You certainly racked up some track, Jack!
|This is a bit of a trip down that old memory lane. It started when I staggered into my 19th year of life's adventures, and continued on in a little more graceful of a dance, washing up on the shore of my 21st year of the same adventure.
When I was 19, I discovered Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and then eventually a bunch of the other gang of San Francisco poets. Who showed up in New Directions and City Lights books. And that was a gas. But the Big Kahuna was Kerouac. Who lived a very strange life. I read his biographies - later.
Jack introduced me to a thing in life, and started me off on something that I've never forgotten, still am able to praise to the skies, and will be eternally thankful for until the day my fingers can no longer type.
And it wasn't binge drinking. Or the lifestyle of a mama's boy. Or the completely reckless and irresponsible refusal to grow up, or engage in adulthood, or quite frankly, most of the other things he became famous for. It wasn't any of that at all. It was instead, something that almost gets lost in the historical wash, with good old Jack.
So what was it, you ask? Simple. The concept of writing stream of consciousness. Throw out the rules, forget about style, or form, don't even bother wrestling with the literary beast, step aside from that onrushing bus full of merry pranksters and gangsters and hooligans, the patriots and harlots and charlatans, the frowns on clowns, the game players and nay sayers, the joy killers and cheap thrillers, the scowlers and howlers, the stop signs and dog whines of life. And just think your way onto a page.
I don't even know if that rightly resembled or illustrated or understudied or stunt-manned what I mean might even be the real thing. But it sure lifted me out of my shelf and into myself.
Being a guitar player (which activity I started up back in those days) I began to think of it as chops. Because we always thought in those terms. Chops. The endless nervous rambling around up and down a guitar neck, working out scales and notes and rhythms and beats and chords and sounds on strings and things - chops. Chip chops and flip chops and short chops and long chops and loud and soft chops and heavy and light chops and cool chops and all kinds of things that just fit into whatever it was that we were trying to express in the mess and the mix of fixing what wasn't exactly broken but wasn't exactly all together in any kind of way that appeared to be the final and end result of what it was we figured we were trying to accomplish.
One thing I do remember was my good old Remington. Which finally gave in and gave up and stepped back for an Underwood. And the feeling of the keys, the rhythm of the finger dance so fast like a blur because of course the better you get at it, the closer you get to typing at the speed of thought. And the warp drive of that never obeys any speed limit.
I recall at one point thinking to myself - could On the Road have been edited down to 16 crisp pages? Well of course it could have. But then it wouldn't be On the Road anymore. It would be something else. And what would that be? I have no idea but I'm certain that somebody somewhere wrote the book, and that's all it took. Just like the overabundance of this is the complete absence of that. I do recall though, a time when folks just kinda moved over and away from me a little bit, because what made them slightly nervous was when they found out that I did this...thing that was done - absolutely straight. I mean as sober as the judge's judge. And that's mighty sober. It was almost as if I'd broken some kind of holy rule, a rebellion against a kind of a scripture, or that thing about how everything is already written. Only it isn't.
It just wasn't done in polite company. It wasn't even done in impolite company. But I knew all along all it was, was not fitting into somebody's stereotype, whatever that was, invented for reasons unknown and misunderstood like the idea that any songbird can be happy as hell to prefer singing in your cage for your personal benefit and endless enjoyment - instead of out there flying all over the wild blue yonder just being a bird kind of badge that honors freedom. Because it knows in that particular moment it does not have to sing about, or consult about, or think about or personify and signify any idea whatsoever about the conceptual construct of freedom. That bird just doesn't have to do any of those things, which are time consuming, worrying, have negative effects on proper digestion, lose sleep, and otherwise get in the way of a bird's happiness, in any kind of way we can ever know or understand that a bird can be happy or unhappy about anything in the first place. It is just free. We can see it is free.
Well it's been a slice, not quite paradise, but nice as rice for twice the price.
I was just curious to find out how much of these chops I was actually able to remember. And like I said, I do have Jack to thank for it. Though dear reader, you may find yourself wondering what in the hell would I have to thank anybody for....this? I truly do sympathize. Life is funny, that way. Take opera.
Or Tupperware parties. There is absolutely no accounting for taste. It is probably a waste of time to even bother.