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What I Didn’t Know Then

July 26th, 2020 · Poetry

What I Didn’t Know Then

by Brian Hassett

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“Democracy isn’t something you have,
It’s something you do,”
94-year-old Granny D shared for eternity.

Love isn’t something you receive,
It’s something you give.

A smile isn’t something you see,
It’s something you shine.

Truth isn’t something you know,
It’s something you share.

A hand isn’t something you hold,
It’s something you offer.

Wealth isn’t something you hoard,
It’s something you GIFT.

A word isn’t something you utter,
It’s something you keep.

We’re only here for a sliver of time,
Though when you’re young it seems like forever.

You’ve got one reputation,
And one occupation —
To do the right thing
For all whom you know
And all whom you don’t;

To do the kind thing
For the stranger among us
As the partner beside us;

To be the heart in the darkness,
The spark with the kindness,
With the will of a warrior
And the love of a mother.

Support your sister, support your brother,
Support your elder, support your younger;
The more harmony we sing,
The farther our voices carry.

Compliments are free to give,
But worth a million to receive;
So share your love with those you know,
And those you know to believe.

Your happiness is no one’s job
But your own;
Every day, and every night,
Do the work that makes you right.

Follow your soul and follow your heart,
Only you know – what sets you apart;
But know you do, when you quiet your mind,
Uncover the truth only you can find.

The sooner you practice forgiveness,
The longer you’ll live in the light;
The faster you run from malicious,
The stronger your beam will shine bright.

Don’t count on your next life — enjoy the buffet,
Don’t put off till tomorrow what’s sizzling today;
Give it your all and give it your best,
Cuz this go-round is the real Acid Test.

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.This new poem will soon be in the international collection —

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From the Ancestors: Poems and Prayers for Future Generations
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a double album and book project — including 33 poets, musicians, singers, healers/curanderas/shamans from 20 countries, in 19 languages.
Release date is November 10, 2020.

Besides myself, folks included are —

Anne Waldman, NYC/USA
Ron Whitehead, Kentucky/USA
Andy Willoughby, England
Birgitta Jonsdottir, Reykjavik Iceland
Joy Harjo, Muscogee (Creek)/USA
Dr. Hilaria Cruz, Oaxaca Mexico/USA
Doris Kareva, Tallinn Estonia
Tanya Lind, Iceland
Iris Lican, Sintra Portugal
Michael White, Tennessee/USA
Jaouad El Garouge, Morocca
Thomas Bellier, Paris France
Aprilia Zank, Germany
Chryssa Velissarous, Greece
Vesa Lahti, Finland
Al Paldrok, Parnu Estonia
Frank Messina, NYC/USA
Amber Lee, NYC/USA
Aurelia Lassaque, France
Giulio Tedeschi, Italy
Wilfred Hildonen, Norway/Finland
Lee Pennington, Kentucky/USA
Greta Render Whitehead, Kentucky/USA
Bengt O Bjorklund, Sweden
Jeanette Aslaksen, Sami/Norway
Jaouad El Garouge, Morocco
Thomas Attar Bellier, France
Jared Zarantanello, USA
Patrick Latanga, Congo
Rani Whitehead, USA
Himeko Narumi, Japan
Theo Dorgan, Ireland
Seda Suna Uçakan, Turkey

Producers Ron Whitehead, Gabriel Walker, Matt Thomasson, Bill Hardesty, Yunier Ramirez. Executive Producers sonaBLAST! Records, Michael White, and Ron Whitehead. a sonaBLAST! Records and released for the global literary renaissance.

Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Gabriel Walker, Bill Hardesty, Matt Thomasson at Logan Street Recording Studios.  Music Composed and Produced by Gabriel Walker.

Music co-Produced by Matt Thomasson and Bill Hardesty.
Mastered by Kevin Nordstrom.
Book produced and edited by Ron Whitehead.
Cover art by Wilfred Hildonen.
Profits from this project will go to Kentucky Refugee Ministries/KRM, a non-profit organization in Louisville, Kentucky dedicated to providing resettlement services to refugees and promoting self-sufficiency and successful integration.
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Here’s where you can get the above political book with the Granny D quote — Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy.

Here’s the first show for the book — a live stream on Facebook — where I perform a bunch of excerpts from it —

https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada/videos/10163863488060261/

You can hear a Democrats Abroad podcast interview about the New Hampshire Adventures here.

Or here’s where you can get The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac — The Adventure of the Boulder ’82 On The Road Conference – Finding Kerouac, Kesey and The Grateful Dead Alive & Rockin’ in the Rockies 

Or here’s where you can get How The Beats Begat The Pranksters & Other Adventure Tales 

Or here’s where you can get On The Road with Cassadys & Furthur Visions — completing The Beat Trilogy 

Or here’s where you can get Holy Cats! Dream-Catching at Woodstock – all about the epic Woodstock ’94 Adventure

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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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Obama Election Night NYC 2008

June 29th, 2020 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, New York City, Real-life Adventure Tales

Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy

I spent the afternoon getting all gussied up in my black velvet tails and Ben Franklin knickers with knee-high socks topped off with a top hat, accented with colorful Obama buttons, and everything underneath my waving homemade Obama pennant flag with a little red & white Canadian one on top.  All I needed was a clanging bell and some rolled parchment.

Heading into the Election Night, for the first time in my life, I was the most popular person in Harlem!  Looking like a “Hear-ye, hear-ye!” town crier from the American Revolution, I was carrying Obama’s flag into battle — lighting up faces of people who still hadn’t come close to learning English.  Shopkeepers were waving, and mothers were pointing me out to their small children.  Passing pedestrians were either breaking into huge smiles or full-out hollering, “Obama!”  It was dusk on the final day of The Nightmare From Texas, and minorities may have been happier than anyone that the lying war sap’s reign of error was finally ending.

Riding the subway through Harlem in black velvet regalia — facing beaming white smiles from dark African faces, shining and sharing across the aisle like Washington would soon be if all goes according to plan.  A little boy beside me was admiring my buttons, and finally says in the cutest voice, “All Barack!”  So I reached in my bag and found a button for him just before he got off.  And some guy was watching me do this, and he pulled out his keys from his pocket and wound off his little Obama key-chain and handed it to me across the subway car.  It’s the coolest thing and I’ll cherish it forever.  And so I looked in my bag and found another button and hand it across to him.  And there was some guy standing nearby smiling as he watched all this go down, and the guy I just gave the button to hands it to him.  A crowd got on right after that and we all got separated — but within seconds all us strangers had just given each other something for nothing.  America was changing right before our eyes.

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Here’s where you can get Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy.

Here’s the first show for the book — a live stream on Facebook — where I perform the Top Hat in Harlem story —

https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada/videos/10163863488060261/

Here’s some reviews and quotes about the book.

Here’s the Beat Museum’s Jerry Cimino’s Introduction for the 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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“Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy” News & Reviews

May 31st, 2020 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy

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Here’s the first live show for the book — a Facebook live stream for an online Prankster reunion — featuring The Franken Fracas, Obama’s election night, Abbie Hoffman, the climactic Bernie rally in New Hampshire & lots of other gems . . .

https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada/videos/10163863488060261/


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David Amram — Jack Kerouac’s principal musical collaborator

“Thanks for your Hip Herodotus History of Happenings!
“You really nailed the whole era, in addition to a crash course in Pranksterland and your account of the afternoon tribute to Abbie. 
“You showed a new generation your take on the relationship of the THEN and the NOW on the TV show we did together, and I know you’ll continue to do this in your OWN way, and that’s the whole idea!!”


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David Wills, Beatdom — “This book is fantastic!”



The Beat Museum

There are very few people on the planet who know as much about the Beat Generation, their lives and their impact, as does my friend Brian Hassett. In a way, you could say Brian wrote the book on the Beat Generation. Multiple books, in fact. And at a level of storytelling and personal detail matched by very few. This is why when Brian told me he would be having a new book coming out and asked me to write the introduction, I quickly and happily said, “Yes!”

