Monday, October 12, 2015

Neal Cassady

                                            Ken Kesey and Neal Cassady on the bus Further

Neal Cassady (1926 - 1968) - inspiration of the Beat generation and hippie movement, associated with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, and The Grateful Dead. He grew up in Denver and was frequently arrested as a teenager for stealing cars (he loved driving). Through a Denver friend he wrote to the nascent Beat Generation writers such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, centered around Columbia University in New York City and later went to visit them and travel with them. He inspired some Kerouac's and Ginsberg's finest writing. His letter writing and ability to tell stories was often cited and he wrote a book of memoirs The First Third. Cassady's Joan Anderson Letter shook Kerouac and caused him to completely re-write On The Road and re-think his approach to writing and life. Believed to have been lost for 50 years, the manuscript has been recovered and will be published in the near future. In the 1960's, Cassidy befriended Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, and drove the psychedelic bus Further across country with the Merry Pranksters, conducting the Acid Tests with The Grateful Dead. Cassady died unexpectedly in Mexico aged 42.


Photos: Neal Cassidy and friends

Video: Documentary: "The Other One"

Lyrics: “That’s It For The Other One” (song)

Audio: “That’s It For The Other One” (song)

Text (Prose & Poetry): John Barlow, Ken Kesey, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady

Video: Jami Cassady (Neal’s daughter)(original video)


Instructor Lecture: Neal Cassidy, The Beats, and The Merry Pranksters

Watch “The Other One” - make transcript, compare to master transcript afterward.

Read lyrics and listen to recording of “That’s It For The Other One” (Classroom discussion)

That's It For The Other One: The Faster We Go, The Rounder We Get (Bob Weir/John Barlow of The Grateful Dead)

Spanish lady comes to me, she lays on me this rose.
It rainbow spirals round and round,
It trembles and explodes.

It left a smoking crater of my mind,
I like to blow away.
But the heat came round and busted me
For smilin’ on a cloudy day.

Comin’ around in a circle.

Escapin’ through the lily fields
I came across an empty space
It trembled and exploded
Left a bus stop in its place
The bus came by and I got on
That’s when it all began
There was cowboy Neal
At the wheel
Of a bus to never-ever land.

Comin’ around in a circle.


A reading and listening exercise (Readings done in class by instructor and various students):

From Jack Kerouac ‘s On The Road: “...the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, 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…”

From Allen Ginsberg's Howl:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull...

From John Barlow's essay on Cassady:

The first of these was the ineffable, inimitable, indefatigable Holy Goof Hisself, Neal Cassady, aka Dean Moriarty, Hart Kennedy, Houlihan, and The Best Mind of Allen Ginsberg's generation.
Neal Cassady, for those whose education has been so classical or so trivial or so timid as to omit him, was the Avatar of American Hipness. Born on the road and springing full-blown from a fleabag on Denver's Larimer Street, he met the hitch-hiking Jack Kerouac there in the late 40's and set him, and, through him, millions of others, permanently free.
Neal came from the oral tradition. The writing he left to others with more time and attention span, but from his vast reserves flowed the high-octane juice which gassed up the Beat Generation for eight years of Eisenhower and a thousand days of Camelot until it, like so many other things, ground to a bewildered halt in Dallas.
Kerouac retreated to Long Island, where he took up Budweiser, the National Review, and the adipose cynicism of too many thwarted revolutionaries. Neal just caught the next bus out.
This turned out to be the psychedelic nose-cone of the 60's, a rolling cornucopia of technicolor weirdness named Further. With Ken Kesey raving from the roof and Neal at the wheel, Further roamed America from 1964 to 1966, infecting our national control delusion with a chronic and holy lunacy to which it may yet succumb.
From Further tumbled the Acid Tests, the Grateful Dead, Human Be-Ins, the Haight-Ashbury, and, as America tried to suppress the infection by popularizing it into cheap folly, The Summer of Love, and Woodstock.


Neal's daughter Jami lives in Northern California and tries to preserve the legacy of her father and his friends:


Writing exercise (due next class): What did The Beat Generation and hippie movement stand for?

No comments:

Post a Comment