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Bill Cannastra & Joan Haverty’s Loft

April 21st, 2019 · Kerouac and The Beats, New York City

The Home of The Scroll & The Girl

Newly uncovered photos and corrections to history.

“Bill felt completely at home on the rooftops of Manhattan.”
Joan Haverty-Kerouac on Bill Cannastra

I knew I loved this guy! 🙂

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To all in Beatlandia

Pretty much nobody’s ever seen these buried Beat family photos in a hundred years of forever . . . but both The Beat Museum’s Jerry Cimino and I stumbled upon them within 24 hours of each other in the subterranean ancient Beat catacombs with flashlights in a corner-turning Spinal Tap lost moment of surprise!!

As a refresher — Bill Cannastra is probably best known as the source of the paper Jack Kerouac used to write the scroll version of On The Road, and as the person who was best friends with a young Joan Haverty, who lived in the loft following Bill’s tragic death trying to climb out the window of a moving subway car, and who would meet and marry Jack there within days.

Bill Cannastra —
probably while attending Harvard.

Cannastra was a graduate of Harvard Law School, although he never practiced much, preferring to practice debauchery being a legendary party host & catalyst among some pretty legendary partiers including Tennessee Williams, Dylan Thomas, W.H. Auden, Jackson Pollock, Larry Rivers, the Landesmans, as well as core Beats, Jack, Allen Ginsberg, John Clellon Holmes, Neal Cassady, Lucien Carr & others. Joan Haverty, in her memoir Nobody’s Wife, described Bill as having “circle upon circle of friends, like an endless series of rings. They ran the gamut from artists and educators to bums and hustlers.”

Although of modest means (here is the 2-family home Bill grew up in at 525 Pennsylvania Ave. in Schenectady, NY), Bill’s Italian immigrant parents recognized his exceptional intelligence, and his mother (who spoke 4 languages) enrolled in a book club just so she could supply her voraciously reading son with all the classics, and she also bought him a wide range of music including opera, classical, Gregorian chants, and jazz.

He was the subject of installment #6 of Al Aronowitz’s now-famous 12-part series on the Beats in the New York Post in 1961, even though he died 10 years earlier (on Oct. 12th, 1950). He was a complex character — highly intelligent yet painfully foolish; proactively catalytic yet hopelessly irresponsible; exuberantly full of life yet many saw a death wish as he teetered on building ledges.

Even though Jack has a version of him in Visions of Cody (named Finistra – as in “fini” in French … finished), the two most vivid firsthand accounts of Wild Bill are in John Clellon Holmes’ Go (Bill’s pseudonym being Agatson) and Joan Haverty’s Nobody’s Wife. Gerald Nicosia has probably the most complete and well-compiled “biography” of him within his Kerouac biography Memory Babe.

Cannastra’s apartment was always referred to as a “loft” which made anyone familiar with New York lofts picture the typical large high-ceiled industrial spaces big enough to play football in. Turns out, it did have many of the qualities of a loft — a floor-through design with windows at both ends, no interior walls (except around the stairwell), a classic pressed tin ceiling, and wide rough-cut floorboards — but it was in a standard 4-story New York brownstone with a 20-foot frontage, and being the top floor, it had a much lower ceiling than a traditional loft.

Inside Bill’s loft looking towards the back where there was the kitchen area and the fire escape over to Lucien’s.

It was a perfect party space for the Beats as they were birthing in Manhattan in the late ’40s. As Holmes describes the officially non-residential / industrial Chelsea building in Go: Cannastra “lived in a drab district of warehouses, garment shops, and huge taxi garages. His loft was at the top of an ugly brownstone, unoccupied but for a lampshade factory on the second floor. … The loft itself was one of those floors-through with low windows, several grimy skylights that opened out on chimneys, and a sort of kitchen alcove at the back. It was always a fantastic litter of broken records, dusty bottles, mattresses, a slashed car seat, a few decrepit chairs from empty lots, and stray articles of ownerless clothing.”

Here’s how the exterior looked in 1940 — (the building with the truck at the bottom of the stairs and reflectors on the doorframe) —

http://nycma.lunaimaging.com/luna/servlet/detail/NYCMA~5~5~232544~502684?qvq=w4s:/where%2FWest%2B21%2BStreet&mi=158&trs=264

Although John describes the skylights as “grimy” they were multiple and large, and Joan said, “Bill loved the light in the place,” as she made the decision to take over his lease and preserve it as he had it, becoming one of the “clandestine loft dwellers,” as she put it. Although, truth-be-told, with her & Jack being busy getting married in November, they never got around to working, so ended up moving out after just one month, and into Mémère’s house in Richmond Hill, Queens.

And in today’s installment of Eventful Times in World History — it was that very month (December 1950) that Jack would receive the “Joan Anderson – Cherry Mary letter” from Neal Cassady that would blow open his approach to writing.

Joan Haverty describes the famous loft in great detail in her confessional 10-years-in-the-works memoir of this period Nobody’s Wife (assembled posthumously & nobly by her half brother-in-law John Bower, which you can read about here) — “The loft was huge, sixty feet by maybe thirty feet at the front and back ends, but the center lost some width due to the stairwell, giving the whole apartment a squat U shape. There were no interior walls. Areas were designated by placement of the few pieces of furniture. The kitchen only gave an impression of being separated, because it was located at one end of the U. [the back] The center sleeping and sitting area was set apart from the kitchen and the large front studio [facing onto 21st St.] by waist-high storage cabinets, which extended into the room at right angles to the wall. Between the cabinets were a double bed, with a red spread, a small oak table, and a chair, which Bill and I had re-webbed and reupholstered in blue plush the previous winter.”

Taken from the bed area towards the front — Bill with his books and homemade bookshelf, and the “low windows” (as Holmes described them) facing 21st St. behind.

In late summer 1950 no less than Lucien Carr moved into the same floor of the brownstone right next door! It was like a Beat sitcom!

Lucien moved into his girlfriend Liz Lehrman’s loft — just as Jack would soon move into Joan Haverty’s — example # 50,002 of how the women were the real anchors of this drunken Beats boys club. They had adjacent apartments in adjacent buildings — each architecturally identical both inside and out — with a partying badass beatnik & all his gone pals on whichever side of the wall you fell!

The two most famous (infamous) New York City deaths in Beat history — Lucien murdering David Kammerer and Bill’s tragic accident — were living right next to each other in that brief window of time between Lucien getting out of jail and Bill getting out of a subway.

Also — Bill’s loft is where Jack met his wife . . . and Lucien’s loft is where he went when he left her six months later.

And in a related story — Lucien’s is also where his dog Potchky chewed off the historic end of the historic tracing-paper-tasty scroll!

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And speaking of paper! Oh my gawd! There has never been a piece of paper in all of history that’s been more talked about than Jack Kerouac’s original On The Road scrollwhich sold at auction in 2001 for the most anyone ever paid for a literary manuscript — and it has been positively definitely definitively declared by different people to be everything from Japanese drawing paper to Chinese art paper to onionskin paper to teletype paper to glassine paper to wax paper to shelf lining paper. (!)

But, despite all the speculation and misidentification, for the eternal record, the On The Road scroll was typed on straight-up tracing paper.

The first time anyone in history ever referred to it in writing was just 5 days after Jack finished it in his 20-day spurt and had given it to his best novelist friend John Clellon Holmes to be the first to read it. Holmes wrote in his diary on April 27, 1951, “He wrote it in twenty days, and it is one long strip of tracing paper, one hundred and twenty feet long.”

The second time it was ever referred to in writing was a few weeks later on May 22nd when Jack himself wrote of it to his brother Neal to tell him he’d just finished writing his new masterwork — “Went fast because road is fast . . . wrote whole thing on a strip of paper 120 feet long (tracing paper that belonged to Cannastra.)”

