Okay, so you’re probably too cool, these days, to admit you were ever into Jack Kerouac (now you know him mostly as the grumpy old guy who slurred to William F. Buckley that he always voted Republican), but remember for a moment the first time you cracked On the Road and spent the next weeks telling all your peeps that the only ones for you are 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.
A cadre of Kerouac admirers are getting together at Joe’s Pub on Saturday to fete the Beat legend in a benefit for the Jack Kerouac Writer-in-Residence Project. It’s a little-known fact that Kerouac was once Florida Man, living with his mom in a 1920s cottage in Orlando during the year that On the Road was published. Since 2000, the house has hosted a variety of writers/angel-headed hipsters. I once visited the place and can tell you it’s a modest, suburban place in the heart of Waffle House country that doesn’t exactly cry out desolation angels. But if you’re one of the lucky writers in residence, it’s a storied place to be put up for free.
Among the performers on Saturday are jazz legend David Amram, who wrote a book about collaborating with Kerouac before his move to Florida. Publishers Weekly sums up their time together:
The artists drank Thunderbird, smoked pot and recited spontaneous poems while Amram belted his French horn. In 1957, Amram and Kerouac went public with the act at a small East Village gallery; two years later, they documented their unique teamwork in the short film Pull My Daisy. They never worked together again: Kerouac moved with his mother to Florida, where he became increasingly reclusive and enfeebled by alcohol, and Amram went on to compose more than 100 orchestral and chamber pieces and wrote scores for such films as The Manchurian Candidate.
For this event, Amram will be performing with his quintet alongside Kerouac readings by Boardwalk Empire star Michael Shannon, Sopranos actor John Ventimiglia, Bowery Poetry Club founder Bob Holman, and Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo, who, like Shannon, has some HBO experience under his belt. (Ranaldo, a poet himself, is also performing with Yeah Yeah Yeahs drummer Brian Chase next month.)
Bob Kealing, author of Kerouac In Florida: Where The Road Ends, will lend the historical context and might even tell us whether Kerouac would’ve voted for Trump.
Jack Kerouac Project Benefit Concert, Sept. 3, 7pm, at Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St., East Village; tickets $30.