And that new book — Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy: Adventures in Politics 1980-2020 — is out this week. It’s a departure from his usual musings about the counterculture, and is just as important. It is an immersive look at the last 40 years of politics in our country from Brian’s own unique perspective. Rather than telling tales of what we’ve all been seeing through our TV screens, Brian once again, took a hands-on approach by showing up. He showed up in 1980 and in 2000 and again in 2020, and every election in between. Over and over again Brian has been on the scene and met the people who guide our day-to-day lives as we weather the politics of our age.

Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy is a personal tale filled with personal anecdotes of both the mighty and the fallen as only Brian can tell them — from the grandest hopes and aspirations of the highest profile people in the world to the crushing defeats and the rebuilding that follows.



Simon Warner
— author of Text, Drugs and Rock n Roll and Kerouac On Record —

Brian Hassett, Beat commentator and raconteur extraordinaire, switches tack with his new book, leaving the cool chaos of the counterculture for the wild waterfront of politics USA.  Like a latter-day Hunter S. Thompson, he straps on his laptop and heads out to the Wild West of Western democracy with sharp words his only defense.  There is even an introduction from Beat Museum boss Jerry Cimino!  What’s not to love?



David Schellenberg, Chair, Democrats Abroad
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“Very nice book and stories. Going to New Hampshire and actually meeting all the candidates and getting a picture with every single one of them is a total game-changer.”



Mike Flynn, WUML — 

“You have been on the political scene for years, and have finally documented it, filling in that piece of the giant output of your literature documenting Adventure Tales from your life.”

“This book brings an insider perspective to what politics looks like on the ground, the human interaction, and what’s really happening — when so much of this stuff gets erased by history. What is the reality of people involved in politics and how has it changed over the years? That’s one of the interesting things that you get down in this book. It’s continuing the theme of what you do.”

“You’re the Gonzo journalist type who’s attracted to very interesting, colorful personalities, and you join them on their travels, and are able to communicate it in a way that the reader feels like they’re with you on these Adventures. It’s a really fantastic thing that you’re doing with your literary voice.”



The Democrats Abroad podcast — stories about the New Hampshire primary, with hosts David Schellenberg and Rachel Eugster (March 7th, 2020).



The Subjective Perspective interview (starting 22 minutes into the podcast) about Winnipeg, the Grateful Dead, Kerouac, Kesey, memory, Democratic unity, participating in democracy is fun, the Cassady family (April 29th, 2020).


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Watch for upcoming shows . . . or you can order a copy here.

Or you can read The Beat Museum founder Jerry Cimino’s killer Introduction 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 Beat Museum’s Jerry Cimino Introduces Brian Hassett

April 30th, 2020 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, Kerouac and The Beats, Politics, Weird Things About Me

Introduction to Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy (April 2020)

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Sometimes you meet a person who thinks like you do, who views the world through a similar lens.  For me, Brian Hassett is one of those people.

We’re all products of our times, and Brian, being slightly younger than me, came of age in a different decade so our experiences are somewhat different.  But Brian understands history and he knows how everything in life must be viewed through an historical context.  I believe an understanding of history is critical to an understanding of life.  And Brian holds that same view.

Years before I ever met him in person, I had heard about Brian Hassett from our mutual friend John Allen Cassady, son of the Beat muse Neal Cassady.  John and I had first met in 1994 when he drove his mother Carolyn Cassady to a book signing at my wife Estelle’s bookstore in Monterey, California.  While Estelle interviewed Carolyn on stage in front of a hundred fans about the adventures she and her husband Neal had with writer Jack Kerouac as vividly described in her book Off The Road, her son John Allen and I walked across Alvarado Street to the Mucky Duck to grab a drink and swap stories.

I don’t remember if it was on that first night that John told me about his friend Brian Hassett who lived in Manhattan and worked in the rock ‘n roll world and had written for The Rolling Stone Book of The Beats, maybe that came later, but I do recall Brian’s name coming up many times over the years when John and I would meet up at various Northern California Beat Generation events, or for leisurely hikes in Big Sur with another mutual friend Steve Edington who was then President of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac.

I clearly remember John Allen and I discussing the possibility of meeting up with Brian in Toronto for a Beat Museum on Wheels event when we were planning our first East Coast tour in 2004 driving from California in The Mighty Beatmobile.  Unfortunately Canadian Customs insisted we inventory every single item we had on board in both the 35-foot RV and the 16-foot trailer that acted as a rolling bookstore.  This would have delayed us for days, so Brian and I were not destined to meet for another decade.

The moment of that great occasion didn’t occur until June 2015 when he came to San Francisco to host multiple panels at The Beat Shindig at Fort Mason sponsored and coordinated by The Beat Museum.  This became the largest Beat Generation gathering in the world since Allen Ginsberg organized the 1994 & ’95 NYU Conferences.  One day leading up to the Shindig, I was rushing down the stairs from my Beat Museum office when I turned a blind corner and bumped into a guy I immediately recognized as Brian.  We both stood back for a moment — realizing we were finally meeting face-to-face after having interacted from afar for so many years.  A big spontaneous bear hug ensued, and it was like we had never not known each other.  And that has proven true so many times since.

As I write this introduction for Brian’s latest book — his long awaited collection of stories on politics as he has known it up close and personal and as only Brian can tell them — I’m sitting in my office in North Beach directly across the street from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s office at City Lights Bookstore, delayed in writing and glued to the TV because of the impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate of Donald J. Trump.

It’s fitting for me to be in this situation.  I’ve come to know Brian through our association with the Beat writers, and along the way we’ve discovered our mutual love of politics, and us having similar dispositions.  And just as Brian knows the Beats and the Pranksters like few people I’ve ever met, and can spin a tale and draw connections most people would never even consider with an inimitable style that is as distinct as it is entertaining, I know he can do so in the political arena as well.

Brian is the kind of guy who is always inquisitive, always into multiple storylines and overlapping dramas, and who suddenly drops everything and takes to the road because there is a story to uncover, a secret to suss out, or an experience to be had.

Brian is the guy who “shows up.”  He showed up at the 25th Anniversary of Kerouac’s On The Road in Boulder in 1982; he showed up for Bill Clinton’s inauguration; for the On The Road auction in NYC in 2001; for Obama’s 2008 election night and inauguration; and to be with Carolyn Cassady in 2012 when she needed him.

Brian Hassett knows history and politics as well as anyone I’ve ever known.  He has a way with words, his ideas flow effortlessly, and his stories are cogent, brilliant and always on point.  Brian brings connections together with gee-whiz enthusiasm and exacting detail most people have never even considered.  He has uncovered Beat mysteries that lay dormant for decades and he relates those stories in unique and compelling ways.  And now he’s tackling politics.

As Carolyn Cassady always liked to say — “Brian gets things done.”

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You can get the Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy book here.

Here’s the first live show for the book — a Facebook live stream — featuring The Franken Fracas, Obama’s election night, Abbie Hoffman, the climactic Bernie rally in New Hampshire & lots of other gems . . .

https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada/videos/10163863488060261/

Here’s some news & reviews about the book.

You can read all about that wild Beat Shindig Jerry mentions here.

Or the Boulder ’82 Adventure — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac — here.

You can hear a Democrats Abroad podcast interview about the book here.

Or a more wide-ranging interview on the book plus the Beats and Pranksters and life itself with the Subjective Perspective crew out of Northern California is here.

The Beat Museum that Jerry Cimino founded can be found 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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Bernie Sanders’ campaign climax in New Hampshire

March 24th, 2020 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, Politics, Real-life Adventure Tales

Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy excerpt

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Following the climactic election eve rally of the 2020 New Hampshire primary with Bernie Sanders at a hockey arena  . . . 

The most extraordinary thing happened when it was over.  As the thousands of kids streamed out of the arena, right next to it was a big outdoor skating pond, and in the joy of the frozen midnight moment in New Hampshire, students began climbing over the fence and figure skating on it without skates.

Here were the children of the euphoric night, inspired by a politician to dance the light fandango, waving blue Bernie signs as their batons — running and sliding, cheering and laughing, pirouetting in moonlight, and celebrating their first brush with democracy.

Bernie’s rock star rally had flashed me back to Gary Hart and 1984 — but this was taking me all the way back to my childhood in Winnipeg and going for skates in the early darkness of winter nights on a pond full of happy people in a tranquil town reveling in the simple pleasures of frozen water.

Snowbanks surrounded the ice, everyone’s breath was visible in the misty night, cheeks were turning rosy, and strangers were hugging strangers in a land where they let the children hug.  Democracy had played out for the last week in New Hampshire, and now voters were out playing in the last hours before tomorrow’s voting.

I’m the guy who spots a cool assemblage of friends and wrangles everyone together to get a group photo, but I didn’t know anyone here, and everyone was spread out all over the ice.

And then the next amazing thing happened.

You know those sprawling group photos taken at center ice when an NHL team wins the Stanley Cup?  And you know who Wayne Gretzky is?  Did you know he invented those?

It was when he won his last Cup with the Oilers in 1988 at a game in their Edmonton home town — their fourth in five years. After the players had skated around the rink hoisting the Cup above their adrenaline heads, Captain Gretzky grabbed it back and suddenly started waving the players to center ice to take a group shot with the authentic sweat and victory joy still fresh on all their faces.  First it was just the core players, but more and more trainers & coaches & managers and all the people who made the team work came running from the sidelines sliding into the group.

Well, that very scene played out on the frozen pond with this team celebrating the Sanders Cup on home ice.  First, about a dozen friends gathered for a group shot, and I ran over in the role of photographer to capture their collective joy, including because there wasn’t a single member of press present.  I was it.

And as I snapped at their hooting faces, more people saw what was happening and came shushing across the ice and sliding into them like a cartoon of calamity.  I had to keep backing up to get their ever-expanding team in the frame, and more student photographers with phones joined my press pool.  All that was missing was a big silver Cup in the middle.

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From first catching Deval Patrick in a small dark basement room in a library, the New Hampshire primary built to a massive open-air love-in of screaming joy.  This was democracy in action in real time in America.  From old folks gathering in a gym on a Tuesday afternoon to hear Joe Biden to thousands of college kids filling an arena and spontaneously creating their own escapades of Ice Capades, participation in the political process is healthy and thriving.  It’s not any one group or one voice, but a collective of choirs singing songs of joy and progress, of innocence and experience — and forever Going Furthur.

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Here’s where you can get Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy book.

Here’s the first live show for the book — a Facebook live stream — featuring The Franken Fracas, Obama’s election night, Abbie Hoffman, the climactic Bernie rally in New Hampshire & lots of other gems . . . 

https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada/videos/10163863488060261/

Here’s some news & reviews about the book.

Here’s Beat Museum founder Jerry Cimino’s killer Introduction.

Here’s some more Adventures like this with even more of a Kerouac feel — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

Here’s a podcast about some of the New Hampshire Adventures on the Democrats Abroad show.

Here’s another excerpt from the upcoming poli book Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy.

Here’s some Adventures from the last time a Democrat was inaugurated as President.

You can hear a recent interview with Democrats Abroad about some of the New Hampshire Adventures 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

→ 8 CommentsTags: ···

Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy

February 29th, 2020 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, Politics, Real-life Adventure Tales

FRIDAY NIGHT DEBATE NIGHT

Friday February 7th was the big nationally televised Democratic debate from Manchester.  I tried every angle to get tickets, but even longtime plugged-in politicos told me they were shut out.  Made me feel a smidge better.

The obvious thing was to go to the DoubleTree Hotel in Manchester.

Manchester’s the main city in New Hampshire — population all of 110,000 — has only one main hotel downtown.  It used to be a very cool Radisson, but Hilton took it over in 2018 and frankly it’s nowhere near as good as it was during my last primary there in 2004 when there was a massive bar with an overlooking restaurant, and it was a helluva scene.  Now it’s all different.

As I walked into the lobby to head to the bar, I noticed a long line going in the other direction.  “What’s this?”

“It’s a live taping of the Chris Hayes show.  It’s the debate-watch, then you have to stay to be in the studio audience until 1.”

“Do they serve beer?”

Awkward pause.  “I don’t think so.”

So I went and checked the lobby bar — and it was so small I had to ask if it was the only one.  The old Radisson had this great bar lined with TVs with all the different news networks on them, plus a big open restaurant space.  All of that was gone and replaced by this small airport lounge type joint in the lobby with two TVs behind the bar … showing sports in the middle of the primary!

This wasn’t right.  So I went back over to the Chris Hayes line, and found out everybody had to be registered in advance to be in the studio audience, but I went and talked to the organizers and pitched the idea of filling in for somebody didn’t show up, and they let me stand over on the side until the line when through the metal detectors and into the hall — and sure as heck they let me in!

I had no idea what to expect, but they had a free fancy coffee station and were bringing out nonstop boxes of pizza so it seemed to be off to a good start.  Apparently in the complete architectural overhaul of the hotel, they built a massive open exhibition space about an acre in size attached to the hotel that NBC had rented and turned into their “New Hampshire Election Headquarters,” broadcasting almost all their MSNBC shows from different studios built throughout it.

Going in, they’d given New Hampshire residents wristbands, and had them all sit in the middle section in front of the Chris Hayes set, so for the post-debate live show he could walk among them to get local undecided voters’ reactions to the debate.  (Amy won.)

The two-hour ABC debate was shown on a cube of giant 10′-x-20′ hi-def screens in the center of the massive room, while the All In production crew did different camera blockings and chair markings for the various segments that were all gonna go down live as soon as the debate ended.  Hanging around the perimeter were a bunch of politicos who would end up taking an on-air chair later — Michael Moore, Howard Fineman, Jonathan Alter, Lawrence O’Donnell, Joy Reid, David Corn and others.

The debate itself was the last of the civil exchanges before the gloves came off in Nevada and South Carolina in the coming weeks.  It was also the last one with ol’ Andrew Yang, and the last without Michael Bloomberg.  Newly crowned co-frontrunner Bernie Sanders finally started to take some direct challenges on a debate stage, including about what trump was gonna do with Bernie’s self-attached label of “socialist” and his history of voting against the Brady Bill and other gun legislation.  Like the experienced politician his base pretends he’s not, he deflected & pivoted with the best of them.  His co-winner out of Iowa, Pete Buttigieg, the young “debate team captain” as I like to call him, and the one who can compose complete and complex sentences on the fly better than anyone on the stage, also took lots of incoming, including from Amy Klobuchar about how he said the impeachment hearings were exhausting and how he’s rather turn the channel and “watch cartoons instead” — an unfortunate comment from someone who looks not far removed from cartoon watching age.

After his disappointing fourth-place finish in Iowa, Biden picked up his game and was more forceful and articulate than he’d been heretofore.  “We should pin a medal on Colonel Vindman not Rush Limbaugh,” he said with fire in his eyes, speaking to both the moment and the room, to great applause.

My Girl Liz has just never caught on and didn’t win many converts in this debate.  Particularly Liz, but really all these candidates, do better in the hour-long town halls that CNN and others occasionally host.  Although she’d distinguish herself by coming out swinging in the debates that followed, her attempt at being “the unity candidate” didn’t seem to be uniting voters behind her.

I don’t know what Tom Steyer’s doing on the stage.  I understand his ad buys juiced his polling numbers in a couple states allowing him to qualify, but over the last year talking politics with thousands of people I’ve never come across a single Steyer supporter.  And poor ol’ Andrew Yang.  It felt like it watching, but got confirmed afterwards — both Bernie & Biden had the mic for roughly 20 minutes each, and Andrew Yang spoke for 8.  He’s a nice, smart, funny, altruistic, forward-thinking guy — but that and a dollar will get him on the subway.

Which all brings us to Amy Klobuchar who seemed to be the consensus pick for winner of the debate.  She would be rewarded a few days later by a strong third-place finish in New Hampshire and become a poster child for how debates can change momentum.  The first thing I noticed — I know it’s absurdly superficial, but — her hair looked great!  I even mentioned it to the woman sitting next to me, about how it oval-arc around her face looked like Jennifer Aniston on Friends, and the woman about Amy’s age next to me heartily agreed.  She had a funny line about how “59 is the new 38” to Mayor Pete, and managed to get in that she had been endorsed by the three biggest newspapers in New Hampshire, to go along with the the New York Times dual endorsement of both her and Warren.  And the escalating poetry of her closing statement about empathy brought down the house — the combination of all of which is part of what spiked her up into the top tier of candidates.

