Posts Tagged ‘Korea’

Tracking Kerouac’s Ghost

September 29, 2009

This columnist’s attempt to emulate Jack Kerouac didn’t start last October first when we walked away from our former digs in the Mar Vista section of Los Angeles and set out to become a digital beatnik.  Becoming a blogger on the road was an inconceivable concept when we tried hitchhiking across the USA during the Sixties.  Our most recent effort to renew the quest was more like a chance to put it into high gear.  We have always been vaguely aware that it was a mythical task and not something like trying to gather material for use in a doctoral thesis.  Picking up a copy of John Leland’s <I>Why Kerouac Matters</I> made the option of rejecting the facts about one of the Beat Generation’s founding fathers a necessity.  How can free spirits possibly take a political conservative as a role model?

Leland makes a heroic effort to debunk the life of the guy who spawned the efforts of a generation’s groovy efforts to establish a culture of peace, love, and understanding.  It’s easier to hold on to one’s illusions than to read the effort to prove that <I>On the Road</I> was a paean to conservative values.  As Leland says on page 60:  “It is a point seldom acknowledged that <I>On the Road</I>, a slacker bible for the last half century, begins with career counseling and a lecture on the Protestant work ethic.”

Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walt Whitman, Ernie Pyle (when he was a columnist and not a war correspondent), and Woody Guthrie had laid the foundation for the establishment of a footloose and fancy free faction of post war American culture and so if the hippies missed Kerouac’s point when they read his detailing of the adventures of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity.

Finding a fellow in Canberra who claimed to have traveled back in time and served as the <a href =>model for the creation of the image on the Shroud of Turin</a> was more in keeping with our quest than having Leland point out that “On the Road” starts with guidance counseling about establishing a firm work ethic.

Last October we honed in on a visit to the Beat Museum.  A year later we went back to put an idea in the suggestion box.  The proprietor seemed very interested in the idea and we will get back to that in a future column after his “yea or nay” decisions has been made.

Shortly after this year’s (annual?) hajj to the Beatnik’s Mecca, we came up with a question.  The Beat Museum gift shop has a cornucopia of relevant books  which folks like to peruse.  After we walked away we realized that there might be an even better idea to drop in the comments box.  If Jack Kerouac spawned the coffee house fad, why doesn’t the Beat Museum start their own brand of coffee (call it “Jack’s Java”?) and sell cups at their Columbus Ave bricks and mortar location.  It would be imperative for it to offer free wi-fi connections so that a tsunami of “guess where I am” type blog entries that could be posted with the “reporting live from the Beat Museum in San Francisco” label attached.

It has taken a year to refine the latest formula for becoming a (digital) beatnik and so it seems imperative to use the next year to continue the quest.  Instead of buying a round trip ticket to Sydney, this time around it seems more efficient to buy a one way ticket to Oz. 

New Zealand is raised to a “must” level.  We’ve always heard only good things about New Zealand.  Some people like NYC; some don’t.  Some People like L. A.; some don’t.  Never have we heard a discouraging word about New Zealand.  More sailors jump ship (according to hearsay evidence) than in any other country in the world.  That tells you something.

This time, rather than doing an about-face in Perth, we could buy a one-way ticket and continue West to . . . Prague?  It would be a case of following the Perth to Prague to Paris path.

Recently, we were rather harsh in our comments on snapshots and despite the fact that it isn’t part of this columnist’s <I>modus operandi</I>, we immediately noticed that some old snapshots we had found for sale in a flea market held a hypnotic fascination for us.

A snapshot of a lady onboard a ship with the handwritten caption “<a href =>Spring 1942</a>” inspired intensive speculation about the circumstances that instigated that trip for her.  Maybe after we revisit Perth, see Prague, Berlin, Munich, our high school classmate who lives near Frankfort, Paris, London (?), Ireland, and then cash in on an offer to crash in Vermont next September, then, perhaps, we could use that snapshot to inspire a work of fiction.

Snapshots of Hemingway, F. Scot Fitzgerald, and family and friends are valuable historic documents and for those getting their picture taken, they can serve as a subliminal expression of faith and encouragement.  It’s a way to reassure members of your posse that you are certain that they will become famous and their photos will be avidly sought by biographers. 

Some recluses such as B. Traven, Thomas Pynchon, and J. D. Salinger, actively avoid (like the Amish?) having their photos taken.  Imitating writers who have posed for photos or not is a personal choice and not an essential vocational decision, eh?

A year ago, the use of the President (at that time) was admonishing journalists for using the word “recession.”  This year, the word “depression” is being included in assessments of President Bush’s replacement, so perhaps another year of gathering photos and quick notes from various places outside of Los Angeles’ city limits might be an acceptable reason for not being as vociferous in our criticism of the occupant of the White House as we were over a year ago.

Don’t the French have an old saying about the more you try to implement a “Change” agenda, the less your legacy will be?

Hmmm.  Let’s think this through.  Conservatives, such as Rush Limbaugh, are getting scads of money to denigrate (is that a racist term?) the President.  This columnist can write some scathing comments about “to surge or not to surge in Afghanistan, that is the question,” (for a great deal less money than el Rushbo gets) or we can check out the veracity of the statement we heard in Fremantle:  “In Ireland, in the summer, the rain is warm; in winter it’s cold.” 

Gee, it seems that it might be more fun to get to Koolgardie and go on one of the local metal detector scavenger hunts in the nearby desert than to write a tepid “second the motion” columns that reinforce criticism of the guy who is continuing the implementation of George W. Bush’s war policy.

Literary scholars have not revealed much, if any, commentary in the Kerouac notebooks about Korea, Eisenhower, or the dog Checkers.  Who has a bigger literary reputation in Paris, these days:  Kerouac or Drew Pearson?

When does the Metropole Paris web site hold their weekly <a href => meetings</a>?  Do we need a reservation for next June?

Leland gives readers (on page 17) this Kerouac quote:  “The things I write about are what an editor usually throws away and what a psychiatrist finds most interesting.”

Now, the disk jockey will play “Around the World” and we will commence efforts to post this via wi-fi from the Berkeley Public Library South Branch.  Have a “do what you said you were gonna do” type week.