by Jerry Cimino
So many people who love Kerouac and his works wanted to join in our 90th Birthday celebration, that we decided to hold it over a span of two days. On Sunday, March 11th, Al Hinkle (Big Ed Dunkel from On the Road) and John Allen Cassady (first person in the history of the world to be named after Jack Kerouac) shared the stage. On Monday, March 12th (Jack’s birthday) the good folks from V¡va Editions and Cleis Press gathered poets and writers from all over to celebrate. People around the world offered their skills with a tribute video, and Garrett Hedlund himself called in from New York to say hello to those gathered.
Garrett Hedlund’s phone call on JK’s Birthday (4:27):
Special thanks to Laura Schibinger, Elle Lutz, and Noémie Sornet for putting this video together! They also created the following video tribute to Kerouac:
It was a special two days. We heard Al Hinkle‘s stories about his friend Jack Kerouac, and John Cassady’s stories about his father, Neal Cassady. One new piece of information that came out that I’d never heard before is that Al Hinkle’s father actually knew Neal’s father. Al’s father was a Denver police detective, and Neal Cassady, Sr. was well known to all the police in Denver in those days. Al mentioned casually how sometimes when Cassady Sr. was incarcerated, his father would go fetch his barbering tools so that Cassady Sr. could cut all the inmates’ and police officers’ hair! I was flabbergasted. I said, “Al, are you saying Neal Cassady’s father used to cut your father’s hair in the prison in Denver?” Al said, “Absolutely. He did it often. Neal Sr. was a trustee, and he cut everyone’s hair.”
John Allen Cassady on Neal’s Turkish Hookah Pipe (10:43):
We were entertained by The Dharma Bums from Woodstock, New York, as well as Chris Chandler, Alan Kaufman, Nicole Henares, Brenda Knight, Tony Rodriguez and Joanna McClure. Nicole’s students from Lowell High School in San Francisco (a happy naming coincidence) kept calling her Ms. Hernares as we lined them all up in front of the ’49 Hudson to get a group shot.
Chris Chandler performs ‘Generica’ (2:11):
As he cut the birthday cake in Jack’s honor, I heard Al Hinkle say softly under his breath, “My friend. My friend. I loved him!”