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Be The Invincible Spirit You Are (Levi’s Jeans ads)

July 15th, 2010 · 13 Comments · Kerouac and The Beats, New York City, Poetry, Real-life Adventure Tales, Weird Things About Me



{the piece painted onto the wall of the Artomatic+ Art Gallery in London}


Lights dimmed, room hushed, MC in silhouette at center stage blessing the packed room of book-reading edge-cutting hipsters from all over the world thanks to email and web sites and a collective unconscious that keeps them striving for the new, for where the heart pounds, the eyes twinkle, the women aren’t treated like girls, and the men have self-confidence without conceit.  The lively linguist at the microphone calls up John Cassady — son-of-a Beat, Neal, icon of time — his nearly white faded jeans matching his white halo hair, begins to spin a web of the road, of wanderlust, soul-searching, pine-climbing, spine-needling pursuits of what’s through the next door, who’s at the next table, and when’s the next epiphany drifting away in the eyes of another as everything else dissolves into a candlelit dream of two people’s faces.  Then Breath Cox comes up, down from Cherry Valley, trim and straight-legged in cowboy confidence reading classic couplets in a sensuous, lip-curling elegance that stops even the waitresses in their rounds, the poetry attenuating the vibe and vibrating the antennas until every head is quivering.  Dancing butterfly imagery spins from the lips all night, the room’s transformed, the dream’s alive.  A band starts up, subtle at first, then two dancers on stage, and the Beat’s jamming jazzman is massaging the grand, with saxophone shades weaving in from the corners, and the brick wall backdrop dancing with shadows of clarinet solos as more cats stream into the scene and fall into the jam — the djembe, the congas, the violin and the bow.  A poet, a prankster, a king and a queen.  A flirt, a chat, you know what I mean.  On your feet dancing, warmed by the light of a new beam beside you, dancing off demons with a smile inside you, dancing with purpose in a circle of light, in a bass-thumping heart-pounding soul-swirling twirl, to dance above the diamond earth, to stoke the improbable, light the impossible, fan the invisible, be in the invincible spirit you are.


The After-show Glow

Dressing room bear-hugging back-slapping friends dancing in the after-show glow of a standing “O” — radiant faces in the gleam of a dream, with mirrors, musicians, danger and drinks, and sparkling eyes searing with some serious flirtations.  Bright-faced pranksters in purple paint-splattered jeans weave through the poets and nail-polished players in eardrum circles pounding out the beat — it was Cassady’s licks, the sax on the side, the poetry core, the nub, the whore – to the art — “To the art!” and glasses arise, as the room’s all a’chatter with the bebop patter of double-time minds in hip-hop rhyme.  Then cruise cross the street to the 24 Diner — the table, the truth, the picture’s alive, the Beats’ a’buzz in a 10-cent dive.  Let me pose you, compose you, transpose you right here!  With lingering longings in all-night play, it’s a once-in-a-jumpstart on a new superhighway, as you pile away in a new mini-van, scrambling strangers on speakers and gear, a heart and a hearth, a lap and an ear, a hope and a prayer, a few lights you’re there!  The Chelsea Hotel’s haunted gables beckon, its balconies flutter with the rockingchair mutters of old porch-smoking authors musing in the moon-mist on their straggling children.  Up the stairs twirling, past poets and play-rights, up the stairs curling ’round road-cases of songsmiths, up the stairs swishing through the ghosts of Bohemia, to the bed-flopping sigh-gasping room with a view, with the all-access, all-beaming, all-night crew.  A purple haze dawn refires the flame, warmed by the passage of the passionate night, burning with desire for the mindful day, for the glow of the future in the other’s ray, for open window ocean-breezes cleansing the night, for sizzling fresh sunrises and being warmed by the light, for climbing the stairs and taking the chance, all alone on the roof while still at the dance, hand-in-hand sneaking ‘neath streaking skies, tenderness trembling baby-finger sighs, floating in emerald-eye oceans of bliss, kettle-drum heart-beats as soft lips kiss, alone together in a mountainous breeze, enwrapped in a life-breathing soul-hugging squeeze.



For an excerpt from my book about the ’82 Kerouac Conference in Boulder — check out Meeting Your Heroes.

For more from the Boulder Beat Book — check out Who All Was There.

