Thursday, 24 July 2008

25 July 2008

Thus attired they yelled at each other all week. I never saw so many snarls in all my born days. But on Saturday night, smiling graciously at one another, they took off like a pair of successful Hollywood characters and went on the town. Henri wanted to get Diane into the movies; he wanted to make a Hollywood writer out of me; he was nothing but plans. He woke up and saw me come in the window. His great laugh, one of the greatest laughs in the world, dinned in my ear. “Aaaaah Kerouac, he comes in through the window, he follows instructions to a T. Where have you been, you’re two weeks late!” He slapped me on the back, he punched Diane in the ribs, he leaned on the wall and laughed and cried, he pounded the table so you could hear it everywhere in Marin city and that great long “Aaaaah” laugh resounding around Marin city. “Kerouac!” he screamed. “The one and only indispensable Kerouac.” I had just come through the little fishing village of Sausalito and the first thing I said was “There must be a lot of Italians in Sausalito.” “There must be a lot of Italians in Sausalito!” he shouted at the top of his lungs… “Aaaaah!” he pounded himself, he fell on the bed, he almost rolled on the floor. “Did you hear what Kerouac said? There must be a lot of Italians in Sausalito? Aaaaah-haaa! Hoo! Wow! Whee!” He got red like a beet laughing. “Oh you slay me, Kerouac, You’re the funniest man in the world, and here you are, you finally got here, you came in through the window, you saw him Diane, he followed instructions and came in through the window…Aaah! Hooo!” The strange thing was that next door to Henri lived a Negro man called Mr. Snow whose laugh, I swear here on the Bible, was positively and finally the one greatest laugh in all this world. I can’t describe it now…I will in a moment when the time comes. But this Mr. Snow began his laugh from the supper table when his old wife said something casual; he apparently got up choking, leaned on the wall, looked up to heaven, and started; he ended staggering thru the door, leaning on the neighbor’s walls, he was drunk with it, he staggered throughout marin city in the shadows raising his whooping triumphant call to the demon god that must have prodded his ass to do it…I don’t know if he ever finished supper. There’s a possibility that Henri

24 July 2008

printed) “If nobody’s home climb in through the window.” And it said “Signed Henri Cru.” The note was weather beaten and gray by now---but Henri hadn’t given up. I climbed in and there he was sleeping with his girl Diane- -on a bed he stole from a merchant ship sneaking over the side in the middle of the night with a bed, and weaving and straining at the oars to the shore. This barely explains Henri Cru. The reason I’m going into everything that happened in Sanfran is because it ties up with everything else all the way down the line. Henri Cru and I met at prep school years ago; but the thing that really tied us together was my former wife. Henri found her first. He came into my dorm room one night and said “Kerouac get up, the old maestro has come to see you.” I got up, and dropped some pennies on the floor when I put my pants on. It was four in the afternoon; I used to sleep all the time in college. “All right, all right, don’t drop your gold all over the place. I have found the gonest little girl in the world and I’m going straight to the Lion’s den with her tonight.” And he dragged me to meet her. A week later she was going with me. She said she despised Henri. Henri was a tall dark handsome Frenchman- -he looked a kind of Marseilles blackmarketeer of twenty---because he was French he had to talk in jazz American---his English was perfect, his French was perfect---he liked to dress sharp, slightly on the collegiate side, and go out with fancy blondes and spend a lot of money. It’s not that he never forgave me for screwing off with his Edie---only it was always a point that tied us together, and from the very first day that guy was loyal to me and had real affection for me, and God knows why. When I found him in Marin City that morning he had fallen on the beat and evil days that come to all young guys in their middle twenties. He was reduced to hanging around waiting for a ship, and to earn his living he had a job as a special guard in the barracks across the canyon. His girl Diane had a bad tongue and gave him a calling down every day. They spent all week saving pennies and went out Saturdays to spend fifty bucks in three hours. Henri wore shorts around the shack, with a crazy Army cap on his head; Diane went around with her hair up.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

23 July 2008

Divide at midnight at Creston, arriving Salt Late City at dawn, a city of sprinklers, the least likely place for Neal to have been born; then out to Nevada in the hot sun, Reno by nightfall, its twinkling Chinese streets; then up to Sierra Nevada, pines, stars, mountain lodges signifying Frisco romances---a little boy in the back seat crying to his mother “Mother when do we get home to Truckee?” And Truckee itself, homey Truckee and then down the hill to the flats of Sacramento. I suddenly realized I was in California. Warm palmy air---air you can kiss---and palms. Along the storied Sacramento river on a superhighway; into the hills again; up, down; and suddenly the vast expanse of bay---it was just before dawn---with the sleepy lights of Frisco festooned across. Crossing the Oakland Bay Bridge I slept for the first time since Denver soundly; so that I was rudely jolted in the bus station at Market and Third into the memory of the fact that I was in San Francisco three thousand two hundred miles from my mother’s house in Ozone Park, Long Island. I wandered out like a haggard ghost, and there she was Frisco, long bleak streets with trolley wires all shrouded in fog and whiteness. I stumbled about a few blocks. Weird bums (it was Mission st.) asked me for dimes in the dawn. I heard music somewhere. “Boy am I going to dig all this later! But now I’ve got to find Henri Cru.” And following his instructions I took a bus and rode out over the Golden Gate bridge to Marin City. The sun was making a terrific haze over the Pacific as we crossed Golden Gate, a haze I couldn’t look into, and so this was the shining shield of the China-going world ocean and it wore a terrible aspect especially as I was scheduled to sail out on it. Marin City where Henri Cru lived was a collection of shacks in a valley, housing project shacks built for Navy yard workers during the war; it was really a canyon, and a deep one, treed profusely on all slopes. There were special stores and barbershops and tailorshops for the people of the Project. It was, so they say, the only community in America where whites and Negroes lived together voluntarily; and that was so, and a wild joyous place I’ve never seen since. On the door of Henri’s shack was the note he had pinned up there three weeks ago. “Jack Claptrap!” (in huge letters,

