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“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac” reviews and reactions

December 15th, 2015 · 18 Comments · Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac, Kerouac and The Beats, Merry Pranksters

David Amram, Jami Cassady, Al Hinkle holding the book,
Levi Asher and the author after the Cassady Family panel
at the Beat Shindig in San Francisco

This is an excellent book about Uncle Jack, and also a heartfelt outpouring of love for Mom and Dad, and the Grateful Dead, too.  I just got done reading the section about Mom.  Very touching — made me miss her.  Thank you for writing this.

Jami Cassady
Neal & Carolyn’s youngest daughter 

Brian Hassett… Your book rocks.  I read it in spurts so everything has a chance to sink in … it really is good, you know!!!!

I am lovin’ it it’s written to hold a reader’s attention.  Thank You.  

And p.s. — You were quite popular during the conversations at the Prankster reunion!!

Anonymous (original Merry Prankster)



Mountain Girl — just after she’d been given the book
at the Prankster reunion


I’m reading your book and enjoying it immensely. Surprised and enlightened.

I am still laughing from what I read last night.
Laughter is the best medicine, and you gave me some big howls. ‘Harpo’ Orlovsky got the biggest one, and the altercation with Gregory Corso. I really liked him.

The repartee is so well rendered, and your Ken Babbs descriptions are right on. And very funny.
The general mayhem aspect is also spot on.

Thanks for the rerun!  I was there for part of it, with Barlow.

Congratulations on creating an awesome read.

And thanks for the blast of light!  You rock!


If you have read Kerouac, and are interested in his life and work, and the movement he and his friends inspired, and the effect it has had on our lives since, I suggest reading Brian’s fine book.  If you have not read Kerouac, I suggest you do so.

George Walker, premier Merry Prankster, and the guy who prolly put in more miles on the road with Neal Cassady than anybody else 

“All the details were perfectly right on — which is so rare and admirable — and appreciated by people like me who are irritated by mistakes. Almost universally writers get one thing or another ‘off’ or backwards or off to one side. I’ll put a book down if I find one or more — but I read yours non-stop right to the end as soon as I started it. It was quite the book!”

Roy Sebern, original Merry Prankster (who first painted “Furthur” on the front of The Bus)

A tremendous author.  The writing in this book is fantastic.  This is a phenomenal work.  If you’re wanting to expand your consciousness and you’re trying to become more enlightened, I can’t recommend a better book.

Jake Feinberg – Powertalk 1210 AM — full interview here.

Here’s another cool interview I did recently with that big Blues site out of Greece that goes into everything from the meaning of life to the meaning of Beat.  🙂

Or here’s another positive interview about how the Beats and the Pranksters are alive and thriving today —

Wow what a book!

This past June I took a copy of author Brian Hassett’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac” for a three month road trip with Brian and his cast of characters.  By starting at the start of summer I knew I’d have time to enjoy it at a leisurely pace, and I kept the book in my knapsack for three months.  Many had spoken of the work with praise so I knew I was in for a bit of a ride.

I found myself savoring it like a comic book when I was a kid — saving the reading of it for when the time was best, because it was that special.

For anyone who’s into the Beats, Bohemia and all things hip — this is a must-read.  With the energy of youth, Hassett has gone on the road to enlightenment and cool.  Basically, a book about a literary conference in 1982 has morphed into a commentary of who we are now and how we got here.

With thirty years to reflect on the experience, the author has composed a road-wise and all-encompassing picture of that trip along with a wealth of archival information on the Beats, the hippies of San Fran that grew out of them, and the culture they catalyzed.

His chapters can be read individually, and that’s how I chose to experience it.  I had to lay the book aside a number of times because the insights provided sent me on tangents that took days or weeks to explore and absorb.  If I look at my google search history it will follow this book like a sub-map.  I was under the surface like a fiend, looking up every little thing and nuance of interest to me.

One great example was the chapter and sections on the Grateful Dead, whose Farewell concerts occurred as I was reading the book.  I could segue for a week in any direction before returning, including reading, listening to music, absorbing documentaries, and watching the most-watched Pay-Per-View concert of all time with millions of others, while the author was in Chicago saying Farewell from right in front of the stage.  Then I would come back to the book, ready for another hit.

And the hits kept coming.  Subject matter ranges from synchronicity — a concept that this book has rekindled in me — to the final chapter-in-verse that Jack would have dug the most.  In between, it’s a sensitive, deep and educated look at the Beats and the culture they spawned, by a true scholar.

The whole Meeting Your Heroes thing is so real — especially with Holmes and Huncke.  I’ve always thought of them as being warm people, and this vividly confirmed that.  By the time he takes us to the Chautauqua Lodge porch I’d lost track of time and felt the stories were current.  I found myself thinking in the present of 1982, as the writer must have while writing the book.