For more stories like this — you can check them on in living video!

For another inspiring riff involving writers and artists — check out Famous People Who Don’t Have Kids.

For a vivid account of being at the historic “On The Road” scroll auction — check out The Scroll Auction.

For a story about the London “On The Road” premiere at Somerset House — check out this sex & drugs & jazz.

For a great story of the world premiere of the new shorter final version of “On The Road” — check out this Meeting Walter Salles Adventure!

For a complete overview of all the Kerouac / Beat film dramatizations including clips and reviews — check out the Beat Movie Guide.

For a story about Henri Cru’s birthday — check out The Legend Turns 70.

For a beautiful poem to Carolyn Cassady on her birthday — check out the Carolyn Cassady Birthday Poem.

For an account of the historic Beat show at the Whitney Museum in New York — check out Wailin’ at the Whitney.

For a fun storytelling Adventure poem featuring Vincent van Gogh — check out Visiting Vincent.


by Brian Hassett  

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13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Johan Soderlund // Jul 17, 2010 at 11:12 PM

    Nice to see you finally put these up! I remember when they where painted on the wall of that art gallery in Amsterdam. 😉

  • 2 Alex Nantes // Jul 21, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    I’ve heard you read this in a club in New York!!!

  • 3 John Cassady // Jul 22, 2010 at 10:20 PM

    Hey! I resemble that remark!
    Way yo go, Brian! You’ve always got a way with words. Think I’ll stick to the guitar.

  • 4 Levi Asher // Jul 26, 2010 at 6:18 PM

    Great recounting of one of our gigs! Glad you got it down.

  • 5 Lewis McDermott // Jul 27, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    Man o man o man! Smokin’!!

  • 6 Don Howell // Jul 29, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    I never knew there was a second part to this!!
    Cool!! They work really well together.

  • 7 Heidi Kroeger // Aug 3, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    We still have the signed copy you gave us of these pieces.
    It’ll be worth some money someday! 🙂

  • 8 Will Hodgson // Aug 4, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    You’ve done that first one with our band a few times! Nice to see it in print. Come back and do it again sometime.

  • 9 Julie Stein // Aug 21, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    This is just exquisite.

  • 10 Jessica Carroll // Sep 9, 2011 at 9:18 PM

    Dear Brian,

    Years ago I found a beaten up looking booklet on a table somewhere. It was advertising Levi’s jeans and was full of photos and had a real vintage feel to it. On the centre spread was this amazing piece of writing which appeared to be called ‘Part 2’. I read it and was blown away. The booklet has stayed with me ever since and that centre piece is framed and on my wall as it’s pretty much one of my favourite pieces of writing ever. I was with a friend the other night and we started talking about it as she too loved it and I said I would try and find you on the internet. By the powers of technology, I have! On your website the poem’s called ‘The Atfer-Show Glow’. I’ve always been intrigued as to whether there was a ‘Part 1’ or ‘Part 3’ or whether that was just the name Levi’s had given to it etc just to mess with my head and be intrigued for 5 or more years. Please enlighten me!

    I want to say thank you for the poetry…I’ve just emailed it to someone else who I know will appreciate descriptive, mellifluous, writing at its best.

    Jessica Carroll

  • 11 Brian // Sep 9, 2011 at 10:25 PM

    Wow! That is WILD! Thanks for writing! 🙂
    Yes — there’s a part 1 (of 2).
    There’s a whole story behind it — Levi’s jeans hired me to write the first piece. I did.
    But in the story, the show had just climaxed —
    the whole 2nd part of the night came next.

    Well, they liked the first one so much they asked if i could write a follow-up.
    It’s just so funny, cuz the whole thing in my head was two pieces.

    You should send me a picture of it framed. 🙂
    They actually painted the words on a wall at an art gallery in Amsterdam or somewhere.
    peace & progress,

  • 12 Andrew Geltzer // Apr 27, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    Now this is BEAT!!!
    Come back and read these with the band next time!

  • 13 Mary Jo Sullivan-Hicks // Jan 20, 2014 at 6:09 PM

    Brian — do you understand how lucky I feel to have “met you?” What a great story, written by an author that I hope will be a life long friend. You can sure write, man — so well, that I am always transported to the exact moment you are relaying. I am so lucky.

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