1. There’s an excellent article in the latest issue of Shambhala Sun (a Buddhist journal emanating from somewhere near Naropa in Boulder, Colorado) about the mountain cabin where Jack Kerouac was a fire lookout during the mid 1950s. He wrote about these spiritual retreats in the novels ‘Dharma Bums‘ (which ends with him ascending Desolation Peak) and ‘Desolation Angels’ (which begins with him descending it). It’s fascinating to see pictures of the cabin and the mountain peaks, and to read an objective account of this severely isolated spot. As the author of the article writes, “Thoreau at Walden was never thrown back on himself to the degree Kerouac was here.” The article, sans photographs, can be found in the Archives section of the Shambhala Sun web site.
2. Speaking of Kerouac: if he were alive today, he’d be celebrating his 75th birthday on Wednesday, March 12. (And can you imagine what a character he’d have turned into by now? Would he have ever stopped drinking? Would he have any friends left?). Anyway (getting back to reality), Stone Soup Poets of Boston will be sponsoring a celebration of Jack’s birthday at the Old West Church in Boston’s Beacon Hill at 8:00. The featured event will be a reading by the fascinating poet John Wieners and other writers and musicians. Tickets only five bucks (cheap!), write to Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Nearby in Lowell, the Kerouac contingent there will be gathering at the Dubliner on 197 Market Street to listen to jazz and poetry and, in their words, toast Kerouac’s Irish Connections. Sounds like a crazy night in Massachusetts this March 12.
3. Water Row Books, one of the most authorative Beat-related bookstores around, has just released ‘Beat Speak — An Illustrated Beat Glossary circa 1956-1959′ by Asleigh Talbot. The title might seem a little faddish but the book is actually very gritty and double-edged, with a strong emphasis on the hard drugs, lurid sex and police-paranoia that marked the Beat community in its prime. Definitely an interesting perspective.
4. Oh yeah … did you ever read those excellent in-depth interviews with writers in the Paris Review? The latest issue’s interview subject is Gary Snyder. Can’t read it online though, so don’t bother trying.