24 September 2009

Neal Cassady

Speaking of Neal Cassady, as I mentioned earlier, he died here. Those vital statistics list his occupation as “Author.” That is interesting because the only things he wrote to my knowledge were letters. But apparently lots of them. So let us not argue with that.

Neal Cassady was rendered immortal as the character Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac's On the Road:

I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won't bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with the miserably weary split-up and my feeling that everything was dead. With the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the road. Before that I'd often dreamed of going West to see the country, always vaguely planning and never taking off. Dean is the perfect guy for the road because he actually was born on the road, when his parents were passing through Salt Lake City in 1926, in a jalopy, on their way to Los Angeles. First reports of him came to me through Chad King, who'd shown me a few letters from him written in a New Mexico reform school. I was tremendously interested in the letters because they so naively and sweetly asked Chad to teach him all about Nietzsche and all the wonderful intellectual things that Chad knew. At one point Carlo and I talked about the letters and wondered if we would ever meet the strange Dean Moriarty. This is all far back, when Dean was not the way he is today, when he was a young jail kid shrouded in mystery. Then news came that Dean was out of reform school and was coming to New York for the first time; also there was talk that he had just married a girl called Marylou.

How does one get away with throwing the entire text of On the Road, which is still under copyright, up on the internet? Apparently, the originator of that site is some place where nobody can get at him or her. That site, by the way, is generally fascinating, but I have not yet quite figured it all out.

Here is the the real point of this entry. A guy named Jim Sweeney became obsessed with locating the apartment in San Miguel in which Neal Cassady lived his last days as well as the precise site of his death out by the train station. His extended account under the title Trackin' Neal Cassady In San Miguel de Allende is a fairly entertaining piece.

How does one come to terms with Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady? Such fascinating and admirable characters in so many ways. Such messes as human beings in so many others.

If you can figure out even the gist of Neal Cassady's remarks in this clip, let me know. I even checked John 15:1 in connection with the effort. All that did was get me involved again in reading the weird, runic text of John, not something I would recommend in order to lighten up your day.

1 comment:

Bloggerboy FFM said...

Har, that was perfect. A generation that sensed something was wrong but, whether because of the drugs and alcohol or the groupthink, or whatever, was unable to articulate it or a remedy in a coherent fashion. Or maybe they were just too self-indulgent. I don't know. I love that generation, but god I know they would have driven me crazy had they been my contemporaries or firends. Given my choice, I'll take Gary Snider and Dharma Bums over Dean and On the Road, but every time I read those books, my impression of sadness grows stronger and of Kerouac's alcoholism more obvious.