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David Amram & Brian Hassett On-Stage Collaborations

November 30th, 2022 · Brian on YouTube etc., Kerouac and The Beats, Real-life Adventure Tales

Lowell Celeb rates Kerouac at Ye Olde Worthen House

David Amram and I have been performing together since we first started hanging in 1994 after an introduction by Teri McLuhan, Marshall’s daughter.  It was the big NYU Beat conference — I write about it in Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy — I first saw him unloading his congas from his Farm Aid jeep on opening night, and by the closing dinner gala I was enlisted to help him write his memoir.  We did loads of shows together over the years, mostly in Manhattan, but when we reconnected in Lowell in 2015 it had been about eight years since the last one.

Some of the gigs we did back in the ’90s are on video tapes in a drawer — hopefully I’ll get to those some day — but I thought it would be cool to upload the six times we performed together at the annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac.

LCK was born after the dedication of the Kerouac Commemorative Park in 1988.  I never made the trip in the early years because I was living in Manhattan and all-star Jack events were happening with some regularity all over town all the time.

When my book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac came out in 2015, I figured it was time I made the pilgrimage to “the mad ones” mecca.  Also, both Michael McClure and Andy Clausen were featured performers, and if I was going to go to this thing I might as well go the year two of my favorite living poets were gonna be rocking it.

People in New York knew what I did on a stage, but I didn’t know any of the folks who put on LCK, so I knew that first year I better hit the two open mics and knock it outta the park.  🙂 

I found out that one of the built-in staples of the five days of LCK was the Sunday afternoon “Amram Jam” where good ol’ Dave would accompany spoken word performers.  Nobody in Lowell knew me, but I had a secret weapon in that I’d performed hundreds of times with their star maestro.

That first year I decided to pull out an On The Road passage Dave & I had done many times — something I call “The San Francisco Epiphany” — where Jack starts hallucinating due to hunger, and it’s probably the trippiest, most surreal writing in the whole book.  So, that’s what he & I did upon our first reconnection.

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On the strength of that, in 2016, they booked me to do my own solo show on Saturday, and now that I knew about the Sunday “Amram Jam” — and knowing how I know Dave and his adroitness at live accompaniment — I came up with the idea of doing the part of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack where I describe meeting each of the Beat founding fathers for the first time in 1982 as a 21-year-old, and that David could do something different musically for each of the different portrayals.

It went magnificently.  🙂

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2017 was the year George Walker & I teamed up doing our “Jack & Neal Ride Again” show, and girlfriend Sky handmade killer tie-dye t-shirts to celebrate it.  For the Amram Jam, I made the interesting choice to do the climactic chapters of both The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack (“Song of The Road I Sing”) and the then just-released How The Beats Begat The Pranksters (“Be The Invincible Spirit You Are.”)

 

In 2018, I coaxed another old performing partner, John Cassady, out of hiding and he made the trip across the continent for us to share a stage together again.  For the Amram Jam I thought the dynamics of the On The Road scroll auction piece would make for good musical accompaniment.  And boy, did it!  It had just been published in my latest book, On The Road with Cassadys, so I’m sure glad we fired up that hotrod for the Trio take a ride in. 

Also, LCK was screening the film Loving Vincent on Sunday night, and since back in the day David had often requested my Van Gogh poem Visiting Vincent as something we should do on stage, I pulled that out of hiding and let it dance in Jacklandia.

This was one performance where Dave asked afterwards if I had a recording of it because he wanted a copy.  (!)  Glad I could finally make that happen.  🙂 

 

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2019 was the year Cathy Cassady came and graced us with her beautiful show bringing both her artist parents to life.  It was also the gathering that followed the passing of the great Al Hinkle — Big Ed Dunkel in On The Road and “The Last Man Standing” as his book was called — and those of us who spent time with him did a series of tributes to him Friday night.

It’d written a tribute poem to Al, and had one about Neal, and Carolyn, and Van Gogh, but I never had a nice short tribute to Jack for performances such as this.  So I wrote one — and debuted “Ode To Jack” here with the Amram Trio.

Also, 2019 was the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, and I had a book come out that year about the magical 25th anniversary festival, which, vibe-wise, had a lot in common with LCK — so I performed the rockin climax of that book with Dave & Company.

The clip opens with a tribute to a great LCK spirit and cornerstone who passed away, Graham Robinson, from England.

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After a couple of years off due to Covid, everybody reassembled in 2022 for the first full-on LCK in a while.  During the lockdown, one of my projects was to sort all my performance pieces from over the decades, and I came across a real-life driving Adventure called “The Car Chase.”  It has real dynamics to it and a driving (ha-ha) energy that seemed like it would work with some crackerjack musicians accompanying — so I pulled that rabbit out of the hat of obscurity. 

Plus this has a surprise encore of my great “Jack on Film” show partner Julian Ortman following me to the microphone.  😉

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So far at LCK, Dave & I have done nine different pieces over six years — in performance clips ranging from 7 minutes to 15.

We performed something from:
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack — first meeting the Beats — in 2016
. . . . . and the climactic Song of The Road I Sing poem — 2017
How The Beats Begat Pranksters — Be The Invincible — 2017
On The Road with Cassadys — the On The Road scroll auction — 2018
Holy Cats!  Dream-Catching at Woodstock — the book’s climax — 2019

 

And as a bonus collaborative video — here’s a Covid lockdown live-stream David & I did for Rachel Anne’s “Verse & Vibe” show where I read reflections on Neal Cassady from Carolyn Cassady, John Allen Cassady, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John Clellon Holmes, David Amram, Al Hinkle, Tom Wolfe, Ken Kesey, Ken Babbs, George Walker, Ed McClanahan, Paul Foster, Wavy Gravy, Mountain Girl, Anonymous, Mary Microgram, Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlow — all with David Amram responding to each musically.

To watch the show, click on this screen-grab  . . .

Neal Cassady tribute with Brian Hassett & David Amram

 

And as a double bonus related clip — he’s a video tribute to Al Hinkle I made for his memorial —

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And here’s the memorial tribute to Al at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac in 2019, with three people who knew him — the Reverend Steve Edington, Cathy Cassady, and myself delivering the “Al Hinkle: Hero of The Humble” poem.

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For a complete rundown of LCKs from 2015 through 2022 check out this photo- and story-rich page.

For tons more performance and interview videos from all over the continent check out the Online Video Collection.

For a wild riffing photo-filled account of my first LCK in 2015, you can read that here.

Here’s the classic Lowell Celebrates Kerouac tribute piece that is included in How The Beats Begat The Pranksters and has been performed live at every LCK since.

Here’s a full accounting (with photos and video) of John Cassady coming to Lowell and the Jack & Neal show we did there.

Here’s a funny wild local story — when I talked my way into the very private Pawtucketville Social Club.  “It’s alright, he’s Kerouac.”   🙂 

For more info on David Amramcheck out his website here.

For this site’s stash full of other stories on Kerouac and the Beats check here.

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by Brian Hassett

karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

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

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Lowell Celebrates Kerouac (LCK) – Videos, Stories & Photos – 2015–2022

October 30th, 2022 · Kerouac and The Beats, Real-life Adventure Tales

 

Stories, videos and photos from the annual Kerouac hometown festival over the last several years I’ve been going.

Edie Parker-Kerouac called and told me about the the initial commemorative dedication in July 1988 — which birthed LCK — saying that she, Henri Cru and “Big Tim” Moran were driving up for it, and that their car was gonna be filled with the three of them plus Henri’s wheelchair, but that I should somehow get myself up there.

I’d just gotten married, and we’d just moved into a new apartment in Manhattan, and my disposable income at the time largely went to two tickets to every Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan show in the area, so the idea of renting a car to drive to some place that was not the center of the universe really didn’t rise too high on the to-do list.

Tim Moran wrote a pretty great account of that 1988 commemorative trip to climax the posthumous Edie memoir You’ll Be Okay if anybody wants a detailed account.

Over the next few years — before the internet — I’d hear about the Lowell festival, but St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery was regularly hosting all-star Beat events, and Allen was always inviting his old pals to his Brooklyn College classes we could crash, so there really wasn’t this driving force to drive to Lowell.

Then by ’94 and ’95 NYU was hosting those huge conferences where everybody came in from all over.  And on top of that, LCK’s October fest was in the heart of the arts season in New York.  Labor Day to Thanksgiving is a mad sprint of new plays and movies opening, concerts, poetry readings, art exhibits — you can barely catch your breath.  So, the idea of leaving the red-hot action to drive out to a Town for sumpthin we were already doing in The City never really blipped too bright on the radar.

But by 2015 when The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac came out it finally seemed like a must-do Road Trip.

The cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac by Brian Hassett

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2015The Michael McClure / Andy Clausen year

2015 was featuring both Michael McClure and Andy Clausen, and although I knew very little about LCK, I knew enough that this was the year for these two headliners, and I’d be kicking myself if I put it off another year and just missed them.  So ol’ Ken Morris and I made the initial exploratory expedition to suss out just what this thing was.

We immediately fell in love with the vibe and the people and I knew this was sumpthin I was gonna wanna come back to.  Although I’d been performing in New York for years, nobody up Lowell way had any idea what I did, so I knew I had to Wow ’em.  The only two options were the open mic on Saturday and to join Dave for the Amram Jam on Sunday.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack was not written with performances in mind, but I had to find something Jack-centric in it to do live — and I hit on “The Professor in the Park” section where the two of us talk Jack, then a couple come along and we all jam it out.  Being that I was theatrically-centric after all the stages I’d been on and in front of in New York, I came up with the idea to have other people read the three character parts and do it as a scene reading from a play at the open mic.  That knocked everyone for a loop.  I’ve still never seen anyone do a scene from a play in all the open mics since.  So that was impact #1.  😉 

Then the next day was the annual “Amram Jam,” and since Dave & I had performed together about a hundred times in ol’ New York, I knew this was another chance to slay.

Back in ’97, St. Mark’s Church & Viking Press put on a 40th anniversary of On The Road marathon reading.  Doug Brinkley, David Stanford & David Amram all stressed to the organizer, Ed Friedman, that I was a great Jack reader, and so he slotted me in for the hardest part of the book — what I call “the San Francisco epiphany” — (part two, ch. 10) where Jack starts hallucinating from hunger and the prose becomes the most surreal in the whole book.  Since it’s a real highlight passage, and Dave & I had done it a few times, I pulled out that old hit single, and we nailed it.  From then on, LCK knew who this Brian guy was.  😃

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Here’s a full wild account of that year’s 10-day inaugural LCK Adventure.

Here’s the wild story of how I got into the Pawtucketville Social Club without being a member.  (!)

Here’s a public Facebook photo album with over a hundred pictures:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10156103969390261&type=3

 

2016 — The Birth of The Pranksters

The next year they invited me to do my own show.

It’s emerged that one of my late-life missions is to turn the current crop of Merry Pranksters onto their antecedents and to turn the current Beats onto their offspring.  Thanks to one Indy brother helping another, Philip Thomas sponsored the Wizard of Wonder to make the trip, and thus birthed the Pranksters coming to Lowell!

Chris Foster / The Wizard of Wonder at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac

A couple years later, the LCK staple Alan Crane (RIP) pulled me aside and told me how important a development this was in the energy of the festival.  And Amram’s master jazz drummer Kevin Twigg said the same thing unprompted in 2022.  Color was infusing the red brick of the ol’ town.

Here’s video of the whole first solo show — which was great! — in four parts, including (in order) — the Wizard of Wonder’s Pranksterish introduction;  Jack goin to Lowell from Vanity of Duluoz;  a wild Hitchhiker’s Guide hitchhiking part;  a funny 420 Jack moment;  [part 2] the First Avenue “car chase” scene done live for the first time, with musical accompaniment by Jason E and George K (and reprised with the Amram Trio in 2022);  [part 3] The Hitchhiker’s Guide arrival in San Francisco including the Steve Jobs guy;  [part 4] and it climaxes with the Pic premiere performance — first time anyone ever did that book into a microphone in public.

We also did a reprise of “The Professor in the Park” 4-person theater piece from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac with Mary Emmerick, Ken Morris and Philip Thomas, but the camera never captured it.

And here’s the classic Ode to LCK I wrote that year and has been performed at every LCK since

Guylaine Knupp told me in 2022 that this ^ piece “changed my life.”

In 2017 she was wondering about going to this Kerouac thing in Lowell — and when she Googled it, she found my riff, and she said it told her that this was gonna be FUN and not a bunch of academics behind tables reading papers.  And, boy, not only has she been a refreshing part of every open mic since, but she took to the whole Beatster scene and has been chumming around with one of us for the five years since.

Oh yeah!  Then the next day was insane!  There’s a part in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack where I do a descriptive riff on a bunch of the core Beats.  Knowing Dave Amram’s ability to adjust & adapt instantly to the oratory he was accenting, I told him in advance the idea of doing a different musical interpretation of each of the Beat figures I’d riff about.  He LOVED the idea, and went for it full bore.

If this isn’t the best ever Amram & Brian on stage on film, it’s damn close.  😉

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And besides everything else — there was this whole Jack gravesite Adventure!