Then there’s the San Francisco adventure that sounds like it’s told by the long lost son of Bill Graham, the lover of the hip, the hippies and the hippest.  There’s City Lights bookstore where I took my ten-year-old son and had a similar experience in that shrine.  Then the historical reverence of Vesuvio’s, and that alley in between where so many giants of the counterculture roamed.

It is fitting that it closes with the chapter Song of The Road I Sing. Storytelling poetry.  It’s a style all its own — sort-of classical rap — tasteful words with meaning, chosen wisely, wistfully and willfully — all with a Beat — the words strokes on the canvas of the mind’s eye.

For the finish — the “Dessert” — the chef in me loved that way of describing not an Appendix but a digestive.  Something to help you process what has been consumed.  Scotch, Cognac, Brandy …… Books, Films, Where Are They Now ….

All of these final tidbits helped this hitchhiker find the next road.  Just the five documentaries shot there are going to keep me busy for some time.  It provides an excellent path from the book to many other interesting places.

The whole thing is both an easygoing guide for the uninitiated, and a rich text of new insight for long-timers.

For a writer to take on the title “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouacrequires some bravado when it comes to guiding us to the true king of the Beats and the Road.  And the goods are delivered.  Hassett has the credentials and the balls for the task.  The author has fully researched and archived the works of Kerouac in a way that informs and excites the reader to open other books, see other videos and truly appreciate the blossoming of the Beats that has occurred since this gathering happened.

Probably most refreshing is Hassett’s choice of grammar, syntax and structure.  He plays the words and versing to create art which can’t escape from getting laughs and “oh wows” along the way.  From the first paragraph riffing on Kesey’s work to the last paragraph of poetic prose — playing with words and touching the soul at the same time — this book is a creative force to behold.

Good art can stand on its own, just by the rite of its own beauty.  This work goes beyond even that.  It inspired me to hit the road, to connect with my heroes, and to open new doors.  Great art — like this — can do that.

Brian Humniski.

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John Allen Cassady — photo by author on one of their adventures
cited in the book

I just finished from first to last page of your Hitchhiker’s Guide.  It’s a remarkable tale of getting yourself going to goneward.  Made me laugh, and overstand your estimations of the so manys I’ve known, crossed paths with, smoked and drank and listened to or reasoned with and agreed or dis on who or what they are-were.  Some of I wished was there and others not, but you was, and that counts on the real when-then.

Very glad you got it in print and I have it in hand.

Gerd Stern
Poet and multi-media artist, who did NOT lose the Joan Anderson letter



Loved Brian’s new book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac  — a Kerouacian account of his experiences attending the On the Road Conference in Boulder in 1982.  It’s a mighty river of reminiscence, taking the reader along like Huck and Jim on a raft down the Mississippi of his mind.

How did you do it, Brian?  I know you’ve always been a notebook jotter, like Kerouac, and you had your cassette tapes and all the subsequent published records — but still, after thirty years to plunge us willy-nilly into these vivid moments of that distant time stream!

We are there!   We live this immersion in history-in-the-making, this turbulent Gulf Stream of personalities that live on the page: that first encounter with Ginsberg on the stairs; Kesey in freeze motion; that stroll with McClure; that actor you bump into in Vesuvio’s in San Francisco ….

Everyone is a soulmate on the same journey — this heartfelt hitchhike we call life.

I especially liked his own rich thumbed journey across this massive country, and his magnificent rendering of a Grateful Dead concert.

This is the book Brian was born to write.  It has all the color and verve and excitement and passion and wonder of a young kid discovering life, told in the hushed innocent voice of that young kid.

When Brian and I huddled over a pitcher of golden beer in the Grassroots Tavern on St. Mark’s Place thirty years ago, not long after he had had these experiences, I had no idea what an epic lay dormant in the convolutions of his brain!

It’s all fireworks, my lad, all fireworks to the last sparkler.

Prof. Carl Patrick

More than a writer, you are a worldwise, lifewise storyteller of the highest order.  The Hitchhiker’s Guide rocks with diamond halos, and rolls with musical glee.  A Beat bridge between then and now, and now and then.  You are indisputably a genuine part of Beat history my friend.  You carry the torch forward and see to it that it burns brightly.  A living link.  Honored to be on the road with you; mad to write, mad to live.  We read your book, and everyone goes awwwwww ….

S.A. Griffin
Beat Poet Laureate and Senior Raconteur of Los Angeles   


This is great writing!  You really captured it.  We musta crossed paths somewhere during the conference.  I love the two days of Dead tripping — then waking up and realizing you were running the projector for Kesey and Babbs.  Really funny and good.  I enjoyed the hell out of the whole trip, in fact.  There are no slow songs.  And the road poem as the coda really worked for me.  Great job.

