illustrated back then. The infamous drive-in movies where you gathered about six people (hopefully three couples but six anyway) and paid for two the other four either on the back seat floor or in the trunk. They always played music at intermission when that “youth nation” cohort gathered at the refreshment stand to grab inedible hot dogs, stale popcorn, or fizzled out sodas, although who cared, especially if that three couples thing was in play, and that scene had always been associated in Sam’s mind with Frankie Lyman and the Teenager’s Why Do Fools Fall In Love.


That is how Sam played the game. Two (or more) can play so he said he would just set the scenes and others could fill in their own musical selections. Here goes: the first stirrings of interest in the opposite sex at Doc’s Drugstore with his soda fountain AND jukebox; the drive-in restaurant with you and yours in the car, yours’ or father-borrowed for an end of the night bout with cardboard hamburgers, ultra-greasy french fries and diluted soda; the Spring Frolic Dance (or name your seasonal dance) your hands all sweaty, trying to disappear into the wall, waiting, waiting to perdition for that last dance so that you could ask that he or she that you had been eyeing all evening to dance that slow one  all dreamy; down at the beach on day one of out of school for the summer checking out the scene between the two boat clubs where all the guys and gals who counted hung out; the night before Thanksgiving football rally where he or she said they would be there, how about you; on poverty nights sitting up in your bedroom listening to edgy WMEX on your transistor radio away from prying adult eyes; another poverty night you and your boys, girls, boys and girls sitting in the family room spinning platters; that first sixth grade “petting” party (no more explanation needed, right); cruising Main Street with your boys or girls looking for, well, you figure it out listening to the radio in that “boss” Chevy, hopefully; and, sitting in the balcony “watching” the double feature at the Strand Theater on Saturday afternoon when you were younger and at night when older. Okay, Sam has given enough cues. Fill in the dots, oops, songs and add scenes too.                      

Once Again-The Summer Of Love, 1967-Postcards From A Lost Planet

Once Again-The Summer Of Love, 1967-Postcards From A Lost Planet

By Jeffrey Thorne

The Scribe said it best one night, one Summer of Love, 1967 night, one cold San Francisco night, a summer night when the Japan currents went awry and reminded one of old Mark Twain’s witty sayings about the coldest winter he had ever spent-August in the city of sweet brethren Saint Francis, when he declared (so like that mad man to use the seventh person imperative, to declare in his world-historic way, for such small letter asterisk events), that the breeze coming through the land would shake society to its foundations. Would make nine to five work-a-day world a bore (and give his poor brethren a chance to partake of the golden age that he, his parents, his Acre neighborhood, and most of the known world had been short-changed of for millennia), make that long suburban tract complete with dishwasher and sanitary garbage disposal obsolete before the last mortgage payment hit the dirt (get people to think differently about space, about community, and give that same and give that poor brethren a chance to partake of the golden age of living space that he, his parents, his Acre neighborhood, and most of the known world had been short-changed of for millennia), would make those three point two kids and that one dog a victim of old-fashioned thinking (well, okay).

Said, get this for a guy who became a non-believer, a non-believer in risen Christ if you can believe that very early in his teens (and went to church, sliding side door church just to sit a few rows behind some lovely he was pining over just to watch her ass so yes a non-believer) that the new dispensation was at hand-if we could keep it, keep the bastards, and you know who the bastards were then-the night-takers and guys who conned you into nine to five dreams, suburban flats and, what was it three point two kids (we will pass on the not mandatory dog) from barking at the door.  

Sure the Scribe talked the talk and walked the walk, oh boy did he, spouting forth about one love, about the new garden of eden (small case is right remember he was a non-believer, maybe had always been something of an outlaw even when he cruised the books for a sign), about that turning the world upside down and making it stick (hell, he was always a closet Digger check that out sometime if you delve back into the 17th century English revolution).   

That was the rub, that was the factor that got away from the Scribe as much as he knew that we were on tender mercies ground, knew that that little counter attack from out of the blue would come when we thought the world had stopped turning on itself and had gone upside down that eventually would do in even the Scribe. Would turn his mouth to ashes, would turn a sainted brethren (not many out in Frisco in those days knew his given name was Francis at a time when everybody was “reinventing” themselves including clustering up new monikers to get washed clean, also a Scribe expression and so only knew the moniker) down the gutter road, float him out to the Japan seas long before he ever heard the Duke blast that high white note. Yeah, blast the times, blast the whole fucking world for taking down a brethren as pure as snow.    