Or here’s a public Facebook photo album with 50 pics.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10157638478870261&type=3

 

2017 — The George & Sky year

The kool-aid really got spiked in 2017 when original Merry Prankster George Walker came to town to join me for the “Kerouac & Cassady Ride Again” show.  My Prankster girlfriend Sky came and beautified the scene from Tulsa;  Gubba & Uncle Mike flew in from Vancouver, and Hootie from New Mexico;  joining Wonderland regular Phil Thomas from Indianapolis, Guylaine Knupp making her first appearance from Quebec, actor & Edie Parker friend Thomas Galasso from Detroit, Nancy & Vilous Fox from Texas, Brandon Loberg from The Beat Museum in San Francisco, Brett Sigurdson from Minnesota, Jason Pacheco from PA, all blending into a soaring psychedelic soup of celebrants.

 

We also picked up copies of my second book in The Beat Trilogy — How The Beats Begat the Pranksters — which was published on Sept. 26th, just 13 days after it was first conceived of as a book!

Here’s George Walker describing how the book came to exist in two weeks (!) and what it’s been like working together.

 

NEED THE VIDEO OF THE GEORGE & BRIAN POLLARD SHOW

Here’s George Walker introducing my Road Show and the opening ode to LCK —

And here’s the first-ever public performance of “The Grateful Dead: Jack Manifested as Music” —

NEED VIDEO OF THE REST OF THIS SHOW.

Here’s the Sunday Amram Jam where I perform the climactic chapters of both The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac and How The Beats Begat The Pranksters with the Amram Quartet.

Here’s a public Facebook photo album with over 200 pictures of LCK and the George & Brian East Coast tour.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10159453924440261&type=3

 

2018 — The John Cassady year

This was the year On The Road with Cassadys came out.

John Cassady and I decided to team up together on a stage again, and LCK agreed to cover some of his expenses, and lo and behold we brought his dad and Uncle Jack back to life on stage.

Here’s the story about John and I rejoining forces at LCK.

NEED THE VIDEO OF THE FRIDAY NIGHT ROAD SHOW AT ZORBA’S.

Here’s the “Brian and John Present Jack & Neal” show, as filmed by the Lowell TeleMedia Center —

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Here’s the Sunday afternoon Amram Jam where I joined the Amram Trio to do the On The Road scroll auction, and a piece Dave and I did often back in the ’90s in New York — Visiting Vincent — in honor of the Loving Vincent movie screening later that night.

 

This was also the year of the birth of “Sunday Night at the Movies” at LCK with the screening of Loving Vincent where we explored the connection between the two artists of eternity who celebrated and immortalized the least among us.

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Here’s a cool radio interview turned into a photo-filled video that I did with local hero Wireless Mike on WUML just before the festival.  There’s a time-coded breakdown in the video “Show more” description where you can click on the blue numbers and jump to any of the subjects — the writing process, going to LCK, the connections between the Beats and the Grateful Dead, proof of greater forces, the “On The Road with Cassadys” book, embracing the magic “IT” and all sortsa other cool riffs.

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Another funny twist was the local Lowell Sun putting me on the front page above the fold!

And yet another cool 2018 subplot was Sebastaan Laading’s “I Am Jack” art installation where you could type on an old Kerouac-era manual typewriter — and have the words projected onto a hi-def video screen.

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And here’s a public Facebook photo album with over 70 pictures.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10160965941400261

 

2019 — The Cathy Cassady / Al Hinkle year

This was the year Cathy Cassady came for the first time and put on her show telling her family’s life story with colorful photographs and even more colorful anecdotes.

Don Gagnon photo

It was also the year after Jack’s close friend Al Hinkle had passed away and a bunch of us laid down some nice tributes to him. 

Here’s Cathy and her husband George who created this cool poster as a tribute.

 

 

Here’s the memorial to Al at Zorba’s Music Hall on Friday Oct. 11th, 2019 . . .

 

Here’s the core volunteer crew who make LCK happen — at the wrap party in Reality Alley.

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Here’s the Sunday Amram Jam show — where I do a tribute to the late-great Graham Robinson — the new “Ode to Jack” performance poem — and the climax to “Holy Cats!  Dream-Catching at Woodstock” . . .

NEED SATURDAY ROAD SHOW VIDEO

Here’s a public Facebook photo album with over 30 pictures.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10162504420360261

 

2020 — the Covid–cancelled year

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2021 — the all-events-outdoors year

It was still too Covidy out there in the world, and with no indoor events, which is most of the fun of this epic gathering, this Jackster stayed next to his writing machine until the coasting was clearer.

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March 12th, 2022 — Jack’s birthday centennial

Here’s the wild Road Trip Adventure to Jack’s centennial birthday celebrations sculpted in pictures, prose & poetry.

Editor David Stanford and publicist Dennis McNally at Kerouac 100 in Lowell

 

2022 — the “Jack on Film” year

Here’s the Soundcloud audio of a rockin Sept. 17th interview with Wireless Mike Flynn on WUML where we riff on “Jack on Film” and the collaborative realities of movies, and Oliver Trager’s Lord Buckley show, and Jerry Cimino and The Beatmobile coming, and the glories of global connecting, and the importance of cool planning in festivals, and all sortsa other cool stuff —

Here’s the Saturday night “Jack at 100 Road Show” — raw YouTube live-stream —

Here’s the 2-minute “Ode to Jack” video:

https://www.facebook.com/uel.gardner.7/videos/487039859809908

Here’s the Car Chase scene with the Amram Trio during the Amram Jam on Sunday afternoon, October 9th . . . 

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With show co-producer & video wiz Julian Ortman

Here’s the bulk of Sunday’s “Jack on Film” YouTube live stream – from The Subterraneans through Beat Angel and the Vincent Balestri Zoom-in climax —

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Here’s “The Making of ‘Jack on Film‘” story about how this whole show came to be.

Here’s a sample of the notes for one of the 17 films or TV shows for “Jack on Film.”

Here’s a public Facebook photo album for the centennial summit with over 100 pictures —

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=Brian.Hassett.Canada&set=a.10166810994945261

 

Here’s Prankster Ashlee Spirit’s great cell phone footage from the middle of the audience of Jack actor Vincent Balestri’s live Zoom call which hit it so far out of the park they haven’t found the ball yet  —

 

Here’s her audience footage of the Magic Trip movie set-up and the clip —

 

Here’s her audience footage of the Neal Cassady movie set-up and clip —

 

And here’s a cool profile piece that came out in the local Oakville News after LCK and just before this page got built.

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And here’s a story that came out just after this was published by Beat Museum founder Jerry Cimino about the “Jack on Film” show and the great Vincent Balestri.

Jerry Cimino praises "Beat Angel's" Vincent Balestri

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For tons more performance and interview videos from all over the continent check out the Online Video Collection.

For this site’s cookie jar full of other stories on Kerouac and the Beats check here.

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by Brian Hassett

karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

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

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“Jack on Film” sample

September 29th, 2022 · Kerouac and The Beats, Movies

Here’s a little taste . . .

My “script” notes for the first dramatic portrayal of Jack . . .

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Pull My Daisy (released Nov. 1959) One of the Big Five to focus on

MY THESIS HOW THIS IS THE GREATEST BEAT GEN CREATION.

Filmed in their prime . . . . Kerouac’s best 28 mins on tape . . . . . Amram’s score to enhance it . . . . . lensed by Robert Frank . . . . . shot in an artist’s loft in Greenwich Village . . . . . a collaboration, not one man’s work.

The Grove Press [Barney Rosset] Pull My Daisy book says it was filmed intermittently from January 2nd through April 1959.

Premiered at the Museum of Modern Art — May 12th, 1959

Jonas Mekas reviewed it for The Village Voice — saying it was “a signpost of purity, innocence, humor, truth and simplicity.”

Esquire even reviewed it — saying Kerouac’s narration “kept things rolling along on a tide of laughter and poetry, showing an unexpected virtuosity at the Great American Art of kidding.”

Peter Bogdanovich called it “brilliant.” according to Dennis McNally.

IMDb and The Illustrated Beats Chronology by Robert Niemi both say it was “released” on Nov 11th, 1959. But what does this mean? No distribution.

San Francisco Film Festival Nov 17th — according to both Charters & McNally Jack attended the screening but was so drunk he fell off the stage.

Gregory Corso in the Jack role

Allen as Allen

Peter as Peter

Larry Rivers as Milo — in the Neal role

French actress Delphine Say-rig as Milo’s wife — Carolyn Cassady

her film debut — she went on to have 60 film & TV credits over the next 30 years, primarily in France — including The Day of The Jackal — was directed by Truffaut & Bunuel — became a prominent outspoken feminist.

David Amram as Mezz McGillicuddy

Bishop — Richard Bellamy — billed as “Mooney Pebbles”

Bishop’s mother — Alice Neel from Richard Modiano — a major American portrait artist, had solo exhibitions at the Met and Whitney in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the de Young in S.F., and shows in London, Sweden, Germany.

Bishop’s sister — Sally Gross — also from Richard M — an important modern dance choreographer from 1960 – 2015, subject of a dozen documentaries.

Robert Frank’s son Pablo is the child — sort of the role of one of the Cassady kids

Anita Ellis sang the opening song.

Act 3 from Jack’s play The Beat Generation — which Jack had read into a tape recorder doing all the voices.

Robert Frank heard it and said, “THAT’s what we should film.”

Shot with Robert’s single 16mm camera that had no sound — as those hand-helds didn’t have until D.A. Pennebaker and the Maysles brothers figured out ways to connect portable recording units a few years later — which completely revolutionized documentary filmmaking and cinema verite.

And speaking of Pennebaker & the Maysles — think how Pull My Daisy presaged Don’t Look Back or anything by the Maysles.

There was ostensibly a “script” — but everybody was just winging it and goofing and being themselves in their friend’s loft.

Based on real events at the Cassady house, Los Gatos, summer of 1955 Carolyn writes about it in Off The Road (pp 264–266).

Bishop Romano — Swiss — ordained at the Liberal Catholic Church

he did indeed bring his mother and aunt with him;

and they did indeed sit side-by-side on the couch, and never spoke;

and Allen did go squeeze in between them — all as portrayed in the movie.

Allen & Peter were there.

as was a guy named “Pat” — converted in the play/movie to “Pat ‘Mezz’ McGillicuddy” played by Amram.

According to Carolyn he was a guy Neal had sent round in hopes she’d have an affair with him, and she’d at least be distracted so he could spend more time with Natalie Jackson.

Gregory was not there in Los Gatos — so he’s in the role of Jack here.

Jack sat on floor next to the Bishop — as Gregory’s shown in the movie.

As I said yesterday and is in The Rolling Stone Book of The Beats

“It was co-produced by a PAINTER Alfred Leslie — and shot in his canvas-filled loft — featuring PAINTER Larry Rivers in the role of Neal — with ART DEALER Richard Bellamy as the Bishop — and it was financed by libertine PAINTER Walter Gutman — so it’s a film made by painters — about poets — narrated by a novelist.”

Selected for preservation by the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress in 1996.

Clip “Here’s a minute of Gregory playing Jack — which corresponds to Carolyn’s memory of the evening.”

If Dave Amram is there — invite him up after the clip.

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Here’s the event page for the show on Facebook.

Here’s a story about “The Making of ‘Jack on Film’

Here’s The Beat Movie Guide that covers all the Beat dramatizations ever made.

Here’s a tale of the opening of the Kerouac centennial year back in Lowell in March for his birthday.

 

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by Brian Hassett

karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

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

 

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The Making of “Jack on Film”

August 28th, 2022 · Kerouac and The Beats, Movies

The Making of “Jack on Film”

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Believe it or not this whole thing started when I got a call on January 12th, 2021 — six days after the Capitol insurrection (!) and still deep in the pandemic lockdown daze.  A musician friend I’ve known since 1976, Will Hodgson, was home with his kids during the day and had “The View” on in the background, and he heard, to his jaw-dropped surprise, John McCain’s daughter Meghan quoting Kerouac!

“Trump also said he takes no responsibility for what happened at the Capitol, and that he doesn’t believe any of his language or anything he said incited anything.  And honestly, the first thing I thought of was a Jack Kerouac quote (!)  —  ‘There’s no end to this madness and American sadness, American madness and sadness.’  It’s absolute lunacy.”

And the extra double doozy is — it’s a pretty obscure line — from The Scroll version of On The Road no less (p. 206) — Somebody had tipped the American continent like a pinball machine and all the goofballs had come rolling to LA in the southwest corner.  I cried for all of us.  There was no end to the American sadness and the American madness.”

The whole thing was so bizarre I knew I had to notify some West Coast Beats who could still catch it with the 3-hour time change.  I emailed Jerry Cimino at The Beat Museum, and John Cassady, then thought I’d give ol’ S.A. Griffin a call in L.A. since he’s also one who loves when the Beats show up in weird places in American culture where you’d least expect it.

We got to jammin all sortsa things, as always, including a deep dive into movies, which I’d been studying the hell out of for the last year, and we wove around to discussing the different portrayals of Jack on the big screen.

After we hung up, the conversation kept echoing in my head, and it hit me we could do a great show on this!  —  sort of a Siskel & Ebert in the balcony, where we’d play a clip of the movie, and the two cinephiles would jam back and forth on it.

On The Road 50th anniversary Los Angeles S.A. Griffin Brian Hassett

I called him back and bounced the show off him and he thought it would be fun.  We’ve shared stages on and off over the years starting with the 50th anniversary of Jack writing On The Road in 2001 (above), through doing a Kesey–Cassady–Kerouac show at Beyond Baroque in Venice Beach in 2019.