As soon as the debate wrapped, the EMT-like production team leapt into action.  The woman director patrolled the perimeter of the giant studio with a headset directing the action.  Her second in command physically directed camera movements with his long arms as a visual to her audio directives, as well as clapped and cued the audience of around 200 when needed.  Chris was center stage reading the intros and outros from the teleprompter but otherwise improvising.  This is his game, his life.  He could riff this stuff till tomorrow and not run out of ideas.

At the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016
Photo by Jeremy Hogan

In the first segment, he wandered out into the New Hampshire wristband-wearing part of studio audience.  I saw a seat chart on somebody’s clipboard with certain aisle seats highlighted — I guess people they’d assessed were articulate and camera-friendly.  “Who do you think won the debate and why?” was the go-to question — and “Amy” seemed the come-back answer.

They did remote interviews with both Amy and Liz that looked like every other cross-country satellite interview — except the two rooms were only two miles apart in tiny Manchester.

The first post-debate panel was the first-line all-stars to open the show — Chris Matthews, Joy Reid, Lawrence O’Donnell, and Alicia Menendez for the Latino perspective.  And then there was another one with David Corn and a couple others it’s driving me nuts that I can’t remember their names.  And then Michael Moore came out for a fun one-on-one with Chris to close the show.

To be completely confessional I didn’t take notes on what they were saying because 1) — It wouldn’t look proper as a studio audience member to be sitting there taking notes like a reporter.  They told us “no photo taking during the taping” — that we were part of the show.  This isn’t a rally in a gymnasium — we’re on-camera extras in a live-broadcast movie.  I can respect that.  And 2) — I figured the whole show (like the debate itself) would be posted to YouTube or the NBC site or something, so this would be one part of The Epic Adventure I could relive later and not have to be committing to memory as it happened.  But I was wrong.  The one gig I thought would be preserved in hi-def in perpetuity doesn’t even have notes on paper to show for itself.

After the live show, the audience mostly left, but of course I hung and jammed with the band.  Ol’ Michael Moore was hangin’ around and we started talking about growing up in the Midwest and how that’s so different from the coasts.  And about Canadian healthcare and that Bernie was right to be saying we can do it right 50 miles from his house.  Oh and I told him with a laugh about how I loved that scene in his Sicko movie going to the teller’s booth in the hospital in England but how they were actually paying him money.  He’s a great storyteller.  And he’s on our side.  And that’s a good thing.

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And then there was the whole post-debate hang in the airport lounge bar in the DoubleTree lobby.  This was the jam.

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Here’s where you can get the new book Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy book.

Here’s the first live show for the book — a Facebook live stream — featuring The Franken Fracas, Obama’s election night, Abbie Hoffman, the climactic Bernie rally in New Hampshire & lots of other gems

https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada/videos/10163863488060261/

Here’s a podcast about the New Hampshire Adventures on the Democrats Abroad show.

Here’s some news and reviews about the book.

Here’s The Beat Museum founder Jerry Cimino’s killer Introduction.

Here’s some Adventures from Obama’s first Inauguration.

Here’s what it was like being at the big election party in New York City on Obama’s first election night.

Here’s a Bernie Sanders Rally Adventure from Bloomington Indiana in 2016.

Here’s how I first got into politics — at a Gary Hart rally in NYC in 1984.

Here’s the crazy Republican convention Adventure in Cleveland in 2016.

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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 – Adventures in Print

January 26th, 2020 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, Kerouac and The Beats, Politics, Real-life Adventure Tales, Weird Things About Me

40 YEARS IN PRINT

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A CHRONOLOGY OF THE PUBLISHED REAL-LIFE ADVENTURE TALES

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1980 – April — John Anderson in San Diego – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 1980–1984 chapter –  pp: 2–3

1980 – June — First Grateful Dead show – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac – ch. 14;  pp: 156–159

1980 – October — Presidential debate – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 1980–1984 chapter;  pp: 4–6

1982 – June–August — Kerouac Super-Summit in Boulder & Kesey farm visit – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac

1984 – March — Gary Hart rally – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 1980–1984 chapter

1987 – April – Engagement on rooftop – “Political Parties” – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 1988 chapter, pp. 9-10

1987 – May – December – Democratic primary – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 1988 chapter

1988 – June–November – Conventions, debates, parties – “Political Parties” – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 1988 chapter

1992 – March — The Tsongas campaign – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 1992 two chapters

1993 – January — Clinton’s Inauguration – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 1992 chapter

1994 – May — The NYU Beat Conference – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 1996 chapter – pp: 48-50

1994 – May — First bonding with Carolyn Cassady – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac – ch. 21; pp: 227-228

1994 – August — Woodstock 25th Anniversary Concert – Holy Cats! Dream Catching at Woodstock

1995–1996 — Life as a Temp in Manhattan – The Temp Survival Guide and Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 1996 chapter, pp: 46–48

1996 – April–November — The Clinton re-election – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 1996 chapter

1999 – “Be The Invincible Spirit You Are” – Beat shows in NYC – How The Beats Begat The Pranksters – ch. 14

2000 – November–December – the Gore–Bush election – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 2000 chapter

2001 – April — On The Road 50th anniversary of Jack writing it – shows in New York and L.A. – On The Road with Cassadys – ch. 1 & 2

2001 – May — On The Road scroll auction – On The Road with Cassadys – ch. 3

2001 – July — Big Sur reading in Northport – On The Road with Cassadys – ch. 4

2004 – February — Al Franken, Howard Dean & the New Hampshire primary – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy ­– 2004 section

2004 – November — Election night in New York – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy ­– 2004 section

2008 – February–October — The 2008 primary – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 2008 section

2008 – November — Election Night in NYC – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 2008 chapter

2009 – January — Obama’s Inauguration – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 2008 chapter

2012 – June — Living with Carolyn Cassady in England – On The Road with Cassadys – ch. 9

2012 – June–August — Haiku for Carolyn – On The Road with Cassadys – ch. 10

2012 – August — On The Road premiere in London – How The Beats Begat The Pranksters – ch. 6

2012 – September — On The Road premiere in Toronto – How The Beats Begat The Pranksters – ch. 7

2012 – November — John Cassady / Walter Salles Road trips in Bloomington, Columbus & Cleveland – On The Road with Cassadys – ch. 5

2012 – December — On The Road premiere in New York – How The Beats Begat The Pranksters – ch. 8

2014 – August — “Woodstock with The Pranksters” – How The Beats Begat The Pranksters – ch. 9

2015 – May — “Pranksters in Wonderland” – How The Beats Begat The Pranksters – ch. 10

2015 – June — Meeting Phil Lesh – How The Beats Begat The Prankstersch. 4

2015 – June — The Beat Shindig at The Beat Museum in San Francisco – How The Beats Begat The Pranksters – ch. 3

2016 – May — Bernie Sanders in Bloomington – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 2016 chapter

2016 – July — Republican Convention in Cleveland – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 2016 chapters

2016 – October — Lowell Celebrates Kerouac – How The Beats Begat The Pranksters – ch. 2

2016 – November — Election Night in New York – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 2016 chapter

2017 – May — Reconnected with original Merry Prankster George Walker & started doing shows together – How The Beats Begat The Pranksters – ch. 11

2018 — Published On The Road with Cassadys and did a buncha shows

2019 — Published Holy Cats! Dream-Catching at Woodstock ’94 and created Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy and did a buncha shows

2020 – February — New Hampshire Democratic primary – Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – 2020 chapter

 

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The Temp Survival Guide — published December 1, 1996

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac — The Adventure of the Boulder ’82 On The Road Conference – Finding Kerouac, Kesey and The Grateful Dead Alive & Rockin’ in the Rockies published April 13, 2015

How The Beats Begat The Pranksters & Other Adventure Tales — published September 26, 2017

On The Road with Cassadys & Furthur Visions — completing The Beat Trilogy – published September 5, 2018

Holy Cats! Dream-Catching at Woodstock – published May 6, 2019

Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy — completing the Five Books in Five Years Mission – published April 27, 2020

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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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Kerouac in Provincetown

December 4th, 2019 · Kerouac and The Beats

Photo courtesy of the Hazel Hawthorne Estate
Uncovered by Inka Leisma
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How History Could Have Been Different

Kerouac’s and Otherwise

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It was a quiet day in Facelandia when my Beat / Deadhead friend Steve Silberman posted:

“Social media is amazing sometimes. In response to my posting a Cape Cod Times article about Kerouac’s time there, a woman posted a previously unseen photo of Kerouac working at his dune shack in Provincetown in 1950.”

