the Best in Kerouac & the Beats, Adventure, Politics, Music, Movies, Poetry & other Lifejoys

Brianland header image 2

Jack Kerouac Gravesite Adventure Edson Cemetary, Lowell

October 16th, 2016 · 9 Comments · Kerouac and The Beats, Real-life Adventure Tales


Satori in Lowell   —

The Intentional Nothingness of Everything


Every year the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival is five blissfully crazy days of non-stop events from early morning to late night — from David Amram performances and other concerts to movie screenings and art shows to walking and bus tours to guest speakers and Jack pub crawls — and there’s not much time to get off the Beaten path.

So when I finally checked out of the Motel Six Gallery on Tuesday, Destination One was the one sacred site I’d yet to commune with this year — Jack’s gravesite.



I got there at high noon and didn’t leave until after the gorgeous orange sunset behind the blazing orange trees of a beautiful shorts-&-T-shirt New England October day.

The first thing I do whenever I get there is clean the heck outta the joint — cigarette butts, bottle caps, empty booze bottles, all the obvious garbage.  But this visit, since I spent all day there, I went crazy to the point of even chipping out little dime-size pieces of broken glass and other detritus from the peaceful October Earth.

And then — there were all these long grass blades and dead weed stems harshing Jack’s mellow stone.  And preferring not to rip life out of the ground, I suddenly remembered I had scissors in the car!  The Manitoba farmer in me bloomed back to life, and next thing I know I’m down on my hands-&-knees meticulously snipping unruly blades and errant stems one-by-one with paper scissors.

Being there six hours, if you know anything about pruning, you know new stuff keeps appearing even after you’ve been looking at it for hours.  Which I did.  And by the end of the day I was back down on my knees with a little baby twig scooping out tiny white pebbles the size of a half a grain of rice from inside the carved letters leaving nothing but the beaming memorial in the breathing earth Jack is resting in in his Golden Eternity.


But the satori of it all came from having the entire day to hang without anything on the schedule — unlike every day for the last several months.  Intentional nothingness.  No plans for how to spend the day — and that was the openness I occupied and embraced.

The pacing.  The time.  The writing.  The time.  The Being There.  Time.  The no-one-else Alone-Time.  The composing on the laptop on the hood of the Blue Bomber looking Jack-way Time.



Riffing with no one but God and Jack and the technicolor trees of old Lowell in October of the Railroad Earth . . . pacing the millennia . . . reflecting on the mania of LCK just wrapped — an arc from the Worthen opening Thursday to the Worthen closing wrap party Monday.


Oh, and I brought Jack a cup of coffee!  😀 


People are always bringing and leaving booze bottles — which is okay, because it did give him “ecstasy of mind” as he described it.  But it was also what killed him.

As he wrote in a letter to his best friend Neal Cassady immediately upon finishing the famous scroll version of On The Road — “I wrote that book on COFFEE . . . remember said rule.  Benny, tea, anything I know none as good as coffee for real mental power kicks.  Remember!  COFFEE!  (try it, please).”

The white (Sal) Paradise Diner cup was courtesy of the Wizard of Wonder — the senior Merry Prankster of the beatitudes who made it here all the way from heartland Indiana — thanks to coast-hopping Beat bro Philip Thomas who I first met at the Beat Shindig in North Beach last year.  Oh and we asked the son of the owner who was working at the diner and he confirmed it was always called the Paradise at least as far back as the 1930s, so this could have been at least one of the reasons Jack had the word in his head when naming his character in On The Road.



But the real satori of the day came from flipping between the sacred silent solitude and the steady stream of the devoted and searching who continued to fall in, all fall day long.

They ranged from 20 to 75 years old — from lifelong Jack readers to bright-eyed students just discovering him — from dreadlocked Berners to bearded Thoreauians — from middle class couples to traveling vagabonds.

Apparently there’s a woman professor in town who’s teaching Jack in a couple different courses at the community college here.  And she’s got her students so fired up they’re making pilgrimages to the sacred site on their free time — at about the same age I made mine to Boulder in 1982. (!)  And all day long I was the greeter at the shrine — welcoming them, reading Jack aloud for some of them, telling them backstories, and directing them to other local sites.  I should get a piece of the action at the Worthen I tell ya!

Over the six hours, there was rarely a 15 minute stretch where I was alone.  But I’d take advantage of each one — pacing and thinking and talking and riffing and writing and soaking in the extended solitude moments and finding peace in the open-ended day at a sacred spot.  And that’s what it takes to find inner peace — timelessness.  Nowhere to be but right here right now.  Forever.




Oh and a P.S. to the story — apparently the students I met told their teacher about me and the next day they played my Carolyn Cassady tribute video in their class!  😀 



Or here’s the performance on Sunday with David Amram and Kevin Twigg upstairs at The Old Worthen . . .



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


Here’s another love ode that flowed to LCK.

Here’s the tale of Jack’s 100th birthday celebrations in Lowell in 2022.

Here’s a story from last year’s Lowell Celebrates Kerouac.

Or here’s the 2015 Adventure of getting into the Pawtuckville Social Club.

Here’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac” that I read from at my show on Saturday and with David Amram on Sunday.

Here’s what some people think of the book.  Or here’s what more people think.

Here’s a piece I just wrote on Jack’s book “Pic” — which I performed a chapter from at the Worthen on Saturday.

Here’s a Facebook photo album of LCK 2016.  Or here’s 2015


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

by Brian Hassett  —   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you want to also follow things there —


Tags: ········

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Judith Stadelmaier // Oct 16, 2016 at 10:55 AM

    Beautiful and quintessentially YOU. Thx for Saturday at the good old Worthen and TY for sharing this. Until next time…happy trails 🙂

  • 2 Deb Reul // Oct 16, 2016 at 11:33 AM

    Farmer Hassett comes back to life!!! Glad to know you’re still out there finding your magic moments. Looking forward to the videos coming out!!!
    Keep the Beat!!!

  • 3 Frida Rode // Oct 16, 2016 at 5:06 PM

    Awesome you gave the grass a haircut!

  • 4 Fred Jamando Pastacho // Oct 16, 2016 at 6:16 PM

    Very, very cool.

  • 5 Leslie Olson // Oct 17, 2016 at 5:47 AM

    You write the most beautiful little vignettes. Thank you for being you and sharing it with the rest of us.

  • 6 Jeanne Masanz // Oct 17, 2016 at 9:24 AM

    This is so beautiful, Brian.

  • 7 George Nicholas Koumantzelis // Oct 17, 2016 at 2:51 PM

    BOOM !!

  • 8 Andy Fitzmorris // Oct 17, 2016 at 8:29 PM

    Cool adventure!

  • 9 Mary Jo Hicks-Sullivan // Oct 18, 2016 at 12:23 PM

    I never have the words to describe the peace I feel after reading your words. You are such a gifted writer. 

    You make me smile, you make me think outside of myself and I treasure the gifts you have given me.

    Thanks for leaving Jack the coffee.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *