Sunday, August 23, 2015
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 with in-between parts called PETER WHICH WAY, SONG OF THE SEA, THE CHANGES, flirting with overall title BOOK around '73 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 wont 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, Dr John 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 girl-friend'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 Boulder --and how familiar his description to anyone who's stuck out a thumb, hoping, praying, cursing --though he's the lucky one, scoring rides with like-minded drivers --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 resume 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."
Literature, as I always say, voracious of appetite, its capacity determined by overview not insight, the absolute hold-all unlike its alienating attribute the literary which insists itself between subject & evocation or is of such an imposition that subject's mistaken, misperceived, which it never can be in genre writing --sports, crime, music --and no distinguishing here between succinct & rhapsodic since the particular may be caught in either.
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.