Well, as sometimes with my poetry, I take blogging too seriously. The thing gets to be like a skunk crossing the road. A slow skunk. A distracted skunk. And therefore a dead skunk. So I will try to improvise more, riff blogs more spur of the moment. Get that skunk safely to the other side. So, in that spirit, one night I was reading the New York Times online and fell into the on-going Jack Kerouac nostalgia. First, I read the Gilbert Millstein’s review of On the Road which appeared in the September 5, 1957 edition of the Times, probably “The most famous book review in the history of this newspaper…” It ran in the daily Times on Sept. 5, 1957. (“Its publication is a historic occasion,” Millstein wrote, “in so far as the exposure of an authentic work of art is of any great moment.”)
I was 15 in Memphis, TN. Little Richard, that sweet man, was singing “Jenny, Jenny, Jenny,” but in Australia he had a vision. The vision revealed to him that he would be damned forever into the inferno for singing the devil’s music, so he quit the business and became a 7th Day Adventist preacher. At least for five years. But I think he misinterpreted his vision. Orville Faubus was getting ready to shut down Little Rock High just about the time. And then came Jack. Viking would publish On the Road: 310 pages for $3.95. I wouldn’t read the book until 1959, my senior year in high school.
Then the Times article sent me to youtube where, among a number of videos, Jack and Steve Allen were doing their legendary improvisation.
Cruising through the available videos I found Jack and Steve suddenly becoming the soundtrack for the fabulous beginning of Woody Allen’s Manhatten: