Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On the Road...

I'm reading "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac (you can find the Penguin Classics' link in google here), the novel that defined the beat generation 50 years ago and, along with Howl and Naked Lunch, helped americans to begin to question themselves and liberalize a bit. Kerouac and Cassady are Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, while Carlo Marx and Old Bull Lee represent Allen Ginsberg and (my very favorite) William Burroughs. It's based on a (soulsearch)trip Jack Kerouac did along Neal Cassady across the U.S., defining the basic trama for most road movies. It was written on a single, continuous scroll of paper, single-spaced and without paragrah breaks. To me, it still has some points worth pointing out:

I've just returned from San Francisco (I actually bought the book at Bound Together, an anarchist collective bookstore on Haight St, recommended!)

"Over Oakland Bay Bridge I slept soundly for the first time since Denver; so I was rudely jolted in the bus station at Market and Fourth..."; "Weird bums (Mission and Third) asked me for dimes in the dawn"... I never got to ride the bridge, since the BART goes under the Bay. But after 50 years, there's lots of bums in Market St as well!!!

"And oh, that pan-fried chow mein flavored air that blew into my room from Chinatown, vying with the spaghetti sauces of North Beach, the soft-shelled crab of Fisherman's Wharf- nay, the ribs of Fillmore turning on spits! Throw in the Market Street chili beans, redhot, and french-fried potatoes of the Embarcadero wino night, and steamed clams from Sausalito across the bay, and that's my ah-dream of San Francisco." --- yum... it certainly is, but a nice burrito from The Mission is missing!

"Dean had a sweater wrapped around his ears to keep warm. He said we were a band of Arabs coming to blow New York." I know. Not very politically correct, but it gave me the creeps!

"Sure, baby, mañana." It was always mañana. For the next week that was all I heard - mañana, a lovely word that probably means heaven." great wisdom in this phrase. If you ever go to Mexico, be sure to learn the meaning of "ahorita"!

"They thought I was a Mexican, of course; an in a way I am" yeah... after picking cotton barehanded, falling in love with a single-mother chicana and dining a frijoles-only meal, yeah... he might have been... I just loved the Terry-the-Mexican-girl chapter.

Finally, here's a link to a google-map with Paradise's itinerary depicted on it. So... go get the book! (and read it, obviously!)