Ka’Boom!!

A few of his friends, mostly the Ginsberg side of the family, “liked” it, but besides myself, the one other person whose jaw hit the floor was my fellow investigator at the Beat Detective Agency, Jerry Cimino, who in his spare time is also the founder/curator/owner of The Beat Museum in San Francisco.

It was all a wild harmonic refrain of when some unseen Bill Cannastra photos surfaced earlier this year.  Cannastra was the guy who had the loft in New York where Kerouac met his wife Joan Haverty and where he found the scroll paper he used to write On The Road and change history.  Same year — 1950.  Same medium — old black-&-white family photographs that had never been seen outside of the shoebox in the attic.  And for the second time in a year, the same detective and I started shooting fabulous roman candles out of the top of our heads!

The first time, we set out separately to track down the source of the Cannastra shots, and comically, both found Bill’s last living relative within a few hours of each other, and thus began an incredible series of discoveries & stories that resulted in this revealing Cannastra piece that everybody should read if you haven’t

So now . . . Brian scampers down the 1950 black-&-white photo rabbit hole of history once again!  I tracked down the family member who posted the Jack dunes shot, and thus began a series of discoveries about Kerouac’s life that nobody knew . . . to go along with the photo nobody’d seen!

This is the only photograph known to exist of Jack Kerouac actually writing at a typewriter.

He posed sitting next to one a few times, most notably for several shots in his Orlando house in January 1958 by Fred DeWitt on assignment for a February 24th Time Magazine piece shortly after his On The Road fame hit and just before he moved up to Northport for the first time.  In those photos, he’s wearing his nice flannel dress shirt and his hair’s immaculately combed, and in one of them he’s holding over the typewriter what is likely the Dharma Bums scroll that he’d just written there in November/December.  You can see all of them here.

Shortly after Jack had written the introduction to Robert Frank’s landmark book of photographs, The Americans (published January 1959), Playboy commissioned Kerouac to write “The Origins of The Beat Generation” for their June ’59 issue, and they hired Robert to go take pictures at Jack’s house at 34 Gilbert Street in Northport where he had moved in May of ’58 — and which Robert knew well, because it was he who drove Jack out house hunting for it in March (along with Joyce Glassman before she became a Johnson).  Jack’s wearing his same prized flannel “dress shirt” he did for the Time Magazine shoot the year before, and had his hair all combed nice as his old road buddy Robert took a bunch of shots, including Jack sitting at his desk pretending to write in one of his breast-pocket notebooks he’d use on the road.  In one of the photos — probably the best one — Frank shoots into a mirror while Jack is staring intently at a page in his typewriter.  Great typewriter shot! — but this was an afternoon when the writer’s friend was coming over for a prearranged photo shoot for Playboy magazine (of all things) — not an artist in the middle of creation.  You can see the mirror shot and others at the Playboy issue link here.

Similarly, in late March or early April ’64, noted author photographer Jerry Bauer went to Kerouac’s house at 7 Judy Ann Court in Northport and took over a hundred shots of the happy homebody in all manner of poses — holding his cat, lying in his backyard hammock above the melting spring snow, going through his filing cabinets, holding his unfurled Dharma Bums scroll — and yes, sitting at his typewriter.  Interesting to think that the buttoned-down man in Bauer’s photo below is who Neal Cassady picked up just a couple months later, on July 25th, and drove him into Manhattan to meet Ken Kesey and his psychedelic Merry Pranksters for the historic acid-fueled party at Madison & 89th Street — the last time Jack & Neal would ever be together.

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^ ^ THAT’S THE GUY ^ ^ NEAL DROVE IN TO MEET KESEY . . .
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From black & white to full-color crazy . . .

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There were also some shots by photographer Fred McDarrah taken in he & his wife Gloria’s Greenwich Village apartment on Dec 10th, 1959, in a room with Fred, Gloria, Jack, Lew Welch & Albert Saijo, just after they’d arrived in New York from a cross-country Road trip in Lew’s Jeep.  They all sat around drinking and calling out lines to a poem that Gloria would type on an old Underwood.  McDarrah took a shot of Jack sitting at the typewriter reading what Gloria had typed.

I’ve heard suggestions there was another more dynamic shot of Jack at the typewriter that night, but son Tim McDarrah, who spent the last ten years cataloguing all his late father’s photos, tells me nothing like that exists.  And Gloria S. McDarrah who was there doing the typing, let me know — “There aren’t any photos of Jack typing that night as he didn’t type anything.  Yes, at one point I went to the bathroom and he sat behind Fred’s typewriter and looked at what he had dictated to me.  And he may have erased something, or pointed out a mistake or two to me.  But he didn’t type.  He drank beer and smoked cigarettes and laughed and gossiped with Lew and Al about their trip.  No typing.

“I don’t think he (Jack) enjoyed being photographed all that much.  He eventually told Fred to stop with the photos.  He was polite and in a good mood, but felt Fred had taken enough.”

You can see pretty much all the Fred McDarrah photos of Kerouac here.

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And honorable mention should go to the 1959 album cover shot for Blues and Haikus (featuring Al Cohn & Zoot Sims) taken by renown jazz album cover designer Burt Goldblatt, in NYC in the summer of ’59.  Although it looks like a candid home snapshot of him sitting there writing by a windowsill, it was actually another professional photo shoot — and based on a couple other shots from the same roll, it seems like maybe it was taken in the photograph’s home apartment.  There’s a lot of background on Burt Goldblatt in his comprehensive obit in the New York Times.

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But in the newly uncovered spontaneous dune photograph — my first question was “I wonder what he was writing?”

Well — good news!  We know!

When the Cape Cod National Seashore (the National Park Service) wanted to tear down the shacks in the early 1960s, Jack actually wrote a letter to Hazel, who was one of the people leading the preservation movement, adding his famous weight to their cause, confirming to her in writing, “I was working on On The Road there, summer of 1950, and also on poems and articles.”

Hazel Hawthorne’s retyped copy of Jack’s letter
courtesy of the Hazel Hawthorne Estate

Since Jack didn’t start actually writing “articles” until after On The Road came out in ’57, and he wrote his poems by hand in pencil, that makes this not only the only shot in existence of Jack Kerouac actually writing on his instrument — but by his own declaration, he’s working on his most famous creation.  Granted, it’s not in the 454 West 20th Street apartment where he wrote the definitive scroll version in April 1951 — but it is Jack, and it is On The Road.

And just for fun — here’s a fantasy image from the 1980 movie Heart Beat of their version of that historic scroll creation scene —

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In August of 1949 Jack & Memere moved out of the famous second floor corner apartment on Cross Bay Boulevard in Ozone Park (now a designated landmark) into a full standalone house at 94-21 134th Street, in Richmond Hill, where they would live until 1955.  It was here, on July 26th, 1950 — freshly back from Mexico, Denver & The Road — that Jack would begin his Gone On The Road notebook, and in August turn it into a manuscript of the same name — one of his many pre-scroll attempts at capturing the “Road” and Neal Cassady.  This latter manuscript would later find form as a core of Visions of Cody (published after his death), which is where the words he was actually typing on that shack deck in the dunes may have finally ended up.  But they were all of a piece — they were different versions of On The Road in his mind and as he stated in the letter.

Next to Jack on the improvised writing desk is a big worn-out book.  No one knows what it is for sure, but it may be something younger readers and writers have never seen — a dictionary.  In a world before “spell check,” this is what authors had next to them as they wrote to look up definitions, variations and spellings.  Since his hostess Hazel was an author herself, it’s more than likely there were multiple weathered dictionaries in her multiple weathered shacks.

