Tag Archives: Dream

Gift Guide: 5 Unique Gifts for the Mad Ones

29 Nov

Happy Black Friday?! The writers associated with the Beat Generation generally avoided vapid commercialism, but if you have a friend, family member, or colleague who is into Beat literature — or if you’re looking to spoil yourself — you may want to bless them with a gift that values their literary interest this holiday season. But what do you get for the Beat reader who has a bookshelf full of dog-eared novels and biographies?

If your friends are “the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved” — you know, people who religiously read Jack Kerouac — they’ll appreciate these unique literary-inspired gifts.

Then, again, as Kerouac said: “Offer them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken.”

1. A cappuccino cup from Caffe Reggio.

CappuccinoCupMediumImage via Caffe Reggio

Caffe Reggio one of the coffeehouses the Beats hung out at in Greenwich Village.

2. Teavana Global Treasures Tea Gift Set.

teaImage via JC Gourmet Gifts

“‘Now you understand the Oriental passion for tea,'” said Japhy. “‘Remember that book I told you about; the first sip is joy, the second is gladness, the third is serenity, the fourth is madness, the fifth is ecstasy.'” ~Jack Kerouac

3. Chronicle Books Bedside Dream Journal.

Bedside_Dream_JournalImage via Chronicle

“All human beings are also dream beings.” ~Jack Kerouac

4. On the Road key ring from Penguin.

pc_keyring_ontheroadImage via Penguin

Get your kicks on Route 66 with this On the Road key ring from Penguin.

5. Cinnamon Apple Pie Candle from SweetShoppeCandles.

pieImage via Etsy

“I ate apple pie and ice cream—it was getting better as I got deeper into Iowa, the pie bigger, the ice cream richer.” ~Jack Kerouac

You can get more ideas on my Gifts for the Mad Ones Pinterest page and from my blog post last year Gift Guide for the Beat Reader.

And you know what these all pair well with? You guessed it! A copy of Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” which is available in paperback through Lulu and Amazon and in ebook through Lulu.

 

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Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!

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Dream Journal: Travels with Chuck D.

15 Aug

Voyage

Jack Kerouac kept a dream journal. This log of nightly dreams was later published by City Lights Press in 1960 as Book of Dreams. Even before it was published, though, Kerouac encouraged others to pay attention to their dreams. He told Allen Ginsberg to infuse his poetry with his dream life.

When I was a high school student, my psychology teacher assigned us the task of keeping a dream journal. Isn’t that the most fantastic homework assignment you can think of?! According to psychology, we dream every night, but only some nights we remember our dreams. Keeping a dream journal was supposed to help us better remember our dreams. I know some people who hardly ever dream, but I have wild dreams—especially after eating pizza!

This past Friday night I had a doozy of a literary dream! I dreamt that I was writing a book entitled Travels with Charlie, which was a riff on John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. Steinbeck’s book is a chronicle (it was purported to be nonfiction but it’s since come out that portions of it were made up) of the American road trip he took with his standard-sized poodle. My book, however, was about Charles Darwin’s travels. Incidentally, in real, waking life I once edited a reissue of his travelogue The Voyage of the Beagle. I didn’t make the connection in the dream, but perhaps there was some connection between Steinbeck’s poodle and Darwin’s Beagle. In the dream, I was retracing Darwin’s footsteps for a book about his “road trip.” I kept referring to Charles Darwin as Chuck D. or Chuckie D.—like the rapper!

I definitely need to start a dream journal!

Do you keep a dream journal? What is the wildest dream that you’ve had lately?

Recap — with Photos! — of David Amram Reading

10 Sep

 

When musician David Amram introduced me before I read with him at Cornelia Street Cafe on September 3, 2012, he very generously said people should pay attention because one day they’d see me on television.  To me, though, reading with David Amram was a much bigger deal than being on television.  There are countless television shows, but there is only one David Amram.  While there are many fantastic musicians and writers out there whom I’d be honored to read with, there are few who hold such a special place in forming my creative identity as Amram does.

I first became acquainted with Amram through studying Jack Kerouac when I was just a teenager.  I was enamored with his improvised performance as Mezz McGillicuddy in the 1957 Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie film Pull My Daisy.  In fact, this photograph, featuring Larry Rivers, Jack Kerouac, David Amram, Allen Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso, who all collaborated on the film, is probably my all-time favorite photograph of the poets, writers, and artists associated with the Beat Generation.  It seems to so purely capture their friendship: just a couple of people hanging out at a cafe, maybe talking about the arts, or maybe just drinking coffee late into the night and enjoying each other’s company.