Dan Barth
Poet Laureate, Mendocino County

Babbs_Roy_Denise_Brian's Book

Another Prankster gets his wings.  I mean, his book.
Cap’n Babbs, with Denise “Mary Microgram” Kaufman and Roy Seybern.

Brian is the horse of a different color you’ve heard so much about!

The Wizard of Wonder

You are one of those very unique people in this world who is truly “free,” not held back by all the many restraints and pressures most of us endure.

Your take on this event is authentic with that wonderful sense of humor and insights.  This is a real treat and a true education.

Deanna Waters, actress and teacher

Brian, I am loving the book!  It is bringing back memories of the event, and it’s almost like being back there

I’ve described Allen exactly like you have! It’s weird! If it hadn’t been for him, the Beat movement would have been much less significant than it is.

The bit about Trungpa is exactly as I remember it. He was drunk out of his mind and I don’t recall him ever showing up on campus again, although I did see Allen ministering to him over at the Naropa building on Pearl Street.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know how much I love the book! You did a great job!

Lance Gurwell, photographer, Boulder ’82

What does “Beat Generation” mean today, 60 years after Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder & Michael McClure rocked a San Francisco crowd with a world-changing poetry reading, and 46 years after Jack Kerouac’s wan and befuddled death in St. Petersburg, Florida?

All I know is that the the legacy of Beat literature feels like a continuum.  Many young people are still drawn to the legacy today, not because it belongs to the past but because this particular past is still connected to our present and our future.  There was a low-point when Beat literature seemed cold and dead during Reagan’s ’80s — yet it was during those very years that I first wandered curiously into a midtown Manhattan auditorium to hear Allen Ginsberg read and sing some poems. It was a knockout performance (for a tiny crowd).

Brian Hassett’s rollicking, delightful memoir The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac takes us back to those lost years of the 1980s — 1982 to be precise — when the hippie movement was replaced by disco and new wave, and we were all supposed to get excited about stock market booms and MTV.  The author, a 21-year old former junior roadie for the Rolling Stones and Yes who is looking for his life’s next turn, wanders into a bookstore and spots a poster promoting a “Jack Kerouac Conference” in Boulder, Colorado.  He heads in that direction, and that’s what this book is about.

Hassett showed me an early draft of this book, and I’m extremely proud to have been one of the first to say to him, “Hey, Brian, this book really works.”  The challenge of a road trip memoir is to capture the elation of an unpredictable adventure in all its raw ecstasy, and Hassett pulls this off with humor, honest emotion, and bursts of wonky literary information.  It happened that the Jack Kerouac Conference he wandered towards was an absolutely epic gathering, allowing his book to tell stories about William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Jan Kerouac, Diane DiPrima, Ken Kesey, Abbie Hoffman, Paul Krassner and (playing some concerts at nearby Red Rocks) the Grateful Dead.

The conclusion after all these people and all these events is — the inspiration is still all around us, still inside us, always evolving, always alive.

Levi Asher — LitKicks


At the Shindig at The Beat Museum in San Francisco.

It was with great anticipation and pounding heart that I tore open the latest shipment from state side, knowing my copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac was in the box of boat parts and other wonders sent from America. I am sitting on my boat, Furthur, named after the magic bus, cruising in the Philippines. I have been “on the road … or seas” for the last six years.

As I blasted through the pages I was transported to the times and events that shaped my life — putting me where I am today. That long strange trip was spawned from my older cousin passing On the Road and the Dharma Bums to me when I was fourteen years old.

Now reading the account of the famed conference — the players in the genesis, the primal ooze of our culture — rang a bell in my old hippie soul.

Reading this was akin to reading a firsthand account of the Last Supper or the writing of the U.S. Constitution. The account transcended history and moved into the realm of the sacred. This was the wellspring of life, the source.

Brian captures not only the events but also the writing style and the linguistic twists and jumps of the Beat authors he is witness to. This is not an accounting made by a nonpartisan observer. Brian is a believer, a squire immersed in awe and reverence. He did his homework and journalistic duty all while being awe struck. That is not an easy task, but he got the job done, and done in a way that pays homage to the greats.

Capt. Brian Calvert, M/V Furthur


To everyone.

Anything you heard good about Brian’s book.

It’s True!

It’s amazing.

It’s adventurous.

It’s historical.

It’s reflective.

It’s philosophical.

It’s fun.

It’s a masterpiece.

For reals.

And I don’t like much.

For example, I hate the Grateful Dead.

Brian Hassett?

Have to quote Kerouac.