And according to “the guardian of the scroll,” the world-renown manuscript preservationist Jim Canary, it is NOT “Japanese drawing paper” or “drawing paper” at all from Japan or anywhere else, but rather, as he specifically told me, “I have gotten samples of the same paper stock sold today to compare it to. It is more like a drafting tracing paper. It doesn’t seem to be like any Japanese drawing papers I have seen. I have a 1961 letter from [legendary Viking editor] Malcolm Cowley where he says Japanese drawing paper, too. I think many people see a very thin paper and assume Japanese drawing paper or rice paper even, though most Japanese paper is made of anything but rice — actually 3 main fibers, all inner bark of plants.”

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And then there’s The Girl.

The Cannastra loft may have been famous for the days-long parties thrown there and the tracing paper salvaged after its resident’s passing, but it was also the treefort clubhouse for a curious and adventurous young woman from the suburbs of Albany when she relocated to exciting post-war New York City after an eye-opening summer at an artists’ retreat in Provincetown where she first met Bill who was working as a scallop fisherman on a boat.

She moved to Manhattan in the late summer of 1949 as an 18 year old into a shared Upper West Side apartment arranged by her mother, but spent most of her time with Bill on adventures in the Village. Although they were never really boyfriend-girlfriend, they never “did anything to contradict the widespread assumption we were lovers,” as she put it in her memoir. “He loved the drama and storminess of Cathy & Heathcliff [of Wuthering Heights fame, and in fact Bill took to playfully calling her ‘Cathy’] . . . he always acted as a big brother to me,” including advising she wait until marriage before having sex. She called him “my companion, confidant, buddy and playmate, commiserator and confirmer, affirmer, counselor and advisor, but never my judge, critic or reformer.”

A couple weeks after Bill’s death, when ol’ blue-eyes Jack came by and hollered up from the street on a night when neighbor Lucien was throwing a party (a scene captured at the start of Part Five of On The Road), she was fairly captivated by him from the jump — aided by the literal and literary foreshadowing of Bill having suggested him to her earlier. He told her he’d been trying to play matchmaker between the two but could never get them together at the same time. And when Jack had described his ideal woman to Bill, Bill told him it sounded like he was describing Joan perfectly.

Then add to the volatile mix of the half-century-year madness the sudden stone-cold death of the Wild Young Men’s matinee idol & edge-dancing maniac — plus Jack was approaching the dreaded 3-0 — suddenly settling down was in the air. But as Joan describes Jack’s approach, it was beyond unromantic to the point of being more of a practical job application for a replacement for his mother. He wanted a woman who could cook, sew, and keep their apartment clean while he went out in the world and did things to write about. For all the Beats’ being ahead of society’s curve on things like sexual & racial equality, psychotropic drug exploration, spontaneous art, celebrating the Real World, road trips, Bebop, Howling raps and freedom from corporate conformity — gender equality was not exactly their strong suit.

And boy that extended to monogamy. And Cannastra’s loft did not help matters! Not only was it there that Jack met and proposed to Joan while he was still married to his first wife Edie, it was at a Cannastra party (in late ’49) that Neal met and soon bigamously married his third wife Diana Hansen.

John Holmes was there the night of the meeting and described it rather brilliantly & vividly in his tribute to Neal that first appeared in Kesey & Babbs’ Spit In The Ocean Cassady tribute issue:

“… that night in Cannastra’s Caligari-loft, amid smashed records, empty bottles, 25 watt shadows, where sullen, end-of-the-world whoopees were hopelessly raised against the inevitability of hangover-dawn, [Neal] cottoned to a girl, Diana, somebody’s ex-wife, sojourning among the lost that year, who melted out of her midtown hauteur under his acetylene concentration, his laughing cajolery, wickedly raised brows, and roving hands through which the shoulder’s electricity pulsed with strange grace till she drowned in such attention, knees spread around him on a stained ticking, feeling a pierce of Western sun warm New York’s barren womb …”

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Inside Cannastra’s loft — from Joan’s Nobody’s Wife
“When we came to the sole painting on the wall, Cezanne’s
Mardi Gras, I stopped and stared at it. I always thought it was in the wrong place, somehow. Not above a bed, as you’d expect, but on the adjacent expanse of bare wall. It was as if it waited for a specific piece of furniture to be set beneath it.”
Then later when Jack moved in —
“I took one end of the desk so we could set it in place under Cezanne’s
Mardi Gras.”
Then later when Jack was writing there —
“He sat back for a moment, gazing at the Cezanne. What would he see ther
e, I wondered? Who would be the harlequin and who would be the clown?”

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Another revelation from Joan’s memoir was the address of Bill’s historic loft. Like the widespread plethora of claims of the type of paper On The Road was written on, there’s never been more different addresses for a single apartment in the history of conspiracy theories! In Cannastra’s New York Times obituary and Al Aronowitz’s 1961 New York Post profile, it’s listed as 165 West 25th Street. At the first big Kerouac symposium at Salem State College in 1973, Allen said it was on 23rd Street. Joyce Johnson calls it 121 West 21st in her Voice Is All book. Even the Cannastra family long thought it was 165 West 21st St.

But by far the most common mistaken address is 125 West 21st. You see it everywhere. Problem is, 125 was not a brownstone; was not next door to Lucien’s; was 5 stories not 4; was fairly isolated in terms of fire escape roof traversing; there were no stairs up to the front door as Joan mentions at the end of chapter 7 (and every brownstone has); and the windows don’t match Holmes’ description or those in the now known loft photographs.

You can see the 125 building here, circa 1940 — (directly above the sign, car in front, white windowed second floor) —

http://nycma.lunaimaging.com/luna/servlet/detail/NYCMA~5~5~232554~502674?qvq=w4s:/where%2FWest%2B21%2BStreet&mi=168&trs=264

If anyone was really going to know, it was the person for whom the address meant the most — the person who had her best friend & mentor & big brother die horrifically when she was only 20-sponge-sucking-impressionable-years-old and who had been enticed to The Big City by him repeating the address to her over and over again — an address she went back to a thousand times in her first year in New York. Anyone who ever moved to the City remembers forever the addresses of the places they first felt “home.”

Plus it was the first apartment she actually moved into on her own in New York, and tried to preserve as a memorial to her fallen friend. Not to mention the place where her first husband met her and proposed to her. And all this by a person who has a memory for addresses and gets the other ones she mentions in her book correct and re-read the manuscript pages many times over — that woman remembers distinctly the address of the fulcrum of her life as being — 151 West 21st Street.

You can see it, circa 1940, here (with a truck at the bottom of the stairs) —

http://nycma.lunaimaging.com/luna/servlet/detail/NYCMA~5~5~232544~502684?qvq=w4s:/where%2FWest%2B21%2BStreet&mi=158&trs=264

And as further corroboration, Joan describes vividly how their mutual friend Lucien Carr lived in the adjacent twin building next door, and were both on the same top floor to boot, and how the lights in their windows were in a line, and how they’d regularly visit each other by just scooching over the back fire escapes. Allen also talks about them living next door to each other in a letter of November 1950 to Neal Cassady (where a fluctuating Allen also confesses to pursuing Joan at Lucien’s prodding!) And if they were not in adjacent buildings, Jack’s own account of calling up from the street to Lucien’s party and Joan hearing him and throwing down the keys couldn’t have happened. And through all of this — Lucien’s address was . . . 149 West 21st.

You can see here a picture of how his building looked next door to Bill’s in the burned-out nearly-’70s days of 1984.

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And speaking of photos, this whole journey of discovery began with a photo! An entirely different one (!) that appears to be Allen Ginsberg, a well buzzed Jack Kerouac, and Neal Cassady — the first known photograph with all three in it — plus a fourth man that no one has been able to identify thus far. It was uncovered in early April 2019 by an intrepid Beat archeologist and gifted painter named Jonathan Collins.

