Chamblee54

Pretty Monsters Part Three

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on January 17, 2020


“Claire and Samantha are identical twins. Their combined age is twenty years, four months, and six days. Claire is better at being Dead than Samantha. … “When you’re dead,” the babysitter snaps, “it’s always very cold and damp, and you have to be very, very quiet or else the Specialist will get you.” It is important to note the difference between Dead and dead. One is a game that obnoxious little girls play. The other is a state of being, peculiar to plants and animals, where the functions of a living organism no longer operate.

C&S are spending the summer with their father in a haunted mansion. This fulfills two of the themes of Pretty Monsters We don’t know where the mansion is. Travelers can find it to take tours, but the reader does not have to know. New England is a likely suspect.

The second PM theme is the weirdo parent. This one has a good excuse. His wife is recently deceased. The girls talk about it all the time. In a bit of synchronicity, PG is reading The Specialist’s Hat on the anniversary of his own mother’s transition. This stood out with passages like this: “Last year they were learning fractions in school, when her mother died. Fractions remind Samantha of herds of wild horses, piebalds and pintos and palominos. There are so many of them, and they are, well, fractious and unruly.” It should be noted that a ten year old boy would probably not say anything like that. Wild horses are more of a girl thing.

One day, C&S … the girls, not the bank … were riding horses, in the magic attic of the haunted house. Or maybe it is a bicycle. That is another thing about Pretty Monsters, the details get confused. The difference between a horse, and a bicycle, is huge. You don’t shoot a bicycle if you get a flat tire.

“If you ride fast enough, the Specialist can’t catch you.” “What’s the Specialist?” Samantha says. Bicycles are okay, but horses can go faster. “The Specialist wears a hat,” says the babysitter. “The hat makes noises.”She doesn’t say anything else. … Hanging from a nail on the nursery chimney is a long black object. It looks lumpy and heavy, as if it were full of things. The babysitter takes it down, twirls it on her finger. There are holes in the black thing and it whistles mournfully as she spins it. “The Specialist’s hat,” she says.” …

“Claire weaves in and out between the chimneys, chasing Samantha and the babysitter. Samantha is slow, turning to look behind. As Claire approaches, she keeps one hand on the handlebars and stretches the other hand out towards Samantha. Just as she is about to grab Samantha, the babysitter turns back and plucks the hat off Claire’s head.” …

“Shit!” the babysitter says, and drops it. There is a drop of blood forming on the fleshy part of the babysitter’s hand, black in the moonlight, where the Specialist’s hat has bitten her. Claire dismounts, giggling. Samantha watches as the Specialist’s hat rolls away. It picks up speed, veering across the attic floor, and disappears, thumping down the stairs. “Go get it,” Claire says. “You can be the Specialist this time.” “No,” the babysitter says, sucking at her palm. “It’s time for bed.”

Monster, the next story, is about boys. The only girl is the camp counselor’s gf, and all she does is make phone calls. It is hinted that the counselor is the titular monster, since he disappears when the monster, who does not have a name, appears.

A bunch of ten year olds are at a summer camp. It is the traditional assortment of misfits and misterfits. “Yeah, James Lorbick should always wear dresses. He’s so hot.” “James Lorbick, I think you are so hot. Not.” “Leave James alone,” Bryan Jones said.”

The boys in bungalow 6 are going on an overnight expedition. It is going to rain. The boys in bungalow 4 have already been on this trip, and they saw a monster. The bungalow 4 boys are mean, and nobody likes them. This is the reason the monster left them alone.

They go on this trip. The counselor disappears to talk to his gf on the phone. While he is gone, the monster appears. Even though it is summer, it starts to snow. James Lorbick, who nobody likes, becomes the sort-of hero. We know more about the way the monster smelled, than we do about the way the monster looked.

“The snow kept falling. They did little dances in the snow to keep warm. The fire got thinner and thinner and started to go out. But before it went out, the monster came up the muddy, snowy path. It smiled at them and it came up the path and Danny Anderson shone his flashlight at it and they could all see it was a monster and not Terence pretending to be a monster. … “

“The monster had one Simpson twin under each arm. The twins were screaming. The monster threw them down the path. Then it bent over Bryan Jones, who was lying half inside one of the tents, half in the snow. There were slurping noises. After a minute it stood up again. It looked back and saw James Lorbick. It waved.”

“James Lorbick shut his eyes. When he opened them again, the monster was standing over him. It had red eyes. It smelled like rotting fish and kerosene. It wasn’t actually all that tall, the way you’d expect a monster to be tall. Except for that, it was even worse than Bungalow 4 had said. …”

“I’m sorry about the rest of your bungalow. Your friends. Your friends who made you wear a dress.” “Are you going to eat me?” James said. “I don’t know,” the monster said. “Probably not. There were a lot of you. I’m not actually that hungry anymore. Besides, I would feel silly eating a boy who’s wearing a dress. And you’re really filthy.”

This is part three of the chamblee54 exploration of Pretty Monsters, by Kelly Link. The quotes are from the .pdf. Part one and part two are available, at an internet near you. Pictures for are from the The Library of Congress. They are with the government, and here to help.

Pretty Monsters Part Two

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on January 3, 2020


PG knew he would need to write this. It was raining cats and dogs outside. The world was stumbling into war. The excuses were wearing out. Four more stories had been read in Pretty Monsters. It was time to sit down and write.

Magic For Beginners is the story of Jeremy Mars. He lives with his weirdo parents in Plantagenet VT. If you google Plantagenet VT, you learn that no such place exists. The story begins with the news that Jeremy’s mom has inherited a phone booth, and a wedding chapel, in Las Vegas NV.

First, they have to get away from Gordon Strangle Mars, Jeremy’s dad. He writes fantasy stories about giant spiders. “Jeremy … settles down with the remote control on one of his father’s pet couches: oversized and reupholstered in an orange-juice-colored corduroy that makes it appear as if the couch has just escaped from a maximum security prison for criminally insane furniture. This couch looks as if its hobby is devouring interior decorators. Jeremy’s father is a horror writer, so no one should be surprised if some of the couches he reupholsters are hideous and eldritch.”

Eldritch “strange or unnatural especially in a way that inspires fear : weird, eerie” Most people don’t use the word eldritch. Nor do they know the difference between golem,“an artificial human being in Hebrew folklore endowed with life,” and gollum, “a stoorish hobbit in tolkien stories.”

