Alright, so I know he didn't die of heroin, but he did die of alcoholism, and after the letter J brought us Janis Joplin, one of my youth's heroes, I couldn't resist having the letter K be for Jack Kerouac, beat poet and novelist. I like to specialize in finding dead junkies, as it gives me something to point out to my husband over dinner (Did you know Chris Farley died from doing a speedball? You probably should ever do that, or you might die. You don't want to go out like Chris Farley, do you?)
But Jack Kerouac holds a special place in my heart. If I could pick any boyfriend, dead or alive, he's the only one who would compete with my husband. The book Desolation Angels changed my life...actually quite literally. I quit eating meat because of a particularly disgusting section of it about the way meat digests in the stomach. I think Kerouac himself was a vegatarian, if I remember correctly.
I was a huge sucker for all that drunken poet drinking port wine business. I guess I've been preparing myself for a life as a junky's wife for years.
Phrases from Desolation Angels moved me so much when I was about 16, like:
I will die, and you will die, and we all will die, and even the stars will fade out one after another in time.
or this bit from Big Sur:
Everything is the same, the fog says 'We are fog and we fly by dissolving like ephemera,' and the leaves say 'We are leaves and we jiggle in the wind, that's all, we come and go, grow and fall' — Even the paper bags in my garbage pit say 'We are mantransformed paper bags made out of wood pulp, we are kinda proud of being paper bags as long as that will be possible, but we'll be mush again with our sisters the leaves come rainy season' — The tree stumps say 'We are tree stumps torn out of the ground by men, sometimes by the wind, we have big tendrils full of earth that drink out of the earth' — Men say 'We are men, we pull out tree stumps, we make paper bags, we think wise thoughts, we make lunch, we look around, we make a great effort to realise everything is the same.'
It's just plain beautiful writing, beautiful sentiment. I imagined I was a Buddhist. I wrote poems in long scrawls with a typewriter, emulating his style as best as I could. I should read his stuff again...I'd gorged myself a bit on his work for a while, but it's been years now. I felt the same way about Janis Joplin or Grateful Dead for a long time, but I love to hear these songs now. They put me in a strange place...oh, and also listening to The Doors, especially in autumn, or when it first starts to get cold outside and the leaves are all changing...it makes me feel crazy in that way you can only feel when you're 16 years old, angry, lonely, and literary.
Ahhh my wasted youth!