Nothing is known for sure about this photo, but after a lengthy colloquy among a wide range of Beat scholars and aficionados it seems to be the consensus that it was taken in New York between March and May 1950, when Kerouac’s first novel The Town and The City had just come out and he was making suit-wearing formal appearances as the aspiring rising young author, and when all three big Beat lights were burning bright in the big city.

Many speculated the mystery man was Bill Cannastra, which prompted both myself and The Beat Museum’s Jerry Cimino to try to track down any living member of his family who could weigh in definitively on the matter.

Turns out, we both found at almost the exact same time one of only two Cannastras of that generation still living! And it turned out she was extremely nice and cool and friendly and with-it and had a few pictures of her Uncle Bill that had never been seen outside the family. And she wanted to share them!

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And this is the thing — her Uncle Bill was a frickin HUGE figure in the history of the world.

And yeah, that’s right. I said “world.”

It was Bill who set up Joan and Jack. And it was that (short-lived) relationship that gave Kerouac the temporary stability outside his mother’s house to have his creative breakthrough that changed history.

And not only that — but the very same guy who provided The Girl — also provided The Paper!

No way!
I know!
C’mon! Yer makin’ this up.
There’s no way!

Who is this guy? The Fonz?
The Cassady?
The catalyst?
One guy?
Who Lucien Carr moved in next to?!
What?!
Who partied with Jackson Pollock and Jack Kerouac?!
And Tennessee Williams and Dylan Thomas?!

The guy who was James Dean cool before there was a James Dean.
Had Elvis hair before there was an Elvis
Lived Gonzo before there was a Hunter Thompson.

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Maybe just for a moment his time can come and somebody can say Yeah!

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Inside the legendary Cannastra loft at 151 West 21st St.
Note the bongos on the shelf. From a Nov. 28 1950 John Holmes letter to Neal Cassady about the afternoon of Jack’s wedding —

“Everyone was in a furor, the phone was ringing continually, Jack would rush from shaving to the bongos (Cannastra’s old bongos) to accompany some wild Mambo that poured out of the radio.”

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The makeshift kitchen nook with what is probably one of the old car seats (under the blanket) that both Holmes & Joan Haverty mention in their books.
Describing the morning after they first met, Joan wrote in “Nobody’s Wife” (ch. 9) —

“We took our coffee to the kitchen and Jack sat on the car seat which, combined with the low table, served as a breakfast nook.”

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Anybody who ever visited me during my nearly 30 years in Manhattan
will get a kick out of where this shot was taken.
😉

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EVERYbody smoked back then!
And even The Wild Ones rarely had a hair out of place.

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Quick Historical Clarification —
You always see it writ that ol’ Bill went out on the town on Oct. 12th and darned if he didn’t die.
Well, fact is, he went out on the evening of Wednesday (of all days of the week!) October 11th for the carousing activities that led to an unfortunate moment on a subway — but the point is — he died a few minutes into the 12th. The obit was in the Times the morning of the 13th. There’s a Rashomon of accounts of what happened on that subway car, but time was running linearly, and he was out on a Wednesday night the 11th being bad, so just leave Thursday right out of it.

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Here’s an excellent video of the NYC subway in action in 1949.
At the 4:00 mark there’s a good view of open windows.

From Holmes’ Go — just after hearing of the death, the characters based on he & his wife get on a subway downtown —
“Kathryn sat beside Hobbes on the subway, peeping every now and again at the window across the aisle, and once she said, ‘The goddamn fool! Look at the size of it!'”

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Someone (not Bill) sitting in the front lit “studio” workspace with
the “low windows” that you can also see are exactly the same
from the outside in the New York City archive photos linked above.  
Or what the heck here’s the link again . . . 
http://nycma.lunaimaging.com/luna/servlet/detail/NYCMA~5~5~232544~502684?qvq=w4s:/where%2FWest%2B21%2BStreet&mi=158&trs=264

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Double Bonus Hysterical Clarification —
How did you always pronounce “Cannastra” in your head (or out your mouth)? I always said it and heard it like the card game “Canasta.”
But in fact the family actually pronounces it more like “canister” … Cann-i-stra.

Bill Cannastra — 1921 – 1950

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Extra Special Video Bonus cuz ya read this far — here’s Jan sharing a short excerpt from her mother’s Nobody’s Wife manuscript pre-publication — filmed Friday July 30th 1982 at the historic “On The Road Jack Kerouac Conference” in Boulder Colorado.
On stage with Jan (left to right) is Ray Bremser, Joyce Johnson & Gregory Corso.

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Photos reprinted by permission of the Cannastra family.

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For more riffs n fun n stuff like this . . .

There’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac about a whole Adventure to that biggest Beat gathering ever in Boulder in ’82 (that Jan’s at above) . . .

Or there’s the one about How The Beats Begat The Pranksters that brings a whole buncha crazy worlds together . . .

Or there’s the most recent On The Road with Cassadys that’s just what you’d imagine . . .

Oh yeah and super-soon there’s gonna be the Woodstock ’94 book . . . 😉

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by Brian Hassett  —  karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there — https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada

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Woodstock ’94 Concert Opening

March 31st, 2019 · Music, Real-life Adventure Tales

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While I was stopped behind the stage carefully taking notes on the human traffic flows, I heard the promoter John Scher start talking from the stage. “Holy smoke! It must be 10:00!” I realized. “Sounds like he’s opening the show!”

In the press kit they gave us at the Friar Tuck I noticed a sheet on Native Americans they’d scheduled for the Opening Ceremonies, and knowing they’d be the most direct spiritual masters of the weekend, I was in the crowd before Scher could finish his sentence.

The front of the field was surprisingly open, so I sashayed right up to the stage. These amazing gurus in their full peacock feathered regalia were chanting and dancing and blessing up a storm. And there was Michael Lang on the side of the stage in his fringed leather jacket, grinning his cherubic, beatific grin. I kept wondering: If the guy’s such a capitalist prick as so many bitchers complain, what’s with the full hour of Indian tribes opening his Woodstock II? Even if he “sold out” to Pepsi, he didn’t have to invite all these spiritualists and give them their own tepee field for the weekend . . . and then stand on the stage and watch them in crossed-hand reverence. If they would have appeared for five minutes it would have been a perfunctory gesture. But he had them on stage for an hour with their various blessings, speeches and prayers in different languages, eliciting that singular tranquility only felt in the presence of true spiritual masters no matter the faith. It hushed the crowd. For an hour this supposedly heathen generation of moshers paid attention to a tribal overture about listening to your heart and how we’re all a part of our future. It may have been the last time they were quiet until about next Tuesday, but they were quiet now.

And a wide variety of blessers it was too, including that pop art pillar Peter Max who said, “We’ve come here in the name of peace and music. The whole world is watching, as it did 25 years ago. Let us conduct ourselves with peace and love, and let it shine all over the world.”

Even after the recent wide-spread yuppie epidemic, with its Beavis and Butthead after-effects, we proved that a half-million nineties kids could still find their way to a designated location and stand on their hind legs in unison. And maybe it was even more than that. But it was these ancient Americans who were putting a voice to it before it even happened.

Chief Jake Swamp was the Grand Poh-Bah of the whole shebang. He introduced a gorgeous singer named Joanne Shenandoah who looked like a goddess in a white flowing gown, while all around her were sage burners, flag wavers and drum players celebrating her arrival. They created with voice and music a transcendental sense of oneness, of all of us being part of a single body. We were hypnotized into a silent unity by a harmony and a beat. And it’s pretty much stayed that way through Gabriel on Sunday.

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From my forthcoming book about Woodstock ’94 — available May 1st.