Crazy Madcap Saint of the Mind.

— TKG – LitKicks.

In the summer of 1978, I made a Jack Kerouac-like trip across the U.S. and back, even spending a few days in the mountain town of Boulder, Colorado. I only mention this, because just four short years after my visit, it played host to a remarkable event — a 25th anniversary conference cum festival celebrating the publication of Kerouac’s 1957 novel On the Road, a get-together I would truly have loved to attend.

This magnificent birthday bash attracted virtually all of the Beat Generation writers (only Gary Snyder of the surviving inner circle failed to make the bill) and also drew a much younger admirer, an aspiring penman by the name of Brian Hassett, a hyper-energetic college kid with an impressive track record as an organizer of live events and even as a manager of rock tours, who found out about the Boulder hoedown and immediately offered his services as a general runaround for those trying to make the occasion run smoothly.

His offer of assistance accepted, Hassett spent the next couple weeks rubbing shoulders with his literary and musical heroes, for the Grateful Dead not only provided financial backing for the celebration but also played gigs close by during the event.

The junior Hassett gathered enough experiences, garnered enough adventures, to turn it into a book and, an extraordinary 30 years later, he has finally pulled together all his memories, all his interviews, all his encounters, from that remarkable time to produce an account that vividly recaptures a golden moment in the Kerouac chronology.

Written with a frenetic pace and utter passion, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Jack Kerouac, is a Beat-inspired odyssey, its words, its sentences, its paragraphs, a rolling cascade of highway incidents, late-night conversations, offbeat meditations, woven together in a quite intoxicating mix, as Hassett heads out from his homeland of Canada for the American West following his heroes Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, the fictional figureheads of Kerouac’s greatest novel, by sticking out his thumb and absorbing every moment of the rollercoaster that follows, whether meeting strangers who give him a ride from state to state or the poetic stars – Ginsberg, Kesey, Corso, Burroughs and many others – who are the headliners at the countercultural convocation.

If you haven’t read a book by Kerouac or the hip penslingers who were his friends in the 1950s, why not start by picking up Brian Hassett’s picaresque jamboree to give you a unique flavour of the Beat scene?

If you have read Kerouac, then this Hitchhiker’s Guide will give you a fresh and furious, flip and funny, feisty yet always philosophical take on why that late novelist still counts and why Boulder in 1982 was such a blockbusting, book-minded buzz, a beatific blast that put Jack and his extraordinary legacy back on the map.

Simon Warner, author of “Text, Drugs and Rock & Roll”

Just about read your whole Hitchhiker’s Guide To Jack Kerouac in one SWELL FOOP!
Writ on a roll, heavy on the details, light as a feather in joy, deep in your voice, poetry in motion.
Bravo my frang!

Jason Eisenberg, Lord Buckley channel

Brian Hassett is the Dan Brown of the Beats!  With this new book, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac” he takes us back to the Beat Round Table in 1982, capturing the time when the most Beat Knights and Maidens would congregate around the legend of Jack Kerouac.

He painstakingly lays out for us the Beat Rose Line, or should I say the Road Line (Beat Royale), that long yellow stripe that cuts across the North American Continent.  In the United States we can trace this evolution back to at least the transcendentalist of Emerson and Thoreau.  Brian takes us along on his own personal grail quest, the treasure hunt for the Beat Code where we find Neal Cassady as the American Jesus Zen man, Carolyn Cassady as Mary Magdalene, the disciples of Kerouac, Ginsberg, Huncke, Kesey, Burroughs and Corso.  This Road Line continues when Excalibur is passed on to the Grateful Dead, Dylan, the Merry Pranksters, Deadheads and the many other descendants.

My first Dead show was in 1984 and unfortunately I didn’t get to the Beats until much later.  However, I always had a tacit understanding that I was traveling along a road made up of much more.  This road is our personal mythology, the vibrant infrastructure that informs our life whether we are aware of it or not.

Brian has helped me become aware of my personal collective origins.  When I walked into Warby Parker for the Beatnik Shindig pre-party on Hayes Street in San Francisco, I half drunkenly pointed a knowing finger at Brian and he flashed back a quizzical “Don’t I know you?” smile.  We didn’t know each other but at that moment we did.

There is one mind common to all individual men.  Every man is an inlet to the same and to all of the same.  He that is once admitted to the right of reason is made a freeman of the whole estate.  What Plato has thought, he may think; what a saint has felt, he may feel; what at any time has befallen any man, he can understand.  Who hath access to this universal mind is a party to all that is or can be done, for this is the only and sovereign agent.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “History,” 1841

Philip E. Thomas



Horst Spandler, Germany’s foremost Beat scholar.