22 July 2008

to the bus station. I bought my ticket to San Fran, spending half of the fifty, and got on at two o’clock in the afternoon. Ed White waved goodbye. The bus rolled out of the storied eager Denver streets. “By God I gotta come back and see what else will happen!” I promised. In a last minute phone call Neal said he and Allen might join me on the Coast; I pondered this, and realized also I hadn’t talked to Neal for more than five minutes in the whole time. Anyway I was gone, and this is what Neal and Allen did. Neal concluded his business with his girls and the two boys, giggling happily, took off for Texas on the road. Someone in Denver saw them going down South Broadway; Neal was running and jumping to catch high leaves, Allen, according to the informant, “was making notes about it.” This was the story told by Dan Burmeister, of whom more later. They journeyed days and nights to Texas; in all that time they didn’t sleep and talked continually. Nothing was left undecided and undiscussed. On the highway, by Raton rocks, by windy panhandle grasses at Amarillo, in the bushy heart of Texas, they talked and talked, till arriving near Waverly Texas down near Houston where Bill Burroughs lived so much had been decided that they kneeled in the dark of the road, facing each other, and made vows of eternal friendship & love. Allen blessed him; Neal acknowledged. They kneeled and chanted till their knees were sore. And as they wandered around the woods looking for Bill’s house they suddenly saw Bill Burroughs himself loping along a fence with a fishing pole. He’d been fishing in the bayou. “Well,” he said, “I see you boys finally made it. Joan and Hunkey been wondering where you’ve been.” “Is Hunkey here?” they cried joyously. “He’s been here most conspicuously…” “Wow! Damn! Whoopee!” cried Neal. “Now I get to dig Hunkey too! Less go, less go!” There began a series of events there that ended up in New York at just the time I got back there myself. But meanwhile I was rolling along in San Francisco and I’ll get to them later. I was two weeks late meeting Henri Cru. The bus trip from Denver to Frisco was uneventful except that my whole soul leaped to it the nearer we got to Frisco. Cheyenne again…in the afternoon this time…and then went over the rangelands; crossing the

Monday, 21 July 2008

21 July 2008

called each other Yo. “Yep,” I said. I wandered around Denver. It seemed to me every bum on Larimer St. maybe was Neal Cassady’s father, Old Neal Cassady they called him, the Barber. I went in the Windsor hotel where father and son had lived and where one night Neal was frightfully waked up by the legless man on the rollerboard who shared the room with them who came thundering across the floor on his terrible wheels to touch the boy. I saw the little midget newspaperselling woman with the short legs, on the corner of Curtis and Fifteenth. “Man,” Neal told me, “think of lifting her in the air and fucking her!” I walked around the sad honkeytonks of Curtis street: young kids in jeans and red shirts, peanut shells, movie marquees, shooting parlors. Beyond the glittering street was darkness, and beyond the darkness the west. I had to go. At dawn I found Allen. I read some of his enormous journal, slept there, and in the morning, drizzly and gray, tall sixfoot Al Hinkle came in with Bill Tomson- -a handsome kid---and Jim Holmes the hunchback poolshark. Jim Holmes had saintly big blue eyes but he was a mumbling bore. He wore a beard; he lived with his grandmother. Big Al was the son and brother of a cop family. Bill Tomson claimed he could run faster than Neal. They sat around and listened with abashed smiles as Allen Ginsberg read them his apocalyptic mad poetry. I slumped in my chair, finished. “Oh ye Denver birds!” cried Allen. We all filed out and went up a typical cobbled Denver alley between incinerators smoking slowly. “I used to roll my hoop up this alley” Hal Chase had told me. I wanted to see him do it; I wanted to see Denver ten years ago when they were all children and in the sunny cherryblossom morning of Springtime in the Rockies they rolled their hoops up the joyous alleys full of promise…the whole gang. And Neal, ragged and dirty, prowling by himself with a preoccupied frenzy. Bill Tomson and I walked in the drizzle; I went to Eddie’s girls house and got my wool plaid shirt back---the shirt of Preston Nebraska. It was all there, all tied up, the whole enormous sadness of a shirt. Bill Tomson said he’d meet me in Frisco. Everybody was going to Frisco. I went and found my money had arrived. The sun came out, and Ed White rode a trolley with me

Sunday, 20 July 2008

20 July 2008

would be getting money back from me, as soon as I got that ship. Then I went to meet Ruth Gullion and took her back to the apartment. I got her in my bedroom after a long talk in the dark of the front room. She was a nice little girl, simple and true, and tremendously frightened of sex; she said it was because she saw such awful things in the hospital. I told her it was beautiful. I wanted to prove this to her. She let me prove it, but I was too impatient and proved nothing. She sighed in the dark. “What do you want out of life?” I asked and I used to ask that all the time of girls. “I don’t know” she said. “Just work and try to get along.” She yawned. I put my hand over her mouth and told her not to yawn. I tried to tell her how excited I was about life and the things we could do together; saying that and planning to leave Denver in two days. She turned away wearily. We lay on our backs looking at the ceiling and wondering what God had wrought when he made life so sad and disinclined. We made vague plans to meet in Frisco. My moments in Denver were coming to an end. I could feel it when I walked her home in the holy Denver night and on the way back stretched out on the grass of an old chuch with a bunch of hoboes and their talk made me want to get back on that road. Every now and then one would get up and hit a passerby for a dime. They talked of harvests moving North. It was warm and soft. I wanted to go and get Ruth again and tell her a lot more things, and really make love to her this time, and calm her fears about men. Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk---real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious. I heard the Denver and Rio Grande locomotive howling off to the mountains. I wanted to pursue my star further. Temko and I sat sadly talking in the midnight hours. “Have you ever read The Green Hills of Africa? It’s Hemingway’s best.” We wished each other luck. We would meet in Frisco. I saw Burford under a dark tree in the street. “Goodbye Bob, when do we meet again?” I went to look for Allen and Neal- - nowhere to be found. Ed White shot his hand up in the air and said “So you’re leaving Yo.” We