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You can order any of the prior Beat Trilogy books direct from the author and get them colorfully signed, or you can order them here —

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac

How The Beats Begat The Pranksters, & Other Adventure Tales

On The Road with Cassadys & Furthur Visions

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by Brian Hassett  —  karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there — https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada

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Andy Clausen, Bob Rosenthal Beat Book Reviews

February 3rd, 2019 · Kerouac and The Beats

Storming the Bastilles

with Lungs Full of Nectar

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Pamela Twining, Andy Clausen, & Brian Hassett — photo by Shiv Mirabito, at the Woodstock Shivastan Poetry Ashram, 2016

Two new books in poignant prose by poets of the streets just came out from insiders looking at the life and times of the Beat Generation —

“Straight Around Allen: On The Business of Being Allen Ginsberg” by his aide-de-camp Bob Rosenthal,

and

“BEAT: The Latter Days of The Beat Generation” by Andy Clausen.

Bob Rosenthal’s insider’s guide to life inside Allen, Inc. is the book I wish somebody’d write who worked daily with Ken Kesey or Bill Graham. It’s not about any one event or even time period, but rather about how the whole enterprise worked.

The David Wills-produced Beatdom book is designed in a nice large size with large print almost in double-space — like the legendary manuscripts that run through it where you could pencil in additions between the lines. It also features what I’d call “sidenotes” — like footnotes, except they appear in the side margins next to the text they relate to. They’re like a sidekick chiming in next to the main narrator, maybe a little comic aside, or some detail to add to the main narrative without actually breaking its flow.

This is also like an Allen scrapbook, in a way, with all sorts of photos, handwritten notes, poems, drawings, invitations, letters, all sortsa stuff stuck in there for posterity. And its pages take you inside his life — his charity shop home furnishings and Salvation Army wardrobe; his front door keys being tossed down in old socks from fourth floor windows; the East Village neighborhood where he was a prince of the paupers; his constant juggling of ne’er-do-wells and lovers, newspapers and notebooks; and the never-ending to-do lists that were left for the author and his ever-expanding coterie of confrères.

The book really took this old New Yorker and Village habitant back to the days where everything you ever needed was a short walk away and there really was no reason to ever go north of 14th Street or south of Canal. Rent strikes, squats, syringes, Tompkins Square, readings — the book’s as much a love letter to the old Village as it is to the old poet.

In fact the book is written by a poet for readers who don’t want bouquets of extra words. It’s to the point. Staccato. Almost like the no-frills to-do lists Allen leaves for the author/assistant each morning — the intent & imagery clear without distraction.

And this reader loved all the details of Allen’s writing — confessions of him sweating over lines, changing changing changing while honing the first thought being the best thought; his author/secretary sometimes inserting commas where they should be or removing them where they shouldn’t be in Allen’s letters or prose, then Allen always noticing and restoring his “mistakes;” and a favorite detail of mine, Allen’s insistence on his own rules for initial capitalization. Anybody who’s read my books knows I’m a lover of breaking rules and capitalizing for very good reason even if Strunk & White or Chicago Style don’t agree. (Hey, Simon! 🙂 )

Plus, I learned all sorts of things, like — “Allen’s introduction to Buddhism comes from Jack Kerouac.” And his favorite term for marijuana is “the ’40s jazz word muggles,” one I like to toss around myself. In fact there’s a whole fun chapter on drugs, which strangely enough is when I started penciling happy faces into the margins pretty frequently. 🙂

My Merry Prankster pals will appreciate that “Allen places high spiritual value on LSD,” and that he had a vial of tablets from Owsley in his freezer, with a note to guests, “Do not use without my or Bob Rosenthal’s permission.” . . . . . . Bob gives himself permission.

No alcoholic, what Allen was was a workaholic. (page 70, 99, … the whole book …) “Ginsberg uses drugs to accomplish a task.” This guy & I were so much more alike than I ever knew. But glad I do now.

I appreciate that Allen’s angry about some of his old friends who became neocons — something we can probably all relate to in our current surreal political nightmare.

Maybe I liked the book so much because I felt harmony with so many of the observations: Disliking the liberties taken in the movie Kill Your Darlings. The details of being a caregiver to an elderly person. And that all of the author’s portraits of all the the now-deceased Beat luminaries comports with my own experience and how I portrayed them in my various books, particularly The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac, about when I first met Allen and all this crew in 1982.

But mainly what came through was the depth of Allen’s generosity. In fact, “Allen’s entire office is built around the concept of generosity.”

“Allen doesn’t accumulate money; he lives from hand-to-many-mouths.”

“Allen’s office is an arts-service organization.”

“Success for Allen can only be measured in love units.”

And how Allen was always looking for the future Bodhisattva in all of us.

Something that is repeated throughout the book — “Take in the poison of the world. Breathe out the nectar.”

And reading this book was like lungs full of nectar.

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Andy Clausen paints a much broader & more colorful canvas.

Sure, there’s lots of Allen, Andy’s main cheerleader / coach / teacher / benefactor in Beatlandia, but Andy is spanning more decades, more geography, more scenes. This book is almost as much about Gregory Corso as it is about Andy Clausen. It jumps from Austin to Boulder to North Beach to the East Village faster than a speeding flip-book. It covers the giants but also uncovers the unknowns. It takes you inside poetry dorm rooms at Naropa and V.I.P. party rooms at Manhattan nightclubs. It’s honestly confessional about insecurity and poverty, and speaks from experience after a lifetime On The Path.

“All artists to accomplish must rise above the praise and criticism of their friends, their enemies, the money, the ones they admire, even the ones they love and especially mothers who wanted them to be a doctor or lawyer and to have a large family.”

Andy is a warrior of words, and an ethicist of the underground. He started out in San Francisco but soon hit the harder stuff — The Road, the deaths, the agendas, resentments, bitterness, phonies, drunks, drugs and mistakes. Now in his mid-70s, he’s still here (when so many aren’t) to reflect back firsthand and project forward ironman with the booming voice he’s always had from a stage. As a fellow poet advises him when he finds himself in a sticky wicket of rejection, “We need guys like you, otherwise pretty soon there’ll be nobody.”

And that applies to all of us. If you’re reading this, you’re probably not the CEO of a media empire or the host of a network TV show. But you are the host of your own show — your own voice, your own actions, your own choices, the center of your own circle of friends and colleagues and co-workers and neighbors, and if you’re reading this — we need people like you. You don’t have to be a household name to be an MVP in the game. By your fruits you shall be known.

And Andy knew a lot of fruits!

No, I mean, he bore a lot of fruit! After some 20 books of poetry, and thousands of performances all around the world, he has finally luckily for us riffed his memoir of madness in his war against blandness alongside the grandest of the 20th century rebels. You’ll meet Neal Cassady (“He was better than the book!”), Ken Kesey (“He thought his main calling was as an acid man more than a writer.”), and Abbie Hoffman (“… percolating sharp humor and positivity.”) but mainly you’ll take a ride with a conversational driver on a cross-country Road Trip telling stories in no particular order, but, rather, naturally as one prompts another prompts another prompts another. He’s remembering lost friends (Allen & Gregory & Ray Bremser most) and sharing life lessons (how the smartest people he met knew that all people had intelligence), but mostly it’s the word pictures befitting a poet of the moments that lingered after a life well lived: Arriving at the Human Be-In and seeing tens of thousands more people than anyone expected; that afternoon spent with Neal Cassady over a kitchen table covered in “a couple of keys of Mexican” pot; reading the raw manuscript of Kerouac’s Visions of Cody.

I first met Andy at the Boulder ’82 Kerouac summit and we bonded and exchanged numbers but it took about 30 years for our circles to spin in unison again. After reconnecting at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac in 2015, we ended up sharing some stages in his now-hometown of Woodstock, and he’s definitely still got “Neal Cassady’s Energy Transmission,” as Allen Ginsberg described him.

