Monday, March 05, 2007

Video File: Kerouac On The Steve Allen Show, 1959

Jack Kerouac was here! That's not too surprising. On The Road is full of so many cross-country adventures it'd be more surprising if he hadn't come through Maysville Kentucky at some point. But I actually have evidence, and I am surprised that this passage escaped me. My photographic memory must have been out of focus because, strangely, I remember the next part clearly. In any case, Kerouac wrote in On The Road:
I took the Washington bus; wasted some time there wandering around; went out of my way to see the Blue Ridge, heard the bird of Shenandoah and visited Stonewall Jackson's grave; at dusk stood expectorating in the Kanawha River and walked the hillbilly night of Charleston, West Virginia; at midnight Ashland, Kentucky, and a lonely girl under the marquee of a closed-up show. The dark and mysterious Ohio, and Cincinnati at dawn.

Ashland to Cincinnati by bus goes through Maysville Kentucky in the years before 1957 when the book was published. I can't imagine it taking any other route, especially with a reference to the "dark and mysterious Ohio" that suggests it followed the river to Cincy.

What a great find! Truth is, laying out all of the above is just subterfuge so I can get away with posting the following video of Kerouac reading excerpts from On The Road on the Steve Allen Show in 1959. If you have no idea who Kerouac is, watch the video:

Like many literary heroes, Kerouac succumbed to cirrhosis of the liver, the result of a life of heavy drinking, ten years after this show aired.

posted at 3:02 AM by Jeremy Parnell

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