Thursday, January 17, 2013

On The Road With The 66 Kid

January 17, 2013
  Kathy downloaded "On The Road" on our Kindle, and it was the original but heavily edited 1957 version of Jack Kerouac's cult classic and I read it and enjoyed it, but then I read about the "Scroll Version" which has the real names and all the sex, so I had to get that puppy. Got it last week and have been enjoying it immensely. The events take place in 1947-50 and amazingly the book predicts the entire hippie movement, the TV show "Route 66", not to mention a ton of other 1960s phenom. It really was ahead of its time.

   Of course, I grew up on a certain road, working at my father's Flying A icing jugs for tips, so that may account for some of my joy in reading the tome.

Plus, my father was floor-boarding it across many of the same roads Kerouac and Cassady were plowing in their classic journeys across the continent, and then every summer we took to Route 66 to go visit the family farm in Iowa so we criss-crossed many of the On The Road sites. My mom and dad even lived in Denver after the war for a short period and this also coincides with Kerouac and his gang and takes up large portions of the book.

Here are a few lines I have underlined in the text just because I love them:

"So I rushed past the pretty girls, and the prettiest girls in the world live in Des Moines Iowa." (Note: send to Mike Richards, who lives in Des Moines.)

Also in Iowa, Kerouac meets a goofy hitchhiker and they can't get a ride so they spend their time ". . .dawdling away the time telling stories about ourselves, then he told dirty stories, then we just ended up kicking pebbles and making goofy noises of one kind or another."

Skim Action: "We got a ride from a couple of young fellows, wranglers, teenagers, country boys in a put-together jaloppy and were left off somewhere up the line in a thin drizzle of rain." Sweet. Clean, Simple, Direct. Strong.

"The train howled off across the plains in the direction of our desires."

Foreshadowing: "Well, lackaday, I kissed the shirt goodbye, it only had sentimental value in any case, besides of which, though I didn't know it, I was destined to retrieve it some ways up the road."

"We zoomed through another crossroads town, passed another line of tall lanky men in jeans, clustered in the dim light like moths on the desert, and returned to the tremendous darkness. . ."

Central City, Colorado is just down the road from Blackhawk where we came over the mountain last summer on the BLT tour.

On our trip we came in the back way from Idaho Falls on that narrow, mile high road? Jack and the boys go to Central City to party and he says, "Beyond the backdoor was a view of the mountainsides in the moonlight. I let out a Yahoo. The night was on."

Then: "Great laughter rang from all sides. I wondered what the Spirit of the Mountain was thinking and looked up, and saw jackpines in the moon, and saw ghosts of old miners, and wondered about it. In the whole eastern dark wall of the Divide this night there was silence and the whisper of the wind, except in the ravine where we roared; and on the other side of the Divide was the great western slope, and the big plateau that went to Steamboat Springs, and dropped, and led you to the Eastern Colorado desert and the Utah desert; all in darkness now as we fumed and screamed in our mountain nook, mad drunken Americans in the might land. And beyond, beyond, over the Sierras the other side of Carson sink was bejeweled bay-encircled nightlike old Frisco of my dreams. We were situated on the roof of America and all we could do was yell, I guess—across the night, eastward over the plains where somewhere an old man with white hair was probably walking towards us with the Word and would arrive any minute and make us silent."

To say I love this book is putting it mildly. Ha.

"Get your kicks on Route 66"

—Bobby Troupe, although this is also a direct lift out of Road where Neal Cassady says, "We're gonna get our kicks!"