Brian Hassett George Walker S.A. Griffin Beyond Baroque Venice Beach

The idea started to take off, so I wrote up a proposal for it, and pitched it to Lowell Celebrates Kerouac (LCK) — the obvious place to do it.  And I even knew the timeslot — 7:00 on Sunday night.  They’d screened the Loving Vincent movie there on a Sunday and it really seemed to be the perfect programming.  After four days of nonstop high-paced madness, kickin’ back and watchin a movie on Sunday night was the exact thing people wanted to do.

In pretty quick order the show got accepted for that October, and I began sketching out the basic framework, including a list of all the movies we’d discuss, and notes about angles and themes.

I also started asking around to people who’ve spent 40 years or more immersed in all-things-Jack-&-Beat and nobody had ever heard of a show like this ever being done anywhere.

But by the late summer for 2021, Covid was still raging, and airplane travel was cited as a source of transmission, and with S.A. being in his 60s, the idea of flying from L.A., and all the people he’d have to be in close contact with in so many different places, he was having a hard time coming to a full commitment.  Then the Delta variant starting surging, and that was that.

So we cancelled out of doing it in 2021 — but the seed had been planted and the timeslot seemed ideal.  LCK eventually decided to hold a scaled back festival that year with all the events taking place outdoors — which wouldn’t have worked for our show anyway.

After the 2021 fest played out, I bounced the idea off LCK and they loved the idea and thought it was perfect for Sunday night, and assuming 2021 was a transition year back to normal, we should be rockin it for Jack’s centennial in 2022.

I knew I needed video tech help to create the clips to play during the show.  I remembered this young guy who’d come to LCK a couple years earlier and made his own Jack on Film documentary about it.  Through the wonders of Facebook, I was able to make a pretty good educated guess as to who that kid was — Julian Ortman — and I sent him a message:  “Hey man!  You’re the film guy, aren’t you?  You made a doc at LCK one year, right?”

And he wrote right back, “That’s me!  Absolutely.  How can I be of service?

And the kindness of that answer changed my life.

If we all answered more often, “How can I be of service?” what a wonderful world it would be.  😉

Suddenly I had a collaborator who could do the techie video editing stuff that I couldn’t.  He does this for a living, and I know he loves Jack cuz he travelled to Lowell to celebrate him and make a movie about him, and when we did our first video-chat two minutes later, behind his beaming smiling “gets-it” face was a Grateful Dead poster hanging on the wall!  And I’m thinkin, “Weir gonna get along juuust fine.”  🙂

So, now I had a tech guy who knew how grab a clip out of a movie and put things together on the video front.  I already had the basic list of films — Pull My Daisy, The Subterraneans, and knew I wanted to touch on Route 66, and then there’s Heart Beat and Naked Lunch and Beat Angel and The Last Time I Committed Suicide and that other Neal Cassady movie, and then there’s The Big Three from 2013 — On The Road, Kill Your Darlings and Big Sur — and thus began the process of watching all those movies again and isolating the scenes that best showcased the portrayal of Jack.

As this was really starting to take shape, I knew I had to have all the production exactly right.

The historic 1834 Worthen House in Lowell is actually on the National Register of Historic Places!  It’s the oldest bar in town, so of course ol’ Jack himself had tipped back a few there, and it has this cool pulley-driven fan system hanging from the ceiling — one of only four still in existence in America, and the only one in its original location.  The ol’ Worthan’s been Camp Kerouac’s Clubhouse since Jacksters began gathering in the ’80s, filling its huge main floor, plus there’s a big second floor performance room, and a well-used Reality Alley outdoor space.  It was key that I had everything running smoothly in this nearly 200-year-old building doing a high-tech show that’s never been done before.

The Merry Pranksters meet Jack Kerouac at Ye Old Worthen House in Lowell, Mass.

As everything began to take shape in early 2022, I got back in touch with ol’ S.A. in L.A., and got an unexpected call from him one day saying, “Y’know, Brian, you’ve got a vision for this thing, and you should just run with it.”  He wanted to do more of a broad Beats-in-culture type show.  But this was not only a Jack festival — it was the old boy’s 100th birthday year.  This was the time and place to celebrate “Jack on Film.”  Maybe next year we could do a “Beats in Culture” show — but on Ti Jean’s centennial … in Lowell … we really oughta do the homeboy right.

So, ol’ S.A. bowed out.  Maybe we’ll do something down The Road, but I was bummed cuz he knows more about film than just about anybody I know, and our two-person two-hour phone jams would make most engaging theater.  But we didn’t share the same vision — and neither of us wanted to spend the next six months arguing over what this would be.  I told him, if this goes well, I can be the Siskel to his Ebert if he wants to do a “Beats in Culture” show in the future.  He has nearly a hundred screen credits, taught at the American Film Institute, and we both crack each other up, so we’d make a great stage duo, but you gotta play a song you can both harmonize on.

I was scared my tech master Julian, who’d already put in a hundred hours on this thing, might cool his interest, but in keeping with his initial, “How can I be of service?” he wrote me, “It is your vision!  Whatever I can do to help get it from your head to on-screen, I’m here for it and along for the ride.”  (!)  Whadda guy!  That’s the kind of creative partner you wanna have in life!

LCK was still cool with it cuz they’d seen me pack the rooms and knock it outta the park for five years, and as brother Cliff said, “We’ve been talking about making Sunday night ‘Movie Night’ for a while — and you’re taking it to the next level!”

Without a stage partner to banter with, I came up with the idea to make the audience my co-host — that I can lead the conversation, but I know there’s gonna be a ton of smart Jack & film people in the room — so, how fun would it be to let other people jam in?!

Then I had another idea.  I have an actor friend, Frank Tabbita, who has a line to one of the actors who best portrayed Jack in one of the films.  What if we could Zoom him into the room?!  One email later, I was on the phone with Vincent Balestri!  —  and we hit it off like peas and carrots!  Boom!  Done!

Then another great stalwart at LCK, Mike Flynn, put on a summer show upstairs at the Worthen where he used a giant projection screen, and the lightbulb went on in ol’ Cliff’s head.  Ah-ha!  Mike Flynn needs to be Brian’s in-house tech guy to make this happen.  And Jack’s-your-uncle, suddenly Mike and I were locked in on the video staging front.

Then once again The Good ol’ Grateful Dead rode in to add another dimension to the surreality!  The great Phil Lesh, my favorite living musician, who only ever does shows at the Capitol Theater outside New York or somewhere close to his homebase of San Francisco, was suddenly doing a half-dozen one-off non-coastal shows this 2022 summer for the first time in ten years.  And one of them was going to be at an apple orchard?!?!  . . .  in the Finger Lakes no less, not too far from me!  And to go even Furthur — my good friends the Magic Genie and her camera-eyed partner Rick live right near there and offered to have me over and throw a party and put on some shows at their Wonderland estate on the side of a lake!  Besides being a whole mess-o-fun — it also gave me a chance to do a test run of something we needed to have right for “Jack on Film” — a live-stream on YouTube.

And one thing that show taught me was — you can’t rely on wifi for uploading longform live video.  You’ve got to be hard-wired in.  So when Mike, Cliff and I did a FaceTime video walk-through of the venue, we confirmed they have an ethernet connection in the room, so I bought a splitter switch box that we can turn into two hard-wires — one for the live-stream and one for the Zoom call.

The tech side of things were really starting to come together.

Julian, meanwhile, had been editing the various clips from the notes I’d been sending him, like — “At 1:15:37 — gradual fade in so the first clear visual is Jack saying, “Well, what do you suggest? . . . then fade out just after Burroughs says, “First time I ever heard of it.”

I was targeting up to four of the best Jack scenes in each film, with the idea that if we had the best three or four clips, once we started to run through the show, we could go with whichever one, two or three would best represent the performance.

So, all the clips were coming together, and then as I continued my deep dive into these cinematic treasures, I uncovered some film & TV gems that 99% of Jack fans probably don’t even know exist, and even if they’ve heard of them, they’ve almost certainly never seen them.  I’m not going to mention ’em here cuz they’re gonna make for some great mid-show surprises.  😉

Then the next cool thing was — there was a 2007 movie called Neal Cassady with Tate Donovan as Neal and a guy named Glenn Fitzgerald playing Jack.  The thing about this movie is — it’s never been released in any form on home video.  So, you can’t buy a copy, and consequently nobody’s ever bootlegged it to one of the many underground movie sites.  I’m pretty savvy about finding rare films in secret places — and so’s my 26-year-old wiz-kid partner Julian — and neither of us could find this anywhere.

"Neal Cassady" Tate Donovan movie poster

As karmic luck would have it, many years ago when I still had the Sundance Channel, they aired it one day, and wisely I popped in a VHS tape and recorded it!  So I bought a VHS-to-digi converter and was able to grab the best scene to include in the show — the Prankster party in New York in ’64 where Jack & Neal saw each other for the last time — the only time it was ever dramatized on film.

And then when I FB posted about this development, a film-biz brother I met at George Walker’s 80th birthday weekend in Sebastopol California, Aslan Davis, chimed in that he could A.I. 4K upscale some of this, including Beat Angel, which has never seen the light of hi-def!  😉 

And THEN as I was writing these words you just read, it hit me — we need to have a poster for this thing!  And within hours the brilliant visual artist and lifelong Jackster and Deadhead, Sunny Days, was on the case!

Today is six weeks till showtime — and things are comin together!  💖

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Here’s a Facebook event page for the “Jack on Film” show on October 9th.

Here’s a definitive story of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac that’s been performed live all over the continent.

Here’s the tale of my first LCK in 2015 with Michael McClure, Tony Sampas & the Kansas Kid.

Here’s the story of Jack’s 100th birthday party in Lowell, March, 2022.

And if you like movies and the Beats — here’s The Beat Movie Guide.

Or here’s a helluva great Jack Adventure Tale about the time “more of us were together than had ever been in one place at one time before,” according to John Clellon Holmes.

The cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac by Brian Hassett

Or here’s a book where you can read more about Jack, Lowell, the Merry Pranksters and Phil Lesh.

Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, George Walker – The Beats and the Merry Pranksters

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by Brian Hassett

karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

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

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First Live Shows After the Pandemic Lockdown

July 31st, 2022 · Brian on YouTube etc., Kerouac and The Beats, Poetry

The Magic Genie’s Happy Place   Saturday July 9th, 2022

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The matinee show (4PM) stemmed from a massive reorganization of all my performance pieces — many dating back to New York in the 1980s and ’90s.  A bunch of them still held up — and since nobody’s heard me do them in 20 or more years, I thought it would be fun to bring them back to life.

I noticed a theme in some written in my 20s or early 30s that dealt with growing old — which seemed so odd that I was writing about that so often when so young.

Here’s the opening of the show and the first four poems —

Very Soon Today
Under These Same Elms
Riding on Page 599
Gotta Get a New One

The next three were about — how we can be too hard on ourselves;  deciding whether to get into a new relationship or not;  and a comedic poem about praying.

The Marksman
Window Shopping
Answered Prayers

Then I did the rallying cry piece I used to perform often after Giuliani was elected in New York;  plus a couple short Kerouac pieces as a teaser for the evening show.

New York Wins Another Round
Kerouac’s “List of Essentials”
“Hearing Shearing” from On The Road

I ended the show with a classic I first wrote in 1985 and continued to customize for different shows for the next 15 or more years.

Another Pious Frenzy

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Or here’s all four clips in a playlist so you can watch the whole show in one click.  🙂

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The 7:30PM evening show  —

The Prankster Address
Ode to Lowell Celebrates Kerouac
Jerry Garcia on hearing Jack Kerouac
Appreciation of Edie Kerouac-Parker

Part 2 — the climax of the New Hampshire Democratic primary in 2020 — after the final Bernie Sanders rally in an arena — for the first time all primary I felt Kerouac’s presence in the New England winter night.  A bunch of the college students went out on an outdoor skating rink and a special moment happened.

Part 3 — With Tricia Eileen Murphy on guitar, I took the audience to the On The Road scroll auction at Christie’s in New York in 2001.

Part 4 — the climax of the show — “Floating Universities: The Power of the Collective” from The Rolling Stone Book of The Beats.

Plus the Ode to Jack.

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Or here’s all four clips in a playlist so you can watch the whole show in one click.  🙂

 

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Here’s a cool book with lots of Beat and Prankster content, including some poetry and lots of poetic prose  —  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac  . . .

The cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac by Brian Hassett

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And here’s another one with lots of Beats and Pranksters and Adventure Tales  —  How The Beats Begat the Pranksters  . . .

Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, George Walker – The Beats and the Merry Pranksters

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by Brian Hassett

karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

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

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Vote Blue No Matter Who

June 30th, 2022 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, Politics

With the recent stacking of the Supreme Court and overturning of Roe vs. Wade and gun protections in New York, I was reminded that these events all happened because just enough people of the left spent the 2016 general election campaign trashing Hillary Clinton and either not voting or voting third party that an amoral monster was able to actually become the president of the United States.

Here are some paragraphs from the “2020” chapter of my book Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy that the world would be a better place if more people had internalized in 2016.

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Vote  Blue  No  Matter  Who

What beautiful poetry to start the year.  Some put it — “Any blue will do,” . . . or “Vote blue, do not renew” — but however you wanna rhyme it, it’s music to our years.