Although it was literature that introduced me to Amram, his music fascinated me.  Here was a musician who was more than just skillful.  Amram is an innovator.  He’s someone who experiments, improvises, blends genres, captivates.  He is, quite simply, mesmerizing to watch and listen to.

Through reading biographies on Kerouac and also reading Amram’s own biographies, I came to discover the jazz-poetry readings Amram and Kerouac began doing in the Village in 1957.  These were improvised sets, requiring each to masterfully foresee and adapt to changing tempos and moods in each other’s works.  These jazz-poetry collaborations captured my imagination, challenging my view of art and the way in which it’s created, the musicality of words, and the role of collaboration, improvisation, and performance in literature.  As I read about the collaborations in musty library books, forty-some-odd years after they’d taken place, I envisioned what it must’ve been like to be in the crowd at a painter’s loft or at the Circle in the Square.  Did the people there realize they were part of history?

In 2001, I had the opportunity to ask Amram just that when I interviewed him for some research I was doing at the time.  I sat enthralled, clinging to his every word, as he told me about all the places he used to hang out at in New York, about collaborating with Kerouac, and about how the term “Beat Generation” is just a marketing term that people later attached to the individual artists who each create unique works.  As he talked, answering all of my questions and never rushing me, and later as I read another biography of  his, I realized that Amram is the real deal — a creative genius and also a beatific individual, an artist who inspires and encourages.

Amram has been someone whom I’ve long admired, both on an artistic and a personal level.  Reading about those 1957 jazz-poetry readings he did with Jack Kerouac, I never imagined that one day I would have the opportunity to read the book I’m writing on Jack Kerouac with him.  When my former editor suggested we attend Amram’s show at Cornelia Street Cafe in the Village, I excitedly said yes.  A few days later, I had to email him back to say Amram had invited me to read with him.  It was completely surreal.

The September 3, 2012, show was completely sold out.  I had some friends who were turned away at the door.  Special thanks to Cornelia Street Cafe’s Robin Hirsch and the staff for hosting the reading and for doing such an excellent job in organizing the event.  I read a short selection about Kerouac’s time in Mexico from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, the book I’m co-authoring with Paul Maher, Jr.  It was really exciting because author Larry Closs and painter Jonathan Collins, both of whom I met through the Burning Furiously Beautiful Facebook page, were in the audience.  Poet and producer RA Araya, who has been hugely supportive of my work and whose birthday bash was the premiere reading from Burning Furiously Beautiful, was also there, and graciously provided the photography you see here.  I had some other family and friends there as well and am so appreciative of their support.  It means more to me than most people realize.

As soon as my videographer, Liz Koenig, sends the video, I’ll post it so you can hear me reading with David Amram and his band.  The band, consisting of Amram, Kevin Twigg, and John de Witt played so beautifully — even more of a feat, considering Twigg had hurt his hand before the show.  The music was haunting and fit the piece that I read so perfectly.  I wanted to remain present in the moment, to really hear what they were playing, and savor the moment.  It was one of those times in life that I wanted to tuck into my heart and cherish.

 

 

David Amram, Stephanie Nikolopoulos, Joe Pacheco

Stephanie Nikolopoulos, David Amram, RA Araya

Writing Wednesday: One Step Closer to Tomorrow

5 Oct

I’m a dreamer.  Always planning for the future.  Today often gets shoved under the carpet as I dream of life a year from now.  But dreaming and doing are two very different things.  I can’t get to that future point if I don’t take steps today to get there.

Case in point: I want to publish a book.  I dream up covers and marketing ideas.  I wonder if I’ll be able to get over stage fright to do readings.  The problem is, I haven’t actually written the book yet.  How can I get to that future point of publication if I don’t spend time today writing?

What’s on your agenda for today?  Oh sure, you’ve got work and maybe a networking event function afterwards, but what are you doing today that will take you a step closer to where you want to be tomorrow?

The most productive and successful people in the world are those who are strategic.  Are you being strategic with your time?  Are you doing something every single day that will lead you to where you want to be in the future?

Church Hopping on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day

17 Jan

During the March on Washington, in which Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, at what church in Washington, D.C., did more than 700 people meet?

Find out in my Church Hopping column, archived at Burnside Writers Collective.