“On the Road” for 50 years

Posted on June 20, 2007
Filed Under Culture, Main, People | Leave a Comment

kerouac1.jpg… the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ – Jack Kerouac, “On the Road”

Graduating from high school in 1963 — six short years after the publication of Jack Kerouac’s hip, world-weary semi-autobiographical, stream-of-consciousness “On the Road” — I longed to be a cool hipster, hanging out in smoky jazz joints with bohemian girls, writing poetry and digging the scene. At the time the best I could do was watch re-runs of “Peter Gunn,” though I did muster the courage to go to Shelly’s Manne-hole in Hollywood or The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach.

When Kerouac set out to put to paper his late-1940s adventures wandering around the country, he typed them single-spaced on a 9-inch-wide scroll, made from 12-foot-long strips of semi-translucent paper taped together so they could be fed into the typewriter without interruption. It took Kerouac one three-week long marathon to compose his classic novel of modern American literature. The work was revised several times and finally published in September 1957 by Viking Press. In 2001, the scroll was auctioned for $2.43 million to Indianapolis Colts owner James Irsay.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beat classic, the original scroll has toured 11 cities since 2004, landing in June at the Boott Cotton Mills Museum in Kerouac’s hometown of Lowell, Mass., for a golden anniversary celebration (through Oct. 14). From there it heads to the New York Public Library and then, in 2008, to Austin, Indianapolis and Chicago.

During the summer, Lowell will be infused with the energy of the Beats: spoken word and poetry readings, live jazz, public art, theatrical performances, animated tours of Kerouac’s city haunts, a waffle ball tournament near Kerouac Park, art exhibits, and the signature exhibit of one of the most valuable literary manuscripts of all time.

Here’s some links for Kerouac

The Beat Page: Jack Kerouac

World Hum: Jack Kerouac

The Beat Museum: Jack Kerouac

On The Road.org

Jack Kerouac’s Heavenly Lane

The Beat Museum



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