For me, picking a candidate during the primary is like choosing something on a menu at a great restaurant.  You’re gonna like whatever you order.  And there’s no sense in getting upset about a tablemate making a different choice.

Of the 26 candidates who ran for the Democratic nomination, I initially went for Elizabeth Warren.  Forgetting about playing pundit and trying to game out who could slay the Trumpenstein monster — when I just closed my eyes and pictured who I’d most like to see behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office cleaning up this mess, it was Gets Thing Done Warren.  She’s articulate and energetic and smart and I’ve loved her in every interview I’d ever seen her do over many years, going back long before she ran for the Senate.  She took on the predatory lending of the big banks, which I think is the worst mass crime committed in America in my lifetime — these soulless unregulated profiteer banks conning poor people into mortgages they knew they couldn’t maintain just so they could take their homes for their own profit and ruin millions of families lives and dreams forever.   I wanted all those bastards in jail for life — and so did this feisty kick-ass woman.

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It’s so much easier to learn so much more about every candidate and every issue in 2020 than it ever has been in history — and you don’t even have to crack a book.  But I’m glad you did this one.  🙂  No candidate is perfect just like no human is perfect.  The history books paint beautiful portraits of JFK and Lincoln and Jefferson . . . but that was before every news article and opinion piece ever printed about them was instantly accessible on a screen in your hand.

People talk about how Facebook and Twitter are such big factors in the election, but I find myself using YouTube more.  You can type in any candidate’s name, and with its Filter / Upload Date option, see what they’ve been up to in the “Last hour” or “Today” or “This week” or whatever.  You can see them actually talking a few minutes ago, not just some meme or 280 character postcard or some basement blogger’s rant.

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If we on the left continue to factionalize and fight within our family rather than uniting and accepting that there can be Catholics and atheists within the same collective, Bernie supporters and Biden supporters, Michael Bloombergs and Tulsi Gabbards, DNC loyalists and independents — if we don’t see ourselves as all part of the same expansive open inclusive assemblage of left-leaning Americans, we are doomed to a future, both immediate and long-term, of an extremist right-wing minority dominating the laws imposed upon us all.

If you think trump’s good for the country, and the 2016 election results were just fine, and the senate impeachment trial was handled responsibly, and Brett Kavanaugh is the kind of person you want to see on the Supreme Court, then by all means keep tearing down anyone on the left that you disagree with.  But if you’d like to change the sinking Titanic direction of this great country, it might be an idea to remember where the problem lies and who your teammates are, no matter the specific shade of blue of the jersey they’re wearing.

We need as many people rowing towards the future as we can get.

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You can order a copy of Blissfully Ravaged In Democracy here.

You can check reviews and performances from the book here.

Or here’s The Beat Museum’s Jerry Cimino’s introduction in the book.

Or here’s a complete list of political and other Adventures that appear in my various books.

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by Brian Hassett

karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

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

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Kerouac in Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire” Podcast

May 31st, 2022 · Interviews, Kerouac and The Beats

Billy Joel Interview Story

 

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I was contacted by this Since The World’s Been Turning podcast production out of New Zealand to talk about Kerouac.

Ever since Peter Jackson’s masterful recreation of The Beatles: Get Back, and watching a thousand interviews with him with his New Zealand accent and sensibilities, I developed a real fondness for that place.  So, when somebody from there contacted me about talking about Jack for their series exploring every reference Billy Joel makes in his great song We Didn’t Start The Fire, I responded to the intercontinental handshake.

I loved the song when it first came out in ’89 — and went to #1 in America, and Top 10 all over the world — especially including because he name-checks Kerouac, of course.

“Little Rock, Pasternak, 
Mickey Mantle, Kerouac”

We did the interview by Zoom.  I was in the middle of a bunch of other pressing projects at the time, but knew I had to stop what I was doing and really lay down something special for Jack.  It’s just one live improvised take.  You can’t go back and edit it like you can a manuscript — it had to be “one and done” — no overdubs or re-dos or second takes.

I’ve done a lot of interviews going back to the mid-’90s with my Temp book and sometimes you do them and wonder afterwards if what you laid down was any good.  So, I came up with the idea of recording them on my end so I could hear how it went afterwards.  I don’t always remember to do this, but thank goodness I did this time.  The riff fairly kills.

You can check out the whole Since The World’s Been Turning podcast series here — https://www.buzzsprout.com/1764676

My Kerouac episode is here.

Drop me a line if you want to hear the whole interview.

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Here’s a page with a whole bunch of other interviews and stuff.

And here’s one with a whole bunch of live videos and performances and such.

Or here’s a ton of other posts about music.

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by Brian Hassett

karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

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

 

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The Chad Allan Story

April 30th, 2022 · Music, Poetry, Real-life Adventure Tales

The Chad Allan Story

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When I was in grade 7 at St. John’s Ravenscourt school, a teacher, Bernie Beare, told me I could write well.  I didn’t know what-the-hell good that was gonna be, but apparently it was something I could do.

So I started to focus on it, and pay attention in English classes, and take the writing assignments seriously.  Sometimes we’d be told to write a poem, and in grade 10 at Kelvin High School I wrote one that the teacher raved about.

It felt good to be keeping alive the creative forces that were laid down at the school a decade earlier by my favorite former student, Neil Young.

What was unusual about the narrative storytelling poem was that it was written by a 15-year-old about life many years down the road – about being married and having a job, losing the job, infidelity, and drug addiction.  Where and how I came up with it I have no idea.  But I was reading a lot.  In those days, that was kind of all you had.  They wouldn’t let kids into mature movies, and not much played on the seven TV channels we got.

My Mom was good friends with Bob McMullin who wrote the arrangements for and conducted the orchestra at Rainbow Stage, the big outdoor musical theater in Winnipeg.  He was longtime friends with and had produced Chad Allan, who was the guy who formed the biggest band in Winnipeg’s history, The Guess Who.  Chad was the lead singer and bandleader behind their first big hit, a cover of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates’ Shakin’ All Over.  The song was only a hit in England in 1960 and never crossed the pond, but Chad had a friend who would get tapes of the hit parade in the U.K.  As Randy Bachman describes it in his great memoir Vinyl Tap Stories, “That song just leapt off the tape at us.”

Funny side-story:  the group was actually called Chad Allan and The Expressions, which was the entire original Guess Who lineup with Chad, Randy Bachman, Jim Kale on bass, and Garry Peterson on drums.  The keyboard player, Bob Ashley, would quit the band in late ’65 because he didn’t like touring, and was replaced by a 17-year-old Burton Cummings.  The pre-Burton lineup recorded Shakin’ live into a single microphone late one night in December 1964, and their record company loved it.  When they rushed it out as a single in January ’65, they just put Guess Who? where the artist’s name went to create some mystery around its origin – including because it sounded so much like the British Invasion music, they thought DJs might think it was some secret all-star collective out of England.  It became the #1 song in Canada, and went Top 30 in the U.S. and lots of other countries, making them the first band from Winnipeg to ever have an international hit.  Since DJs kept calling them “Guess Who” the band just changed that to their name.

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My Mom and Bob McMullin hatched this idea to have Chad come to our house and see about turning the poem into a song.  And that’s exactly what happened.

He came over on . . . 

. . . 1977. 

My parents wanted to meet with him before they let us go off together.  Their protected innocent (ha-ha) only child (like Chad was) was about to be put in private confines with a “rock star” – so you can understand their concern.

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Chad Allan in Brave Belt days

Chad Allan circa 1974

I vividly remember that evening in the big still-sunny living room of our River Heights house filled with classic ’60s furniture.  It was almost like a job interview for Chad, and he knew he had to win them over.  I think the premise was a bit funny for him.  He sure as hell wasn’t like the long-haired makeup-dripping freak in the Alice Cooper posters on my walls.  He was very straight, polite, unassuming, mild-mannered, with kind-of thick glasses — the polar opposite of the ’70s rock stars who would make the news for all the wrong reasons.  He was definitely more mid–’70s John Denver than John Lennon.

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Brian as Alice Cooper, Halloween, 1975

After some gentile tea & cookies conversation, apparently he “passed the audition” and he & I went down to my poster-covered purple-walled rock n roll den in the basement where I had a ’70s tuner with a built-in cassette deck and microphone jack.

We got to talk straight-up once the parental units were out of the picture, and the couple of things I remember was that after I’d say something, he’d quite often respond with “Hey?”  I don’t know if it was our age difference – he was 34 and I was 15 – and maybe the things I was saying sounded sorta outta-left-field or something, or maybe it was a regular quirk of his discourse, although I don’t remember him doing it upstairs.  Anyway, we got along great and had rollicking conversations, but I remember a lot of his responses began with “Hey?”

The other thing was – I’d ask him if he knew some song, which, when I’d ask my friends that, it meant, had they heard it?  But he took it as – did he know how to play it?  I can’t remember which songs I asked him if he knew, but his response would often be, “Oh, yeah …” and he’d start playing it on his acoustic guitar.

We spent the entire time in front of the stereo where we were gonna record.  We spread out the typed pages on the top of the tuner, and he sat on the padded piano bench my mother had just bought at auction when Winnipeg’s regal Royal Alex Hotel went under.

I recently uncovered the original poem I’d handed in in class that we worked from, and I gotta say, he sure improved it.  It got 9½ out of 10 from the English teacher …

… but it was graded for a 15-year-old.  He really did pull out the best lines and left the rest behind.  He found the essence in a much longer piece, distilled it down to four verses, and spotted a chorus within it.  Kind of amazing.

After we got it, he ran through it top-to-bottom a time or two, then we recorded a take, and he said he wanted to do another one, so we did, and that’s the one that survives.  (The master tape got lost in a terrible accident in Greenwich Village in the mid-’80s, but at least I’d made a couple copies of the final take of the song.)  We recorded it with the rinky-dink microphone that probably came with the rinky-dink cassette deck/tuner.  The one feature it had was a record volume knob, so I could gradually turn it down for the fade-out.  I guess I also get engineering credit on this.

After we were done, we went back upstairs to share it with my parents, and he sat on the wine-colored couch in the living room, put the poem pages on the glass-topped wooden coffee table in front, and played the song to its first audience.  It was a pretty cool moment.  The lines their son wrote for a grade 10 English class were suddenly being sung to them in their living room by a rock star.

Chad Allan on CBC from the Paddlewheel restaurant in the Hudson Bay in Winnipeg

Chad on CBC during the Shakin’ All Over reunion, 1987

I saw as he riffed how glowingly effervescent he was – a sparkling leprechaun’s twinkle with a magician’s magnetism holding all sorts of tricks up his sleeve.

I’d never spent serious time around a professional artist before.  He had a serenity – a sense of not having to prove anything – something my teenage peers certainly didn’t have.  Nor for that matter some of my parents’ friends who presented themselves as big-shots and were boastful and overplaying their hands, often with liquor behind them, which people drank way too much of back in those ’60s & ’70s cocktail parties.

Chad just was.

It was like that line in Death of A Salesman when Willy can’t believe the neighbor’s son Bernard didn’t boast that he was arguing a case before the Supreme Court.  Willy says to the dad, “He didn’t even mention it!”  And the dad responds, “He don’t have to – he’s doing it.”

That was the biggest lesson I learned from my day with Chad Allan.  That you don’t have to boast about what you’ve done or will do – you just have to do it.  And once you’ve done it – the work speaks for itself.

In this case, he came over to my house, pulled the essence out of a long rambling poem by a 15-year-old, crafted a song out of thin air, laid it down, and walked off into the Winnipeg night having not only created art that didn’t exist before, but having taught a young person what being an artist really was.

My creative productive life was born in those few hours on that spring evening of life with somebody who really knew how to Get Things Done.

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"If You Could Only Change Your Way"

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For an even more epic Real-Life Adventure Tale — check out The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

The cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac by Brian Hassett

Or there’s a ton of them in Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy  –  Adventures in Politics  –  1980–2020.

Or Holy Cats! Dream-Catching at Woodstock features Bob Dylan, The Band, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Traffic, the Neville Brothers, Peter Gabriel, Jimmy Cliff and lotsa others.

The cover of Holy Cats! Dream-Catching at Woodstock by Brian Hassett

Or there’s How The Beats Begat The Pranksters about how the counterculture of the ’50s begat the 1960s.

Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, George Walker – The Beats and the Merry Pranksters

 

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by Brian Hassett

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Kerouac’s 100th birthday celebration in Lowell

March 20th, 2022 · Kerouac and The Beats, Real-life Adventure Tales

Jack Kerouac by lamppost in New York

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Everybody’s known for ages that Jack Kerouac’s 100th birthday was coming up on March 12th, 2022, but it was still the dark Covid times, and I hadn’t been On The Road in over two years — not since the New Hampshire Democratic primaries in February 2020 — plus I was really in no mood to drive ten hours to Lowell for the ten-thousandth time.  But then the-powers-that-be decreed that as of March 1st we didn’t need the $200 PCR tests to cross the border, and masks were no longer required in every building in America.  Then an even higher power, Holly George-Warren, hipped me to a Toronto filmmaker cat, Mike Downie, who was makin the trip, and I could be the writer Jack to his driver Neal.

Suddenly we were On The Road, first time outta the house since Bernie Sanders & Pete Buttigieg were fightin over first place, and the first joint we hit was Movieman Mike’s son’s Animal House frat house in Kingston.  The place was like a clown car with a never-ending stream of college dudes appearing out of rooms, and all of them … shaking my hand!  What is this?!  I hadn’t been pattin’ paws with strangers since we all learned more about germ transmission than we ever wanted to, and suddenly I was slapping flesh with John Belushi!