The first discovery of the photograph

One of the many things I love about this story is — it all began with the power of art — How one’s life can be changed forever by reading a book or seeing a movie or going to a concert.  In this case, it was a Finnish communication specialist and “regular book nerd from Helsinki” who happened to go to a Walker Evans photo exhibit in Berlin in 2014.  Inexplicable to her, a photo he had taken of a woman from Provincetown, Mass., “completely mesmerized” her, and changed her life.  You can see the 1933 photograph here.

The touched Finn, Inka Leisma, began a now years-long journey into telling the story of the woman in the photograph — Hazel Hawthorne — who, it turns out, was a descendant of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and also a Massachusetts novelist in her own right, including one set largely on these very sand dunes, Salt House (1934), and she was something of a Gertrude Stein of the Provincetown arts scene.  Besides the novels, Hazel also had poems and articles published including in the New Yorker, and, as Inka writes, “She is a footnote in the biographies of many literary giants such as John Cheever, Edmund Wilson, and John Dos Passos.”  Footnote or main character, everybody knew who she was.  She was referred to in print as “the grande dame of Provincetown.”  Others called her “the original Beat,” as Inka uncovered, because she embodied their ethos even before Jack turned the phrase.  And many pointed out she was an environmentalist and feminist before either term was coined.  The writer/actor/director Larry Santoro who knew her circa 1970 said of her — she “never did like pomposity, and disdained arrogance.”

Hazel & her writer/editor husband Morrie Werner also had an apartment in Greenwich Village — Provincetown South — where they socialized with many of the leading bohemian artists of the 1930s & ’40s, but it was up in P’town where she became “the Queen of the Dunes” — the doyenne of the scene, a salon hostess (even if the “salon” was often outdoors on the dunes) to the likes of John Cheever, e.e.cummings, Edmond Wilson, John Dos Passos, Norman Mailer, Walker Evans, Franz Kline, William de Kooning and countless others both famous and infamous.  It was Inka who found the photograph in a family album while she was working on her book about Hazel’s stories of characters & adventures that should be some pretty riveting reading when it’s done.  You can hear some colorful podcasts about it here.

Hazel’s two shacks were named — yes, they name shacks in Provincetown — Thalassa (where Jack stayed and the picture’s taken on its small front deck; named for the primeval spirit of the sea) and Euphoria (so-named by Hazel after she purchased it in 1943).  Supposedly Eugene O’Neill wrote his “Sea Plays” in one of the dune shacks, but probably not Hazel’s.

In July 1950 (a month before the photo) Allen Ginsberg went to Provincetown pursuing a relationship with a tall charismatic curly-haired redhead named Helen Parker — yes, a woman — and he actually lost his heterosexual virginity to her there that summer!  Jack, meanwhile was down in Mexico City with Neal living out what would be the final Adventure in On The Road, staying near William Burroughs’ place, and finally hitching or busing (it’s definitively told both ways) back to ol’ New York in mid-July.

Oh, and speaking of Allen — when asked about the Beats in P’town, Hazel’s daughter Nancy’s son told me, “Mom met Allen Ginsberg at a beach party, but he was really stoned and wasn’t communicating very well.

And speaking of Helen — she would go on to be Ramblin’ Jack Elliott’s girlfriend three years later, and it was in her apartment on Bleecker Street in the Village where Kerouac would read aloud the entire unpublished On The Road scroll to her & Ramblin’ Jack over three days and nights, a story Elliott would recount on stage many times.

Also, that summer of 1950 when Lucien Carr would come up to the Cape, he would stay in a tent on Helen’s lawn in Truro, and it was there that, at Allen’s urging, a visiting 20-year-old Greenwich Village chick named Liz Lehrman (later Liza Williams) would pop her head in the tent, and shortly became Lucien’s longtime girlfriend, and into whose loft he would move right next door to Bill Cannastra’s legendary place on West 21st Street.  There’s lots more about all that in the Cannastra photo story here.

Shortly before this dunes photo was taken, in March of 1950, Jack had his first novel published, The Town and The City, and in May he went out on a “book tour” to Denver — and then with Neal went down to Mexico City to see Burroughs.  He famously got sick down there, and also The Town and The City did not have the sales or reviews or impact he was expecting, and he was a bit down by the time he got back to his mother’s house in Richmond Hill, Queens.  He wrote on July 25th in his journal (in the NYPL Berg Collection) — “This art was never more difficult.  A great weariness in my middle in my ribs.  My determination is a gnashing of the teeth.”

Since I first started down this Provincetown path I wondered — why the heck did Jack, just back from months On The Road, suddenly head up to Cape Cod where I don’t think he’d ever been before?  For two weeks?  I couldn’t picture him packing a bag and carrying his typewriter onto the subway to the Port Authority terminal in Manhattan to take a 10 hour bus trip (they’re slow and stop everywhere) out to the Cape, especially since he just returned to Memere’s safety net after debilitating dysentery in Mexico.  But as Gerald Nicosia thankfully relates in his Memory Babe biography, “to recuperate Jack drove with John [Holmes] and Lucien [Carr] to Cape Cod.”

By the summer of 1950, Holmes had probably spent more time out P’town way than any of the other core Beats.  It was really he who first extolled the virtues to the others of the natural and liberal wonderland that is Provincetown.  On July 8th, Allen wrote to Jack in Mexico telling him about sleeping with Helen Parker there — “The first days after I lost my cherry … I wandered around in the most benign and courteous stupor of delight at the perfection of nature ….”  That appealing imagery, added to how Nicosia describes Jack’s mindset of the time — “His most pressing need was for a wife,” plus Holmes’ letter from P’town about “fucking fucking up and down the dunes, lying back at last exhausted,” and that Bill Cannastra had also spent the previous summer there and had a girl (Joan Haverty) follow him back to New York, all of this — plus that John & Lou came by his Richmond Hill house to pick him up & drive him — may have been the combination that got Jack On The Road again.

How he ended up at one of Hazel’s shacks we may never know.  But both Holmes and Cannastra had done short-term summer rentals there in cabin-like holmes on the expansive dunes; and Helen Parker, who seemed to be a longterm resident and was certainly an arts scene bon vivant including nearly or actually getting engaged to John Dos Passos (accounts differ), so it’s quite likely in a town of only 3,795 full-time residents (according to the 1950 census), that one or more of them would have come in contact with “the grand dame of Provincetown” and knew she had a couple shacks that she sometimes rented and sometimes just allowed visiting writers/artists to stay in.

Now . . . these shacks . . . and that is what they were . . . rough, small, one-room wooden shacks with no electricity or running water.  There was a well nearby where you had to pump your water and haul it home.  And an outhouse on a distant dune in 1950 was gonna be pretty frickin rough.

Located in the pacific sands next to the Atlantic Ocean, one family member described them as “a millionaire’s view from a hobo’s shack.”

There are roughly 18 preserved shacks still standing along the Peaked Hill Bar, which are now so popular, there’s an annual lottery for some of them, with winners having the opportunity to rent them for a week.  Both of Hazel’s were built around 1930 by a coast guardsman named Louis “Spucky” Silva, and she bought Thalassa in 1936 for $50 (!); and Euphoria, the bigger one (16’x12′), in 1943.  Here’s a vivid account of Euphoria in 2014, with photos and video by a woman artist who had a residency.  And here you can see Thalassa inside and out in these 2015 photos.

Jack’s first shack

This may well have been Jack’s first time living in a one-room shack.  He would later famously go on to stay in Gary Snyder’s Marin-An cabin up the hill behind Locke McCorkle’s house in Mill Valley; then at the square one-room four-walls-of-windows fire watch lookout on top of Mount Hozomeen; then the shanty shack on the roof in Mexico City where he wrote Orizaba Blues among others (all in 1956); and a few years later he went and stayed in (and vividly described in Big Sur) Ferlinghetti’s one-room cabin in Bixby Canyon.

