Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hey Jack Kerouac 

There's a framed print in our hotel bathroom, a photograph with accompanying hand written scrawl which reads:

"Bob Donlon (Rob Donnelly, Kerouac's Desolation Angels), Neal Cassidy, myself, painter Robert La Vigne & poet harry Ferlinghetti in front of his City Lights Bookshop, Broadway & Columbus, North Beach San Francisco 1955. Donlon worked seasonally Las Vegas waiter, Neal looks good in teashirt, Howl. hadn't arrived from England yet, Peter Orlovsky held camera in the street, we were just hanging around. Allen Ginsberg."

It's a good picture, despite the photographer clearly having no idea of how to compose a shot. Should have got a digital.
Everybody looks happy and on the cusp of great things, and I love it when you come across an old photo and somebody has taken the trouble to leave a little note to describe the scene.

I can't say I know a great deal about the Beat writers. I do know that Girlfriend, who could read for England, wrestled valiantly with On The Road recently, but even she couldn't quite make it to the last page.

And I also know that if you're ever struggling to come up with a chat up line down the disco, you could probably do far better than

"I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night"

although if you never try it, you'll never know for sure.

We're staying a stone's throw away from City Lights Bookshop, deep in the heart of the Beat District, in a lovely old room that's all dark colours and oddly angled walls. "Just hanging around" is what we intend to do a lot of.
It's all Little Italy round here, so tonight we ate at L'Osteria del Forno, "a glorious refuge from the nearby tourist traps," according to the guidebook.
They were standing in line for half an hour just to get in.

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