Golem and gollum turn up in plot twists from The Library, a tv show. Jeremy, and his friends, watch it fanatically. “In the previous episode of The Library, masked piratemagicians said they would sell Prince Wing a cure for the spell which infested Faithful Margaret’s hair with miniature, wicked, fire-breathing golems.”

“The George Washington statue stepped down off his plinth and fought her tooth and nail. … The statue of George Washington bit Fox’s pinky finger right off, just like Gollum biting Frodo’s finger off on the top of Mount Doom. But of course, once the statue tasted Fox’s magical blood, it fell in love with Fox. It would be her ally from now on.” Fox is a Library character, who may, or may not be dead. Likewise, Fox may be one of Jeremy’s pals, living in a Nevada phone booth. Magic for Beginners, like the rest of Pretty Monsters, can be confusing.

Mr. and Mrs. Mars need to take a break from each other. Mrs. Mars, and Jeremy, go to Nevada to take over the wedding chapel. “He never sees anyone who looks like a Forbidden Book, although he sees a transvestite go into the women’s restroom at a rest stop in Indiana.”

“Left,” he tells his mother. “Go left here. Look out for the vampires on the crosswalk.” … Four times his mother let him drive the van: once in Utah, twice in South Dakota, once in Pennsylvania. The van smells like old burger wrappers and fake fur, and it doesn’t help that Jeremy’s gotten used to the smell.” Eventually, they get to the wedding chapel, “HELL’S BELLS.”

“Good evening, Madam. Young man,” a man says and Jeremy looks up and up and up. The man at the door has to lower his head to look out. His hands are large as toaster ovens. He looks like he’s wearing Chihuahua coffins on his feet. Two realistic-looking bolts stick out on either side of his head. He wears green pancake makeup and glittery green eye shadow, and his lashes are as long and thick and green as AstroTurf.”

“We weren’t expecting you so soon.” “We should have called ahead,” Jeremy’s mother says. “I’m so sorry.” “Great costume,” Jeremy says. The Frankenstein curls his lip in a somber way. “Thank you,” he says. “Call me Miss Thing, please.”

Meanwhile, back in Georgia, PG is in the waiting room of an eye clinic. His friend “P” is having cataract surgery, and this is the follow up visit. “P” was having blurry vision, and PG was worried. The follow up appointment usually takes one hour. “P” has been behind the double doors for one hour and forty five minutes. Finally, “P” emerges. He has been in the billing department, disputing a charge.

The first three stories took a while to read. PG normally reads while warming up the vehicle, or eating dinner. It takes a while to finish anything. This changed on December 18. The computer crashed, and had to go in the shop. Suddenly, reading a dead tree book became an important diversion. PG quickly finished three stories.

The Faery Handbag begins in a Boston thrift store. Genevieve is with her pals Natasha and Natalie, and her boyfriend Jake. Genevieve is looking for the Faery handbag. “The faery handbag: It’s huge and black and kind of hairy. … Faeries live inside it. I know what that sounds like, but it’s true.”

The handbag belonged to Zofia Swink, Genevieve’s grandmother. “At the funeral, my mother said, half laughing and half crying, that her mother was the world’s best liar. … Zofia never looked like a grandmother. She had long black hair which she wore in little braided spiky towers and plaits. She had large blue eyes. She was taller than my father. She looked like a spy or ballerina or a lady pirate or a rock star. … Zofia and I played Scrabble all the time. Zofia always won, even though her English wasn’t all that great, because we’d decided that she was allowed to use Baldeziwurleki vocabulary. Baldeziwurlekistan is where Zofia was born, over two hundred years ago. That’s what Zofia said.”

“I called it the faery handbag because I put “faery” down on the Scrabble board once. Zofia said that you spelled it with an i not an e. She looked it up in the dictionary, and lost a turn. … “Your purse is made out of dog skin?” I said. “That’s disgusting!” “Little dear pet,” Zofia said, looking wistful, “dog is delicious. To Baldeziwurlekistanians, dog is a delicacy.” … “Zofia would fold up the Scrabble board and shrug at me and Jake. “I’m a wonderful liar,” she’d say. “I’m the best liar in the world. Promise me you won’t believe a single word.”

The handbag contained villages. If people went in, they came out twenty years later, and not aged one minute. One day, Zofia let the handbag out of her sight, and Jake went inside. That was the last time anyone saw Jake.

Part One, and part three, of this series are now available. Quotes are from the .pdf. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. Jack Delano took the pictures in September 1941. The Gaynor family at dinner on their farm. Fairfield, Vermont

Pretty Monsters Part One

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


Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts. The book used today is Pretty Monsters, by Kelly Link. PG was given a copy of PM, and asked to create an artistic response. This post is part one of this response. Quotes are from a .pdf of the text.

Citizen: An American Lyric was PG’s introduction to Big Read. CAAL, a rambling art book, was not a good fit for PG. (Part one Part two Part three) When the lady from 7 Stages turned up with a box of books, PG was wary.

PM is presented as a social justice commentary. “Her stories are about more than strangeness, more than the fantastic—they’re about inclusion, diversity, and acceptance of alternate world views.” PG has nothing against diversity and inclusion. He just enjoys a good story more.

PG did not need to worry. Pretty Monsters is a collection of short stories. The first two … The Wrong Grave, The Wizards of Perfil … are fun to read. Each is a fantasy, a type of story PG normally does not read. If you think enough, you can make them about alternate world views. That is, if your idea of an alternate world includes digging up your dead girlfriend.

The Wrong Grave is the story of Miles Sperry, and his late girlfriend Bethany Baldwin. Miles wrote some poems for Bethany after the car crash, and put the only copy in her coffin. Miles goes to the graveyard one night to retrieve the poems. All goes well, until there is a complication.

“He yanked and someone else pushed. The lid shot up and fell back against the opposite embankment of dirt. The dead girl who had hold of Miles’s boot let go. This was the first of the many unexpected and unpleasant shocks that Miles was to endure for the sake of poetry. The second was the sickening—no, shocking—shock that he had dug up the wrong grave, the wrong dead girl. The wrong dead girl was lying there, smiling up at him, and her eyes were open. She was several years older than Bethany. She was taller and had a significantly more developed rack.” …

“The wrong dead girl spoke first. “Knock knock,” she said. “What?” Miles said. “Knock knock,” the wrong dead girl said again. “Who’s there?” Miles said.
“Gloria,” the wrong dead girl said. “Gloria Palnick. Who are you and what are you doing in my grave?”
“This isn’t your grave,” Miles said, aware that he was arguing with a dead girl, and the wrong dead girl at that. “This is Bethany’s grave. What are you doing in Bethany’s grave?”
“Oh no,” Gloria Palnick said. “This is my grave and I get to ask the questions.” …

Miles and Gloria have a discussion about life when you’re six feet under. Gloria is delighted at a chance to escape. Miles is a bit wary. Finally, they go to a cabin, owned by someone’s weirdo parents. Most of the older people in Pretty Monsters are weirdos. After Miles leaves the room, Gloria leaves something for him.
“The dead girl reached down her shirt and into the cavity where her more interesting and useful organs had once been (she had been an organ donor). She’d put Miles’s poetry in there for safekeeping.”
As you may imagine, there are some plot twists that were not documented here. Chamblee54 tries to be a spoiler free zone. If you really want to know what happened to Miles, or The Wizards of Pefil, you will have to read the book. Efforts to bring PM to television are another, less amusing, fantasy.

The Wizards of Pefil happens in an unidentified foreign country. This is one of the themes of Pretty Monsters … you seldom know where the story takes place. Wizards also takes place during a war, but we don’t know which one. It is after the invention of railroads, but outside the grasp of recorded history. This is why they call it fantasy.

Onion and Halsa are traveling with Halsa’s mom. The soldiers are coming to their town, and they need to get out. The money is a bit short, so one of the kids has to be sold to the Wizards. First, it is Onion, but the Wizard’s flunky wants Halsa. We don’t know why they would want Halsa, and her hateful mouth. Wizards work in mysterious ways.

“Everyone knows that the wizards of Perfil talk to demons and hate sunlight and have long twitching noses like rats. They never bathe. Everyone knows that the wizards of Perfil are hundreds and hundreds of years old. They sit and dangle their fishing lines out of the windows of their towers and they use magic to bait their hooks. They eat their fish raw and they throw the fish bones out of the window the same way that they empty their chamber pots. The wizards of Perfil have filthy habits and no manners at all. … the wizards of Perfil eat children when they grow tired of fish.”

Halsa tries to get by. The wizards live in towers, out in a swamp. Onion is on a train, except when a Onion clone is hanging out with Halsa in the swamp. Onion is in a world of trouble. He knows the soldiers are going to attach the train, and kill everyone. Nobody listens to him. So his clone goes back to the swamp, where Halsa is learning about life.

“… she was coming back from the pier with a bucket of fish, there was a dragon on the path. It wasn’t very big, only the size of a mastiff. But it gazed at her with wicked, jeweled eyes. She couldn’t get past it. It would eat her, and that would be that. It was almost a relief. She put the bucket down and stood waiting to be eaten. But then Essa was there, holding a stick. She hit the dragon on its head, once, twice, and then gave it a kick for good measure. “Go on, you!” Essa said. The dragon went, giving Halsa one last reproachful look. Essa picked up the bucket of fish. “You have to be firm with them,” she said. “Otherwise they get inside your head and make you feel as if you deserve to be eaten. They’re too lazy to eat anything that puts up a fight.”

There is another plot twist, and a spoiler to avoid. This is enough for the first post. Part Two, and part three, are now available. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

Half Asleep In Frog Pajamas Part Two

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on November 5, 2019


Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas finished it’s performance in front of PG’s eyeglasses. Like most Tom Robbins books, HASP does not have a satisfying ending. The author/auteur creates characters, throws them into troubling situations, and makes word jokes about their plight. Unfortunately, books come to an end, and what serves as a plot should have a termination. For this wordsmith, the journey is so much fun that the destination is reduced to an ad in the travel guide. (Author and auteur both come to us through “Middle English auctour, from Anglo-French auctor, autor, from Latin auctor promoter, originator, author, from augēre to increase.”)

The best way to approach HAFP is to forget the plot G-d, and go directly to the details, where she can be found. Like page 333, which is half of 666, but with a fraction of the opprobrium. There is this exchange, between Gwen Mati and Larry Diamond. They are the *star crossed lovers* in HAFP. “Wait a minute. You have to get the government’s permission to get an enema?” “This may be the land of the free, sweetheart, but your’e deluding yourself if you think your ass is your own.”

Larry Diamond is probably the stand in for Tom Robbins. He is full of conspiracies, hypotheses, feces, and other aromatic arcana. Considering that HAFP was published in 1994, and presumably written before then, the reader wonders what was in his crystal ball. Consider this item on page 315: “If global warming melts the polar ice caps, as some predict, we will have little choice in our resumption of an aquatic life style.” LD talks about frogs a lot in HASP, but very has little to say about pajamas. Do you say pa JAH muz, or pa JAM muz?

HAFPis full of semi-plausible conjecture projection. Consider the part on page 318, about magic mushroom spores coming to earth, from the star Sirius. Fair enough, but how did the extraterrestrial spores find their way to cowpies? The star Sirius is a key player in the morpho-mythology of HASP. How much is true, and how much was created in the mental compost of the Robbins mind? When PG read HAFP in 1996, he could only wonder. On the 2019 reading, Google is ready when you are.

The tale LD weaves involves the Dogon people of ancient Timbuktu. Here is what one source says: “The Dogon stories explain that also. According to their oral traditions, a race people from the Sirius system called the Nommos visited Earth thousands of years ago. The Nommos were ugly, amphibious beings that resembled mermen and mermaids. … The Egyptian G-ddess Isis, who is sometimes depicted as a mermaid, is linked with the star Sirius.”

Isis has a PR problem these days. For some reason, an armed terrorist/freedom fighter group is killing people in the middle east. Depending on the day, and campaign contributions, ISIS is seen as an enemy of the American people. What does this have to do with a G-ddess? Will a rebel army be named for Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, or Inanna?

“The Nommos, according to the Dogon legend, lived on a planet that orbits another star in the Sirius system. They landed on Earth in an “ark” that made a spinning decent to the ground with great noise and wind. It was the Nommos that gave the Dogon the knowledge about Sirius B. The legend goes on to say the Nommos also furnished the Dogon’s with some interesting information about our own solar system: That the planet Jupiter has four major moons, that Saturn has rings and that the planets orbit the sun. These were all facts discovered by Westerners only after Galileo invented the telescope.”

“The system is also known to the Bozo, who call Sirius sima kayne (literally: sitting trouser) and its satellite tono nalema (literally: eye star).” Lately another Kayne has become popular. He is hardly a sitting trouser. Has the Kardashian husband been gifted to us from a distant solar system?

At some point in HAFP, Larry Diamond makes plans to go to Timbuktu. He will lick the belly of the toad, and take a magic carpet ride. Gwen Mati was grossed out. “It sounds like a drug.” “Its a hallucinogenic bufotoxin. Aspirin is a drug.”

“Bufotoxin, a moderately potent poison secreted in the skin of many anuran amphibians, especially the typical toads (genus Bufo). The milky fluid contains several identifiable components: bufagin, with effects on the heart similar to those of digitalis; bufotenine, a hallucinogen; and serotonin, a vasoconstrictor. The composition of the poison varies with the species of toad. Taken internally, the poison causes severe, even fatal reaction in many predators, but some animals (e.g., hognosed snakes) are not affected. The poison does not normally affect human skin, but it does irritate the eyes and mucous membranes.” There was no word on spores from outer space.

This is enough fun for one day. Part one of this series is available at an internet near you. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

Half Asleep In Frog Pajamas Part One

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on October 5, 2019


In 1996, PG was in a phase of his life. The details are not important. As usual, he needed escapism. Then he found Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas, by Tom Robbins. One night, on page 183, he saw a sentence: “Mister when you redecorated your brain room, you hung the pictures upside down.”

Three characters of HAFP are involved in that sentence. The voice was inside the head of Gwendolyn Mati. GM is the central figure here. She is a stock broker, on the easter weekend after the stock market crashes. Mister is Larry Diamond, who bears a gruesome resemblance to Tom Robbins. LD, whose middle name might start with S, is a former stockbroker. He talks too much. As fiction fans know, eventually GM and LD are going to fuck, but not before 269 foreplay pages.

The person redecorating the LD brain room is Q-Lo Huffington. (Yes, Q-Lo sounds a lot like the Spanish word for butt. Wait until you meet Motofusa Yamaguchi.) Q-Lo reads tarot cards, and does other things. Q-Lo is a pal of GM, and had a professional arrangement with LD. Q-Lo is also missing on page 183. GM suspects LD of doing something terrible to Q-Lo.

PG is currently on page 230 of HAFP. The story has 156 pages to go, making this a proper time to post part one. Q-Jo is still missing on page 230. Yes, you read that correctly. When PG looked at the page number of the last page, he glanced up, and saw the name Q-Jo Huffington. Calling her Q-Lo was a mistake. Her appearance on the last page implies that she will be found alive. This is one of several loose ends that need to be tied up at the 230 mark.

Getting back to 1996, PG was in a bad way. He read the line about hanging pictures upside down, and began to think. PG had a poster of Grace Jones by the front door. Her hairdo was flat, and tough. If you were to turn her upside down, the hairdo could support her. PG turned the poster upside down, and immediately felt the quality of his life improve.

HAFP was originally published in 1994, and written before that. It takes place over Easter weekend. A post 1987 stock market performance is rocking the world. At one point, GM and LD are in a bar. Someone turns the tv away from a baseball game. “I guess the President is going to make an important speech or something.” You scowl at her for confusing you with one of those Cheeto heads who short their potential and downside their IQs watching televised sports.” Could the author, as insightful as he is, known that twenty five years later it would be the fans of the president that might be called Cheeto heads?

In any Tom Robbins book, the plot is just an excuse for the author to exhume existential eggshells, out of the compost pile of life. An example might be on page 126. “For years now, most automobiles have been designed to roughly resemble eggs. Manufacturers claim the ovoid shape maximizes aerodynamic efficiency, but if that is true, how come a bird has to break out of the egg before it can fly.” Maybe the bird is R. Kelly, and if you believe you can fly, then you can. The truth is, anybody can fly. The problem is landing.

“…if we aren’t learning something from a new experience, it’s usually because we aren’t paying attention. Or we’re following the wrong libretto.” The author says libretto a lot in HAFP. It reminds PG of something else he read. Arthur Marx wrote a book, My Life With Groucho/Growing Up With the Marx Brothers. Groucho’s idea of a good time was to pass out librettos, and listen to Gilbert and Sullivan records. Groucho later performed in The Mikado on television. Pictures for this saturday morning cartoon are from The Library of Congress.

Factotum

Posted in Book Reports, GSU photo archive by chamblee54 on September 14, 2019

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PG was in a seedy chinese buffet, when he realized that only a page remained on Factotum. Should he go back, and get a second cup of ice cream? The scene was far removed from the Charles Bukowski/Hank Chinaski tale of alcoholic Los Angeles. The time is World War II, a conflict that is seldom mentioned. Hank does not seem to miss anything.

There is a barber shop a couple of shops down from the chinese buffet. PG took his brother, GP, to get a haircut there. 082719 – Took GP to the barber shop. Since the basement barber shop has closed, GP wanted to go to Eliot’s Barber Shop in Chamblee Plaza. There has been a bs in that spot as long as PG can remember. The barber pole may be the original one. It looks like it has taken direct sunlight, and the red white and blue is now pink gray and lavender. Below the pole were paper boxes for the fishwrapper and CL. They are seldom used now.

A parking spot was open in front of the bs, and PG took it. Next door was a UPS store. There must have been four or five vehicles to park next to him, in the twenty minutes or so that it took the barber to cut GP’s hair. The last one was a red pickup, with big tires and a Forstyth county plate. The book was Factotum by Charles Bukowski. The young man is in New York and Philly. Every time a truck pulled into the parking spot, young Hank has gotten another crappy job, and left it to get drunk. PG was beginning to notice a pattern when GP came out of the bs.

Hank Chinaski is not an inspiring character. He is a drunk. No one knows how many jobs he got fired from in Factotum. It is like counting how many drinks George and Martha enjoyed in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? “I always started a job with the feeling that I’d soon quit or be fired, and this gave me a relaxed manner that was mistaken for intelligence or some secret power.”

Hank is a hetero. Jan is the lady Hank keeps coming back to/coming in to. Jan drinks as much as Hank, and has a nasty mouth. “She was compulsively unfaithful – she’d go off with anyone she met in a bar, and the lower and the dirtier he was the better she liked it. She was continually using our arguments to justify herself. I kept telling myself that all the women in the world weren’t whores, just mine.” Jan did have one redeeming quality. “jan was an excellent fuck… she had a tight pussy and she took it like it was a knife that was killing her.”

“You know, I’m not a clothes man. Clothes bore me. They are terrible things, cons, like vitamins, astrology, pizzas, skating rinks, pop music, heavyweight championship fights, etc.” “We all sat there and looked at each other and didn’t look at each other. We chewed gum, drank coffee, went into restrooms, urinated, slept. We sat on the hard benches and smoked cigarettes we didn’t want to smoke. We looked at each other and didn’t like what we saw.”

“That scene in the office stayed with me. Those cigars, the fine clothes. I thought of good steaks, long rides up winding driveways that led to beautiful homes. Ease. Trips to Europe. Fine women. Were they that much more clever than I? The only difference was money, and the desire to accumulate it. I’d do it too! I’d save my pennies. I’d get an idea, I’d spring a loan. I’d hire and fire. I’d keep whiskey in my desk drawer. I’d have a wife with size 40 breasts and an ass that would make the paperboy on the corner come in his pants when he saw it wobble. I’d cheat on her and she’d know it and keep silent in order to live in my house with my wealth. I’d fire men just to see the look of dismay on their faces. I’d
fire women who didn’t deserve to be fired.”

“I remembered my New Orleans days, living on two five-cent candy bars a day for weeks at a time in order to have leisure to write. But starvation, unfortunately, didn’t improve art. It only hindered it. A man’s soul was rooted in his stomach. A man could write much better after eating a porterhouse steak and drinking a pint of whiskey than he could ever write after eating a nickel candy bar. The myth of the starving artist was a hoax.” This book report was fueled by coffee, a bowl of basmati rice, and canned black bean fiesta. An craftsman should choose the tools that work best for him. The rice was $1.39 for a five pound bag, on the close out table at Kroger. Being cheap doesn’t have to be evil.

Hank Chinaski gets to the bottom line of the human condition. He got yet another ill-fated job. This one included working as a janitor. The importance of this job soon became manifest. “Nothing is worse than to finish a good shit, then reach over and find the toilet paper container empty. Even the most horrible human being on earth deserves to wipe his ass.”

Early in the book, Hank goes to jail for public drunk. His father… immortalized in Ham on Rye … asked him “What? You’d dare drink right after getting out of jail for intoxication?” To which Hank replied “That’s when you need a drink the most.”

PG went to Kaycee’s for dinner. It is a buffet on LaVista road, across the way from the mall. It is your basic buffet… fried chicken every night, veggies out of a can, and best of all, carrot and raisin salad every time. You go in, pay, tell the lady what you want to drink, and get your food.

Tonight the lady was a tiny asian named Busybee Helen. She brought a couple of glasses of tea, and then asked PG if he wanted some ice cream. Naturally, He said yes. Factotum is still the reading material. Hank met a lady in a bar, and wound up back at her house, along with a drunk named Wilbur, and two other ladies. Wilbur Oxnard is a closet millionaire.

The four of them go out to sea in Wilbur’s boat. Wilbur gets mad at Hank and the girls, and leaves them. The boat has plenty of food and drink, so they are not too broken up, except that it is getting cold. One by one, the girls crawl up into Hank’s bunk to get warm. In the process, they get more than warm, thanks to Hank’s pecker. Meanwhile, the other girls protest that they are friends, and that Hank shouldn’t be doing this. Did this really happen, or is it the overactive Bukowski imagination?

The ice cream never does come out. Busybee Helen asks if PG wants more tea. He says no thank you, and leaves. Life is what you make of it.“The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. supplies the pictures today.

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On The Road: The End

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on July 30, 2019


The On The Road series is sputtering to a halt. PG seems to remember doing the first 2 chapters of part 4. He did not copy the link to the overview. The next step is to review the last 15 days of posting, to see if it turns up. It turns out PG wrote The Bike Wreck in the waiting room of a doc-in-a-box.

The injured shoulder is still a problem. Such is the life of an old fogie. Dean Moriarty/Neal Cassady and Sal Paradise/Jack Kerouac both croaked in their forties. Life fast and leave a pretty corpse. Pictures of merry prankster Neal are not pretty. Even compared to William F. Buckley, Kerouac is not pretty. Maybe the best thing to do is wallow in youtube degenerate research, take notes, and put off writing this book report one more day.

A few slack days passed. Just bite the bullet, start to write something, and maybe the creative juices will kick in. In chapter 3, Dean arrives in Denver. D&S go out looking for kicks, and come home without getting kicked. “Say, Dean gets crazier every year, doesn’t he?” “I had finally found the castle where the great snake of the world was about to rise up.”

In chapter 4 of part 4, the crew starts to go to Mexico. D&S now have a third stooge, Stan, who gets bitten by a critter, and needs to go see a doctor. Soon, they are in the endless travel vortex of Texas. “Texas was undeniable; we burned slowly into Abilene and woke up to look at it. “Imagine living in this town a thousand miles from cities. Whoop, whoop, over there by the tracks, old town Abilene where they shipped the cows and shot it up for gumshoes and drank red-eye. Look out there” yelled Dean out the window with his mouth contorted like W.C.Fields.” At some point, Dean quits talking for a few minutes, then starts back again. Soon, the border came and went.“Behind us lay the whole of America and everything Dean and I had previously known about life, and life on the road. We had finally found the magic land at the end of the road and we never dreamed the extent of the magic.”

“The boys were sleeping, and I was alone in my eternity at the wheel, and the road ran straight as an arrow. Not like driving across Carolina, or Texas, or Arizona, or Illinois; but like driving across the world and into the places where we would finally learn ourselves … These people were unmistakably Indians and were not at all like the Pedros and Panchos of silly civilized American lore — they had high cheekbones, and slanted eyes, and soft ways; they were not fools, they were not clowns; they were great, grave Indians and they were the source of mankind and the fathers of it… For when destruction comes to the world of “history” and the Apocalypse of the Fellahin returns once more as so many times before, people will still stare with the same eyes from the caves of Mexico as well as from the caves of Bali, where it all began and where Adam was suckled and taught to know.”

Before long, the boys were in Gregoria. A guide named Victor appeared. Soon los muchachos tienen marihuana para fumar. The next verse, in this Gregorian chant, was a visit to a whorehouse. “Soon it would be mysterious night in old gone Gregoria. The mambo never let up for a moment, it frenzied on like an endless journey in the jungle. I couldn’t take my eyes off the little dark girl and the way, like a queen, she walked around and was even reduced by the sullen bartender to menial tasks such as bringing us drinks and sweeping the back.”

“I was set upon by a fat and uninteresting girl with a puppy dog, who got sore at me when I took a dislike to the dog because it kept trying to bite me.” Dean had no such troubles. Dean Moriarty, or real life destination Neal Cassady, was a legendary stud. Everybody Knows, Nobody Cares, Or: Neal Cassady’s Penis. When you ask if the Cassady hopalong was cut, or uncut, you are directed to That time Gore Vidal porked Jack Kerouac. To Mr. Vidal’s surprise, Mr. Kerouac was circumcized.

As Allen Ginsberg/Carlo Marx knew, Neal’s goodies were not for ladies only. At one point early in their relationship, Carolyn Cassady/Camille saw more than was customary and reasonable. “What was so wrong with three people who loved each other sharing a bed at the same time? Lu Anne asks in “One and Only” (Heart Beat … shows Carolyn discovering Lu Anne in bed with Neal and Allen Ginsberg.)” Lu Anne Henderson, Marylou in OTR, was Neal’s first wife.

The boys go on to Mexico City, another gone party out of control. Sal gets some kind of tourist bug, and is deathly ill. “I didn’t know who he was anymore, and he knew this, and sympathized, and pulled the blanket over my shoulders.” Dean needs to get back to his wives, and leaves Sal to fend for himself. You knew I was a scorpion when you gave me a ride.

Part five is only a few pages long. Sal gets back to New York eventually. Dean sends him a letter. “I wrote to Dean and told him. He wrote back a huge letter eighteen thousand words long, all about his young years in Denver, and said he was coming to get me an personally select the old truck himslef and drive us home.” This letter was said to inspire Sal’s not-writing-typing style, and may have been plagiarized. “The letter was put up for sale at Christie’s in 2016, but failed to reach the $400,000 minimum. It was offered again in March at Heritage Auctions, where Emory purchased it for $206,250, including buyer’s premium, according to information on the auction house’s website.”

So much for the gasoline soaked adventures of Dean and Sal. The previous installments of this series are available. part one part two part three part four part five part six Pictures for part seven today are from The Library of Congress.

The Bike Wreck

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on July 14, 2019


PG went out on his bike, to put the check in the mail. On the way back, he saw a sign for a yard sale. Once he saw the yard sale sign, he continued up the sidewalk, to the next street. Yes, it is technically illegal, but the law is seldom enforced. There was a manhole cut into the sidewalk. PG went to the side of the manhole, and went off the sidewalk. There was a space, between the sidewalk and the yard. The front wheel of the bike got caught in this space. Next thing PG knew, he was thrown into the street.

Apparently, nothing was broken. Both legs had road rash, and both wrists were sore from breaking the fall. What concerned PG was the right shoulder. The force of the fall had been absorbed by the shoulder, which was probably going to cause problems.

A few hours later, PG was fretting about going to an ER. How long would he be there before anyone saw him? Would the insurance cover this? PG then decided to google emergency rooms in his zipcode. There was a place on Peachtree. A phone call confirmed that the insurance was accepted there, and that he could be out before the place closed at 8pm.

On The Road would keep PG company in the waiting room. The story of Dean (Neal Cassady) and Sal (Jack Kerouac) was up to part four, with just a few more pages to go. PG grabbed a few sheets of paper, and an inkpen. The hardplastic covered magazines would make a good writing surface. PG got to the doc-in-a-box at 5:50 pm. The lady said it would take about a hour to see a doctor.

When the OTR story picks up, D&S are in New York. Sal has some money, and got bit by the travel bug. “What’s your road, man? — holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. It’s an anywhere road for anybody anyhow. Where body how?” Dean is going to miss his pal, but has too many wives and babies to go along. “‘Inez loves me; she’s told me and promised me I can do anything I want and there’ll be a minimum of trouble. You see, man, you get older and troubles pile up. Someday you and me’ll be coming down an alley together at sundown and looking in the cans to see. … All I hope, Dean, is someday we’ll be able to live on the same street with our families and get to be a couple of oldtimers together.”

In chapter 2, Sal is riding a bus to Denver. He gets to talking to a young man, caught up in the prison lifestyle. “Here was a young kid like Dean had been; his blood boiled too much for him to bear; his nose opened up; no native strange saintliness to save him from the iron fate.”

Sal gets to Denver. Stan Shephard is going to Mexico with Sal. Before this er visit is over, Dean will be going. “Okay, it was agreed, Stan was coming with me. He was a rangy, bashful, shock-haired Denver boy with a big con-man smile and slow, easy-going Gary Cooper movements. ‘Hot Damn’ he said and stuck his thumbs in his belt and ambled down the street, swaying from side to side but slowly.” At 6:31, the nurse invites PG to enter the inner sanctum.

Word spreads that Dean is on the way. “I’ll talk to him,” I said grimly. We didn’t know what to expect. “Where will he sleep? What’s he going to eat? Are there any girls for him?” It was like the imminent arrival of Gargantua; preparations had to be made to widen the gutters of Denver and foreshorten certain laws to fit his suffering bulk and bursting ecstasies.”

Before chapter 3 syllabizes into technicolor fury, the er business needs to be attended to. No bones were broken. It looks like a sprained shoulder. Scripts are called into the pharmacy. PG is told to be slack … like he ever needs to be encouraged … and let the healing process take its course. At 7:16, PG is out the door, on his way to CVS.

The yard sale that started it all was the next day. PG saw a vcr, and offered the man the $1.86 in his change purse/skoal can. The vcr had a tape stuck in it, “Samantha & Co/ An Orgy.” The vcr worked.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. Parts one through seven of the series have been published. part one part two part three part four part five part seven

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

Family Barber Shop

Posted in Book Reports, Georgia History, Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on June 27, 2019


PG was reveling in the slack glory of Georgia June, when his brother said he was ready to go to the Family Barber Shop, in downtown Chamblee. FBS in the basement, downstairs from the former Post Office. PG got dragged to FBS when he was a kid. It was always Saturday afternoon. The wait time was never under an hour. Everybody in the room was smoking. The only entertainment was a black and white TV, tuned in to “Wide World of Sports.”

When PG got to FBS, he dropped GP off, and went looking for a parking spot. GP made his way down the stairs, into the basement facility. There was a spot, under a shade tree, at the end of the driveway. There was a no parking sign in front of the space to the left, but not the one that PG occupied. Behind a fence, there were was about 4% of an acre, full of whatever weeds happened to be growing. A black cat appears, walks across a pile of wood chips, and vanishes in the weeds.

With a shady parking spot secured, the next order of business a book. PG was up to part 3, chapter 2, of On The Road. Sal drops in on Dean at 2 am. Dean’s wife, Camille, throws him out. Dean is confused. He is standing on a street, reading Eugene Sue’s Mysteries Of Paris.

The next day, Roy Johnson is driving Sal and Dean around. S&D go to Mill City, looking for an old friend. “A beautiful colored girl opened the door instead; Dean and I talked to her a great deal. Roy Johnson waited in the car, Eugene Sue’s Mysteries Of Paris.”

MOP turns up twice in four pages in the beat generation classic. Google has the standard amazon/goodreads chatter. The text is on gutenberg. MOP begins: “It was on a cold and rainy night, towards the end of October, 1838, that a tall and powerful man, with an old broad-brimmed straw hat upon his head, and clad in a blue cotton carter’s frock, which hung loosely over trousers of the same material, crossed the Pont au Change, and darted with a hasty step into the Cité, that labyrinth of obscure, narrow, and winding streets which extends from the Palais de Justice to Notre Dame.”

Before long, GP is coming back to the car, bringing with him the news that the Family Barber Shop was closing. It had been in business for over eighty years. The parking lot was a problem, and the rent was going up. The owners decided to take their clippers, and go elsewhere.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. Russel Lee was the photographer, in July 1941. Baseball players and spectators stand at attention while Chief Justice Stone gives the oath of allegiance over the radio. Vale, Oregon Father with his two daughters on the merry-go-round, one of the carnival attractions at the Fourth of July celebrations The On The Road series is now complete. part one part two part three part four part five part six part seven

On The Road Part Two

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on June 25, 2019

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One moment in the integration of On The Road into PG’s life in McMansionville GA was the washing machine incident. PG was doing the clothes. When the machine gets to the spin dry cycle, the clothes settle unevenly in the spin basket. The machine starts to rock on its feet, and make machine noise music of Lou Reed proportions. PG will rest his butt against the side of the machine, and read OTR. This helps the machine settle down. Dick hungry PG enjoys the ride.

Meanwhile, OTR is sitting there, patiently waiting on the slack blogger to write yet another chapter. Sal Paradise (Jack Kerouac) is back in Frisco. As soon as Dean (Neal Cassady) gets there, he takes off in search of pussy. … “‘Oh I love, love, love women! I think women are wonderful! I love women!’ He spat out the window; he groaned; he clutched his head. Great beads of sweat fell from his forehead from pure excitement and exhaustion.”… Marylou, the Dean-babe they went cross country with, has run off with some rich people she knows. Sal is broke, starving, and dreaming of food. “There were places where hamburgs sizzled on grills and coffee was just a nickel.” Sal was in the pre-beatnik San Francisco of 1948, 71 years before PG rode the washing machine in summertime Brookhaven. The culture may be internet processed, but the fridge has food, and the clothes are going to be clean in a little while.

Part Two of OTR starts with Sal back in New Jersey. He takes his aunt down to Virginia for a family holiday. Who should show up but Dean Moriarty, first wife Marylou, and Ed Dunkel … “ready to do anything Dean asked him, and at this time Dean was too busy for scruples.” Sal’s aunt has furniture to take back to New Jersey, which Dean winds up taking in his ’49 Hudson. There is an extended New Years Eve party in New York. Before long, Dean needs to get back to Frisco, and he talks Sal into going along. … “… but now the bug as one me again, and the bug’s name was Dean Moriarty and I was off on another spurt around the road.” … They go through Washington as Harry Truman is being sworn in for a full term as POTUS. Around that time, they got a costly speeding ticket in Virginia. They paid that off, leaving them very little money to get to California. (Ed Dunkel, aka Al Hinkle, was the “sole survivor” of the OTR characters. He died December 26, 2018.)

The first stop is New Orleans. Old Bull Lee (William S. Burroughs) is there, along with Galatea, the wife of Ed Dunkel. The cadaverous OBL is leading the opiated life described in Junky. Galatea is one of the more curious side stories of OTR. Ed meets her out west. “These two mindless cads decided to bring the girl along to the east and have her foot the bill … By the time they got to Tucson she was broke. Dean and Ed gave her the slip in a hotel lobby and resumed the voyage alone …”

Galatea made it to New Orleans, and Old Bull Lee. Galatea was reunited with Ed, and began their life together. 46 years later, Galatea … whose real name was Helen … was still with Al Hinkle. Here is the honeymoon story. Better Homes and Gardens chose not to publish this tale.

… the Burroughses weren’t all too happy to have had Helen ‘dumped’ on them. As a matter of fact, when Helen first got there, Bill wasn’t happy and began writing letters to Allen (Ginsberg) in New York telling him to tell me to come and get her out of his house, it’s not a hotel! When we finally got to their house, which was actually in Algiers, LA (across the Mississippi River from New Orleans), Bill and Joan welcomed us. Helen had made herself indispensible in the three weeks she had been there, caring for both the Burroughs children (Joan’s three year old daughter Julie and William Jr., who was an infant at that time); she bathed them, fed them, and generally kept them out of their parents’ way. Bill and Joan actually asked Helen and I if we would stay with them – he had a room all ready to fix up for us! But Helen wanted out – she couldn’t believe how they lived, how little care they took of their children; never mind the house, which was dirty, with lizards running around everywhere.

Helen was appalled by Joan’s use of the Benzedrine inhalers – she would open them up and swallow the cotton. Joan would send Helen to buy an inhaler almost every day. Once Helen mentioned to Joan that the pharmacist told her he would happily sell her ten inhalers at a time because he knew she was not the type to abuse them, to which Joan replied, “So, where are they?” And Helen never figured out that Bill was using heroin – she just thought he was stoned on marijuana all the time (which he was, on top of the heroin). It was all just a little too crazy for Helen, and she was glad when we turned down their offer of a room and found ourselves a room in New Orleans, where we stayed for about six weeks. It was a low-budget adventure, but we did get our honeymoon and we enjoyed it immensely.”

Sal and OBL went to the racetrack. Sal had a vision about his father, and told OBL to bet on a horse because of it. OBL ignored Sal. The horse won, and paid fifty to one. Soon after that, OBL kicked the bunch out. They headed to Frisco without any money. They stole food and gasoline. They picked up hitchhikers, who promised money from a rich aunt down the road, who sometimes existed. Dean cut off the gas while going downhill and coasted. Sal did not like to drive … “I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.” … took up space and grooved on the goneness of it all. “And for just a moment I had reached the point of ecstasy I had always wanted to reach, which was the complete step across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm, and the sensation of death kicking at my heels to move one, with a phantom dogging its own heels, and myself hurrying to a plank where all the angels dove off and flew into the holy void of uncreated emptiness, the potent and inconceivable radiances shining in bright Mind Essence, innumerable lotus-lands falling open in the magic mothswarm of heaven.”

