I was a horrible student until the second semester of my sophomore year. So much so that I believe the majority of teachers had written me off as a lost cause, not sure they ever saw through the pot cloud and my complete disdain for the high-school social structure that pushed me to the fringes. One of the ramifications of this behavior was the first “real” book I read was Ordinary People my Senior year of high-school. Not sure why that one held my attention, but it was the first book I can recall reading from beginning to end. I am such an auditory learner that I had always been able to survive by listening to the lecture. Plus most teachers/professors are so ego-centric that they are going to tell you what they think you need to know. It was really never about self-discovery or learning (was it?) more the artful skill of regurgitation. I mean why actually read a book when I could be skateboarding, right? Hmmmm…where was I going with this? Ah yes…
Because I generally end up doing things backwards, I have written as long as I can remember, wouldn’t finish reading a book, but I would bust out poem after poem trying to capture the head words or paint the world without brushes. Similarly, I had been performing as a singer/songwriter and fronting bands for 10 years before I learned to play a cover. So one day after giving a reading at a Gaslamp District coffeehouse in San Diego, this woman approached me to tell me I write like Kerouac—Now I am not going there with the discussion, I would never compare myself to him or any other actual writer, that is way too much praise. I just do what I do—Luckily, I was at least familiar with the name. I still remember Malaina talking to some dark haired kid about Kerouac in high-school. I looked intently and nodded appropriately trying to keep cred, but I didn’t know him from Dr. Seuss. At any rate, it bothered me that I would be compared to a writer that I had no knowledge of, luckily I was paling around with Scott Church. He had a copy of Subterraneans, and this started my obsession with reading. I was 19.
Like with music, I am very much a loyalist, so if I like one of your books, I will probably force myself to read everything you have written. I am STILL trying to catch up with Coupland. Never start an OCD obsession with a living writer…the fucker is just too prolific. I am staring at 3 I need to read on my bookcase right now, and I know there are at least 2 at work.
Kerouac had already passed when I found him, so I was able to make my way through all his works, on my time. For those wanting to jump in, I would not recommend starting with Subterraneans, he is a little ADHD in it, using hyphens to break thought and return to original thought. Start where he started, On the Road (Technically Town and the City was first, but I don’t think it was his true voice, he was being heavily influenced by Tom Wolfe at that point). Many say Big Sur is the pinnacle of Kerouac’s pen. It is not my favorite, I tend to lean towards Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels, but they are making a movie of Big Sur called, One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur. And that is, almost, the whole point of this blog, just to let you know it can be pre-ordered HERE. Aren’t you glad you read my ramblings to get to that?
There is something else important to note about this film. The soundtrack is a collaboration between Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar. If I were to list my Top 5 bands right now it would be: Damien Rice, the Damnwells, Death Cab for Cutie, Son Volt, and the Swell Season. For those that do not know Ben Gibbard is the frontman for Death Cab, and Jay Farrar is the frontman for Son Volt. Two of my favorite singer/songwriters coming together to create a CD USING Kerouac’s words, who is definitely one of my all time favorite authors. I imagine this feeling is similar to a regular entering the Bunny Ranch and learning a new shipment of Airforce Amy wanna-be's has just arrived, not totally sure as I have never been that guy, but I bet he would be as stoked as I am right now. When you pre-order the CD you get a free download of one of the tracks, and it is AMAZING!!!
In other, sort-of, related news, a really exciting fall/winter is upon us in the Lou’. Son Volt comes to the Pageant on November 6th, Desmond Richardson’s Complexions is at the Touhill on November 7th, and then the Swell Season is at the Pageant on December 4th. I already have tickets to all and have pre-ordered the DVD/CD combo.
That’s all…go experience some art.