Your book has been on the road with me around Denmark and Italy, and we’re travelling together to the Canary Islands next week.

Per DeVille

WOW… what a wild ride!

I just finished this book, and it far exceeded my expectations.  I enjoyed it immensely, and it is now etched in stone as a part of Beat scholarship.

There are only a handful of people with Beat and Prankster cred walking around, and Brian Hassett is one of them.

This book, like the trip it describes, just keeps getting better and better as it rolls along through the American counter-culture mindscape. Hassett takes us on a wonderful, easy drive that puts the reader in the shotgun seat of a slew of hitchhiking adventures, and backstage at the very important 1982 Kerouac conference in Boulder Colorado, then lets the reader unwind with him at the homes of Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs, two icons whom Hassett, like Kerouac, finds and paints the inner beauty and human side of. Bravo to the author for realizing the importance of these events and recording them, and then taking his time to embroider it into a beautiful tapestry when the time was right.

Richard Marsh



With the book on a scroll in Brianland


This book was amazing!!!  Brian better keep writing because I’ll sure keep reading!!!!  He has an amazing way of telling this adventure story while teaching you so much about the Beats and the hippies!!!

This book makes you want to get out there and meet people, meet your heroes, get On The Road and keep going Furthur!!!  I will be reading this book again and again!!!  Keep them coming Brian!!  I love your style!!!

Albert Hoffman

A brilliant read, brother.  Jack would have been mighty proud of the influence he had on you.

From one Beat to another — you completely understand what they were all about and why it is still very important today.  Without the Beats we would not be who we are today.  Keep writing, please!!!

Mark Smith

A fun ride that’s well worth the trip!

5 stars

Holy smokes – what a ride!  Reading Brian’s book is like reading a modern day Alice In Wonderland.  Not only does it explore the Jack Kerouac Conference in Boulder, but it also explores the culture of the Beats and the hippies, and if one doesn’t know of the connection and the extent of the influences, this book is a great way of seeing how it’s all connected.

How — as Brian puts it in quite lovely fashion — it is one massive family, spanning generations.  I thought I was caught up on that schooling, but I still had to have my pen out, writing names and titles down from time to time.

The language of the book reflects this culture — there’s references of lyrics borrowed from familiar artists that get you (me) nodding your head smiling, and it flows with the theme and the reader’s pace.  The language is friendly, excited and fun.

Reading it is similar to Brian sitting beside you, beer in hand and verbally explaining his adventure to you.  Kerouac would have loved such a form of telling and so would many of the other Beats as well.  But this book is for more than fans of the Beats — there’s a lot here for fans of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, to the The Grateful Dead, to the wonderful art of hitchhiking.

But to me, an aspect I truly enjoyed of the book was Brian’s own observations from his experiences.  He has added his own perspective, experience and personality to an already library full of works, and he fits in with all of them.  This book can also stand on its own, of course, as a tale about a dedicated fan who got to get up close and work with his heroes.  This special opportunity is rare, especially with someone who can acutely describe the experience and the knowledge gained in such simple yet mind-blowing fashion.

So sit back, open the book to page one and go along for the ride, like a hitchhiker with a thumb in the air and a big wide smile and hair against the wild wind.

Jason Henderson



with Furthur’s John Kadlecik at Bear’s Picnic


My fellow Pranksters — There is a must read book out there — Brian Hassett‘s Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.  I’m marginally well read when it comes to the loosely defined “Beat” genre, but after reading this book I am more enlightened to this art form.  I thoroughly enjoyed it (and am reading it again).

The book is really well structured.  Brian encapsulates the personalities and character of the authors he was able hang out with and interview during a once-in-a-lifetime gathering for a Kerouac writers conference in 1980’s Boulder, CO.  Please get yourself a copy!

Deven Brinton

Everyone “On the Bus” or “On the Road” needs to read this book.

It brings to life so many of the characters that helped create our counter culture, and reads like an enthusiastic road trip through the heart of Beat literature with a side trip to a Grateful Dead concert!

Gubba Topham

After reading this great book, it continues to pop up in thought.  Much like “On The Road” did back in the day.  I felt like I took that journey with you.  You are the real deal, Brian, as a writer and a person.  You conveyed that in your book beautifully … now I tell everyone I know to buy your book and rekindle the love of Beats and fine writers.

Spike Smith

I finished your book an hour ago and am still trippin’.  I do sound and stage manage shows and would love to include your most excellent voice.  You really light it up.

Richard Grace




Well, why shouldn’t Brian Hassett’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac [The Adventure of the Boulder ’82 On The Road Conference — Finding Kerouac, Kesey and The Grateful Dead Alive & Rockin’ in the Rockies; introduction by John Allen Cassady; published by Get Things Done Publishing, USA, 2015] read like a breathless telephone call or letter, a cassette-tape transcription, an inventory, itinerary, annotated bibliography, since it’s all of these — a fifty-four-year-old catching up on his own twenty-one-year-old’s [on-the-] road trip, a teen & twenty out of rock ‘n roll, and his reader, such as I am here on the cusp of seventy, happily hooked on the spirals of my own life story, and always knew it as story, even my first pages from 1963 of manuscript so grateful I haven’t lost entitled JOURNEY as ‘writing’ seemed to transcend ‘autobiography’ — thus my fellow-feeling for the young guy, Brian Hassett, forever younger, unembarrassed by the notion of heroes & hero worship, the Beats his hearth gods & goddesses, his pantheon, thus another way into history, what I call intersections —

utterly at home with his thinking aloud, reportage, fast & free, as I cant or won’t let myself completely be, devoted to British English’s musicality, both street talk & literature, its textured ear, the more so as it collides with one’s parallel love, the American colloquial, particularly the post-literary, the journalistic, the epistolary & journal-ism — except that I conjure a ‘literary’ which swallows it all, spitting it out, compelled to truth, thus clarity however close to blurting’s effluvium, adjacent to effulgence, humorous, true however knowingly comic, without spoiling or obscuring the candid, naked, generous moment!


B.H. of Vancouver, teenage veteran of touring with Yes, The Rolling Stones, Cheap Trick etc, gets himself a gig back in ’82 with the staging of the first Jack Kerouac Conference — could say, gets the gig for the rest of his life.  Of course he’s already a reader — Ken Kesey one of his stars, & Kerouac . . .

Hilarious story of the frustrations of trying to find a copy of On The Road to inspire his girlfriend’s sister, finally locating it at a store which has — “this giant [Kerouac conference] poster on the wall and there in large print — ‘KEN KESEY’ And in tiny print at the bottom — ‘partially funded by The Grateful Dead.’ !!!  Right away I got on the phone before I got On The Road.  The conference cost about $200 or something, which is like two million today, so I told them I was a show person and could help them stage it from a production standpoint, and the coordinator said, ‘Yeah, we could use you.  Come on down.'”

Having hitchhiked from Canada to Colorado — and how familiar his description is to anyone who’s stuck out a thumb, hoping, praying, cursing — though he’s the lucky one, scoring rides with like-minded drivers — and upon arriving he falls among friends, Kit & Arthur Knight for example, lends his ear to J.C. Holmes, Michael McClure, Herbert Huncke et al, clicks with one & all, and immediately starts scribbling in his own, let’s say it, holy notebooks, which were lost or hidden or unattended for all the years until the day in 2013 when he sat down to write a remembrance of the conference, which grew like Topsy —

listed in the book as Some of the ingredients in the kitchen, to wit, “Two different road notebooks from the trip; three hitchhiking logs; typed post-trip Log Notes; multiple cassette recordings made at the conference and on the road/; an inch-thick folder of papers from the conference including schedules and newspaper clippings and to-do lists; other Beat folders full of gems; my 1982 datebook; my Grateful Dead set lists and show notes; photo albums; Cliff Miller’s photos and memories; letters and postcards home; letters to friends during and after it; recent conversations and emails with fellow attendees.”


Welcome to the Fan-ily!  A comment from Neal & Carolyn’s son John Cassady says it all: “For some reason, Brian ended up in the middle of our family, and we were never sure why, but maybe he reminded us of someone who was always part of it.”  And the fan from NYU & rock & roll promotion, who aggregates the intel, surrogate chronicler, quasi historian — fan as devotee, implicitly democratic therefore as to how & where his interest falls, affectionate to main & bit players equally — undergrowth as fascinating & instructive as the grand stand, the nub of local history, indeed the invigorating factor of history per se, the proximity that makes it bearable, demystified because tangible, present.

Kris Hemensley – Collected Works Bookshop, Australia



with Dead keyboardist Jeff Chimenti


As much as I have written about and read Kerouac, I had not at all connected him to the Dead, so I have that big revelation for which to thank you!!  (“long backseat nap in the sky” a great phrase, by the way)

I had great fun reading this.  Your style is perfect for the telling of the tale; great imagery, colorful and engaging… Took me there… and I wish I had been!

Your word choices were aswirl with the energy and real zeal of the tale, and you really do have a great tale to tell and your voice is perfect for it!

It was nothing less than revelatory for me to think of the connection between Jack and the Dead … of course, I’ve seen films and read about Cassady driving Furthur … but I just somehow never thought of Kerouac as part of the scene … him being so ill and anti-hippie (in that long, rambling awful interview from the Wm. F. Buckley show, which I know you’ve seen) … but your wit and your language surely did captivate and win me over.  Keep on truckin!