Saturday, 19 July 2008

19 July 2008

He went up to Bellaconda the artist and threw a hiball in his face; his sister Bev screamed “No Bob, not that!” We dragged him out. He was beyond himself. A baritone singer from the chorus joined us and we went to a regular Central City bar. Here he called the waitress a whore. A group of sullen men were ranged along the bar; they hated tourists. On of them said “You boys better be out of here by the count of ten.” We were. We staggered back to the shack and went to sleep. In the morning I woke up and turned over; a big cloud of dust rose from the mattress. I yanked at the window; it was nailed. Ed White was in the bed too. We coughed and sneezed. Our breakfast consisted of stale beer. Beverly came back from her hotel and we got our things together to leave. But we had to go and watch Bellaonda the artist, at Brierly’s orders, mixing things in his kiln; it would constitute Burford’s apology. We all stood around the kiln as the artist lectured. Burford smiled and nodded and tried to look interested and looked sheepish as hell. Brierly stood by proudly. Beverly leaned on me wearily. I cut out and went to the ushers’ dormitories and found a toilet; as I sat there I saw an eye in the keyhole. “Who’s that in there?” said the voice. “Jack” I said. It was Brierly; he was wondering around and had got bored with the kiln. Everything seemed to be collapsing. As we were going down the steps of the miner’s house Beverly slipped and fell flat on her face. Poor girl was overwrought. Her brother and Ed and I helped her up. We got back in the car; Temko and Jean joined us. The sad ride back to Denver began. Suddenly we came down from the mountain and overlooked the great sea-plain of Denver; heat rose as from an oven. We began to sing songs. I was itching to get on to San Francisco. That night I found Allen and to my amazement he told me he’d been in Central City with Neal. “What did you do?” “Oh we ran around the bars and then Neal stole a car and we drove back down the mountain curves ninety miles an hour.” “I didn’t see you.” “We didn’t know you were there.” “Well man, I’m going to San Francisco.” “Neal has Ruth lined up for you tonight.” “Well then I’ll put it of.” “I had no money; I sent my mother an airmail letter asking her for fifty dollars and said it would be the last money I’d ask; after that she

Friday, 18 July 2008

18 July 2008

what he liked---thousands of people milling, and he the director of it. Dancingmaster Death indeed. But I liked him, I always liked J.W.Brierly. He was sad. I saw him threading through the crowd in loneliness. Everybody knew him. “Happy New Year,” he called, and sometimes “Merry Christmas.” He said this all the time. At Christmas he said Happy Halloween. There was an artist in the bar who was highly respected by everyone; Justin had insisted that I meet him and I was trying to avoid it; his name was Bellaconda or some such thing. His wife was with him. They sat sourly at a table. There was also some kind of Argentinian tourist at the bar. Burford gave him a shove to make room; he turned and snarled. Burford handed me his glass and knocked him down on the brass rail with one punch. The man was momentarily out. There were screams; Ed and I scooted Burford out. There was so much confusion the sheriff couldn’t even thread his way through the crowd to find the victim. Nobody could identify Burford. We went to other bars. Temko staggered up a dark street. “What the hell’s the matter? Any fights? Just call on me.” Great laughter rang from all sides. I wondered what the Spirit of the Mountain was thinking; and looked up, and saw jackpines in the moon, and saw ghosts of old miners, and wondered about it. In the whole eastern dark wall of the divide this night there was silence and the whisper of the wind, except in the ravine where we roared; and on the other side of the Divide was the great western slope, and the big plateau that went to Steamboat Springs, and dropped, and led you to the Eastern Colorado desert and the Utah desert; all in darkness now as we fumed and screamed in our mountain nook, mad drunken Americans in the mighty land. And beyond, beyond, over the Sierras the other side of the Carson sink was bejewelled bay-encircled nightlike old Frisco of my dreams. We were situated on the roof of America and all we could do was yell, I guess---across the night, eastward over the plains where somewhere an old man with white hair was probably walking towards us with the Word and would arrive any minute and make us silent. Burford exceeded all bounds; he insisted on going back to the bar where he’d fought. Ed and I didn’t like what he did but stuck to him.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

17 July 2008

We rushed back to our miner’s shack. Everything was in preparation for the big party. The girls Bev and Jean cooked up a snack of beans and franks and then we danced to our own music, and started on the beer for fair. The opera over, great crowds of young girls came piling into our place. Burford and Ed and I licked our lips. We grabbed them and danced. There was no music, just dancing. The place filled up. People began to bring bottles. We rushed out to hit bars and rushed back. The night was getting more and more frantic. I wished Neal and Allen were there- -then I realized they’d be out of place and unhappy. They were like the man with the dungeon stone and the gloom, rising from the underground, the sordid hipsters of America, a new beat generation that I was slowly joining. The boys from the chorus showed up. They began singing “Sweet Adeline.” They also sang phrases such as “Pass me the beer” and “What are you doing with your face hanging out” and great long baritone howls of “Fi-de-lio!” “Ah me, what gloom!” I sang. The girls were terrific. They went out in the backyard and necked. There were beds in the other rooms, the uncleaned dusty ones, and I had a girl sitting on it and was talking with her when suddenly there was a great inrush of young ushers from the opera, half of them hired by Brierly, who just grabbed girls and kissed them without proper come-ons. Teenagers, drunk, dishevelled, excited…they ruined our party. Inside of five minutes every single girl was gone and a great big fraternity type party got underway with banging of beer bottles and roars. Bob and Ed and I decided to hit the bars. Temko was gone, Bev and Jean were gone. We tottered into the night. The opera crowd was out, jamming the bars from bar to wall. Temko was shouting above heads. Justin W. Brierly was shaking hands with everybody and saying “Good afternoon, how are you?” and when midnight came he was saying “Good afternoon, how are you?” At one point I saw him rushing the Mayor of Denver off somewhere. Then he came back with a middleaged woman; next minute he was talking to a couple of young ushers in the street. The next minute he was shaking my hand without recognizing me and saying “Happy New Year, m’boy.” He wasn’t drunk on liquor, just drunk on