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By the time we got to Lowell on Friday . . . 

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac sign

Photo by Thomas Kauertz

the “100 Blues & Haikus for Jack” event at the Pollard Library was just wrapping up and the party just starting.  There was Jim Sampas and Sylvia Cunha from the Kerouac estate — and Steve Edington, Bill Walsh & Mike Wurm from Lowell Celebrates Kerouac (LCK) — and oodles of my bestest Beat buddies from all over — Thomas Kauertz all the way from Germany, Professor Brett Sigurdson from Minnesota, Professor Kurt Hemmer from Chicago, teacher-artist Roxanne from New Jersey, born Prankster Roadster Guylaine Knupp from Quebec, and Beat brother Philip “Z” Thomas from Indy.

And Boom — right off the bat I’m talkin to Jim & Sylvia about all the 100th birthday plans, including priority #1 — acquiring the long-vacant and ever-beautiful St. Jean Baptiste Church to turn into the Jack Museum and performance space.  This 1890s architectural gem was where Jack started life as an altar boy and ended it with his funeral — and where god-and-checks-willing new voices will rise and new psalms will be sung.

The free milk & cookies library buzz pretty quickly ran its course and the thirst for some adult beverages brewed, so we all wandered a couple hundred feet south to the LCK clubhouse — The Old Worthen, the oldest bar in Lowell.  This joint’s been every Jackster’s hangout since hangouts began, and every LCK in October in the railroad earth we have the run of the place.  But this being the early days after the daze and malaise of the Covid doldrums, every burly thick-accented Lowellian descended on their favorite tap room, and this worthy Worthen was certainly one.

Fortunately Kurt Hemmer, Brett Sigurdson, Jim Dunn and some other pioneering Beats had planted the flag on a long banquet table just inside the front door, and we had our home-away-from-home, everyone ordering Kerouac burgers (seriously) and sharing the latest tales of poetry, parties and progress.  Kurt was telling me how he’s working to expand the Beat Studies clique to be more inclusive.  Brett told me how he’s including me in his dissertation about how I’m the modern day personification of Jack in that I both live adventures and write books about them which almost nobody actually does anymore.  And there was some sax player regaling us with tales of playing with eccentric Beat raconteur Willie Alexander, who was gonna be closing Saturday night’s festivities.

But what was so freaky was how everyone was maskless and carrying on like — pandemic?  What pandemic?  We were crammed in tight on small bar chairs having to talk loud over the horrible attic bands blasting away upstairs, and people were hootin’ and hollerin’ and high-fiving and hugging like it was 1999.  I hadn’t stood within six feet of a soul in six-hundred days — and suddenly I was in a beer-drinking subway car at rush hour!  There wasn’t a mask in the joint — except on ol’ Thomas who had to test negative to fly back to Germany in a couple days — and Covid protocols were apparently now last-thought, worst-thought.  But somehow we survived it.  It’s now a week later and there’s been nary a positive case in the whole barrel o’ Beats.

 

Kerouac 100th birthday banners on lampposts in Lowell

Photo by Thomas Kauertz


Saturday was the big day.  Jack’s 100th birth day anniversary.  People from far and wide, young and old, black and white were filling Lowell streets under banners on light poles with Jack quotes flapping his life-lessons for all to live by.

There was a late-winter New England cold snap and some midday wind and rain that tested our mettle but never broke our spirit.  We started the day at the (Sal) Paradise Diner with omelettes and coffee and complementary souvenir mugs to go, then Steve Edington gave us a tour of the Ben Woitena-designed granite monoliths with Jack’s quotes in Kerouac Park, including the new marker for the great Roger Brunelle, the legendary French-Canadian Kerouac aficionado, who, among many other things, led colorful bilingual tours of local Jack haunts for decades.

Kerouac 100th birthday celebration in Lowell

Then, like the band of Merry Pranksters we are, we all jumped on a school bus and took this trip furthur!

Small town LCK regularly features bus trips as part of their festivities — but do they rent a regular plush big-window tour bus?  Of course not!  They use the town school bus! with its tiny old square windows that pull down and seats with leg room for 10-year-olds!

What made this trip particularly special, besides being Jack’s centennial, was that it was freezing cold and raining out, so only real intrepid travelers braved the arctic conditions to assemble in a park in the middle of nowhere in a gale storm that would sink a battleship.  It was like being hunkered down in a cabin in a monsoon with 33 strangers braving the elements because they knew there was a rainbow and pot o’ gold ahead.  And to add to the comedy of crazy, with 33 people breathing in the moist air, all the windows immediately fogged up!  So here we were on a bus to see Lowell — and we couldn’t see out the windows, and couldn’t get off the bus cuz of the freezing rain!

After navigating this big yellow ocean-liner through the narrow streets of old-world Lowell that are barely wide enough for a car, we wove our way to 9 Lupine Road where Jack was born on the second floor at 5:00 in the afternoon.  Then one of the first of many beautiful in-synch moments happened just as LCK president Steve Edington finished his biographical background and town tour stalwart Bill Walsh read Jack’s description of his birth day from Dr. Sax — the rain stopped!  Whatever gods or Saints named Jack or karma-coupon cash-ins were at play, somebody or sumpthin was looking out for us!

Suddenly we all became actors in a Magical Mystery Tour comedy as all these tourists poured off this giant bus, cameras in hand, filling the front lawns and sidewalks of this nondescript residential neighborhood frantically taking pictures of some house that looked no different than any other.  The town, in its wisdom, finally put a plaque on the front of the house, but it’s a two-unit rental, and from the looks of the faces peaking out from behind the curtains they didn’t know why the hell this plain place would attract anyone to take a picture of it!

Kerouac's birthplace, 9 Lupine Rd., Lowell

Crouchin down with Movieman Mike so I’m below the sign

Then we drove back over the Merrimack River from Centralville to the beautiful St. Jean Baptiste church that the estate is trying to turn into The Jack Museum, then over to the Pollard Library.  The tour guides were trying to stick to a schedule to hit all the spots we could, but I wanted my out-of-towner friends to see the Jack Kerouac Corner inside that they’d dedicated to the local kid who used to skip school … to come to the library to read!  I was just gonna run Toronto Mike and German Tom in to show them, but I ended up Pied Pipering the whole damn bus inside!

Kerouac Corner during 100th birthday celebrations

Photo by Mike Downie

Then it was off to Edson Cemetery to the same place Allen Ginsberg Pied Pipered Bob Dylan, Sam Shepard & photographer Ken Regan while on the Rolling Thunder tour in 1975.

Ginsberg and Ginsberg Kerouac's 100th birthday celebration

Photo by Ken Regan

The ocean-liner of a bus couldn’t fit through the ornate old-world gate, so we all had to power-walk in the freezing temperatures of the east to Lincoln and Seventh Avenue.  At least with the recent giant headstone that John Sampas put in it’s easier to find than the old flat marker in the ground.  There were surprisingly fewer bottles and memorial flotsam left behind than you’d normally find in October — although somebody did leave a thoughtful 100th birthday candle.

Kerouac's gravesite Lowell 100th birthday celebrations

German Tom and Canadian Brian with American Jack

And then things really got interesting . . .

We zipped over to the new Middlesex Community College Academic Arts Center that’s just been built inside the preserved brick facade of an 1876 building whose external walls had been standing intact for years with nothing but steel beams holding them up.  It’s a rare happy story in America that a cool exterior is preserved at all — and a bonus that the place wasn’t turned into a bank or a Gap!

historic Boston & Maine Building, Central Street Depot, Lowell, 1876

former Boston & Maine Building – Central Street Depot – Lowell

The new building is so pristine and fresh it still has that new-car smell.  They put in a 190-seat proscenium theater on the main floor, and a 100-seat lecture hall space on the second with nice raked seats which would host the biographers panel with Dennis McNally and Holly George-Warren, moderated by UMass’ Todd Tietchen, who edited Jack’s The Haunted Life, The Unknown Kerouac and a Jack Library of America collection.

Inside the empty pre-show lobby, there’s Sylvia Cunha at the merch table with all the cool Schae Koteles-designed t-shirts and bags and posters and such.  I have a strict policy of never buying t-shirts anymore because I have 50 million of them I never wear — but the 3-face “Kerouac @ 100” shirt was just too impossible to not bring home.

Schae Koteles's Jack Kerouac t-shirt for 100th birthday

Just then, in from the blustery cold, Holly, Dennis and Todd came swooshing in.  One of the weird things about the 2½ year break from Lowell, was how so many people had changed so much physically.  You don’t notice it when you see everyone once a year, but 2½ years including a locked-down pandemic rendered some almost unrecognizable!  And ol’ Todd Tietchen I hadn’t seen since the Michael McClure show in 2015!  He really took a minute for the gears to process.  And boy Holly’s sure kicked herself up into swashbuckling rockstar poise, rocking a Janis-like fur hat atop an all-black punk-chic getup!

We all had a nice little lobby reunion hug-a-thon before they went up to the green room to prepare to blow our minds.  Then the very next person through the door was the great Oliver Trager who for some reason I had no trouble recognizing even hidden behind a mask and the fact we hadn’t seen each other in 15 years!  Oliver’s the greatest Lord Buckley impersonator / channel on the planet, although he says he’s tied for second.

In their wisdom, LCK’s booked him to bring the good Lord into the house for the festival this fall, and right away he and I started jammin performance tips.  We’ve shared many bills many times back in the New York daze, and much to my surprise he’s been watching a bunch of the shows I’ve posted online over the years.  You put the stuff out there — and ya always wonder if anybody ever sees it — but Oliver was the first of several people over the weekend who’d tell me they’d been watching me from afar.

It was great to talk the performing arts with an experienced cat who does something very similar to what I do — namely, solo on stage at a microphone for an hour — and I was happy to hear him extolling the value of rehearing.  Some performers hate doing it, but I love getting better with each run-through.  I also loved to learn he’d been collaborating with the great New York multi-instrumentalist John Kruth, who I’d just seen in L.A. one of the last times I was outta the house.  It seemed like a lot of circles were coming together on this magic weekend for Jack.

Then, while we’re talking, who comes walking up but the one-&-only David Stanford, the editor of all the Kerouac books that came out in the ’90s once the estate passed on from Stella.  David was a fixture at all those Jack and Beat events in the ’90s when everything exploded.  He was always such a nice and smart guy — and was Kesey and Babbs and Garry Trudeau’s editor to boot — so it was such a happy surprise to see him again after 20 years.  This party was gettin started!

Upstairs in the performance space / lecture hall was the first time the full cast of the birthday weekend’s Kerouac Company assembled.  There was everybody I’ve already mentioned, plus Lowell’s own leading man actor Jerry Bisantz, Town & The City festival promoter Chris Porter, and poets Anne Waldman and Scarlett Sabet before their evening show.  I thought it was weird they were putting Holly & Dennis in this small-ish 100-seat room, and my great notion was confirmed as every seat filled and people began lining the stairs and holding up the walls.

Before the show started, I went exploring the new theater and stumbled across the glassed-in green room with Holly, Dennis, Todd and event producer Chris Porter.  I remembered Jack’s 5PM birth time, and knew these guys were gonna be on stage at the exact 100th moment, and I did the bold thing you never should do — I opened the dressing room door to their pre-show ritual and got some momentarily aghast faces as I invaded their space, but blurted out into their sanctuary — “Remember — Jack was born at 5:00,” and I saw Dennis look at his watch.  “You guys are gonna be on stage at that exact moment.  Don’t fuck it up,” and they all laughed as I closed the door as fast as I opened it.

Back in the theater, I got a few minutes catch-up with David.  He was always appreciative of my writing, and I didn’t know if he knew about my recent five books in five years, and when I dropped some reference to them, he said, “Yes, I’ve read them all except the most recent political one.  I’m one of your customers,” he let me know with a twinkly-eyed smile over his mask.  Then we got talkin’ Pranksters and it turned out he’s seen a bunch of my show videos with George Walker!  Couldn’t believe it.  This internet thing really seems to be working!

The show itself was a joy-jammin blast.  One thing I appreciated — the two biographers gave author-length answers to the questions, and moderator Todd Tietchen let them riff.  I hate it in interviews where the subjects are expected to answer in 30-second soundbites, and if they don’t, the interviewer interrupts with another question.  At least on this stage in this moment it was accepted that adults exist on this planet and can follow a train of thought that lasts more than a minute.

Kerouac Lowell birthday celebrations, biographers panel, Dennis McNally and Holly-George-Warren

Photo by Jim Dunn

Another beautiful takeaway was — Holly and Dennis really like and respect each other.  It was great to experience their playful repartee.  Think Mike Nichols and Elaine May.  Or what people observed about George Walker & I on stage — where there’s a similar age difference, and not only mutual respect, but love, and with that — playfulness.  I hope these two team up again — and if they do, I hope everyone reading this gets to experience it.

Oh, another cool thing they riffed on — when Dennis started his research back in 1972, he had access to all the people who were still living who knew Jack, who, at that time, were still in their primetime 40s and 50s.  But he had no way of accessing all the notebooks and letters and unpublished manuscripts that were in Jack’s filing cabinets behind Stella’s iron walls.  By contrast, Holly now has access to the entire gold mine of secret scatological doodlings but can talk to very few who knew Jack, and if she can, they’re in their 80s or 90s.