Ferlinghetti’s Bixby cabin from my visit in 2001
Kerouac’s rooftop shack at 212 Orizaba Street, Colonia Roma, Mexico City
© John Suiter All Rights Reserved.

But Hazel’s hideaway in the Provincetown dunes was probably Jack’s first shack.

And lo, it was good.

Not only did he work on On The Road there, but — he met a girl! . . . and fell in love! . . . and asked her to marry him!

Yep!  It was August or early September 1950 — two or three months before this same smitten scenario would repeat itself in Chelsea with Joan.

Nancy Ufford was her name.  Hazel’s 24-year-old daughter — the two of them pictured here some year close to the summer of Jack.

Photo courtesy of the Hazel Hawthorne Estate
Uncovered by Inka Leisma

Kerouac recorded in his 1950 journal, “Trip to Cape Cod, stayed 2 weeks with girls in shacks.”  That’s all he ever wrote about it that I (or Detectives Dave Moore or Jerry Cimino) could find.

I’m not sure what he means by “girls” plural, but in Jack’s self-compiled list of lovers as published in that opulent On The Road Trois Couleurs book (2012) that came out the same time as Walter Salles’ movie, as well as partially published in the New York Public Library’s beautiful Beatific Soul (2007), entry #65 — “Nancy dunes 10,” (right underneath Helen Parker’s 50).

By his own account — and he didn’t lie in his notebooks to himself — he was only there two weeks . . . and there’s a “10” beside her name.  This is getting into Neal Cassady territory.

Jack fell for this woman, and he had pretty good taste back in the day.  Edie . . . Carolyn . . . “Mardou” . . . those were all rockin’ women.  And I’m bettin’ Nancy was, too.

Her family told me lots about her. 

“She had a great giggle.”  “She read a lot.”  “She was beautiful, but not flamboyant or in need of attention.”  “She was attractive, but understated and humble.”  “She didn’t need to be the belle of the ball.”  She grew up in a liberal artists’ world, and “didn’t take herself too seriously.”  “She hated pretension, and didn’t stand for airs of any sort.”  She took classes in modern dance, poetry, pottery and yoga.  She was really into education — especially preschool — and earned a degree in 1948 from the early progressive ed Bank Street College in NYC, then taught in different schools over her lifetime.  She volunteered at the library and worked at a community arts center and married an art teacher and generally had a connection with the creative.

So you can see how this picture, as well as the picture above of an early-20s Nancy, appealed to a visiting author.
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Jack’s Great Wife Hunt of 1950

Sara Yokley — March / April
Nancy Ufford — August and/or early September
Joan Haverty — November — Bingo!

We all know about Joan Haverty who Jack met & married in November 1950.  And now you know about Nancy.  But the only places I can find Sara Yokley mentioned is briefly in John Leland’s Why Kerouac Matters, and a little more fleshed out in Nicosia’s Memory Babe.  Neither book confirms he actually asked her to marry him, but he certainly seemed to have been considering it.

Nancy would speak openly about her summer fling, and all the family members remember talking multiple times with her about it and the proposal, and they remember her offering a few different reasons for saying “No.”  I’m guessing it was probably a combination of all them.

“Cuz he was a momma’s boy.”
“She didn’t really like the world he portrayed in his book . . . she rolled her eyes a bit when she mentioned it” — but we don’t know if she meant The Town and The City, or if Jack was letting her read the early On The Road pages he was writing there.
“She said that they broke up due to his drinking and general carrying on.”
“She laughed it off as ridiculous.  It wasn’t realistic — just a romanticized notion on Jack’s part.”
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Nicosia shared hella details he uncovered about this Provincetown possibility — “There he met and began an affair with a girl named Nancy, but after three weeks he returned to New York for fear she would hurt him as Sara had.  Having made him jealous with another lover, Nancy confirmed his view that most women want to see men fight, and he feared that ‘the women who will hate violence and love tenderness’ might be just a phantom.”

Since old family snapshots don’t come with photo credits, we can only guesstimate as to who took the historic shot of Jack writing on the shack deck, but it seems likely that since Nancy was spending so much time with him there, it makes sense that she was in the familial to take the candid one-of-a-kind shot of her writer boyfriend at work.  Plus, the print was in her collection of photos, and has the same serrated framing as all her other family snaps of the time.

Another detail Nancy shared often before she died in 2000 at age 74 was that late at night Jack would take bongos and go out and “sit near the ocean playing to the waves.” (!)  Playing bongos to eternity.  Anybody who’s read his only book set on an ocean shoreline (like Provincetown) Big Sur, knows it climaxes with his epic poetic masterpiece “Sea” where he transcribes the pounding sounds of nature, playing with words with the waves.

And one other bizarre connection that British Jack scholar Dave Moore hipped me to — in The Subterraneans, which Jack re-set in San Francisco even though the events of the book took place in New York, when he refers a couple times to a nearby bohemian beach community that the characters went to, he changed “Provincetown” to “Big Sur.”  This is also where Jack mentions one of the few people in his books who has yet to be fully identified.  In his October 1951 journal published in The Unknown Kerouac Jack describes — “Victor, the strange Jesus Christ who’d traveled to Provincetown with little Jeanne Nield in 1950 on a beat motorcycle.”

And Furthur — in both cool coastal artist enclaves, Jack lived in a one-room facility-less shack, a very short walk to the ocean’s crashing waves.  And the real events of Big Sur happened exactly ten years to the month after his stay on the dunes in Provincetown!  And he also briefly considered marriage on that latter Adventure — to Jacky Gibson (Billie in Big Sur).  Too much!  Too much!

And in yet another bizarre parenthetical — Nancy married a man named Wally Peters, and thus became Nancy Peters — making any Beat aficionado do a double-take thinking it might be Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s longtime co-owner at City Lights Bookstore.

But what if Nancy had said “Yes!”

I love the way life and history is so full of chance moments.  Keith Richards spotting Mick Jagger on a train platform with an armful of blues records.  Neal Cassady first pulling up Ken Kesey’s driveway on Perry Lane because he thought somebody else lived there.  Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David going for a chance walk to a deli after a night at Catch A Rising Star and first harmonizing their observations about “nothing.”  Edie Parker being in the same Columbia art class as Lucien Carr, leading Jack to meet both Ginsberg & Burroughs.

But one of my all-time favorite “What ifs” in the Beat world was that Carolyn Robinson (before she became a Cassady) went to Los Angeles to look for costume or set designer jobs in TV or theater.  She never got one.  But, gawd, what if she had?  Neal was gonna follow her to wherever she was.  Carolyn had a sister up in San Francisco, and that’s why she went up there to wait and see if any of her job applications panned out.  But what if she’d gotten a job?  Or didn’t have a sister in S.F. and had stayed waiting in L.A.?  Allen and Jack were gonna follow Neal.  What if the whole Beat blooming took place in Tinseltown rather than the City by The Bay?  No Beat – City Lights connection.  No Six Gallery reading.  No Beat weaving with Ferlinghetti or Snyder or McClure et al.  Venice Beach ends up more historic than North Beach.  Allen uses his ad skills to get a job writing for movies.  The Beats follow more of a William Faulkner path than a Jack London.

So . . . what if Nancy had said Yes?

How history would be different.

Jack would not have gone to Cannastra’s loft and met Joan Haverty.  He never would have found the scroll paper that changed his art — and subsequently the world.  And Jan Kerouac would never have been born!  . . .  And who might have been?

Instead of him returning to New York . . . what if Jack stayed on the Cape?  We know he loved it — he moved there with his mother to Hyannis in 1966.  It was kind of a Lowell East and a Greenwich Village North — a lot of the same Village artists, and certainly the same open creative sensibilities — but with Massachusetts accents and cheaper prices.

Would he have had more time to write away from the city distractions?  Would he and Nancy have got along better than he & Joan did?  Would he have bonded more with Kurt Vonnegut than John Clellon Holmes?

Or what if Nancy had come to New York? 