After much hunger and grooviness, Dean, Sal, and Marylou made it to Frisco. Dean promptly dumped Marylou to take up with kids-mama Camille. “You see what a bastard he is?… Dean will leave you out in the cold anytime it’s in his interest.” Sal wanders the city dreaming of food, until he gets his GI bill money, and decides to go back to New Jersey. “What I accomplished by going to Frisco I don’t know. Camille wanted me to leave; Dean didn’t care one way or the other. I bought a loaf of bread and meats and made myself ten sandwiches to cross the country with again; they were all going to go rotten on me by the time I got to Dakota. … We were all thinking we’d never see one another again and we didn’t care.”

The first draft of this piece is done. PG gets more coffee, and goes to work on another project. He is producing a sticker picture based on Lizard (No. 56) by M.C. Escher. Today is the day to start cutting out lizards. These pieces are larger, and more complicated, than what PG usually cuts out. The Grateful Dead is goofing on “China Cat Sunflower” in the background. Jerry would have made a lousy headlight on a northbound train.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. Balboa Beach Bathing Beauty Parade, 1925 “Notes: J278572 U.S. Copyright Office, Copyright deposit; M. F. Weaver; September 14, 1925, Copyright claimant’s address: L[os] A[ngeles], No. 4100-2. May be a fashion parade. Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication. No renewal found in Copyright Office.” Picture #06662 is from “Second International Pageant of Pulchritude and Eighth Annual Bathing Girl Revue, May 21, 22, 23, 1927, Galveston TX.” The chamblee54 On The Road series is complete. part one part two part three part four part five part six part seven

On The Road Part One

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on June 11, 2019


PG has been home a few days. It is time to proceed with this book report of On The Road, the typing exercise of noted dipsomaniac Jack Kerouac. At the end of Road Trip, Sal Paradise (Jack Kerouac) is in a Colorado ghost town. This was chapter 9 of OTR.

There are a couple of changes. The keyboard, connected to PG’s machine, died. It no longer typed o. Further investigation revealed it would not type q or t. Some numbers went missing. It is possible that other keys were not working. PG found a replacement keyboard. Unfortunately, the backspace key … an essential tool for a slack blogger … was just a regular single wide key, instead of the double wide backspace of the old keyboard. When the right pinkie instinctively strokes the backspace, \ is what shows up. This is going to take some lifestyle adjustment.

A book that PG wanted to talk about was in the vehicle. When he looked for the car key, it was not on the desk. The key was not in the pants PG had on, or the pants he had on the last night. The keys were not in the car. When he came back in the house last night, PG put the book down on the dining room table. That was where the car key was.

Back to the changes in the OTR narrative. PG ordered a better copy of OTR from the library. When it arrived, it was a deluxe paperback, printed in 1999, with a sticker price of $16.00. The 1970? edition, that PG was using, retailed for $1.25. PG got the arrival notice from the library June 4. Before he could go to the library, PG took his brother, GP, grocery shopping. While sitting in the Aldi parking lot, PG read page 62. Sal is in *Frisco*. “There were plenty of queers.” When PG put the book down to ponder that, he saw GP leaving Aldi’s.

This is chapter 11. Sal is living in a trailer outside the city. “the only community in America where whites and Negroes lived together voluntarily; and that was so, and so wild and joyous a place I’ve never seen since.” He is staying with Remi Boncoeur, an old friend. Remi argues with his wife, when he is not working as a security guard. Sal starts to work as a guard. Once Sal is called to a trailer. Some men are drinking, and behaving badly. “This is the story of America. Everybody’s doing what they think they’re supposed to do. So what if a bunch of men talk in loud voices and drink the night? But Sledge wanted to prove something.” Sal accepts their offer of a drink. It goes downhill from there. Eventually, some alcohol related nonsense estranges Sal and Remi.

On the bus to LA, Sal meets a Mexican lady named Terry. “I saw her poor belly where there was a Caesarean scar; her hips were so narrow she couldn’t bear a child without getting gashed open… I made love to her in the sweetness of the weary morning. Then, like two tired angels of some kind, hung-up forlornly in an L.A. shelf, having found the closest and most delicious thing in life together, we fell asleep and slept till late afternoon.” Money becomes an issue, and Sal/Terry go out to the San Joaquin Valley. Some friend of Terry’s brother has a business selling manure to farmers. Mostly gets drunk, with Sal’s eager assistance. Finally, Sal gets his aunt to send money, buys a bus ticket to New York, and leaves a heartbroken Terry in California.

At the end of chapter 14, Sal is in New York, broke, and trying to get to his aunt’s house in New Jersey. This is the end of part one. OTR is divided into five parts, each divided into a collection of short chapters. The rest of this series will deal with the parts, one at a time, along with whatever stories from 2019 are entertaining enough to include.

“I was going home in October. everybody goes home in October.” PG likes to compare his life to the story of Sal. PG has had a comparatively tame existence. The only time he ever came home in October was when he was at a faerie-do in Tennessee. In 1989, PG got home to hear about an earthquake in San Francisco. A week later, PG got through fixing a flat tire, and went up to his apartment to see the light flashing on the message machine. “Michael Mason died last night.”

A quote by Truman Capote comes up, when Jack Kerouac is mentioned. “Thats not writing, thats typing.” PG did a google search of the phrase in 2011. “Kerouac survives because he (allegedly) wrote great works; the insufferable logorrhea the Beats inspired biodegrades in niche bookstores because, sensibly, nobody reads it.” Google also found a book review of “Going Rogue,” by Sarah Palin … That’s not writing, that’s someone else typing.

Whenever PG hears a quote these days, he goes into fact checker mode. Did Mr. Capote really say TNWTT? Quote Investigator comes to the rescue. The phrase first came up in Paris Review: Truman Capote, The Art of Fiction No. 17. “The topic was writing style, and Capote responded by passing judgment … “But yes, there is such an animal as a nonstylist. Only they’re not writers. They’re typists. Sweaty typists blacking up pounds of Bond with formless, eyeless, earless messages.” Mr. Kerouac was not mentioned by name.

The next appearance of TNWTT was on the David Susskind show. The guests were Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and Dorothy Parker … who paid the bar tab when that was over? “Truman Capote agreed to appear on David Susskind’s “Open End” show, with Norman Mailer — who kept praising the Beat-Generation writers. Capote thought their product worthless. “It’s nothing,” he said. “That’s not writing; that’s just typewriting.” Again, this appears to be about the beats in generally, and not specifically about Mr. Kerouac. The quote lives on, long after Mr. Capote and Mr. Kerouac moved on to the cocktail party in the sky.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. The chamblee54 On The Road series is complete. part one part two part three part four part five part six part seven