Friday, October 20, 2017

On The 60th Anniversary Of Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" (1957) Writers' Corner- Jack Kerouac's (And Others) Film"Pull My Daisy"

On The 60th Anniversary Of Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" (1957) Writers' Corner- Jack Kerouac's (And Others) Film"Pull My Daisy"

See following site for more information about "Pull My Daisy".

In Honor Of Jean Bon Kerouac On The 60th Anniversary Of “On The Road” (1957)
By Book Critic Zack James

To be honest I know about On The Road Jack Kerouac’s epic tale of his generation’s search for something, maybe the truth, maybe just for kicks, for stuff, important stuff that had happened down in the base of society where nobody in authority was looking or some such happening strictly second-hand. His generation’s search looking for a name, found what he, or someone associated with him, maybe the bandit poet Gregory Corso, king of the mean New York streets, mean, very mean indeed in a junkie-hang-out world around Times Square when that place was up to its neck in flea-bit hotels, all-night Joe and Nemo’s and the trail of the “fixer” man on every corner, con men coming out your ass too, called the “beat” generation. (Yes,  I know that the actual term “beat” was first used by Kerouac writer friend John Clemmon Holmes in an article in some arcane journal but the “feel” had to have come from a less academic source so I will crown the bandit prince Corso as genesis) Beat, beat of the jazzed up drum line backing some sax player searching for the high white note, what somebody told me, maybe my older brother Alex they called “blowing to the China seas” out in West Coast jazz and blues circles, that high white note he heard achieved one skinny night by famed sax man Sonny Johns, dead beat, run out on money, women, life, leaving, and this is important no forwarding address for the desolate repo man to hang onto, dread beat, nine to five, 24/7/365 that you will get caught back up in the spire wind up like your freaking staid, stay at home parents, beaten down, ground down like dust puffed away just for being, hell, let’s just call it being, beatified beat like saintly and all high holy Catholic incense and a story goes with it about a young man caught up in a dream, like there were not ten thousand other religions in the world to feast on- you can take your pick of the meanings, beat time meanings. Hell, join the club they all did, the guys, and it was mostly guys who hung out on the mean streets of New York, Chi town, North Beach in Frisco town cadging twenty-five cents a night flea-bag sleeps, half stirred left on corner diners’ coffees and cigarette stubs when the Bull Durham ran out).

I was too young to have had anything but a vague passing reference to the thing, to that “beat” thing since I was probably just pulling out of diapers then, maybe a shade bit older but not much. I got my fill, my brim fill later through my oldest brother Alex. Alex, and his crowd, more about that in a minute, but even he was only washed clean by the “beat” experiment at a very low level, mostly through reading the book (need I say the book was On The Road) and having his mandatory two years of living on the road around the time of the Summer of Love, 1967 an event whose 50th anniversary is being commemorated this year as well and so very appropriate to mention since there were a million threads, fibers, connections between “beat” and “hippie” despite dour grandpa Jack’s attempts to trash those connection when they acolytes came calling looking for the “word.” So even Alex and his crowd were really too young to have been washed by the beat wave that crashed the continent toward the end of the 1950s on the wings of Allan Ginsburg’s Howl and Jack’s travel book of a different kind (not found on the AAA, Traveler’s Aid, Youth Hostel brochure circuit if you please although Jack and the crowd, my brother and his crowd later would use such services when up against it in let’s say a place like Winnemucca in the Nevadas or Neola in the heartlands). Literary stuff for sure but the kind of stuff that moves generations, or I like to think the best parts of those cohorts. These were the creation documents the latter of which would drive Alex west before he finally settled down to his career life as a high-road lawyer (and to my sorrow and anger never looked back).             

Of course anytime you talk about books and poetry and then add my brother’s Alex name into the mix that automatically brings up memories of another name, the name of the late Peter Paul Markin. Markin, for whom Alex and the rest of the North Adamsville corner boys, Frankie, Jack, Jimmy, Si, Josh (he a separate story from up in Olde Saco, Maine),   Bart, and a few others still alive recently had me put together a tribute book for in connection with that Summer of Love, 1967, their birthright event, just mentioned.  Markin was the vanguard guy, the volunteer odd-ball unkempt mad monk seeker who got several of them off their asses and out to the West Coast to see what there was to see. To see some stuff that Markin had been speaking of for a number of years before (and which nobody in the crowd paid any attention to, or dismissed out of hand what they called “could give a rat’s ass” about in the local jargon which I also inherited in those cold, hungry bleak 1950s cultural days in America) and which can be indirectly attributed to the activities of Jack, Allen Ginsburg, Gregory Corso, that aforementioned bandit poet who ran wild on the mean streets among the hustlers, conmen and whores of the major towns of the continent, William Burroughs, the Harvard-trained junkie  and a bunch of other guys who took a very different route for our parents who were of the same generation as them but of a very different world.