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

16 July 2008

cleaned and refused to help. On a little table in front of him he had his bottle of beer and his glass. As we rushed around with buckets of water and brooms he reminisced, “Ah if you could just come with me sometime and drink Cinzano and hear the musicians of Bandol then you’d be living.” Temko was an officer in the Navy; he got drunk and began giving orders. Burford had a habit concerning Temko’s irritating overweeningness; he pointed at him with a limp finger, turned to you with awe and said “Cherry? You think he’s cherry?” Temko paid no attention. “Ah,” he said, “then there’s Normandy in the summers, the sabots, the fine Rhine wine. Come on Sam,” he said to his invisible pal “take the wine out of the water and let’s see if it got cold enough while we fished.” - - straight out of Hemingway, it was. We called the girls that went by in the street. “Come on help us clean up the joint. Everybody’s invited to our party tonight.” They joined in. We had a huge crew working for us. Finally the singers in the opera chorus, mostly young kids, came over and pitched in. The sun went down. Our day’s work over Ed, Burford and I decided to sharp up for the big night. We went across town to the roominghouse where the opera stars were living, also Brierly. From across the night we heard the beginning of the evening performance. “Just right, said Burford. “Latch on to some of these toothbrushes and towels and we’ll spruce up a bit.” We also took hairbrushes, colognes, shaving lotions and went laden into the bathroom. We all took baths and sang like opera stars. Burford wanted to wear the first tenor’s tie but Ed White prevailed with his casual good sense. “Isn’t this great?” Ed White kept saying. “Using the opera stars’ bathroom and towels and shaving lotion.” And razors. It was a wonderful night. Central City is two miles high; at first you get drunk on the altitude, then you get tired, and there’s a fever in your soul. We approached the lights around the opera house down the narrow dark street; then we took a sharp right and hit some old saloons with swinging doors. Most of the tourists were in the opera. We started off with a few extra size Jumbo beers. There was a player piano. Beyond the backdoor was a view of the mountainsides in the moonlight. I let out a Yahoo. The night was on.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

15 July 2008

The opera was Fidelio, Beethoven’s, mighty work. “What gloom!” cried the baritone rising out of the dungeon under a groaning stone…I cried for it. That’s how I see life too. I was so interested in the opera that for awhile I forgot the circumstances of my crazy life and got lost in the great mournful sounds of Beethoven and the rich Rembrandt tones of his story. “Well Jack, how did you like our production for this year?” asked Brierly proudly in the street outside. “What gloom, what gloom,” I said, “it’s absolutely great.” “The next thing you’ll have to do is meet the members of the cast” he went on in his official tones but luckily he forgot this in the rush of other things and vanished. It was a matinee performance I’d seen; there was another one in the evening scheduled. I’ll tell you how I came at least, if not to the pleasure of meeting the members of the cast, to using their bathtub and best towels. Incidentally I must explain here why Brierly thought enough of me to make arrangements of all sorts for my benefit. Hal Chase and Ed White were his most highly regarded charges; they’d been to college with me; we’d roamed New York together and talked. Brierly’s first impression of me was none too favorable…I was sleeping on the floor, drunk, when he came to visit Hal one Sunday morning in New York. “Who’s this?” “That’s Jack.” “So that’s the famous Jack. What is he doing sleeping on the floor?” “He does that all the time.” “I thought you said he was a genius of some kind.” “Oh sure he is, can’t you see it?” “I must say it requires some difficulty. I thought he was married, where’s his wife?” I was married at the time. “Oh she just went on going; Jack gave up, she’s in the West End bar with an undertaker who’s got a couple hundred dollars and buys everybody drinks.” After which I rose from the floor and shook Mr. Brierly’s hand. He wondered what Hal saw in me; and still did in Denver that summer and never really thought I’d amount to anything. It was precisely what I wanted him and the whole world to think; then I could sneak in, if that’s what they wanted, and sneak out again, which I did. Bev and I went back to the miner’s shack, I took off my duds and joined the boys in the cleaning. It was an enormous job. Allan Temko sat in the middle of the front room that had already been

Monday, 14 July 2008

14 July 2008

driving, Ed White lounging in the back, and Beverly up front. It was my first view of the interior of the Rockies. Central City is an old mining town that was once called the Richest Square Mile in the world, where a veritable shelf of silver had been found by the old buzzards who roamed the hills. They grew wealthy overnight and had a beautiful little opera house built in the midst of their steep shacks on the slope. Lillian Russell had come there; opera stars from Europe. Then Central City became a ghost town, till the energetic Chamber of Commerce types of the new West decided to revive the place. They polished up the opera house and every summer stars from the Metropolitan Opera came out and performed. It was a big vacation for everybody. Tourists came, from everywhere, even Hollywood stars. We drove up the mountain and found the narrow streets chockfull of chichi tourists. I thought of Temko’s Sam and Temko was right. Temko himself was there turning on his big social smile to everybody and oohing and aahin most sincerely over everything. “Jack” he cried clutching my arm “just look at this old town. Think how it was a hundred, what the hell, only eighty, sixty years ago; they had opera!” “Yeah,” I said imitating one of his characters, “but they’re here.” “The bastards” he cursed. But he rushed off to enjoy himself, Jean White on his arm. Beverly Burford was an enterprising blonde. She knew of an old miner’s house at the edge of town that we boys could sleep in for the weekend; all we had to do was clean it out. We could also throw vast parties in there. It was an old shack of a thing covered with an inch of dust inside; it even had a porch and a well in back. Ed White and Bob Burford rolled up their sleeves and started in cleaning it, a major job that took them all afternoon and part of the night. But they had a bucket of beerbuttles and everything was fine. As for me, I was scheduled to be a guest at the opera, Justin W. Brierly had arranged it, and escorted Bev on my arm. I wore a suit of Ed’s. Only a few days ago I’d come in to Denver like a bum; this afternoon I was all racked up sharp in a suit, with a beautiful well-dressed blonde on my arm, bowing to dignitaries and chatting in the lobby under chanderliers. I wondered what Mississipi Gene would say if he could see.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

13 July 2008

you will my dear fellow to the night Louanne was crying in the room, and when, turning to you and indicating by my extra added sincerity of tone which we both knew was contrived but had its intention, that is, by my playacting I showed that…but wait, that isn’t it…” “Of course that isn’t it! Because you forget that…but I’ll stop accusing you. Yes is what I said…” And on, on into the night they talked like this. At dawn I looked up. They were tying up the last of the morning’s matters. “When I said to you that I had to sleep because of Louanne, that is seeing her this morning at ten I didn’t bring my peremptory tone to bear in regards to what you’d just said about the unnecessariness of sleep but only, ONLY mind you because of the fact that I absolutely, simply, purely and and without any whatevers have to sleep now, I mean, man, my eyes are closing, they’re redhot, sore, tired, beat…” “Ah child,” said Allen. “We’ll just have to sleep now. Let’s stop the machine.” “You can’t stop the machine!” yelled Allen at the top of his voice.” The first birds sang. “Now, when I raise my hand” said Neal, “we’ll stop talking, we’ll both understand purely and without any hassel that we are simply stopping talking, and we’ll just sleep.” “You can’t stop the machine like that.” “Stop the machine” I said. They looked at me. “He’s been awake all this time listening. What were you thinking Jack?” I told them that I was thinking they were very amazing maniacs and that I had spant the whole night listening to them like a man watching the mechanism of a watch that reached clear to the top of Berthoud pass and yet was made with the smallest works of the most delicate watch in the world. They smiled. I pointed my finger at them and said “If you keep this up you’ll both go crazy but let me know what happens as you go along.” We also talked about the possibility of their coming to Frisco with me. I walked out and took a trolley to my apartment and Allen Ginsberg’s papier-mâché mtns. grew red as the great sun rose from the eastward plains. In the afternoon I was involved in that trek to the mountains and didn’t get to see Neal or Allen for five days. Beverly Burford had use of her employer’s car for the weekend. We brought suits and hung them on the windows and took off for Central City, Bob Burford