Definitely born to be “on the bus,” so hope Weir keeps driving it Furthur!!!  Like many others, I’m betting, I must be a Deadhead who just doesn’t know it yet…

June King

It felt like I was whisked away to the actual event!  This is all written so clearly and participatively (is that a word?!) that’s how I read it so quickly — it felt so much like I was there that I couldn’t close the book ….

The Kansas Kid

I was there in ’82.  What a trip!  Thanks for taking us back.  I love that you have the gift to keep the history of these things alive.  … an ancient tradition.

Andrew Endre Szanto



Swapping tales of the book with Paul Kantner at Caffe Trieste in S.F.


Man I’m sitting hear wiping a tear away from my cheek as I just finished your book.  Your voice is soft and clear.  Truly wonderful.  I enjoyed the ride all the way.  I feel dizzy.  So much of myself in there (which I am sure you have heard from others), including my dreams.  I feel such an affinity with you, my brother.

Phil Thomas

Beatitudes — your book says it like it is . . . so smoothly.

Philippo the Mexican artist

Just finished Brian Hassett‘sThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.”  Loved it!  Left me agog.

This book is great stuff for a Beat addict.  Thank you for sharing your memories!

Born in 1964, in a small town in Belgium, I sadly missed the Beat Generation decade and the sixties.  Neal drove the bus “furthur” into NY two days before I was born.  When I was 5 years old, a “Belgian Woodstock” took place 7 miles from our home (Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa & Gong among the artists) …

Back then, in 1982, at the time of the “Boulder ’82 On The Road Conference,” I was 19 years old (about the same age and as the handsome boy on the cover).  I read a translation of Howl from the local library (by Simon Vinkenoog, the Dutch translator and friend of Ginsberg) and bought Jack Kerouac’s On The Road.  So that was a pretty good start for mind travel.  Could have been worse.

The interest in the Beats never waned, but slumbered.  A few years ago, the sparks became a raging fire.  So I read everything I could find about them.

Until this book appeared, I was more or less ignorant of the “Woodstock of the Beats” that took place in Boulder.  No doubt about it — this author was very happy to meet all those Beat heroes.  Luckily, he has a great heart and wanted to share it all with us.

What you find is a treasure of facts, anecdotes, and passionate stories.

Well documented and accurate (the dialogues came right down from tapes he recorded) and written in the frantic spontaneous prose Beat style.

Read all about them — all those great beat figures, the Grateful Dead, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, side stories about Van Morrison or Alan Watts . . .  The Beat Generation decade and the sixties come alive again.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac” is great stuff for a Beat Generation addict such as myself, and a must-read for everyone who wants to know more about Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation.  Beware: after reading, “a Beat addiction” may not be far away!

Johan Deruyck


Johan Deruyck with the book in Belgium

This book really changed my outlook on the Beat Generation and how much they have affected our scene today.  After reading it I became a Beat freak.  Brian really opened my eyes to all they did.  Thanks for this!!!  Much Love!!!!

Daniel Morse

I absolutely love this book!  The author certainly lived the life many of us wish we had led.

I’ve been a huge fan of Kerouac’s since 1960.  Reading Brian’s book was a special treat for me, as it would be for any lover of the Beats, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, and Ken Kesey.  And to think Brian actually was a friend of Kesey’s, knew Ginsberg, Burroughs, and most of the Beats, and has a background soaked in the culture that helped give the U.S. its soul at a time when we needed it most.  Without any hesitation, I recommend Brian’s wonderful book!  Heartfelt, humorous, and enlightening — it’s a complete winner!

Larry Shaw

“You know our love will not fade away” — what a grand finale last night in Chicago!  During the intermissions of the simulcast I read your book with Grateful Dead music in the background.

Oh man!  You’re not a good writer …. you’re a GREAT writer — and you made me feel like I was in the car with you during your hitchhiking adventure!!  Bravo amigo, bravo!!

Alex Nantes



Jami Cassady recommended I check out your book after I told her I had been underwhelmed by the last few Dead/Kerouac books I’d read.  I thumbed through yours and read a few passages and was pretty sure it would be better .…

Which, of course, it is!  Great job!  I thoroughly enjoyed it — really cool stories and memorable word-for-word discussions, and just fun to read.  And I totally appreciate the constant weaving of Kerouac and Dead allusions and quotes into the writing, like a jammin’ musician.  It all comes off like someone writing from a seat on the bus ….

Props to you on a life well-lived … and still going furthur, of course…!

Jeff Zittrain




Reading the comments in the beginning I’m starting to trust myself because so many of these are things I’ve said to you already ….