And this led into the whole subject of historiography, which, to be completely confessional, I’d never really paid much attention to until it came up re: that other great collective of Beats — The Beatles.  Historiography is the study of how history is recorded — which may sound like just more academic wankery, but it’s fascinating and valid and worth knowing about.

Dennis & Holly riffed on this, the latter even dropping the key code word “Rashomon” — namely that multiple people can witness the same event and each relate a completely different account.  Which then gets into the fallibility of primary sources — which Dennis had to rely on.  But as history rolls out and more facts come to light, firsthand accounts can be clarified.  In fact, primary source accounts can change as those very people themselves reflect further on events they previously described in one manner, but then came to realize their first impressions may not have been accurate.  We can all think of events in our own lives that we interpreted one way in the moment, but upon further reflection, saw differently.  These are the realities historiography deals with.

Dennis’ Desolate Angel, Ann Charters’ Kerouac, Barry Gifford & Lawrence Lee’s Jack’s Book, Bruce Cook’s The Beat Generation, John Tytell’s Naked Angels and Charles Jarvis’ Visions of Kerouac were the first generation of biographies in the ’70s, the first draft of history, as it were.  They’re all invaluable — but in the decades since, all kinds of new facts have come to light, and the truth of what actually happened changes.  This reality is something anyone interested in any form of history should be well aware of.  For a riveting conversation on the subject of historiography, check out Matt Williamson and Erin Weber’s conversation on the great YouTube show Pop Goes The Sixties.

I was so happy to hear Holly cite Dobie Gillis and the beatnik character Maynard G. Krebs as a positive influence on her as a young girl.  I’m so sick of the holier-than-thou jerk-offs in Beatlandia who think it makes them superior to shit on every reference to Jack or the Beats that doesn’t come from some academic or primary source.  It’s these alternative out-of-the-library manifestations of the Beats that expands their reach and turns new people onto the whole canon — whether that’s a Dior fashion show in Paris, or the Harry Potter actor playing Allen in a movie.  They should make a gawdamn Kerouac chocolate bar!  The Beats were always inclusive, expansive and playful — the opposite of exclusionary, restrictive and judgmental.

In other news — we learned that Lucien Carr became a lifelong father figure to Dennis after he first interviewed him back in ’73, and that, as Dennis tells it, years later when he introduced Lucien to Garcia, it was the only time he ever saw Jerry nervous to meet anyone.

I loved that Kurt Hemmer brought up the improvisational approach of the Method Actors and how that connected to Jackson Pollock, Charlie Parker and Jack’s approach; and Dennis reminded us he has a section exploring this in his seminal biography.  Kurt also said something I hadn’t quite put my finger on before — that James Dean, Montgomery Clift and the new Method Actors of the ’50s — the theater/film wing of the Beat Generation — could cry and be vulnerable on screen — the opposite of the established prevailing John Wayne macho bullshit — just as the Beats were the opposite of Hemingway.

Also, it was brought up again how the regular (Beat-hating) New York Times book reviewer (nicknamed “Prissy”) happened to be on vacation when On The Road was released, and cool Gilbert Millstein (who had solicited Holmes’ 1952 Beat Generation article) snagged the review copy.  How history would have been different.  To me, that’s on the order of Brian Epstein happening to catch The Beatles one lunch hour.  But as Dennis joked, none of this also would have happened if Leo had not met Gabrielle.

When the panel wrapped, Dennis jumped up and said — “100 years and 25 minutes ago today this whole thing started!” and all three on stage looked, laughed and pointed at me.


At 7:00, it was the big Saturday night poetry reading in the big room, featuring Anne Waldman, Scarlett Sabet, and Lowell native Paul Marion.  This, like the Dennis–Holly talk was put on by the Kerouac Center at UMass Lowell.  And for those keeping score at home, of the six performers on stage at the two main birthday shows, three were women and three were men.

And before I forget — one interesting thing about the whole birthday weekend — whatever funds the “Kerouac @ 100” committee raised, they utilized them in part to make sure all the events were free to the public, which was nice.  There was no feeling among birthday celebrants that anyone was trying to profiteer off of this sacred anniversary.

Paul Marion opened the night appropriately with some poems that captured Lowell old and new in words and rhythm.  Scarlett Sabet, who did not bring her boyfriend who may have caused a distraction, opened with her touching rocking loving For Jack poem.

Scarlett Sabet with Anne Waldman Lowell Kerouac 110

She’s British, she’s 32, she has four books of poetry out — and she’s creating new art inspired by and in the spirit of Jack Kerouac.  This is what I’m talkin about.

Plentiful on the earlier bus tour and in the theater seats tonight were young people of both genders that Jack was still speaking to, who had travelled long distances to be here, and were animated and excited every time I looked into their faces.  Jack’s been dead for longer than he was alive, and theaters were overflowing with people as young as teenagers still inspired by how he strung words together.

And I’m happy to report 76-year-old Anne Waldman has not lost a step!  She was fiery, punchy, rhythmic and rockin.  She opened with two passages from Jack’s linguistic gem Old Angel Midnight, including the part that climaxes with the touchingly beautiful “it might as well be gettin late  Friday afternoon  where we start  so’s old Sound can come home  when worksa done  & drink his beer  & tweak his children’s eyes” which I’ve performed live myself.  Knowing it’s such a beautiful piece that so many aren’t familiar with, I let out a healthy whoop after that final word to cue the crowd, and it worked, sparking an explosion of applause.

Anne Waldman Scarlett Sabet Middlesex Arts Center Kerouac 100

Photo by Jim Dunn

Something else I like about Anne’s performances that only experienced performers can pull off is to be able to riff in between pieces with the same fast-paced poetic dialog as the words carefully crafted on the page.  She jammed a seamless flow — almost chorus and verse — between the improvisational riffs and the written poetry.

She mentioned her recent Penguin book, Trickster Feminism, which I hadn’t heard of, and boy what a title!  Don’t try to tell me the Pranksters and the Beats aren’t woven together through-and-through!

After the reading, all the day’s performers hung around on the stage, and you could see the demographics of the festival play out.  Young women poets rushed to Scarlett;  older Beats sidled up to Anne Waldman;  active Jack history-shapers buttonholed Holly;  and Deadheads surrounded Dennis McNally.  And you can count me among the latter.

I hadn’t seen ol’ Dennis in ages and wanted to thank him for one of the definitive books about Jack.  Back when I first got into all this stuff there were very few texts on the subject, but Dennis’ was and still is the best at putting what was happening in the Beats’ and Jack’s life into a larger historical context.  I love that shit.

In 1984, my first job out of NYU was at Ren Grevatt’s office – the revered music business publicist.  Dennis was just taking over as the Grateful Dead’s press guy (after he’d already been tapped by Garcia to be their official biographer), with his only claim to fame at that point being his book Desolate Angel published five years earlier and which wasn’t exactly a #1 bestseller.  But in my mind it was.  So when he called Ren’s office in Manhattan that first time, I asked if he was the Dennis McNally.  There was this funny moment of silence as I could hear him thinking, “Why would somebody at a music publicist’s office in New York think I’m the Dennis McNally?  Maybe there’s another….”  It was a classic moment, and after I waxed rhapsodically about his brilliant book, we became friendly for life.

There was one pending question I wanted to resolve.  A well-known Kerouac biographer and I had a lengthy difference of opinion about when Dennis first became friends with Jerry Garcia.  I knew from conversations and interviews with Dennis that it was during the band’s 15th anniversary shows in 1980 that it began, which he confirmed, but he also shared an interesting anecdote, that they had met once before in 1973 after an Old And In The Way show at the Capitol Theater in New Jersey.  The legendary New York Post music writer Al Aronowitz, who’s famous for, among other things, introducing Bob Dylan and marijuana to The Beatles, invited Dennis to accompany him to an interview with Jerry to get him to talk about Neal Cassady.  Boy — Garcia, Al & Dennis together in a Gramercy Park Hotel suite in 1973 is one get-together I’d love to have been at!

He also shared the detail that the Jack photo at the top of this story first appeared on the cover of the first edition of his Desolate Angel.  They knew of the Jerome Yulsman color photos in front of the red Kettle of Fish BAR sign, but wondered if he had any others.  His editor found Yulsman’s name in the phone book, called, and he said he had one roll he’d never developed (!)  On it were the beautiful blue-shirted color photos around the old lampposts in Sheridan Square in the West Village that we’ve all been enjoying for the last 40 years.

While Dennis and I were jamming, the great David Stanford came and joined us.  They’ve of course known each other forever and on many more professional levels than I knew either, so I happily laid back and played brushes on the skins while those two riffed on Ken Babbs’ new book and his recent recovery from surgery and other insider baseball.

Editor David Stanford and publicist Dennis McNally at Kerouac 100 in Lowell

Photo by Mike Downie

After we’ve lost so many in recent years from the Beat, Prankster and Dead worlds — in this moment I certainly appreciated that these two giant facilitators were still with us, still smiling, and still loving each other.

And speaking of love between Beat brothers, after the post-show groove-down ended, my German compadre Thomas Kauertz had lined up a video-chat with fellow Canadian Beat Dave Olson who’s now living in Japan following in the Gary Snyder tradition, and unlike back in the Beat-old-days, we were able to talk live on screen in that real Star Trek world we find ourselves — and let’s never forget how frickin wild this all is.  Within seconds, we’ve got Dave on the screen in our hands, 14 hours into tomorrow on the other side of the world, as we shared live the visual buzz of Jack’s birthday back-and-forth in real time.  Beat that!

Dave’s built a crazy directional sign post in his front yard for all wandering Japanese to stop and wonder about.  He only puts cool locations on it, and the next day he sent a picture of his next addition . . .

Destination signpost for Lowell Kerouac 100 birthday

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Of course the night appropriately climaxed with rock n roll in a bar full of crazies goin crazy.  The joint’s called the Warp and Weft (named for the looming process that was the foundation of Lowell’s early economy) and featured local hero Willie “Loco” Alexander who wrote one of the first songs to namecheck Jack (in 1975!) — simply called Kerouac — and here he was weaving into the night his avant-garde songwriting magic with just him on keys and a sax player.  You don’t often hear a duet with that combo.  And the other positive was it wasn’t a full overwhelming rock band blowing off the ears of these quiet literary types.

It’s one of those clubs with the stage right in front of the front sidewalk windows, and it’s a double-wide establishment that went way back, so there was tons of room for everybody from the bus tour, the Dennis–Holly talk, the Anne–Scarlett show, and every other beatnik ne’er-do-well who’d pilgrimaged to Lowell for Saint Jack’s centenary.

After the Dennis-David hang and the Dave video-call, we arrived at a party in full swing.  Brother Cliff Whalen — our unofficial LCK bouncer — was sitting at his post just inside the door keeping out the local riffraff.  Cliff’s a former wrestler, and I don’t mean the TV kind, I mean the Kesey kind, and he’s still got the body to show for it.  With all the little toothpick poets in our coterie, it’s a blessing we got one guy who can referee any disputes without them being disputed.

All the hard parts were over — concentrating on poetic imagery, absorbing erudite biographers’ insights, soaking in local tour guides’ rich details — and suddenly it was the all-star encore jam — and everybody was wailin’!

There’s Holly and the two promoter/organizers Chris Porter and Sylvia Cunha jamming plans for the future.  There’s Thomas Kauertz at a table with a pile of Jack bobbleheads plotting future magic.  There’s documentarian Mike Downie workin the room soaking in stories like any good storyteller does.  There’s the new Kerouac art designer Schae Koteles internalizing the chaotic spirit to later manifest in art.  There’s Jim Dunn holding court at the end of a table with an enwrapped audience he’s conversationally conducting.  There’s the voice of Lowell Mike Flynn beaming away in person after years of us jamming on radio.  There’s Anne Waldman who shows up even later than we did and manages to have a good time without attracting a scene.  There’s Joshua Tarquinio who looks so young but is furiously recording astute observations in the nicest hardcover road notebook I’ve ever seen.  And there’s Professor Brett Sigurdson doing his never-ending research with his never-ending smile and curiosity.

Brett Sigurdson, Dan Bacon, Warp and Weft, Kerouac 100 celebration, Lowell, Mass

Photo by Joshua Tarquinio

It was table-hopping through the universe — Holly and I ear-to-ear finally catching up on everything that’s happened since she got officially tapped as the official biographer.  There’s Jim Sampas getting some quality time with Anne Waldman, as he knows to get to know those who may be next to go.  There’s Willie Alexander improvising lyrics in the spirit of Jack, all while having the author’s favorite instrument accompany him.  “There’s fireworks, calliopes and clowns.”  There’s the guy who’s been drunk since this afternoon and thinks he’s now good enough looking to take off his shirt.  There’s the middle-aged former babe who starts shedding her clothes in a last minute bid for companionship.

This was a Jack night, alright — benevolent hustling — kind chaos — intellectual pursuits in inspirational cahoots — saxophones wailing over barstool sailing — riffs through the mind to grooves one-of-a-kind — tippin’ back jams with local hams — slippin’ out for a smoke with the packin’ folk — soakin’ in tales that’ll later be wailed.

We did it right in good ol’ Lowell.  Jack wasn’t there in body but he was in soul.  His Spirit was in every twinkle and glance, and nobody left the dance without a hundred years of his blood dyeing our own with colors for real, not fade away.