Saturday, 12 July 2008

12 July 2008

an abstract thought, discussed it; reminded each other of another abstract point forgotten in the rush of events; Neal apologized but promised he could get back to it and manage it fine; bringing up illustrations. “And just as we are crossing Wazee I wanted to tell you about how I felt of your frenzy with the midgets and it was just then, remember, you pointed out that old bum with the hardon in his baggy pants and said he looked just like your father?” “Yes, yes, of course I remember; and not only that, but it started a train of my own, something real wild that I had to tell you. I’d forgotten it, now you just reminded me of it---” and two new points were born. They hashed these over. Then Allen asked Neal if he was honest and specifically if he was being honest with him in the bottom of his soul. “Why do you bring that up again?” “There’s one last thing I want to know…” “But, dear Jack, you’re listening, you’re sitting there, we’ll ask Jack, what would he say.” And I said, “That last thing is what you can’t get, Allen. Nobody can get to that last thing. We keep on living in hopes of catching it once for all…” “No no no, you’re talking absolute bullshit and Wolfean romantic posh!” said Allen, and Neal joined in: I didn’t mean that at all, but we’ll let Jack have his own mind, and in fact, don’t you think Allen there’s a kind of dignity in the way he’s sitting there and digging us, crazy cat came all the way across the country..old Jack won’t tell, old Jack won’t tell.” “It isn’t that I won’t tell,” I protested, “I just don’t know what you’re both driving at or trying to get at…I know it’s too much for anybody.” “Everything you say is negative.” “Then what is it you’re trying to do?” “Tell him.” “No, you tell him.” “There’s nothing to tell,” I laughed. I had on Allen’s hat, I pulled it down over my eyes. “I want to sleep” I said. “Poor Jack always wants to sleep.” I kept quiet. They started in again. “When you borrowed that nickel to make up the check for the chickenfried steaks..” “No, man, the chili! Remember, the Texas Star?” “I was mixing it with Tuesday. When you borrowed that nickel you said, now listen, YOU said ‘Allen this is the last time I’ll impose on you,’ as if, and really, you meant that I had agreed with you about no more imposing.” “No, no, no, I didn’t mean that--- you harken back now if

Friday, 11 July 2008

11 July 2008

Grant street in an old redbrick roominghouse near a church. You went down an alley, down some stone steps, opened a old raw door and went through a kind of cellar till you came to his board door. It was like the room of a Russian saint. One bed, a candle burning, stone walls that oozed moisture, and a crazy makeshift ikon of some kind that he made for the occasion. He read me his poetry. It was called “Denver Doldrums.” Allen woke up in the morning and heard the “vulgar pigeons” yakking in the streets outside his cell; he saw the “sad nightingales” which reminded him of his mother nodding on the branches. A grey shroud fell over the city. The mountains---the magnificent Rockies that you could see to the west from any part of town---were “papier mache.” The whole universe was crazy and cockeyed and extremely strange. He wrote of Neal as a “child of the rainbow” who bore his torment in his agonized cock. He referred to him as “Oedipus Eddie” who had to “scrape bubblegum off windowpanes.” He referred to Brierly as “dancingmaster death.” He brooded in his basement over a huge journal in which he was keeping track of everything that happened everyday---everything Neal did and said. Allen told me of his trip in a bus. “Coming through Missouri there occurred a miraculous lightning storm that transformed the firmaments into a great electrical frenzy. Everybody in the bus was frightened. I said ‘Don’t be frightened, it’s only a Sign.’ Imagine Missouri---where Burroughs and Lucien are from.” “That’s also where some of Neal’s folks come from.” “I don’t know,” said Allen growing sad, “What shall I do?” “Why don’t you go down to Texas and see Burroughs and Joan?” “I want Neal to come with me.” “How can he do that with all his women?” “Oh, I don’t know.” Neal came in at three in the morning. “Everything’s straight,” he announced. “I’m going to divorce Louanne and marry Carolyn and go live with her in San Fransisco. But this is only after you and I, dear Allen, go to Texas, dig Bill, that gone cat I’ve never met and both of you’ve told me so much about, and then I’ll go to San Fran.” Then they got down to business. They sat on the bed crosslegged and looked straight at each other. I slouched in a nearby chair and saw all of it. They began with

Thursday, 10 July 2008

10 July 2008

took a blind chance and called. Now I had the opportunity to get my shirt back. Eddie was with his girl in a house off Colfax. He wanted to know if I knew where to find work and I told him to come over, figuring Neal would know. Neal arrived hurrying. Temko and I were having a hasty breakfast that I always cooked. Neal wouldn’t even sit down. “I have a thousand things to do, in fact hardly any time to take you down Denargo but let’s go man.” “Wait for my roadbuddy Eddie.” Temko found our hurrying troubles amusing. He’d come to Denver to write leisurely. He treated Neal with extreme deference. Neal paid no attention. Temko never dreamed Neal in a few years would become such a great writer or even that anyone would ever write his story as I am. He talked to Neal like this--“Cassady what’s this I hear about you screwing three girls at the same time.” And Neal shuffled on the rug and said “Oh yes, oh yes, that’s the way it goes” and looked at his watch, and Temko snuffed down his nose. I felt sheepish rushing off with Neal---Temko insisted he was a moron and a fool. Of course he wasn’t and I wanted to prove it to everybody somehow. We met Eddie. Neal paid no attention to him either and off we went in a trolley across the hot Denver noon to find the jobs. I hated the thought of it. Eddie talked and talked like he always did. We found a man in the markets who agreed to hire both of us; work started at four o’clock in the morning and went till six. The man said “I like boys who like to work.” “You’ve got your man” said Eddie, but I wasn’t so sure about myself. I just won’t sleep I decided. There were so many other interesting things to do. Eddie showed up the next morning, I didn’t. I had a bed and Temko bought food food for the icebox and in exchange for that I cooked and washed the dishes. Meantime I got all involved in everything. A big party took place at the Burford’s one night. The Burford mother was gone on a trip. Bob Burford simply called everybody he knew and told them to bring whiskey; then he went through his address book for girls. He made me do most of the talking. A whole bunch of girls showed up. I used the phone to call Allen and find what Neal was doing now. Neal was coming at three in the morning. I went there after the party. Allen’s basement apartment was on

