On The Road with Kerouac and Cassidy

For 14 hours during Oct. 20, more than 100 people who had gathered at Beyond Baroque took to the never-ending road with Jack Kerouac and his pal, Neal Cassidy, as they madly careened through the post-World War night in search of “It.”

The occasion was, perhaps, the first complete live reading in the world of Kerouac’s original manuscript for On The Road. About 70 readers participated in the marathon event. Kerouac’s originally typed the book on a long scroll so he wouldn’t have to break his train of thought to add paper.

That version was too raw, too stream of consciousness for 1950s book publishers. The book that many of us read over the years was a refined and edited version. But even that version was enough of a break with the past to create a new literary style, and a new way of living, which became the Beat Generation. Venice was a center of this new consciousness which spawned a creative outburst of poetry, painting and lifestyle.

The scroll – with real names like Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and others replacing the fictionalized ones – was only published this year, about 57 years after it was written. Whether the original scroll stimulates a new upsurge in excitement and non-conformity remains to be seen.

During the reading, Food not Bombs activists posted flyers on the outside bulletin board at Beyond Baroque, which pointed out that if Jack Kerouac, and others living his lifestyle, would be banned from Venice if they intended to sleep in their vehicle because of an effort to outlaw overnight parking in Venice.

For that matter, Jesus and his friends would not be able to sleep in the Garden of Gethsemane, if it happened to be in Venice.

Posted: Thu - November 1, 2007 at 02:13 PM