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Kerouac "Something good will come of all things yet."

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Here’s a great Adventure Tale of the biggest celebration of Jack that ever happened — Boulder ’82 — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.  As John Clellon Holmes put it — “We had come from all over the country, from all periods of Kerouac’s life, and more of us were together than had ever been in one place at one time before.”

The cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac by Brian Hassett

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Or here’s a whole bunch of tales of going On The Road with Cassadys.

On The Road with Cassadys – Carolyn Cassady, John Cassady, Neal Cassady

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Or here’s a bunch of Kerouac Adventures that blend Jack, the Beats and the Merry Pranksters . . .

Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, George Walker – The Beats and the Merry Pranksters

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Or here’s a great new April 2022 interview with The Beat Soundtrack‘s Simon Warner that riffs on Jack, the Beatles, the Dead, the writing process, befriending your heroes, “zapping an audience from the stage with electric words,” and how we’re all still writing new verses in the epic song that the Beats first started jamming a while ago and has never stopped being written.

Or here’s a great ode to the annual October Kerouac festival in Lowell — Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!

And here’s the kind of fun we have at LCK — jamming The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack with David Amram and Kevin Twigg . . .

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Or here’s a great riff that clarifies the whole “Beat” versus “beatnik” thing.


Peace, Pranks and Progress!
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by Brian Hassett

karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

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

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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – The Greatest Show in Television History

February 28th, 2022 · Weird Things About Me

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – The Greatest Show in Television History

THIS IS A ROUGH DRAFT — MUCH MORE TO COME

NEED SCREEN-GRAB
LENNY BRUCE 

I know I’m a few years late on this, but —
season one — 8 episodes
two — 10 episodes
√ three — 8 episodes
√. four — 8 episodes

34 total episodes

20 Emmy wins — 32 other nominations

Brilliant unique song choices to close each episode.

Season one — first aired March 17th, 2017

Season 1 – episode 1 — “Pilot”
Brilliant writing!!
Gilbert Gottfried!  Introduces Lenny Bruce!
Opens with their wedding day — the skips to four years later.
And casting!
Rachel Brosnahan – so perfect as the title character.
Alex Borstein is fuckin hilarious — she’s got so many funny lines, and fuckin slays (she’s lived in Barcelona for the last 5 years) — won TWO Emmys for her performance
27:20 — Allen Ginsberg reference — “That looks like Allen Ginsberg.”
Tony Shalhoub as Midge’s father Abe (won Emmy for it)
Kevin Pollock is Joel’s father, and Caroline Aaron as his mother Shirley Maisel.
The Joel actor, Michael Zegen, sure looks like a young Al Pacino.
Lenny Bruce — recurring character, plus Mort Saul, Allen Ginsberg & Redd Foxx all discussed.
33 mins in — Joel leaves Midge.  He’s having an affair with his secretary.
41 mins — Midge goes to Gaslight after Joel leaves her — her first time at a mic.
Recording of it, as seen in ep. 6, is dated Sept 23, 1958.
She gets arrested and thrown in the cop car with Lenny Bruce.
Note in her notebook is dated 9/19/58.
Episode ends will Midge asking Lenny Bruce if he loves doing standup.
He answers with a dramatic shrug — but an impish grin.
Midge:  “Yeah — he loves it.”  🙂 

Incredible production design.
Great editing . . . and pacing . . . and costumes.
Scenes at the Gaslight, Kettle of Fish & Village Vanguard.

episodes 2 thru 8 dropped online Nov 29, 2017

Season 1 — episode 2 — “Ya Shivu v Bolshom Dome Na Kholme”
Incredible steady-cam tracking shot at the clothing factory!
My gawd is Susie / Alex funny!!
45 mins — Midge goes to the Gaslight for the second time, gets arrested for 2nd time

Season 1 — episode 3 — “Because You Left”
Lenny Bruce bails Midge out after 2nd arrest
Max Casella – great as the lawyer, also in Vinyl and Blue Jasmine, The Sopranos
30 mins — Lenny Bruce playing at the Vanguard — he’s still a huge character. The actor Luke Kirby does him GREAT!!!
32 mins – SPECTACULAR SEQUENCE!  Smoking joints with Lenny Bruce and the black jazz musicians!  Her big breakthrough on stage comes when she gets stoned!
David Paymer!!!
Lots of location shooting in Manhattan

Season 1 — episode 4 — “The Disappointment of the Dionne Quintuplets”
Midge buys a Redd Foxx album from eccentric guys in basement of the Music Inn in the Village
25 mins – amazing Washington Square Park steady-cam “oner” scene
Midge addresses crowd at Washington Square Arch
Susie takes Midge on tour of Village comedy clubs
shit-hole comedy club — ventriloquist who’s puppet has committed suicide.
Incredible one-shot to open the Copa scene!!  Sheesh!!
Susie (Alex Borstein) has all the best comic lines.
Red Skelton portrayed playing at the Copa
they have a new year’s eve party — 1955 —> 1956

Season 1 — episode 5 — “Doink”
This is SO well written and edited.
God this is brilliantly made stylistically!
THIS is filmmaking!!
Cinematography is to die for!
It’s a meditation on the study and practice of comedy.|
B. Altman store begins.  Midge applies for job.
13m mins — Midge at the Gaslight – does set – booms
Wallace Shawn!
I can so see why this has won 20 Emmys!
This is SO New York!
I LOVE the apartments!

Season 1 — episode 6 — “Mrs. X at the Gaslight”
show date written on tape box 9/23/58
Midge meets guy at party she can riff with.
great jokes written for the characters.
I am jaw-dropped watching this — literally so many moments I catch myself watching with my jaw hanging open.
smart story arc
the costumes!
the editing!
the location shooting.
gawd, this is just frickin brilliant!
they write the recording date of Midge’s bad set at the Gaslight at Sept. 23, 1958.

Season 1 — episode 7 — “Put That on your Plate”
Midge creates a tight 10 minutes
David Paymer again
15 mins – the great Jane Lynch playing Queen’s comic Sophie Lennon.
44 mins — Midge on stage at the Gaslight — blows it talking about Sophie
Ted Joans name on a poster on back of stage

Season 1 — episode 8 — “Thank You and Good Night”
Lenny Bruce shows up again!
Ted Joans on the Gaslight posters again!!
And Robert Creeley! Who I’m quite sure never performed at the Gaslight (like Ted did). But they do put his name on a poster!
50:30 — the Lenny – Midge Gaslight show
Midge beats back hecklers
Then Joel takes him on on the street.
OMG — at 55:22, behind the top of the Christmas tree, you can see a yellow and grey poster with — Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Lucien Carr & Herbert Huncke!!
I had to freeze it with a pause and use a magnifying glass on my television — but there it is!

SEASON TWO — takes place one year later — all episodes went online Dec. 5, 2018

Season 2 – episode 1 (episode nine) “Simone”
Midge is a switchboard operator (she got fired from makeup cuz Penny called her a tramp)
the mother went to Paris
AMAZING NEW YORK TO PARIS FLIP — Empire State Building to Eiffel Tower
10 mins in Midge & father are in Paris
GOD this scriptwriting is un-fucking-believable!
Mother: “I missed me, too.”
I can NOT believe I’m watching a show with Lenny Bruce as a character!!
And the guy won an Emmy for it! He really has his mannerisms and speech pattern down.
Susie/Borstein gets kidnapped by mobsters

Season 2 — episode 2 (ten) “Mid-way to Mid-town”
Paris — Abe takes to it
INCREDIBLE CONTINUOUS TRACKING SHOT in garment factor around 13:45–15:15 mins in
amazing cinematography and production design
Midge’s bad gig in Midtown, insults male comics

Season 2 – episode 3 (eleven) “The Punishment Room”

Season 2 – episode 4 (twelve) “We’re Going to the Catskills”
image appears saying “Summer 1959”
these costume are blowing my mind episode after episode.
the peak of the Catskills era — it started to go downhill in the early ’60s
with all the ethnic capturing and long tracking shots this is Scorsese-like.
28:09 – 28:50 then again 28:51 – 31:25 ! — incredible long continuous tracking shot for the dance scene.
un-fuckin-believeable! That is one of the most mind-blowing cinematic scenes I’ve ever scene. It’s up there with Altman, Scorsese & Welles’ tracking shots.
This might be the greatest 3 1/2 minutes of a TV show I’ve ever seen staged.
This is a continuous tracking shot with 100 actors. and multiple paces and tones.
38 mins — the overhead hula hoop shot with Susie/Alex!!!  un-fuckin real.

Season 2 episode 5 — (thirteen) “Midnight at The Concord”
Catskills — Midge returns to B. Altman —
she & doctor boyfriend go to a Broadway play The Legend of Lizzie (Borden)
25 mins – GREAT Lenny Bruce scene!!!!! God this writing is amazing!! And so’s the actor Luke Kirby.
Lenny does part of a set . . . then great scene with Midge at table.
Great scene at the Stage Deli — Midge tells doctor she’s a comedian.
GREAT writing and pacing.
45 mins – Midge preforms at the Catskills, KILLS, father in audience
Un-fucking believable episode.
This is the greatest TV ever made
Veep was great. Seinfeld was great. But this is the greatest.
Holy mother of god.

Season 2 – episode 6 (fourteen) “Let’s Face The Music and Dance”
Great family breakfast at big round table.
Then big father–daughter scene on porch.
8:45 lysergic acid mentioned!
the editing, the pacing, the storytelling, the cinematography.
Midge’s brother Noah is an undercover security operative (CIA).
ie; both the kids have a secret life.
Kevin Pollak is f’n great.  So glad he’s in this.
GREAT episode!

* Season 2 – episode 7 (fifteen) “Look, She Made A Hat”
The art / artist episode!
The dialog is fucking brilliant!
They go to the Cedar Tavern!!!
of course they stage it as a nice bar. But I don’t complain. WHAT a set!!!
8 mins – the drunk eccentric artist Declan Howell — his first line is “Fuck Burroughs!  I’m done with writers!”  (!)
The actor, Rufus Sewell, was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series – and lost to Luke Kirby as Lenny!
Artist shows Midge his magic famous secret painting.
He lets the doctor buy a painting. “Tell him to pick out any painting he wants and leave a cheque on the table.”
26 mins – Amazing artist studio scene!!!
Midge’s attempted reveal to the family about her comedy career.  Amazing scene.  Brilliant writing and execution!
Story marks one year anniversary.
boy — I sure see why this has won 20 Emmys in 3 seasons!!
the second season may be better than the first!
43 mins — oh my god the dinner comedy performing reveal scene is fucking brilliantly written and edited!!!
holy f’n christ!!

Season 2 – episode 8 (sixteen) “Someday …”
they go on the road to Washington, Philly — disastrous tour.
Midge & Susie are bickering all the time.
Midge does return gig at club in Midtown.
Didn’t love this episode.

Season 2 – episode 9 (seventeen) “Vote For Kennedy, Vote For Kennedy”
Father Abe loses it in front a students.
12 mins – telethon.
Shy Baldwin – Nat King Cole character on telethon.
Columbia U. asks Abe to leave.
23 mins – arthritis & rheumatism telethon broadcast, 1959.  Great period TV set and dance.
30 mins – Jane Lynch as Sophie Lennon comes back (in the telethon).
35 mins – Shy Baldwin sings for first time.
40 mins – great mirror shot.
Susie storms into Sophie Lennon’s dressing room.  Alex Borstein vs. Jane Lynch.
44 mins – Midge’s set to close show at 11:55PM.  Midge improvises answering the phones.
Midge does killer end set.
48 mins – Rose: “So this is really happening?” 🙂

Wow! fight between Midge & Susie!  Sad to see.

Season 2 – episode 10 (eighteen) “All Alone”
costumes, production design, cinematography, casting, the scriptwriting
Midge in blond hair??? — flashback to courting in college.
The dancing in the street scene crane shot scene like old musicals.
The doctor wants to marry Miriam.  He interviews with Abe.
20 mins — amazing baseball hitting scene in Riverside Park – one continuous shot!
Abe gets fired from Bell Labs.
Midge talks about pregancy and gets thrown off stage.
* * it’s like the early Seinfeld episodes in that the comedian talks about the storylines in the episode.
So brilliant and karmically right to cast Alex Borstein.
32 mins — Dublin House!
Lenny Bruce! – having doubts about career
36 mins — Alex B at Jane Lynch’s house — Jane Lynch KILLS!!!!
Elia Kazan namedrop!!
Sophie Lennon asks Alex to be her manager!
Her butler is GREAT casting!!
Incredible script and comedy.
The Nat King Cole character!! (Shy Baldwin) — asks her to go on the road with him — 6 months – 3 in America, 3 in Europe.
watching jaw-dropped once again
Abe is leaving Bell Labs and Columbia University
48 mins – Lenny on The Steve Allen Show!
GREAT Steve Allen actor
No way!! they do All Alone  — WOW!!
Cafe Reggio scene — on location!  Abe meets with lawyer.
“I’m going to be all alone for the rest of my life.” That’s MY life choice!
And that’s what Midge realizing she will be all alone.
MIND BLOWING episode
THIS is what makes me say this is the greatest TV series ever made.