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” another life-affirming poet told us last century, and thank the Great Spirits that poets like Andy Clausen took that to heart and continue to rage to this day.

This might be subtitled “The Latter Days of the Beat Generation,” but his book and life are about a still-Beating generation of word-warriors still storming the Bastilles.

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Here’s where you can read about one of my books — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

Or here. Or here.

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Or here’s an improvised video one-time first-thought best-thought riff to a recently fallen Last Man Standing . . .

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by Brian Hassett  —  karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there — https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada

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Al Hinkle Hero of The Humble

January 31st, 2019 · Kerouac and The Beats, Poetry, Weird Things About Me

Al Hinkle — Hero of The Humble

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Gracious Giant,

Gentle Giant.

A Literary Giant’s

Character for Eternity —

Still alive in every copy of On The Road in every country In The World,

The lovable affable portable — Big Ed Dunkel,

The Everyman in the car, man.

Not a Cassady — Not a Kerouac,

But a YOU,

And a me.

Everyone who wasn’t a hero could be in that car

In the person of Al,

Blocking the wind, running for smokes,

Driving through nights, playing with folks,

And planting the flag!

In the Southern Pacific Railroad Earth

That beckoned the charmers, the dreamers, conductors

Of generations of players in the symphonies of cultures

That filled the halls and spiked the balls and wooed the dolls

With an easy laugh and a generous hand.

Al was a man who had a plan:

To hit the road and not be told

What to do — cuz he already knew

It’s up to YOU

To catch your magnificent friends on the flying trapeze.

Al always practiced this, taught this, caught this, shared this.

A hero of the humble.

An explorer of the quiet.

A romantic of the road.

A swashbuckler of the rails!

A watchman with cocktails!

A map-man with muggles!

A Helen-man with snuggles!

A mighty man who juggles

90 years of adventures into one magic trick of LIFE!

We should all be so lucky!

As all those who knew him were.

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Here’s an improvised video riff to Al full of stories and photos . . .

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Or here’s The Beat Museum’s founder Jerry Cimino performing Hero of The Humble at the “non-memorial memorial wake” in San Jose on Sunday January 27th . . .

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Or here’s a similar video tribute to the late great Carolyn Cassady . . .

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Here’s a story about The Beat Museum’s big Beat Shindig where Al makes a couple of appearances back in 2015.

Here’s my tribute to his and my close friend Carolyn Cassady when she passed.

Here’s some riffs on my book that Al loved — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

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by Brian Hassett  —  karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there — https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada

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RIP – Big Al Hinkle – 1926 – 2018

December 27th, 2018 · Kerouac and The Beats, Real-life Adventure Tales

“The Last Man Standing” is no longer standing

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Update — A memorial tribute will be held to Al at the Cafe Stritch (374 S. 1st St.) in San Jose, CA — on Sunday, January 27th, starting at 5PM.  All are welcome.

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Here’s a riff with visuals . . .

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The last real-life primary character in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road has sadly gone to join his wife and best friends on that Big Adventure in The Sky.

Al Hinkle, aka Big Ed Dunkel in On The Road, Slim Buckle in Visions of Cody and Desolation Angels, and Ed Schindel in John Clellon Holmes’ Go, finally toppled after proving for nearly a century that nobody could knock over this giant. 

When I asked him how tall he was, he told me he was “6 foot 5-&-a-half.”  I thought it was so funny & telling that he didn’t round it up to 6’6″ and take credit for an extra half inch he didn’t own, but also wanted to make sure he got credit for that half inch above 5.  🙂 

He was an absolutely great human being — kind, heart of gold, funny, easy to laugh, a real people person, who I’ve been told are the luckiest people.  He was a committed shit-kickin’ libertarian, and a funny storyteller who loved to practice his craft.

And speaking of “libertarian” — the reason Al wasn’t at the legendary super-summit for Jack & the Beats in Boulder in 1982 that I wrote a whole book about was because he was running that year as the Libertarian candidate for Congress in the San Francisco / San Jose district in that 1982 midterm election.

Al was an absolutely essential person in Beat history.  He kicked in the extra hundred bucks Neal needed to buy the Hudson that would go on to change history.  He & Helen were the Cassadys best friends and stabilizing force in San Francisco during all those pivotal years.  Carolyn may have enticed Neal to come to S.F., but it was Al who got him the job on the Southern Pacific Railroad that allowed him to actually live there.  And as John Cassady reminded me last month in Lowell — he worked there for 12 years!

Also, I often joke about the relatively unknown fact that the reason the Beat Generation ended up having San Francisco as their secondary base to New York was because that was where Carolyn Robinson (before she became a Cassady) had moved and that Neal (then Allen & Jack) followed her there.  An even lesser-known fact is — the reason Al chose S.F. to move to and thus get his Denver buddy Neal a job that sustained him was . . . because of allergies!  Yep.  The reason Neal was able to pollinate San Francisco was because Al Hinkle suffered pollen allergies in Denver and his doctor told him to move to a climate like San Francisco’s.  🙂  True story.

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One other funny thing — since Al was born before the ubiquity of automobiles, they were kind of a big thing for him.  And until the day he died, I don’t think he ever said the word “car” in his life.  He always referred to them reverentially and respectfully by their proper term, as in — “We put gas in the automobile and took off.”  🙂 

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Another funny Al memory — John & I were sitting in a theater watching a screening of Walter Salles’s Searching For On The Road documentary . . . well, here’s from my recent book of our Adventures . . . 

A funny classic moment happened when Al Hinkle was on screen telling a story about he and Neal, and he mentioned, “There may have been a little bit of marijuana involved,” and both John & I spontaneously blurted out loud in unrehearsed unison — “A little bit?!”  🙂 

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Here’s my favorite picture I took of Al — with Merry Prankster Anonymous, at the Beat Shindig in S.F. 

I captioned it in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac — 

“There wasn’t a bridge between the Beats and the Pranksters — it was a loving embrace.”

When I told Al that line the next day, he bellowed out a giant rolling loving laugh.

I know this may sound crazy, but I can play back in my head almost anyone I’ve ever known’s laugh.  And Al had two in particular.  One was a kind-of high-pitched almost little kid’s giggle, usually short, but pronounced and loud and shooting out straight ahead.

The other was — I swear this festive December week — a bone fide Santa Claus Ho Ho Ho!  Which is what he did after I told him the caption line.  He had an ample body size, and particularly if he was standing, he could really shake the room like the best Saint Nick you ever heard.
Seriously.  Hearts on.  Full gear.

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Here we are with Jami Cassady … who first introduced me to her godfather … who was there at the hospital the day she was born . . .

. . . and here we are on stage together in San Francisco . . . Jami pointing to a picture of Al with his daughter and Jack with the Cassady daughters . . . 

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. . . and last year with brother John . . .

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. . . and signing Sky’s copy of the On The Road scroll version underneath Carolyn Cassady’s portraits of Al and his wife Helen . . .

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A favorite group shot — David Amram, Jami Cassady, Al, Levi Asher (Marc Stein) and myself at The Beat Museum’s Beat Shindig in San Francisco in 2015 . . . with a copy of my book in his hand!  🙂 

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He liked to play with the lighthearted moniker he adopted from Steve Edington — “Last Man Standing” — that he’d mention with a twinkle, whether on a stage, when signing a book, or even titling a book . . . 

His book signed to me . . .

My book signed to him . . . 

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When I met the actor at the London premiere who played Al in the On The Road movie, I said, “I know you!  You’re Al Hinkle,” and the British guy in Britain was pleasantly chuffed I knew not only his character but the person it was based on.

🙂

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Like Carolyn, and unlike Jack & Neal, Al stuck to his college studies and earned his first degree from San Francisco State, then studied for his Masters at Stanford (!) in geography, which he then tied into multiple 6-month leaves from the Southern Pacific to go travel the world.