A smart, beautiful, book-&-arts-centric young woman living through that golden time of creativity in New York City.  You can read a buncha colorful stuff about New York circa 1945-55 in this piece I wrote for the Rolling Stone Book of The Beats.  Would her & Holmes’ wife Marian have become close?  Would she have gotten a steady job as a school teacher that allowed Jack time to write?  Would she have gotten involved in the burgeoning modern dance world, as was one of her passions?  Might she have been a Hettie Jones type and spearheaded a literary magazine like Yugen?  She would certainly have become the catalyst of a cohesive Provincetown cadre within the Beats, including Holmes, Allen, Lucien, Cannastra & Helen Parker who all already dabbled in the Cape.

Oh and get this — Joan Haverty — the one who said Yes a couple months later — came directly from freakin’ Provincetown!  One Provincetown girl said No.  And two months later a different Provincetown girl said Yes!

C’mon — yer makin this up!  “No,” sez I.  “It’s true!”  Joan was in Provincetown in the summer of 1949 when she met Bill Cannastra who implored her to come to the city — as she did that fall.  You can read more about her & Bill in my piece.  She writes most vividly about her time in Provincetown in her highly recommenced autobiography Nobody’s Wife.  Jack asked two chicks from the same flock in two months!  One said no, one said yes, one flew over the cuckoo’s mess.

One of the funniest “What ifs” was shared by Nancy’s youngest son remembering his life after he became a big Kerouac fan.  A lot of us may have imagined meeting Jack or going On The Road with him or whatever . . . but not many can close one of his books then close their eyes, and think — “Geez, what if Mom had married this guy?!”

Not only history, but life itself is full of these fork-in-the-road weird moments.  What if Inka never went to that photo show in Berlin?  What if the family never shared the photo?  What if you didn’t find this story and read this far?

And what if Nancy had said Yes?

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An alternate take — #2 of 2.
Photo courtesy of the Hazel Hawthorne Estate
Uncovered by Inka Leisma

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Huge Thank Yous are in order.

First to the families of both Hazel Hawthorne and Nancy Peters who generously gave their time sharing their family history with me, as well as for allowing the use of the photos that bring this story to life.

And next, to the Finnish scholar Inka Leisma for her years of dedicated research into Hazel Hawthorne’s life, and for uncovering both the Kerouac photo and the Nancy–Hazel mother–daughter shot.  Her ongoing investigation into the remarkable Hazel can be checked out here

And for the photo share that started it all — my Beat / Deadhead brother Steve Silberman who instigated the initial post of the dunes shot, and recognized its importance.

And of course to my two fellow Beat Detective Agency investigators Jerry Cimino for telling me to write this from the get-go — “You’re the guy to tell this story.  You’ve got the knowledge and contacts and skills and way of explaining it, and your gift for connecting things together;” and Dave Moore for his combination of superhuman archaeological abilities as well as his 30,000-foot perspectives.

And a special shout-out to my new photographer friend John Suiter who captured that killer Mexico City roof shack shot!  “When you say you thought ‘some cat climbed up there and shot it’ — well, I was that cat.  And, as you know, it’s not such a simple matter.  First I had to find out exactly where Jack lived in Mexico.  Then I hitchhiked down the Pan American highway 800 miles to Mexico City from Laredo; then built up enough trust with the people who lived in the building to allow me to climb up the back stairs with snarling dogs to finally get a shot.  And now that structure is gone, no longer exists, so that image is impossible to reproduce.  This is what we do as photographers, and it needs to be acknowledged.”  This is a fellow rooftop-climbing Adventure-Prankster artist-historian after my own heart!  🙂 Check him out here.

And lastly, to all the writers & artists who captured a little of Hazel, Provincetown and the dunes life, and who left their words & images for the future to discover, including the late Larry Santoro, who knew Hazel circa 1970/71, and wrote a vivid memory here.

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There’s more like this in books like these . . .

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac
A real-life tale of meeting your heroes and dancing to the Dead.

.

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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Pranksters for Proactive Politics

November 30th, 2019 · Merry Pranksters, Politics, Weird Things About Me

Ken Kesey's Furthur Bus
Photo by Sky Lyons

Original Merry Prankster George Walker & author-performer Brian Hassett team up to make elections fun again.

Soon to be joined by an unlimited cast of players and Pranksters crisscrossing the United States in a new version of Ken Kesey’s original psychedelic Furthur Bus — and this one is going to go even Farthur!

After three tours together bringing Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady and Ken Kesey to life on stages, this pair, along with musicians, magicians, and all sorts of additions will be pranking the primaries and electrifying the election.

As the great political philosopher Granny D taught us — 

“Democracy isn’t something you have, it’s something you do.”

This will be the site for tour appearances, videos, Adventure Tales and all the colorful co-creations that the internet can hold.

Plus watch for the upcoming book — “Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy – Adventures in Politics 1980 – 2020” — coming February 2020.

The great Prankster cousin Wavy Gravy once played with “Nobody for President!” — but in 2020 it’s gonna be about —

Everybody for President!

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George & Brian’s previous tours can be seen here —

http://brianhassett.com/2017/08/george-walker-brian-hassett-kerouac-cassady/

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

George Walker — gwalkerax@gmail.com

Brian Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada

George Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/gwalkerax

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Ode to Neal

October 31st, 2019 · Kerouac and The Beats

Neal Cassady — by Carolyn Cassady (courtesy of the Cassady fam)

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From Dean Moriarty . . . to Dead immortality,

The street-kid who read . . . was a legend in bed,

But more than the lays . . . he inspired a blaze

In the hearths of the writers . . . pulling all-nighters —

From Jack with his scroll . . . to Keez with a bowl —

There’s that Cassady kid . . . driving the id

Like he drove the bus . . . with all of us,

His passengers even today.

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The abandoned pup . . . pulled himself up —

Blue-eyeing his way . . . into lives by the day

Till finally he found . . . his rock solid ground

With a brainy doll . . . who had it all —

Midwestern sense . . . while big-city intense —

Carolyn with brushes . . . fighting off the rushes,

Cassady with lashes . . . charmin’ all the lasses,

The dynamo with the laser beam . . . the minstrel show with the Irish gleam,

The railroad job with the travel free . . . the picket fence with the books and tea,

Till that weed {now legal} sent him away . . . it was never the same after that day —

Walked into jail in the darkened ’50s . . . walked back out in the lightning ’60s —

A black-&-white lock-up . . . to a full-color break-up.

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The Bus came by and he got on . . . that’s when it all caught on,

There was Cowboy Neal at the wheel . . . his golden spiels seal the deal,

Generating generations . . . in their latest incarnations,

A second wave to hang-ten surf . . . a second set on brand new turf;

While Carolyn’s holdin’ Bancroft, and Jack’s on Judy Ann . . . Allen’s back in Frisco, and you know he’s got a plan

To loop in Dylan’s ‘lectric clan . . . and Uncle Jerry from ol’ San-Fran,

To which Neal toasts – “I got this, man,” . . . and drives on over with girlfriend Anne;

Igniting Pranksters, like sparking Jack . . . changing history back-to-back,

From ’50s sprout to ’60s bloom . . . one man made the room go zoom.

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And now he’s gone some 50 years . . . but his spirit’s here synching gears,

With every “Road” and “Cody” sold . . . with every Dead show joint that’s rolled,

With every joy in every turn . . . of every trip and youthful yearn,

Neal still beckons with his light . . . spurring others to try and write

An epic life that’s worth the sharing . . . an honest soul that’s worth the baring;

It’s who he’s been since he hit the scene . . . from troubled teen to hero Dean,

He lived his life the speed he drove . . . and left us all a treasure trove

Of books and tapes and pics and tales . . . of girls and trips and friends and trails

Still followed in the railroad earth . . . that he and Jack bestowed with worth;

So thank you now and thank you then . . . for being a muse to women & men,

And reminding us when we wonder why . . . to live life fully before we die.

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Here’s a nice ode to his wife Carolyn.

Here’s one to that Jack guy who wrote about him.

Here’s one to his Road, railroad & chess partner Al Hinkle.

Here’s a whole book in tribute to the Cassadys — “On The Road with Cassadys & Furthur Visions

Here’s where you can get my “Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac

Here’s a book with some background on “How The Beats Begat The Pranksters

Here’s a bunch of info on original Merry Prankster George Walker & my “Jack & Neal Ride Again” live 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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