More Adventurous is a series covering travel, exploration and on-the-road living by musician and FP design team member turned content provider, Jillian Taylor. Read More
“The best teacher is experience.”
On the Road is one of those books I read in college that has stuck in my soul ever since. There’s something about Jack Kerouac’s way of writing that gets my heart beating so fast. I loved the energy I loved the rhythm it had — it got me hooked on the Beatniks, that’s for sure!
I have more than a small obsession with Jack Kerouac. I have all of his books and I treasure them, often re-reading them and each time finding something new and eye-opening in their pages. On the Road was the first one I read, and then re-read when I was literally on the road taking my own journey across the country. Dharma Bums probably had the most profound effect on me, and I read Big Sur shortly after visiting that place for the first time. While living in San Francisco I found myself influenced by my surroundings and diving deeper into the psychedelic culture of the 60s– it was around that time I read The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, a manic tale about the bus called Furthur and the acid-fueled journey of Ken Kesey and a colorful troupe of companions (called the Merry Pranksters, with nicknames like Stark Naked and Gretchen Fetchen) including Neal Cassady -On the Road’s Dean Moriarty. I don’t know what it is that fascinates me so much about this time period, but there’s something about the spirit these people had that is so magnetic.
So when I found out there was a new documentary about this very trip, called Magic Trip, I was pretty much floored. I knew that the Pranksters had been filming a lot of what went on during their journey, with the hopes of making a film, but none of that footage had ever been seen. Until now.
I think what blew me away the most was seeing the footage of Neal Cassady talking nonstop, being his erratic, speed-driven self. He was, word for word, exactly as Jack Kerouac described him in On the Road. He painted the picture so clearly that I almost felt like I had seen this person before.
The journey starts at Ken Kesey’s Northern California home and follows the Pranksters and Furthur down Haight Street and across the country, with various antics and acid trips along the way, ending in New York with a stop at the World’s Fair and Timothy Leary’s home. Their destination, however, does not live up to the journey itself, which is where the true spirit and feelings of ultimate joy, freedom and peace are alive.
Jack Kerouac and the Grateful Dead (then called the Warlocks) also make appearances – what more could you possibly need?
I was completely captivated by the troubled beauty Stark Naked, who’s real name is Cathryn Casamo (pictured above with Neal Cassady, and below).
Mountain Girl and Jerry Garcia
Ken Kesey sitting on Furthur.
Timothy Leary and Neal Cassady.
Whether you’re into the sixties or not, this is a piece of history worth checking out!
Have you seen it? Let me know what you think :)
“Take another little piece of my heart…”
San Francisco is the only other city I’ve lived in besides Philadelphia. A few years ago I drove across the country with a friend and when I got to San Fran I fell in love with it and decided I wasn’t leaving. The vibe of the city is unlike anywhere else – a unique blend of creativity, individuality and a bit of artistic madness. It always brings to mind the Jack Kerouac quote:
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
There’s a reason he, too, was drawn to the musical beat of San Fran.
The city is alive with music, all hours of the day and night – when I lived there it wasn’t, “what are we doing tonight?” it was “what show are we going to tonight?” It’s a place where you never feel lonely, because even if you are alone you’ll always meet someone on the street or in the park or on the barstool next to you with a smile and a friendly ear. And it’s a city where no matter how big it is, or even if you’re at a festival with thousands of people, you can still run into an old friend.
Philly is my home but I will always love the city by the bay.
“The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great…”
– Jack Kerouac
Top photo is from Jack Kerouac alley in San Francisco.
“what is the feeling when you’re driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? -it’s the too huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. but we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
– jack kerouac
images by 4th and bleeker.
as i’m nearing the end of on the road i was inspired to take a look at the fashion of the beat generation. beatniks were characterized by their rebellious spirit and anti-establishment, anti-materialistic philosophy, and they expressed this through stark and simple fashion. jack kerouac and his crew wore old, ripped jeans and t-shirts because they didn’t care how they looked, while others wore head-to-toe black with berets or glasses.
what else about the beat generation’s style and culture is still resonant with you today?
share your thoughts in the comments section! also for those of you reading on the road, try and finish by january 4th if you can, and check the blog for a final post about the book!
“what is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-by. but we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
what did you all think of part two of on the road? this section of the book finds sal (kerouac) back on the east coast settling in to a quiet contentedness with his girl and school and family, when a surprise visit from dean takes him on another wild cross-country journey. this trip’s scenery, traveling in dean’s car along with his girl Marylou and their friend ed dunkel, reminds me of my own road trip as they take the southern route across the country. they stop in new orleans to visit old bull lee (in reality, william s. burroughs), a heroin addict who brings out the madness of the intimate group. after new orleans, they continue moving on through texas, new mexico, arizona, and then into san francisco via the oakland bay bridge. this portion of the book is more about their journey on the road than what happens when they get there…which ends up not being much, as sal finds himself broke and homeless, wandering the streets in search of something he never finds. part two ends with him returning back east, unsure of whether or not he’ll ever see dean again. why do you think he went on this trip? and why do you think it ends on such a melancholy note?
have any of you ever taken a road trip? where did you start and where did you end up?