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

09 July 2008

to Temko,and take you on a trolley (damn, I’ve no car!) to the Denargo markets where you can begin working at once and collect a paycheck come Friday. We’re really all of us bottomly broke. I haven’t time to work in weeks. Friday night beyond all doubt the three of us…the old threesome of Allen Neal and Jack must go to the midget auto races and for that I can get us a ride from a guy downtown I know…” And on and on into the night. We got to the hospital dormitory where the nurse sisters lived. The one for me was still on duty, the sister that Neal wanted was in. We sat down on her couch. I was scheduled at this time to call Bob Burford: I did: he came rushing over at once. Coming in the door he took off his shirt and undershirt and began hugging the absolute stranger Ruth Gullion. Bottles rolled on the floor. Three o’clock came. Neal rushed off for his hour of reverie with Carolyn. He was back on time. The other sister showed up. We all needed a car now, we were making too much noise. Bob Burford called up a buddy with a car. He came. We all piled in; Allen was trying to conduct his scheduled talk with Neal in the backseat but there was too much confusion. “Let’s all go to my apartment!” I shouted. We did; the moment the car stopped there I jumped out and stood on my head in the grass. All my keys fell out, I haven’t found them since. We rushed shouting into the apartment. Allan Temko stood barring our way in his silk dressinggown. “I’ll have no goingon like this in Ed White’s apartment!” “What?” we all shouted. There was confusion. Burford was rolling in the grass with one of the nurses. Temko wouldn’t let us in. We swore to call Ed White and confirm the party and also invite him. Instead we all rushed back to Denver downtown bars and nothing came of it. I suddenly found myself alone in the street with no money. My last dollar was gone. I walked five miles up Colfax to my comfortable bed in the apartment. Temko had to let me in. I wondered if Neal and Allen were having their heart-to-heart. I would find out later. The nights in Denver are cool and I slept like a log. Then everybody began planning a tremendous trek to the mountains en masse. This news came in the morning together with a phonecall that complicated matters---my old roadfriend Eddie, who

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

08 July 2008

our hour of revery together, real sweet revery darling, and then as you know, as I told you and as we agreed, I have to go and see Brierly about those papers---in the middle of the night strange as it seems and as I too roughly explained”--(this was a coverup for his rendezvous with Allen who was still hiding)---“so now in this exact minute I must dress, put on my pants, go back to life, that is to outside life, streets and whatnot, as we agreed, it is now one-FIFTEEN and time’s running, running..” “Well allright Neal , but please be sure and be back at three.” “Just as I said, darling, and remember not three but three-fourteen---are we straight in the deepest and most wonderful depths of ours souls dear darling?” and he went over and kissed her several times. On the wall was a nude drawing of Neal, enormous dangle and all, done by Carolyn. I was amazed. Everything was so crazy, and I still had San Francisco to make. Off we rushed into the night; Allen joined us in an alley. And we proceeded down the narrowest strangest and most crooked little city street I’ve ever seen deep in the heart of Denver Mexican-town. We talked in loud voices in the sleeping stillness. “Jack,” said Neal, “I have just the girl waiting for you at this very minute---if she’s off duty” (looking at his watch) “ a nurse Helen Gullion, fine chick, slightly hung up on a few sexual difficulties which I’ve tried to straighten up and I think you can manage you fine gone Daddy you..So we’ll go there at once, throw a pebble, no we’ll ring the bell, I know how to get in…we must bring beer, no they have some themselves, and Damn!” he said socking his palm “I’ve just got to get into her sister Ruth tonight.” “What?” said Allen, “I thought we were going to talk.” “Yes yes after.” “Oh these Denver doldrums!” yelled Allen to the sky. “Isn’t he the finest sweetest fellow in the world.” Said Neal punching me in the ribs. “Look at him, LOOK at him!” And Allen began his monkeydance in the streets of life as I’d seen him do so many times everywhere in New York. And all I could say was “Well what the hell are we doing in Denver?” “Tomorrow Jack I know where I can find you a job” said Neal reverting to businesslike tones “so I’ll call on you, soon as I have an hour off from Louanne and cut right into that apartment of yours, say hello

Monday, 7 July 2008

07 July 2008

screwing in the interim. She says she loves his big cock---so does Carolyn---so do I.” I nodded as I always do. Then he told me how Neal had met Carolyn. Bill Tomson the poolhall boy had found her in a bar and took her to a hotel; pride taking over his sense he invited the whole gang to come up and see her. Everybody sat around talking with Carolyn. Neal did nothing but look out the window. Then when everybody left Neal merely looked at Carolyn, pointed at his wrist, made the sign “four” (meaning he’d be back at four) and went out. At three the door was locked to Bill Tomson. At four it was opened to Neal. I wanted to rush out and see what the madman was doing about all this. Also he had promised to fix me up; he knew all the girls in Denver. “If you want girls just come to me, that Neal is just a poolhall pimp” said Bob Burford. “Yes but he’s a terrific guy.” “Terrific? He’s just smalltime. I can show you some real wild guys. Did you ever hear of Cavanaugh? He can lick any guy in Denver…” But that wasn’t the point. I rushed out with Allen to find the point. We went through the rickety streets round by Welton and 17th in the odorous Denver night. The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great, that I thought I was in a dream. We came to the roominghouse where Neal haggled with Carolyn. It was an old redbrick building surrounded by wooden garages and old trees that stuck up from behind fences. We went up carpeted stairs. Allen knocked; then he darted back to hide, he didn’t want Carolyn to see that it was him who’d knocked. I stood in the door. Neal opened it stark naked. I saw Carolyn on the bed, one beautiful creamy thigh covered with black lace, a blonde, look up with mild wonder. “Why Ja-a-ack” said Neal. “Well now…ah…hem..yes, of course…you’ve old sonofabitch you finally got on that old road…well now look here…we must…yes, yes at once…we must, we really must! Now Carolyn,” and he swirled on her, “Jack is here, this is my old buddy from New Yor-r-k, this is his first night in Denver and it’s absolutely necessary for me to take him out and fix him up with a girl..” “But what time will you be back.” “It is now” (looking at his watch) “exactly one –fourteen----I shall be back at exactly THREE fourteen, for