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He was always gracious and joyous and smart and articulate and playful and sparkling and had an amazing memory filled with vivid image-splashing details like a novelist spontaneously creating a radio drama before your ears. 

And he remained a committed ladies’ man to the end — flirting with my girlfriend right in front of me . . . in his 90s!!  🙂 

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Here’s a 3-minute hit single — The Beat Museum’s Jerry Cimino reading my tribute poem perfectly and rhythmic at the “non-memorial memorial wake” in San Jose . . . 

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Here’s an excellent video with lots of Al, plus Jami Cassady & myself, hosted by Levi Asher, on stage at the big Beat Shindig put on by The Beat Museum in 2015 —

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Or here he is being funny & cool a decade earlier at the grand opening of The Beat Museum in San Francisco in 2006, shot by Warren Dean Fulton . . .

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Here’s a funny, fun, info-filled 2012 interview with Al upstairs at his home-away-from-home — The Beat Museum — with several of his favorite people in the world — his daughter Dawn, John Cassady who Al remembers being born, and The Beat Museum’s Jerry Cimino who gave Al many of the best adventures outside of the house in his last decade or two, and in fact was the guy who suggested to Garrett Hedlund and John that they stop and pick up Al when they were driving the ’49 Hudson used in the On The Road movie from L.A. to its soon-to-be home at the Museum in North Beach.  And in fact, the classic photo used in the San Francisco Chronicle obit on Al was taken with Al in the back seat on that car trip.

There’s more fun & laughs and lotsa Jack content in part 2 . . .

And here’s more storytelling including some On The Road & Burroughs tales . . .

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Here’s sumore early-era Neal storytelling including their time together as a trapeze act (!) and them being there the day Jack received his first copies of On The Road . . . filmed by the great Beat documentarian Tate Swindell at a 2013 event at the legendary Sweetwater club in Marin County which also featured Ramblin Jack Elliot, Clark Coolidge & Joanna McClure . . .

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Here’s a funny Al anecdote from Garrett Hedlund starting around 2:50 about them calling Al via Skype to learn about using Benzedrine inhalers . . . 

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Thanks to The Beat Museum’s Jerry Cimino, a thorough obit appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Al-Hinkle-railroad-man-and-character-in-13496805.php?#photo-16701766

Here’s a nice piece from the San Jose Metro where he lived . . .
The Final Beat: Remembering Al Hinkle

Here are some other great Al & Neal stories that Jerry from The Beat Museum captured.

Here’s The Beat Museum’s page on Al’s Memorial in San Jose, including lots of video clips filmed by the great Tate Swindell.

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Al is survived by his son Mark, his daughter Dawn, and his grandson Logan.

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The great Al Hinkle

Sept. 4th, 1926 – Dec. 26th, 2018

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Two Cassadys, two Carolyn portraits,
one Hinkle, one Hassett

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Here’s some memories on the passing of our mutual friend Carolyn Cassady.

Or here’s an alternate video version on YouTube.

Or here’s the wild story of one of our crazy collective hangs . . .  The Beat Shindig in San Francisco in 2015.

Or here’s a book of mine with some good Al stories — How The Beats Begat The Pranksters.

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by Brian Hassett  —  karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there — https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada

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John Cassady & Brian Hassett Present Cassady & Kerouac Live

November 28th, 2018 · Kerouac and The Beats, Real-life Adventure Tales

You Tell Me

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We were talkin’ about gettin’ together, ol’ John Cassady and me.  Seen each other off and on, and he even stepped up to the mic at one of the George Walker & Brian shows last year, but we hadn’t really shared any serious duetting theatrics in some 17 years.  (There’s that number again!)

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George & I’d been bringing John’s dad to life on stage along with his Uncle Jack for the past year, and John & I thought maybe we should give it a try. 

We got booked into the world’s premier annual Beat festival, Lowell Celebrates Kerouac (LCK) in Jack’s old hometown — and on Saturday night in prime time to boot!  All of a sudden — BOOM!  It’s showtime!

Mind you, there were a few who had their doubts — including the two of us!  We loved tellin’ stories and shootin’ the shit and draining some adult bevies, but “rehearsing” and “pacing” were not two of our strongest “ings.”

We’d tried video chatting coast-to-coast before getting together, but it rather quickly deteriorated into ketchup and relishing the connection.

John’s family & friends were rooting for us, as was all our distant pals & relatives in Beatlandia, but it had been a long time since ol’ Johnny & I headlined a show, and between our aging eyes, ears and knees we weren’t exactly the starting line on The A Team.

People flew in from the west coast, the south coast, the north coast, you name it.  We did a little warm-up show the Friday night before the Saturday, and boy it was a good thing as Johnny got a serious case of stomach rebellion just before showtime.  Poor guy barely made it.  But make it he did!

Then we miraculously pulled off a bona fide run-thru in the afternoon, and after Friday’s challenge, Saturday night rocked royally.  I have a vivid image of show producer Mike Flynn rushing up when I stepped off for John’s solo encore with two thumbs-up to his shoulders and a blazing beam!

But the folks back home would never know or believe us!  😀 

“You know,” I said to Johnny when it was over, “When anybody asks ‘How did it go?’ just tell them to watch that video Caroline shot, and say ‘You tell me,'” and we both laughed.

In fact, that became our catch-phrase about the rest of the weekend ’til I dropped him off at the Boston airport a couple days later.

“How did those Lowell shows go?”

“You tell me.”  😉  🙂

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Here’s where you can get the new book — On The Road with Cassadys.

Here’s where you can get The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

Here’s where you can get How The Beats Begat The Pranksters.

Here’s a bunch more live videos.

Here’s a bunch of interviews and news pieces.

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by Brian Hassett  —  karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there — https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada

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Canada’s Marijuana Legalization — The Mad Dash of The Mad Ones

October 17th, 2018 · Real-life Adventure Tales, Weird Things About Me

The Mad Dash of The Mad Ones

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Me and my bright ideas.  Of COURSE there’s going to be throngs of people in downtown Toronto, Canada’s biggest city, celebrating the Midnight Moment marijuana becomes legal nationwide.  Banners, signs, speakers, bands, drum circles, wandering guitars, “high” fives all around like when we won the hockey Gold Medal in the Olympics — in fact, we’ll go back to that Dundas Square / Times Square where we shut down the whole center of the city that Olympic day! 

Rustle up friends for the historic Moment — have Prankster PattyCake drive in from St. Catherines by the border, Hummer in from Winnipeg, Mac T from my distant ’70s Winnipeg past now somewhere out East, every other person I know in the Tea Dot — but only a handful step up and step out — and we agree to meet at the Imperial Pub right next to Times Square / Dundas Square, arriving at 10:30 for The Midnight Moment — only . . . there’s no one there! . . .  . . . . . . WE’RE the party.  Doh!

What a disaster!  Reminds me the moment I chronicle in the opening of my new book (On The Road with Cassadys) where I pictured massive crowds outside Kerouac’s building in Manhattan on the 50th anniversary of him starting to write the On The Road scroll . . . only to find absolutely No One There when I arrived that night.  And now here I am in the blistering cold of an October temperature drop night on the cement of an abandoned post-apocalyptic deserted windswept moonscape in vacant desolate Toronto.  Nuthin.  Nobody.

I find my friends in the downstairs (not even cool upstairs Library) of the Imperial Pub who have now ordered dinner and the whole night is lost.

But not giving up — there’s gotta be my peeps SOMEwhere in this town on this night at this moment — so about 11:15 I leave my krewe at a table full of red wine and warm food and start power-walking to nearby Nathan Phillips Square where there’s the big lit-up TORONTO sign and where I’ve seen the past 420 protest parties on the evening news . . . but tonight there’s even less people there than when I brought girlfriend Sky & stage partner George to this exact same time last year — and there’s absolutely NOTHING happening — EVEN LESS PEOPLE there!  Holy crap!  Complete disaster!  A handful of tourists, and three teenagers smokin a joint!