Lovin it so far … just Great!!!  The way it reads is perfect for the “non-reader.” 🙂
Thanks, Mr. B.

Megan Reese

Love the writing style — takes me back to the psychedelic days.  Lots of colors, patterns, rhythms.

Marc Spilka 

If you like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, The Grateful Dead, etc. this book is a must-read.  Brian’s writing takes you on the journey — it feels as though you are listening to a once-in-a-lifetime adventure from a dear friend that is visiting.  Kudos to this amazing Beat writer.

Mary Jo Hicks-Sullivan

I want to be you when I grow up.

Joe Reed

Or there’s a whole lot of audience reaction is this video . . .

Opening the Prankster’s Family Reunion in 2016 . . .




For more check out this first round of Hitchhiker’s reactions!

Or here’s some excerpts if you wanna take the ride . . .

Meeting Your Heroes 101 — Allen, Gregory, Holmes, Burroughs & Huncke

Who all was there … of which John Clellon Holmes said, “More of us were together than had ever been in one place at one time before.”  And it never happened again.

My best pal and my best gal — Edie Parker and Henri Cru, with Allen Ginsberg sandwiched in the middle.

Meeting Ken Kesey for the first time.

Arriving at The Grateful Dead shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre during the summit in ’82.

Or here’s a bunch of performance videos of various excerpts, and some great radio interviews.

Or here’s where you can buy prints of the best photos taken at the Jack Summit, including some seen in my book — from the Lance Gurwell Collection.

full_cover12 copy


Here’s where you can get the guaranteed latest version direct from the publisher (also where the author gets the highest royalties 🙂 )

Here’s where you can get the book in the U.S.

or in Canada

or in the U.K.

or in Germany

or France

or Italy

or Spain

or Mexico




Brian Hassett

Tags: ··

18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rob Salmon // Dec 15, 2015 at 10:34 PM

    I knew it!! Why don’t I have this book yet??!!! Christmas present to self coming up!!!
    Congrats Bri!

  • 2 Chris Welch // Dec 16, 2015 at 7:17 AM

    Geez man ….. that is mindblowing ….. way to go!

  • 3 Philip Elliott Hopkins // Dec 16, 2015 at 1:50 PM

    Congratulations Brian!

  • 4 Debbie Vazquez // Dec 17, 2015 at 12:43 AM

    Bri-baby! This is beautiful!! You rock! Miss you!!! Come back to New York ….. 🙂

  • 5 Carly David // Dec 17, 2015 at 6:40 AM

    My goodness. You must be so happy. Congratulations. Well deserved.

  • 6 Pamela Twining // Dec 17, 2015 at 9:21 AM


  • 7 Sharry Wilson // Dec 18, 2015 at 1:37 PM

    Congrats and best wishes for continuing success with your book, Brian. Well deserved praise.

  • 8 Wizard of Wonder // Dec 18, 2015 at 9:44 PM

    Way cool! People know a good thing when they read it!

  • 9 Dale Topham // Jan 24, 2016 at 12:36 PM

    If I buy it in Canada, will I be sure to get the new edition?

  • 10 Brian // Jan 24, 2016 at 4:41 PM

    Yes, you should. 🙂
    But to be absolutely sure in the short-term, you should prolly order it direct from the publisher.
    I’m pretty sure it’s the same price and shipping and all that.

    And btw — you’ll LOVE it! There’s SO many things improved and even better than the first editions. 😉

  • 11 Dale Topham // Jan 24, 2016 at 6:02 PM

    You have contributed so much to making Jack & company real to so many who are following in the footsteps without fully knowing.

  • 12 Brian Humniski // Jan 24, 2016 at 11:01 PM

    Glad to see I made the grade. Best book I’ve read in ages. Thanks again for writing it.

  • 13 Raul-Cecile Ochoa // Jan 25, 2016 at 10:21 AM

    Excellent link! Will be picking up a copy of your book this week. Thanks for the post.I am a big fan of the GD and the Pranksters!

  • 14 Swee Lee O'Gorman // Jan 25, 2016 at 11:50 AM


  • 15 Elmer Rex Spurr // Jan 25, 2016 at 1:28 PM

    You are killin’ it, man. Congrats.

  • 16 Deanna Waters // Jan 25, 2016 at 2:52 PM

    Well deserved, Brian!

  • 17 Per DeVille // Jan 25, 2016 at 5:04 PM

    Your now well-worn book is still in my bag and I continue On The Road around the world.

    I look forward to chowing you around Copenhagen.


  • 18 Woodstock with The Pranksters - Brianland // Mar 3, 2022 at 5:21 PM

    […] And here’s a bunch of people’s reactions to it.  And here’s a bunch more. […]

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