Sunday, 6 July 2008

06 July 2008

getting janitors to run after Allen with a story that somebody had died. Allen immediately thought it was me that had died. And Burford said over the phone “Jack’s in Denver” and gave him my address and phone. “After you, I thought Burroughs had died” said Allen when we met and clasped hands. “And where is Neal?” “Neal is in Denver. Let me tell you.” And he told me that Neal was making love to two separate girls at the same time, they being Louanne his first wife, who waited for him in a hotel room, and Carolyn a new girl who waited for him in a hotel room. “Between the two of them he rushes to me for our unfinished business.” “And what business is that?” I asked all ears. “Neal and I are embarked on a tremendous season together. We’re trying to communicate with absolute honesty and absolute completeness everything on our minds. Sometimes we stay up two days getting down to the bottom of our minds. We’ve had to take benny. We sit on the bed, crosslegged , facing each other. I have finally taught Neal that he can do anything he wants, become mayor of Denver, marry a millionairess or become the greatest poet since Rimbaud. But he keeps rushing out to see the midget auto races. I go with him. He jumps and yells excitedly. You know Jack, Neal is really hung up on things like that…” Ginsberg said “Hmm” in his soul and thought about this. We got silent as we always do after talking everything over. “What’s the schedule?” I said. There was always a schedule in Neal’s life and it was growing more complicated every year. “The schedule is this: I came off work half an hour ago. In that time Neal is screwing Louanne at the hotel and gives me time to change and dress. At one sharp he rushes from Louanne to Carolyn---of course neither one of them knows what’s going on---and screws her once, giving me time to arrive at one-thirty. Then he comes out with me---first he has to beg with Carolyn who’s already started hating me---and we come here to talk till six in the morning. We usually spend more time than that but its getting awfully complicated and he’s pressed for time. Than at six he goes back to Louanne---and he’s going to spend all day tomorrow running around to get the necessary papers for their divorce. Louanne’s all for it but she insists on

Saturday, 5 July 2008

05 July 2008

life confronted him sweetly in the night. He sat like that at his desk, and I jumped around only in my chino pants over the thick soft rug. He’d just written a story about a guy who comes to Denver for the first time. His name is Phil. His traveling companion is a mysterious and quiet fellow named Sam. Phil goes out to dig Denver and gets all hungup with arty types. He comes back to the hotel room. Lugubriously he says “Sam, they’re here too.” And Sam is just looking out the window sadly. “Yes,” says Sam, “I know.” And the point was that Sam didn’t have to go and look to know this. The arty types were all over America sucking up its blood. Temko and I were great pals; he thought I was the farthest thing from an arty type. Temko liked good wines, just like Hemingway. He reminisced about his recent trip to France. “Ah Jack, if you could sit with me high in the Basque country with a cool bottle of Poignon dix-neuf, then you’d know there are other things besides boxcars.” “I know that, it’s just that I love boxcars and I love to read the names on them like Missouri Pacific, Great Northern, Island Line…By Gad, Temko, if I could tell you everything that happened to me hitching here.” The Burfords lived a few blocks away. This was a delightful family---a youngish mother, part owner of a useless goldmine, with two sons and fours daughters. The wild son was Bob Burford, Ed White’s boyhood buddy. Bob came roaring in to get me and we took to each other right away. We went off and drank in the Colfax bars. Bob’s chief sister was a beautiful blonde called Beverly---a tennis playing, surf riding doll of the West. She was Ed White’s girl. And Temko, who was only passing through Denver and doing so in real style in the apartment, was going out with Ed White’s sister Jeanne for the summer. I was the only guy without a girl. I asked everybody “Where’s Neal?” They made smiling negative answers. Then finally it happened. The phone rang, and who should be on the phone, but Allen Ginsberg. He gave me the address of the basement apartment. I said “What are you doing in Denver? I mean what are you doing? What’s going on?” “Oh wait till I tell you.” And I rushed over to meet him. He was working in May’s department store nights; crazy Bob Burford called him up from a bar

Friday, 4 July 2008

04 July 2008

on the Kansas plains in the eighties when for diversion he rode ponies bareback and chased after coyotes with a club and later became a country schoolteacher in West Kansas and finally a businessman of many devices in Denver. He still had his old office over the garage in a barn down the street---the rolltop desk was still there, together with countless dusty papers of past excitement and moneymaking. He invented a special air conditioner of his own. He put an ordinary fan in a window frame but somehow conducted cool water through coils in front of the whirring blades. The result was perfect---within four feet of the fan, and then the water apparently turned into hot steam in the hot day and the downstairs part of the house was just as hot as usual. But I was sleeping right under the fan on Hal’s bed with its big bust of Goethe staring at me, and I comfortably went to sleep, only to wake up in five minutes freezing to death; I put a blanket on and still I was cold. Finally it was so cold I couldn’t sleep and I went downstairs. The old man asked me how his invention worked. I said it worked damned good and I meant it within bounds. I liked the man. He was lean with memories. “I once made a spot remover that has since been copied by big firms in the East. I’ve been trying to collect on that for some years now. If only I had enough money to raise a decent lawyer…” But it was too late to raise a decent lawyer; and he sat in his house dejectedly. This was the home of Hal Chase. In the evening we had a wonderful dinner his mother cooked, venison steak, that Hal’s brother had shot in the mountains. Ginger was staying at Hal’s. She looked fetching but there were other things troubling me as the sun went down. Where was Neal? As darkness came Hal drove me into the mysterious night of Denver. And then it all started. The following days were as W.C.Fields says “Fraught with eminent peril…” and mad. I moved in with Allan Temko in the really swank apartment that belonged to EdW’s folks. We each had a bedroom, food in the icebox, kitchenette and a huge livingroom where Temko sat in his silk dressinggown idly composing his latest Hemingwayan short story---a colic, red-faced, pudgy hater of everything who could turn on the warmest and most charming smile in the world when real

