February 3, 2023

Some things never change | On The Road by Jack Kerouac

Justin and James started reading this year for the first time ever. I’m pretty sure they knew how to read before this year but Justin was too busy reading condom instructions and pregnancy tests to pick up a good book and James was too busy being angry. My excuse? I would rather play 8 hours of video games and yell at kids online than learn something, but all of this changed this year.

James and Justin read Slaughterhouse 5 and I got jealous so I picked up a book I’ve never read but always wanted to: On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Kerouac is from Lowell, MA, and is a master of words and descriptions. Here is a segment he writes about Los Angeles. The setting was over 60 years ago and as you can see nothing really changed…

LA is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities; New York gets god-awful cold in the winter but there’s a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets. LA is a jungle.

South Main Street, where Terry and I took strolls with hot dogs, was a fantastic carnival of lights and wildness. Booted cops frisked people on practically every corner. The beatest characters in the country swarmed on the sidewalks-all of it under those soft Southern California stars that are lost in the brown halo of the huge desert encampment LA really is. You could smell tea, weed, I mean marijuana, floating in the air, together with the chili beans and beer. That grand wild sound of bop floated from beer parlors; it mixed medleys with every kind of cowboy and boogie-woogie in the American night. Everybody looked like Hassel. Wild Negroes with bop caps and goatees came laughing by: then long-haired brokendown hipsters straight off Route 66 from New York; then old desert rats; carrying packs and heading for a park bench at the Plaza; then Methodist ministers with raveled sleeves, and an occasional Nature Boy saint in beard and sandals. I wanted to meet them all, talk to everybody, but Terry and I were too busy trying to get a buck together.

Anyways, if this seems interesting to you pick it up. So far I’ve enjoyed it and actually miss reading it when it’s been a few days. It’s a classic for a reason.

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