Keep burning burning burning calories as I keep power-walking down Queen Street to the Friendly Stranger pot store head shop where I’d read somewhere THAT’s where they were having a countdown party . . . until I get there and the entire street is shut down!  But not shut down like a street party — shut down like it’s the middle of the night on a Tuesday, which it is!

I call back to the Imperial dinner krewe.  We gotta make the dash to The Mod Club — the only place we’ve found that’s having ANYthing.  I want an outside street party — but some party’s better than no party.  Tell them to call a Lyft — have Hummer meet me at my car near Massey Hall — it’s 11:27 and we’ve got a major relocation happening! 

Power-walk back to the dicy dark Bond Street — car still safe, Hummer nearby — jump in — we gotta get to Little Italy in the West End in minutes.  Pull onto Dundas right behind a cop — go to hang a right onto Yonge Street but notice at the last split second a “No Turns” sign — almost got pulled over breaking the law right in a cop’s rearview mirror!  Follow him one more block — Bay Street — home of Hugh Reilly’s That Channel who we almost met up with — north to College — hang a left — PattyCake told me the address — 722 College — Hummer looks at the numbers — “172” — “Oh shit” — it’s 22 minutes to midnight by old-school rotary clock in the Blue Bomber’s dashboard — one lane traffic’s a crawl — sprinting through yellow lights, just-turned red lights, any lights, GO!  Hummer’s calling out addresses — 224 — 346 — 412 — 16 minutes to midnight — 570 — 642 — 12 minutes to midnight, I’m tapping the clock so we both register how it’s clicking away — then BOOM! around a slight corner and there’s the news crews!  Vans & satellite trucks CP24 — CTV — CBC — Global — huge mob clustered at the Mod Club — fly into the packed grocery store parking lot across the street — cop cars patrolling it — find the last spot there is — hop out — no time for smuggling beers — just grab some paper & pen in case brilliance strikes — power-walk through parking lot — some petit pretty babe smiles and says of me to Hummer with a laugh, “He’s gotta get in there before midnight.”  🙂 Cross the street — there’s our friend Lawrence McT being interviewed on camera after telling us he didn’t trust cameras being everywhere capturing our lives like some Big Brother nightmare — but there he is — all 50-something years of him saying to the broadcast cameras of the world that going forward the persecutions of all who have come before will end and from this day forward these unjust laws will no longer imprison the innocent — and we collectively hustle up the wheelchair ramp entrance where the big burley guard says, “Tickets please.”

Wait — what?

No way.  “Tickets please.  You gotta have a ticket.”

“Wait — I heard this was free.”

“It is.  But you have have to have a ticket or an email confirmation.”

“How do we get one of those.”

“You can’t now.  That ended two days ago.  It’s a free event, but it’s ticketed, and its sold out.”

“But we gotta get in there.”

“Well, you can’t without a ticket.”

Nooooo.  PattyCake chimes in, “Who can we talk to?”  And he points silently to some doorman with a clipboard.

Up the ramp — “Hi!  Hey!  How can we get into this thing?”

“You can’t if you aren’t on this list.  We’re sold out and the place is packed.”

“But it didn’t say anything about needing a ticket and we came all this way,” as the petit girl from the parking lot whisks past us with her wristband already.

Clipboardman says “No No No,” but PattyCake keeps asking him questions and not moving, the two of us immovably right in his face, until finally . . .  “Lemme see what I can do,” and he goes inside, and at least for a moment there’s hope.

Until he comes back out and shakes his head and says, “No, it’s packed, there’s nothing I can do.”

And I tell him we’re all from out of town and we’ve come just to be here.  “I’m from New York, she’s from St. Catherines, he’s from Winnipeg . . .” and PattyCake tells me later my face is a dripping candid canvas of disappointment atop my head-to-toe colorful tie-dyed attire thanks to my colorful girlfriend a world away in non-legal America.  I ask about people who didn’t show up for their reservations, and PattyCake asks about who else we could ask, until the guy finally says, “Lemme ask my boss,” and goes back inside again.  And of course it’s what?  One minute to midnight?  Already past midnight?  Who knows.  We’ve missed it.  There’s no watch.  No time.  Looking at the bleak street-front pavement of nothingness Toronto.  Cars and idiots and cold and old tumbleweed newspapers blowing through ghost-town streets you want no part of.  And the security guys have been trying to kick us off the front stoop the whole time we’ve been there.  And one of them comes back out from inside, “No, you can’t come in.  You gotta go.”  And I’m thinking, the clipboard guy only said he was checking with his boss just to get away from us so security could clear the deck, and it’s mean and it’s cold and the guards are big and the building’s a bank vault with no slippery side doors, and the night’s a disaster.

And then, behind the big mean security guard blockers, the little clipboard man fragilely appears again, meekly behind them, looking at me between big black coats — and then subtly with his one free hand held low, turns it palm up, and motions silently with his fingers towards him to come!  BOOM!

Ushered through the door!  All five of us!  Into the dark packed club . . . just as a giant three-foot Christmas tree of a marijuana bud is lowered from the middle of the ceiling and the band on stage (called Dwayne Gretzky!) is riffin on the powers of the plant and then begin a “Ten, nine, eight . . .” countdown to the Midnight Moment of legalization when explosions of glossy sparkling confetti go off and sprinkle the room in a shimmering shower that we made it inside for by one freakin’ minute!

It may not have been The Golden Goal celebration of the Olympic triumph — but Canada just pulled off something of even greater global impact with this national moment!

This was one small toke for man — but it was one giant puff for mankind.

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Post show joy —

In the new haze with the CN Tower lit in green behind us  🙂

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Here’s where you can get another great real-life Adventure Tale — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

Or here’s more Adventures of discovery in the sometimes drug world — How The Beats Begat The Pranksters.

Or here’s a bunch of different interviews and press and such.

Or here’s a bunch of live videos of various shows.  😉

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by Brian Hassett  —  karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there — https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada

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Brian Hassett Fall Shows 2018

September 22nd, 2018 · Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac, Kerouac and The Beats, Weird Things About Me

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Fall  Shows  2018

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In celebration of the new On The Road with Cassadys, & Furthur Visions and the just-completed Beat Trilogy.

 

Friday Sept. 28th 8PM “The Hammer & The Hassett” with Robin “The Hammer” Ludwig the mighty blues master who I’ve done shows with for 20 years from Amsterdam to CBGBs to On The Road‘s birth day — at The Mothership in Woodstock, NY (6 Hillcrest Ave.)

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Saturday Sept. 29th 6PM — The Beat Trilogy Comes To Life in a sonic symphony at the coolest bookstore in New York State — The Golden Notebook — 29 Tinker Street in downtown Woodstock, NY — with an afterparty back at the Shivastan Garden (6 Hillcrest Ave.)

 

 


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The following shows are all part of the 30th anniversary of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac in the Beat author’s hometown:

Friday Oct 5th, 7:30PM — The Brian Hassett Roadshow with a three-ring cast of colorful characters — at Zorba’s Music Hall, 438 Market St., Lowell, Mass. (followed by the David Amram Trio’s “Jazz & Jack” show).

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Saturday Oct 6th, 7:30PM — Cassady & Hassett Bring Cassady & Kerouac To Life — with John Allen Cassady the subject of the most recent book and an on-&-off stage partner of 20 years — at Zorba’s Music Hall, 438 Market St., Lowell, Mass. (followed by Massachusetts’ own Slim Gaillard – Vance Gilbert).

Here’s the show via local Lowell TV . . .