Thursday, 3 July 2008

03 July 2008

hatred for a local prowlcop car they went to Neal to do their revenge; he stole the prowlcar and wrecked it, or otherwise damaged it. Soon he was back in reform school and Brierly washed his hands of him. They became in fact tremendous ironical enemies. In the past winter in N.Y. Neal had tried one last crack for Brierly’s influence; Allen Ginsberg wrote several poems, Neal signed his name to them and they were mailed to Brierly. Taking his annual trip to N.Y. Brierly faced all of us one evening in Livingston lobby on the Columbia campus. There was Neal, Allen, myself and Ed White and Hal Chase. Said Brierly “These are very interesting poems you’ve sent me, Neal. May I say that I was surprised.” “Ah well,” said Neal, “I’ve been studying you know.” “And who is this young gentleman here in glasses?” inquired Brierly. Allen Ginsberg stepped up and announced himself. “Ah,” said Brierly, “this is most interesting. I understand that you are an excellent poet.” “Why, have you read any of my things?” “Oh,” said Brierly, “probably, probably”---and Ed White, whose love of subtlety later drove him mad over Boswell’s Old Sam Johnson, twinkle eyed all over. He gripped me in the arm and whispered “You think he doesn’t know?” I guessed he did. That was Neal’s and Brierly’s last stand together. Now Neal was back in Denver with his demon poet. Brierly raised an ironical eyebrow and avoided them. Hal Chase avoided them on secret principles of his own. Ed White believed they were out for no good. They were the underground monsters of that season in Denver, together with the poolhall gang, and symbolizing this most beautifully Allen had a basement apartment on Grant street and we all met there many a night that went to dawn---Allen, Neal, myself, Jim Holmes, Al Hinkle and Bill Tomson. More of these others later. My first afternoon in Denver I slept in Hal Chase’s room while his mother went on with her housework downstairs and Hal worked at the museum. It was a hot high-plains afternoon in July. I would not have slept if it hadn’t been for Hal Chase’s father’s invention. Hal Chase’s father was a mad self-styled inventor. He was old, in his seventies, and seemingly feeble, thin and drawn-out and telling stories with a slow, slow relish; good stories too, about his boyhood

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

02 July 2008

client was always drunk and having wild parties. When Brierly knocked on the door the client was drunk upstairs. There was a drunken Indian in the parlor, and Neal---ragged and dirty from recent work in a Nebraska manure field---was screwing the maid in the bedroom. Neal ran down to answer the door with a hardon. Brierly said “Well, well, what is this?” Neal ushered him in. “What is your name? Neal Cassady? Neal you’d better learn to wash your ears a little better than that or you’ll never get on in this world.” “Yes sir,” said Neal smiling. “Who is your Indian friend? What’s going on around here? These are strange goingson I must say.” Justin W. Brierly was short bespectacled ordinary-looking middlewest businessman; you couldn’t distinguish him from any other lawyer, realtor, director on 17th and Arapahoe near the financial district; except that he had a streak of imagination which would have appalled his confreres had they but known. Brierly was purely and simply interested in young people, especially boys. He discovered them in his English class; taught them the best he knew in Literature; groomed them; made them study till they had astounding marks; then he got them scholarships to Columbia University and they returned to Denver years later the product of his imagination - - always with one shortcoming, which was the abandonment of their old mentor for new interests. They went further afield and left him behind; all he knew about anything was gleaned from what he’d made them learn; he had developed scientists and writers and youthful city politicians, lawyers and poets, and talked to them; then he dipped back into his reserve of boys in the high school class and groomed them to dubious greatness. He saw in Neal the great energy that would someday make him not a lawyer or a politician, but an American saint. He taught him how to wash his teeth, his ears; how to dress; helped him get odd jobs; and put him in high school. But Neal immediately stole the principal’s car and wrecked it. He went to reform school. Justin W. stuck by him. He wrote him long encouraging letters; chatted with the warden; brought him books; and when Neal came out Justin gave him one more chance. But Neal fouled up again. Whenever any of his poolhall buddies developed a

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

01 July 2008

stop talking to me in a short while. But I didn’t know this, and the plans were for me to take a nap in his house that afternoon at least. The word was that Ed White had an apartment waiting for me up Colfax avenue, that Allan Temko was already living in it and was waiting for me to join him. I sensed some kind of conspiracy in the air and this conspiracy lined up two groups in the gang: it was Hal Chase and Ed White and Allan Temko, together with the Burfords, generally agreeing to ignore Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg. I was smack in the middle of this interesting war. There were social overtones too that I’ll explain. First I must set the stage about Neal: he was the son of a wino, one of the most tottering bums of Larimer street and thereabouts. Neal used to plead in court at the age of six to have his father let free. He used to beg in front of Larimer alleys and sneak the money back to his father who waited among the broken bottles with an old bum buddy. Then when Neal grew up he began hanging around the Welton poolhalls and set a Denver record for stealing cars and went to the reformatory. From the age of eleven to seventeen he was usually in reform school. His specialty was stealing cars, gunning for girls coming out of high school in the afternoon, driving them out to the mountains, screwing them, and coming back to sleep in any available hotel bath tub in town. Meanwhile his father, once a very respectable and hardworking barber, had become a complete wino---a wine alcoholic which is worse than whisky alcoholic---and was reduced to riding freights to the South in the winter, to Texas, and back to Denver in the summer. Neal had brothers on his dead mother’s side---she died when he was small---but they also disliked him. Neal’s only buddies were the poolhall boys- - a bunch I came to meet a few days later. Then Justin W. Brierly, a tremendous local character who all his life had specialized in developing the potentialities of young people, had in fact been tutor to Shirley Temple for MGM in the thirties, and was now a lawyer, a realtor, director of the Central City Opera Festival and also an English teacher in a Denver high school, discovered Neal. Brierly came to knock on a client’s door; this