SEASON THREE — all episodes dropped online Dec. 6, 2019

Season 3 – episode 1 (nineteen) “Strike Up The Band”
Midge at USO troop rally!  ENORMOUS cast of extras and performers!
UN-BE-LIEVABLE set — old airplanes!
SO amazing that Amazon bought/funded this — and not any network — THIS is proof of how conventional Hollywood/entertainment just doesn’t get it — and how streaming services do.
Funny recurring joke about Alex being perceived as a dude 🙂
I love how Midge walks with the mic.
Nat King Cole character back — lots of footage of him performing.
Once again the cinematography and editing is fucking brilliant!
Joel leases a club in Chinatown.
She’s now not marrying the doctor.  🙁
38:30 — Kerouac conversation
Rose: “I’m sure your beatnik hero Jack Crack-o-wack must be just rife with syphilis.”
Abe: “Do you mean Jack Kerouac?”
Midge: “Who?”
Abe: “Jack Kerouac. On The Road. For God’s sake you should know him, you’re young. How a daughter of mine developed absolutely no intellectual or social curiosity or sense of responsibility is beyond me.”
Lenny Bruce routine — holds up Playboy centerfold — gets busted again — Abe comes and “gets it’ — stands up to cops busting Lenny.  Gets arrested with Lenny.
A second dancing oner shot!
Alex/Susie tells Midge she’s gonna manager Sophie (Jane Lynch).
The Mrs. Maisel character has really reinvigorated my love of improv!

Season 3 – episode 2 — (twenty) “It’s The Sixties, Man!”
Mentions the White Horse tavern.
Talking about putting out a revolution magazine.
House filled with beatniks.
8:30 — they go to Providence Oklahoma!
12 mins — New York apartment FULL of beatniks.
Rose’s parents made a fortune on oil wells.
Sad — but there’s a lot of stress and people not getting along — Midge & Susie, the Nat King Cole (Shy Baldwin) manager and Susie, Joel and the new landlords, Rose and her family, the beatniks and the maid, the family going broke.
Not loving this like I have in the past — but still amazing cinematography.

Season 3 – episode 3 – (twenty-one) “Panty Pose”
more conflict — Susie and Sophie’s manager.
This went from fun comedic harmony from constant strife.
Jane Lynch again.
Production design & costumes are still beautiful — but I’m no longer liking the story
They go to Las Vegas — again, AMAZING production design!!
I feel like i’ve lost interest in this.
Shy is nice to Midge — first time I’ve seen anyone be nice to anyone else in an hour and a half.
Midge’s parents move out of their nice apt — more sad.
Female bass player — like that LA Wrecking Crew chick — Carol Kaye

Season 3 – episode 4 – (twenty-two) “Hands!”
Okay — things get sorta pleasant again.
Car racing scene a la Rebel Without a Cause.
Susie pitching Sophie/Jane Lynch to Broadway.
Abe working with Village radicals.
Joel & Midge get married in Vegas.

Season 3 – episode 5 – (twenty-three) “It’s Comedy or Cabbage”
Again — INCREDIBLE wardrobe and locations.
Midge is successful now — in Miami, at Fonteaintleu Hotel.
Jane Lynch — but complaining and bitching — terrible character — don’t like her, not funny.
Abe still meeting with beatnik counterculture newspaper people.
This has definitely lost its appeal to me by mid third season.
Carol Kaye bass character again — she’s even called Carol!
Lenny shows up!!! — he’s about the only part of this show I love at this point.
I wonder what Jerry Seinfeld thinks of this? Google search revealed nothing.
38 mins — Lenny Bruce again — this is the best part of the show.
Wow — he’s on a Playboy After Dark type show!
Amazing scene!
What BALLS to write Lenny Bruce as a character!!!
She doesn’t go to bed with Lenny! How fucked!

Season 3 – episode 6 – (twenty-four) “Kind of Bleau”
Schooner scene! — Shy & Midge on the waves.
Alex Borstein is fuckin great!
Midge cites the year as 1960.
Alex/Susie about Midge’s mother Rose —”She’s John Huston in underwire.” 🙂
There’s too much stress and arguing in this for me now.
It used to about harmony — now it’s about discord.
38 mins — Jason Alexander shows up. Blacklisting theme.
Midge & Nat King Cole — reveals he’s gay — after he’s been beat up by gay lover.
Episodic TV, no matter how good, is a soap opera.
Close credits song is John Lennon’s I Found Out from the first solo album — thematically linked to Midge finding out about Shy.  Writer/director/creator Amy Sherman-Palladino is also the music supervisor.

Season 3 – episode 7 – (twenty-five) “Marvelous Radio”
Back in NY — Midge doing advertising voiceovers.
Production design and cinematography and editing is still BRILLIANT.
Great music — but the scriptwriting has really collapsed.
Veanne Cox (lawyer from Erin Brockovich) small part.
Midge doesn’t read live on air for Phyllis Shafley — show gets political.
Jane Lynch goes off-script and loses it.
Alex Borstein and Jane (Susie & Sophie) have it out in front of the theater.

Season 3 – episode 8 – (twenty-six) “A Jewish Girl Walks Into The Apollo”
Joel and Midge fight over which school to send their kids (who cares?).
Joel’s opens club — resumes relationship with Chinese girl.
Midge takes the stage impromptu.
Midge wants to buy her old apt. — says her manager is holding all her money.
Then Susie loses huge bet — Alex Borstein big crying scene.
Veanne Cox (tough woman lawyer from Erin Brockovich) appears again.
Midge & blond Imogene walking down Morningside Heights park stairs.
Susie asks Joel to handle the money going forward.
Doctor Benjamin shows up to confront Midge.
50 mins: Midge plays the Apollo opening for Shy Baldwin.
At least Shy & Midge love each other.  [oops!  Not for long!  🙂 ]
Wanda Sykes as Moms Mabley!
Susie’s mom dies, they burn down her house.
Susie’s inheritance will pay for Midge’s money she lost.
I’m crying in joy for Midge’s performance and the happy ending.
Midge returns to her original apartment.
Abe gets hired to be the Village Voice theater critic.
Midge gets fired from tour cuz of Apollo set revealing too much about Shy (that he’s gay).

SEASON FOUR — dropped Feb 18 – March 11th, 2022

Season 4 – episode 1 – (twenty-seven) “Rumble on the Wonder Wheel”
Midge back at the Gaslight.
Midge takes off clothes – in her underwear on side of road.
Washington Square Park!!! at daybreak.
Stupid storyline about Joel’s Chinese club.
Insurance knows they burned down the house – not giving money.
Gets surreal — magic tricks, hallucinations, surreal.
Families go to Coney Island.
Can’t stand the storylines involving the families — don’t give a shit about them.
Too much whining.
The script has really become a problem.
38 mins roller coaster stage — good script writing.
Caroline Aaron as mother Maisel is GREAT casting.
They talk about Midge riffing and improvising as her strength.
Commits to what’s on her mind — will only do shows where she can speak what she wants.
49:15 “Then let’s change the business.”
49:20 — killer closing Gaslight set.
“You can’t do anything if you keep your mouth shut.”
This is powerful stuff.
Closing song Being Good (Isn’t Good Enough)

Season 4 – episode 2 – (twenty-eight) “Billy Jones and The Orgy Lamps”
Midge moves back into the old family apt. — and brings parents with her.
Abe goes to work for the Village Voice.
Abe again cites loving The Twilight Zone.
Susie (Alex) goes to see Sophie (Jane Lynch) in mental institution.
David Paymer and Alex in Central Park around the Lake.
Midge goes on stage, performs as a man — gets arrested again.
“I’m in for daring to say words.”

Season 4 – episode 3 – (twenty-nine) “Everything is Bellmore”
Midge plays a strip club.
Midge is selling Tupperware at her house.
Once again, I’m bored by the soap opera-ness and all the non-entertainment biz family bullshit.  I’ve lost interest.
But brilliant cinematography and design as always.
This is so stupid.  The writing is nowhere what it was.  Lost interest.
It’s so stupid that the house manager at a Village club would have no one at his funeral.
This really fell apart.
42 mins — Lenny Bruce shows up, challenges Midge, throws things at her on stage.

Season 4 – episode 4 – (thirty) “Interesting People on Christopher Street”
Midge still at the strip club — this is so stupid.
I’ve stopped caring about this at all.
Midge dates some shitty doctor.
Now Midge & Susie are talking about relationships. This isn’t what I signed up for and started watching in the first couple seasons.
The Jason Alexander character and performance is horrible.
Amazing cinematography but an unwatchable Jewish soap opera.
19 mins John Waters brief cameo!!
I started fast forwarding thru bullshit scenes — meaning, all non Mrs. Maisel scenes.
Susie gets her own apt via the mob guys.
Great Greenwich Village location shooting.
They go to a lesbian bar.  Is Susie supposed to be gay?
Susie and Midge in conflict again.  Again, this is not what I fell in love with.
33 mins – Midge does routine at strip club.
FBI investigation into some old incidence into Jason Alexander & Abe. Stupid.
I’d read comments that the show died in the 4th season, and they were right. (although I might argue the third season)
44 mins – Jane Lynch shows up again, her character has had a career collapse.
Unsettling height difference between Jane Lynch and Alex Borstein.
This thing completely fell apart in the forth season.
This strip club stuff is so stupid.

Season 4 – episode 5 – (thirty-one) “How to Chew Quietly and Influence People”
I’ve completely lost interest and am skipping ahead thru every non Midge scene.
If this was the first episodes / season — I never would have watched any of this.
Neurotic magician.
More Rose matchmaking storylines — she wants Midge to stop working at the strip club.
Harry Belafonte character sings at Shy Baldwin’s wedding.
Shy and Midge re-meet / hash out her getting fired, replay the Harlem show.
Midge turns down $12,000 (in 1960) to not talk about Shy being gay. Stupid.
Susie takes Sophie (Jane Lynch) to TV interview show.
Episode ends with a cliff-hanger when Midge jumps out of a cab

Season 4 – episode 6 – (thirty-two) “Maisel vs. Lennon: The Cut Contest”
Jane Lynch is Sophie Lennon.
Lenny Bruce wakes up at the Midge’s apartment — but he’s an asshole.
Sophie becomes a TV game show host — she becomes a huge rich star, and broke Susie won’t accept a Cadillac as a gift.  Stupid. And unrealistic.
Midge changes the strip club to something nice for women.
Midge confronts Daily News columnist who’s been trashing Midge, turns out to be a woman.
Sophie offers Midge the job as warm-up at her TV show.
At least this was back to a showbiz episode.
Stupid Alfie neurotic magician storyline.
Susie is broke and Sophie’s one of the biggest stars in the country, and Susie is rejecting her, but going crazy to book an insane magician.
These storylines are stupid.
Funny continuing refrain of everybody thinking Susie/Alex is a guy.
Mother Rose is confronted at being a matchmaker.
Sophie and Midge bounce off each other before the studio audience — fighting with each other. I hate this fighting all the time. “The Cut Contest”

Season 4 – episode 7 – (thirty-three) “Ethan … Esther… Chaim”
Midge meets doctor in Central Park. Romantic storyline.
Crazy ladies trying to stop Rose’s matchmaking again.
Magician does show at the Cherry Lane Theater.
Rose gets hypnotized and does Midge’s act on stage.
Rose wants to quit matchmaking — Midge tells her not to.
Midge plays JFK fundraiser to a ladies club — she tells a story about cheating on a husband and it goes badly — causes Jackie Kennedy to cry.
Kevin Pollak is great! — he has a heart attack or something at end of episode.

Season 4 – final episode 8 – (thirty-four) “How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?”
Opens with Kevin Pollak in the hospital after the heart attack.
Abe mentions The Twilight Zone again.
Midge and Mae confront each other.
Still AMAZING production design!  Stripper has a Rear Window set!
“Ask here which part is the setup and which part is the joke again?” 🙂
24 mins — Lenny Bruce shows up — he grovels to make up with Midge.
Strip club gets raided!  WHAT a scene!!
26:45 — AMAZING tracking shot begins! — theater —> running thru backstage.
27:02 — new shot continues till 28:04
These are better continuous tracking shots than the best masters (Welles, Scorsese, Altman) ever constructed.
Lenny: “Believe me, honey, if there’s a hell, I’m the headliner.” 🙂
Lenny plays big role in final episode.
Amazing courting scene between Midge & Lenny!
Lenny: “I will be laughing through the entire thing, I promise.” 🙂
Amazing soundtrack choices throughout entire series.
Abe writing Moshe’s obituary.
So many stories are not gonna wrap up. Mae (Joel’s Chinese girlfriend) being dangerous.
Midge turns down opening for Tony Bennett at sold-out run at the Copa. Once again, this is so stupid.
Thousands of loose ends not wrapped up.
More stupid soap opera bullshit about the matchmaker subplot.
The big storyline becomes Rose won’t stop being a matchmaker. Who the fuck cares?
48 mins — Lenny Bruce goes on at Carnegie Hall — makes joke about black or white women, Lena Horn — is this a real Lenny bit?
Lenny’s a major part of climax / climactic show.
Lenny walks Midge out to the Carnegie Hall stage!
Lenny confronts her about turning down Tony Bennett gig.
Amazing Lenny Bruce climax on Carnegie stage. The theme of the series.
Lenny: “Don’t plan. Work. Just work and keeping working. There’s a moment in this business, window’s open, if you miss it, it closes.”
Midge on stage in empty Carnegie Hall.

=====================================

by Brian Hassett

karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

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

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