On The Road Part Three

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on July 10, 2019

In the last installment of this On The Road slackathon, Dean Moriarty (Neal Leon Cassady) and Sal Paradise (Jean-Louis Kérouac, aka Jack) were being obnoxious in Frisco. 71 years later, in real life, the Family Barber Shop was closing. In the next 13 days, MAD magazine announced plans to cease publication, and the thirteen star flag became a symbol of racism. The world is without redeeming social value. One answer is to go back 71 years, and see where the road takes us.

In chapter 3 of part 3, Dean and Sal are about to go to New York. First they are going to have 2 days of kicks in Frisco. Before this happens, a lady needs to tell Dean off. “Your have absolutely no regard for anybody but yourself and your damned kicks. All you think about is what’s hanging between your legs and how much money or fun you can get out of people and then you just through them aside. Not only that but you’re silly about it.”

Chapter 4 is wasted on a trip to jazz nightclubs in seedy neighborhoods. “Holy flowers floating in the air, were all these tired faces in the dawn of Jazz America.” Chapter 5 is where the story picks up again. A travel bureau helps D&S get a ride in a “fag Plymouth.” PG read that line in amazement … that was something he remembered from reading OTR in 1984. The Orwellian synchronicity of it all. 1984 was just another year. Ronnie Reagan won a landslide re-election over its-his-turn Walter Mondale. America tottered on, with PG settling into a slack lifestyle. What PG did in 1984 had little to do with a dystopian book … a book that everybody talks about, but few have read. One thing PG did in 1984 was read OTR, and remember almost none of it 35 years later.

D&S are careening across the deserts and mountain passes into Denver. Along the way, they scared the fag Plymouth driver into prophylactic pansexuality. “At one point the driver said, “For God’s sakes, you’re rocking the boat back there.” Actually we were; the car was swaying as Dean and I both swayed to the rhythm and the IT of our final excited joy in talking and living to the blank tranced end of all innumerable riotous angelic particulars that had been lurking in our souls all our lives.” After a while, FPD hits on Dean, but can’t afford him.

“It was with a great deal of silly relief that these people let us off the car at the corner of 27th and Federal. Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” Once in Denver, D&S go looking for kicks, Dean’s father, and whatever else gone thing is the IT of the day. Cousin Itt shakes his head. Dean does connect with a beloved cousin, who has gotten religion. Beloved cousin no longer wants to associate with Dean.

Before moving on with OTR, this narrative has been interrupted for a youtube euthanasia emergency. Eighteen years after Dean/Neal went chasing kicks in the sky, bf Allen Ginsberg (Carlo Marx in OTR) wrote a poem about Allen’s butthole. This ode to shipping and receiving was recently indentured by a Tennessee entertainer. While looking for the text, google supplied a link to an Urban Dictionary definition of Allen Ginsberg. This UD page features an ad for Joe Biden.

D&S cavorted for a few days in Denver, and got out before they were, justifiably, arrested. “As the cab honked outside and the kids cried and the dogs barked and Dean danced with Frankie I yelled every conceivable curse I could think over that phone and added all kinds of new ones, and in my drunken frenzy I told everybody over the phone to go to hell and slammed it down and went out to get drunk.” Soon, they had a ride to Chicago. Through cruel fate, Dean was allowed to drive. “We had come from Denver to Chicago via Ed Wall’s ranch, 1180 miles, in exactly 17 hours, not counting the two hours in the ditch and three at the ranch and two with the police in Newton, Iowa, for a mean average of seventy miles per hour across the land, with one driver. Which is a kind of crazy record.” There should be a video game. Sit terrified in the backseat of a 1940’s Cadillac, while Dean Moriarty drives a hundred miles per hour, on the wrong side of the road, getting back on the right side of the road just in time to avoid a head on collision with a truckload of cattle. The telekinetic essence of the Frisco jazzmen can be recruited to provide the soundtrack. The death defying cattle will be played by Charlie Parker. Dean’s play by play filled in by Gene Krupa. “Sal, we gotta go and never stop going till we get there.” “Where we going, man?” “I don’t know but we gotta go.”

“Every now and then a clear harmonic cry gave new suggestions of a tune that would someday be the only tune in the world and would raise men’s souls to joy.Once there was Louis Armstrong blowing his beautiful top in the muds of New Orleans; … sending it out broadcast to rock the jazz world.” … Later the idea would be to jazz the rock world, before hip hop levels the playing field once again. … “Then had come Charlie Parker, a kid in his mother’s woodshed in Kansas City, blowing his taped-up alto among the logs, practicing on rainy days, coming out to watch the old swinging Basie and Benny Moten band that had Hot Lips Page and the rest — Charlie Parker leaving home and coming to Harlem, and meeting mad Thelonius Monk and madder Gillespie — Charlie Parker in his early days when he was flipped and walked around in a circle while playing.”

Thelonius Monk … thank g-d for copy/paste … lived longer than most of the players in this tale. PG first heard of TM on the loudspeaker at Atlanta Stadium, when the announcer told of a Jazz Festival coming to the newfangled stadium. In his later life, Mr. Monk got as weird as his first name. Al McKibbon tells this tale: “He was also the bassist on Monk’s last album, made in 1971. At that time the two men toured with the Giants of Jazz, and McKibbon experienced more of the pianist’s eccentricities: “In Tokyo we were having suits made, because they do it so fast and all that. Monk had his measured lying in bed. He wouldn’t get up for them. … On that tour Monk said about two words. I mean literally maybe two words. He didn’t say ‘Good morning’, ‘Goodnight’, ‘What time?’ Nothing. Why, I don’t know. He sent word back after the tour was over that the reason he couldn’t communicate or play was that Art Blakey and I were so ugly.”

“Great Chicago glowed red before our eyes.” D&S delivered the vehicle to its owner. “It was now time to return the Caldillac to the owner, who lived on Lake Shore Drive, in a swank apartment with an enormous garage underneath manged by oil-scarred Negroes. We drove out and swung the muddy heap into its berth. The mechanic did not recognize the Cadillac. We handed the papers over. He scratched his head at the sight of it. We had to get out fast.”

After a visit to Detroit, D&S made their way to New York. Sal’s aunt said Dean could only stay for a little while, and then he would have to go. Dean needed to behave himself for a while. “Not only that, but a few months later Camille gave birth to Dean’s second baby, the result of a few nights’ rapport early in the year. And another matter of months and Inez had a baby. With one illegitimate child in the West somewhere, Dean then had four little ones and not a cent, and was all troubles and ecstasy and speed as ever. So we didn’t go to Italy.”

Part three of OTR ends here. Pictures are from The Library of Congress. The complete series has been published. part one part two part three part four part six part seven

6 Responses

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