But it was above all Jack’s book, Jack’s book which had caused a big splash in 1957(after an incredible publishing travail since the story line actually related to events in the late 1940s and which would cause Jack no end of trauma when the kids showed up at his door looking to hitch a ride on the motherlode star, and had ripple effects into the early 1960s (and even now certain “hip” kids acknowledge the power of attraction that book had for their own developments, especially that living simple, fast and hard part). Made the young, some of them anyway, like I say I think the best part, have to spend some time thinking through the path of life ahead by hitting the vagrant dusty sweaty road. Maybe not hitchhiking, maybe not going high speed high through the ocean, plains, mountain desert night but staying unsettled for a while anyway.    

Like I said above Alex was out on the road two years and other guys, other corner boys for whatever else you wanted to call them that was their niche back in those days and were recognized as such in the town not always to their benefit, from a few months to a few years. Markin started first back in the spring of 1967 but was interrupted by his fateful induction into the Army and service, if you can call it that, in Vietnam and then several more years upon his return before his untimely and semi-tragic end. With maybe this difference from today’s young who are seeking alternative roads away from what is frankly bourgeois society and was when Jack wrote although nobody except commies and pinkos called it that for fear of being tarred with those brushes. Alex, Frankie Riley the acknowledged leader, Jack Callahan and the rest, Markin included, were strictly “from hunger” working class kids who when they hung around Tonio Pizza Parlor were as likely to be thinking up ways to grab money fast any way they could or of getting into some   hot chick’s pants any way they could as anything else. Down at the base of society when you don’t have enough of life’s goods or have to struggle too much to get even that little bit “from hunger” takes a big toll on your life. I can testify to that part because Alex was not the only one in the James family to go toe to toe with the law, it was a close thing for all us boys as it had been with Jack when all is said and done. But back then dough and sex after all was what was what for corner boys, maybe now too although you don’t see many guys hanging on forlorn Friday night corners anymore.

What made this tribe different, the Tonio Pizza Parlor corner boys, was mad monk Markin. Markin called by Frankie Riley the “Scribe” from the time he came to North Adamsville from across town in junior high school and that stuck all through high school. The name stuck because although Markin was as larcenous and lovesick as the rest of them he was also crazy for books and poetry. Christ according to Alex, Markin was the guy who planned most of the “midnight creeps” they called then. Although nobody in their right minds would have the inept Markin actually execute the plan. That was for smooth as silk Frankie now also a high-road lawyer to lead. That operational sense was why Frankie was the leader then (and maybe why he was a locally famous lawyer later who you definitely did not want to be on the other side against him). Markin was also the guy who all the girls for some strange reason would confide in and thus was the source of intelligence about who was who in the social pecking order, in other words, who was available, sexually or otherwise. That sexually much more important than otherwise. See Markin always had about ten billion facts running around his head in case anybody, boy or girl, asked him about anything so he was ready to do battle, for or against take your pick.

The books and the poetry is where Jack Kerouac and On The Road come into the corner boy life of the Tonio’s Pizza Parlor life. Markin was something like an antennae for anything that seemed like it might help create a jailbreak, help them get out from under. Later he would be the guy who introduced some of the guys to folk music when that was a big thing. (Alex never bought into that genre, still doesn’t, despite Markin’s desperate pleas for him to check it out. Hated whinny Bob Dylan above all else) Others too like Kerouac’s friend Allen Ginsburg and his wooly homo poem Howl from 1956 which Markin would read sections out loud from on lowdown dough-less, girl-less Friday nights. And drive the strictly hetero guys crazy when he insisted that they read the poem, read what he called a new breeze was coming down the road. They could, using that term from the times again, have given a rat’s ass about some fucking homo faggot poem from some whacko Jewish guy who belonged in a mental hospital. (That is a direct quote from Frankie Riley at the time via my brother Alex’s memory bank.)

Markin flipped out when he found out that Kerouac had grown up in Lowell, a working class town very much like North Adamsville, and that he had broken out of the mold that had been set for him and gave the world some grand literature and something to spark the imagination of guys down at the base of society like his crowd with little chance of grabbing the brass ring. So Markin force-marched the crowd to read the book, especially putting pressure on my brother who was his closest friend then. Alex read it, read it several times and left the dog- eared copy around which I picked up one day when I was having one of my high school summertime blues. Read it through without stopping almost like Jack wrote the final version of the thing on a damn newspaper scroll in about three weeks. So it was through Markin via Alex that I got the Kerouac bug. And now on the 60th anniversary I am passing on the bug to you.