Sur | Lowell | Orlando
| San Franciso | Northport
Jack Kerouac Big Sur Readings reaffirm that what a few of us felt
in the 1950s has now become a reality .Those of us lucky enough
to know and work with Jack in the 50s always realized that in spite
of the phenomenal success of "On the Road ," Jack was
no one shot flash in the pan. He was first and foremost a great
writer, and devoted to his work at all costs. he wrote eleven books
from his heart and soul in near total obscurity before "On
the Road" made him a world wide literary icon.
is a riveting account of what unwanted notoriety does to a true
artist. The book takes us on his roller coaster journey as he deals
with all of the triumphs and trauma of this period of his life.
Jack was and remains his own best spokesman and biographer. He also
was a reporter for our era, and a poet speaking for an underground
army of people who had no voice that could ever surface to be heard.
four city readings of "Big Sur," presented by George Wallace
and a distinguished group of readers also puts into perspective
four of the cities as well as many of the people who were sigificant
in Jack's life, but have yet to be acknowledged by those who feel
that every person or locale outside of Manhattan is doomed to be
judged as T.S. Eliot's Wasteland.
cities chosen for this celebration are all significant influences
in Jack's life and work.
the gyroscope of his life and spirit. He was born, grew up, often
returned and is buried there. The annual "Lowell Celebrates
Kerouac" is the most signifigant event that has yet occured
to honor their native son. Most of us still alive who knew Jack
feel that to understand Jack, you have to go to Lowell.
Orlando was where he wrote some of his great work and took the
historic bus ride to New York in 1957 to re- join Joyce Johnson,
who wired him $30 for the bus ticket in the event that "On
the Road" got any good reviews. His old house in Orlando's
College Park that he shared with his mother is now a full-time
writers residence, named in his honor, for new artists to carry
on his tradition of tireless work. And of course in 1961 this
is the town where Jack wrote Big Sur.
San Franciso was one of the two magical places that all of us
brought up in the East Coast dreamed of. Denver Colorado, Neal's
hometown, and San Francisco California, the Western jewel of a
city that was a magnet for poets, painters, musicians and dreamers
of all persuasions.
was another place close to Jack's heart. I'll never forget his
excitement when he told me "Davey, I bought a house for my
mother and me. She'll never have to work another day of her life
in a factory. It's almost like Lowell. Working people, warm, good
place to write, away from the madness. It feels like home."
author and Jack's lifelong friend and soulmate Carolyn Cassady has
agreed to come all the way from England with her son John from California
to participate in this historic tribute. At the conclusion of our
seven hour marathon reading in Northport during the day, they will
both join me, with my daughter Adira, in a gala concert at Heckscher
Park at 8 pm. following the all day reading. My quartet will present
a free family concert - "A Family Tribute to Jack: From Cairo
to Kerouac." The concert will feature music from around the
world as well as classics of jazz and Latin music from the 50s,
performed by my quartet. In addition, two generations of two his
oldest surviving friends, Carolyn Cassady and her son John as well
as my daughter Adira Amram and myself, will give short readings
of Jack's work with musical accompanment during the concert, the
way Jack and I did at the first-ever Jazz poetry readings in NYC
in November of 1957 that we did together 45 years ago.
It is an honor
for all of us around the country to be part of the Big Sur readings.
As we see Jack assume his rightful place as a giant of American
letters, every artist of every discipline can be inspired by Jack's
example to pursue their own dreams, follow their heart and never
give up the struggle to achieve excellence in their chosen work.
Merci, Jack pour tous. Thank you, George Wallace and all the readers
and volunteers for making this dream a reality.