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Sunday Oct 7th, 1:30PM — The Amram Jam — Hassett with the Amram Trio bringing a little Vincent and a little Jack into the house — at The Old Worthen — 141 Worthen St., Lowell, Mass.

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Sunday Oct 7th, 5:30PM — introducing “Loving Vincent” — at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitors Center, 246 Market St., Lowell, Mass.

Check here for my review of its first theatrical run.

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“You’re a tough act to follow.” Rob Burton, Mayor of Oakville, Ontario

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You can get this one …....   ..… here.

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Or this one …......….. here.

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Or this one ….... ..….. here.

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You can read a bunch of interviews and such here.

Or about The Birth of The Trilogy here.

Or a bunch of Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac reviews here.

Or about the How The Beats Begat The Pranksters shows and tours with original Prankster George Walker here.

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by Brian Hassett  —  karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there — https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada

 

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The Birth of a Trilogy

August 31st, 2018 · Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac, Kerouac and The Beats, Real-life Adventure Tales, Weird Things About Me

THE BIRTH OF A TRILOGY

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I never expected any of it.

A few years ago, a few people asked me on a Facebook group to tell them about a Kerouac gathering I was at back in 1982, and my response to the question became a book . . . in eleven days, it took.

A couple years later, original Merry Prankster George Walker and myself were batting around the idea of how the Beats begat the Pranksters, and it suddenly struck me, “This is a book — Do it as such” . . . and two weeks later we had the book for sale.

This past March, John Allen Cassady & I were talkin about doing some shows together — bringing his dad and Uncle Jack to life on stage — and suddenly it struck me I should write that book he and I joked about writing decades ago . . . and five months later to the day, I was proofing the first copy.

As Kerouac says, “My books are my children.”

And for me, not one of them were planned.

I had three accidents.  In a row.

All unexpected.  Not a single one had been in my mind the day before the birthing process began.  No “Great American Novel” contemplated.  No writing workshops or Go Fund Me’s.  Just a handful of Go Write Me’s.  And Bob’s your Hope — there they were — a stained glass triptych staring me in the face.

“Or no, wait.  There’s another word for it.  What is it?  Trifecta?  No.  Wait.  Trio?  No — that’s a musical combo.  Triad!  Or no — that’s a David Crosby song.  What the hell is it?  There’s some word for three books.  Trilogy!  That’s it!  Ha!”

Yes, yes — a trilogy!  Three connected books that all stand on their own as separate works, or can be experienced as an interconnected whole.  Yes!  Three books that have characters in common through multiple stories.  Yes!  Three books that are created around the same time, and especially if in sequence.  Yes!  Three books that are created with the same motivation, and done in the same style.  Yes!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!  Lord of the Rings!  The Nova Trilogy!  Oedipus!  Snopes!  Good company!

As unexpectedly as I stumbled into each of those individual births — I unexpectedly found out I’m the father of triplets!  🙂 

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You can get this one … .    here.

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Or this one …..…… here.

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Or this one….. ….. here.

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Here’s what a bunch of people thought of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

Here’s what a bunch of other people including original Merry Pranksters and Beats thought of The Hitchhiker’s Guide.

Here’s a wee excerpt from the new On The Road with Cassadys book.

Here’s an excerpt from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

Here’s an excerpt from How The Beats Begat The Pranksters.

Here’s a bunch of recent interviews and press and stuff.

Here’s a ton of different live videos performing these various books and such.

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by Brian Hassett  —  karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there — https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada

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Brian Hassett Interviews and Such

July 31st, 2018 · Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac, Interviews, Kerouac and The Beats, Weird Things About Me

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Here are a few different print, radio & video interviews and stories and reviews and such . . .

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Here’s the front page above-the-fold story in the hometown paper Jack used to write for on occasion, the Lowell Sun, that we were all happily surprised to discover when we pulled into town for the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac festival (Oct. 3rd, 2018).

“Hassett’s performances — a mix of scripted dramatizations and pure improvisation — capture Kerouac’s wild, untamed spirit and bring him back to life.”


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Or here’s what the Woodstock Times had to say of the show & books in the town that spawned the festival . . . 


 

Here’s a Sept. 15th 2018 interview with Mike Flynn at WUML in Lowell about the upcoming LCK (Lowell Celebrates Kerouac) and the meaning of life and tips n tricks for writing and all things Beat & Prankster and such . . .


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Here’s an August 2018 interview from the very cool AMFM Magazine about how The Hitchhiker’s Guide … got written, plus Kesey & Kerouac & the Pranksters & all that jazz . . .

https://www.amfm-magazine.com/the-hitchhikers-guide-to-jack-kerouac-author-brian-hassett-interview/


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Here’s a really fun lively wide-ranging optimistic laugh-filled radio interview on The Jake Feinberg show in 2015 about the Grateful Dead, Red Rocks, Jack and jazz and the impact of On The Road, the Beats, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Phil Lesh, Bill Graham, Ken Kesey, Neil Young, born leaders, consciousness expansion, love, community, smoking marijuana in the ’40s & ’50s . . . it’s a helluva riff . . .  🙂 

http://www.jakefeinbergshow.com/2015/11/the-brian-hassett-interview/


 

Here’s a 2018 interview for the Cleveland Scene magazine about the writing process, Kerouac’s writing process, the live show process, the Sept. 2018 On The Road With Cassadys book, working with Bill Graham and all sorts of other stuff . . .

https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2018/06/14/author-brian-hassett-to-bring-his-one-man-variety-show-to-visible-voice-books-and-macs-backs


 

Here’s a print interview with Michael Limnios at the great Blues – Greece magazine & website about the most important life lessons & advice, life-changing moments, the meaning of ‘Beat,’ its impact on culture, its connection to rock n roll, and lots more . . .

http://blues.gr/profiles/blogs/canadian-writer-poet-traveler-brian-hassett-talks-about-the-rock


 

Here’s the Kevin Pennington interview for The Sunflower Collective about the mindset behind On The Road and the Beat Generation, and how it manifests today, and the Merry Pranksters and the Acid Tests, and the Beat Museum’s big Beat Shindig and a whole lot more  . . .

http://sunflowercollective.blogspot.com/2016/08/tsc-interviews-brian-hassett.html


 

Here’s Lance Simmens’ piece in The Huffington Post . . . 


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Here’s a review of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac in Beat Scene magazine (#75, Early Summer 2015) . . .

 


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Here’s the new book On The Road with Cassadys in Beatdom.


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Here’s a piece about George & my tour in The Oakville Beaver in Canada . . .


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Or here’s this from the Woodstock Times when I first appeared there with the first book . . .


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Here’s where the founding owner of the historic Bitter End club on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village New York City wrote about me and my shows in his autobiography . . .


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Here’s where I interview Beat legend Gerd Stern at The Beat Museum’s Shindig in San Francisco in 2015 about the Joan Anderson letter that He Did Not Lose, and Allen Ginsberg & Jack Kerouac & Neal Cassady, and the whole San Francisco scene back in the ’50s and ’60s, and his pioneering multimedia art . . . . . .

 

Here’s the lively & funny Cassady panel discussion at The Beat Museum’s big Beat Shindig in 2015 with Al Hinkle, Jami Cassady, & myself, moderated by Levi Asher (now Marc Stein) . . .

 

Here’s a funny wild crazy Adventure Tale video interview response for filmmaker Noemie Sornet’s On The Road film project . . .

here’s part 2 —

 

More’ll be added as I do them or find them in the archives or get around to converting the old TV interviews on VHS tapes and radio riffs on cassette.  😉

 

 

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Here’s a bunch of live video performances in various media.

Here’s a wave of reviews and comments on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

Here’s the next wave including a bunch of original Merry Pranksters.

Here’s some author / performer background.

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by Brian Hassett  —  karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there — https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada

 

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