and a Jack Kerouac biography.
What energy! What fire! What fantastic, mile-a-minute writing!! Whooo-eeee!!!!
This is the
second book I re-read in preparation for this trip. What a great read.
What I like about Jack Kerouac's writing is that he doesn't try to hide his excitement for living. He gets excited about just about everything. I love what he does with words.
The passages I have pulled from his book are passages that show not an angry young man, but a young man who loves his land... and knows it well. We could do worse than catch some of this fever.
On The Road, Jack Kerouac, Viking Press, 1957
"...and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because 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 roan candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'"
Then came spring, the great time of traveling.
His dirty workclothes clung to him so gracefully, as though you couldn't buy a better fit from a custom tailor but only earn it from the Natural Tailor of Natural Joy...
But his (Dean's) "criminality" was not something that sulked and sneered; it was a wild yea-saying overburst of American joy; it was Western, the west wind, an ode from the Plains, something new, long prophesied, long a-coming (he only stole cars for joy-rides).
...folding back my comfortable home sheets for the last time one morning, I left with my canvas bag in which a few fundamental things were packed and took off for the Pacific Ocean with the fifty dollars in my pocket.
I'd been poring over maps of the United States in Paterson for months, even reading books about the pioneers and savoring names like Platte and Cimarron and so on, and on the roadmap was one long red line called Route 6 that led from the tip of Cape Cod clear to Ely, Nevada, and there dipped down to Los Angeles. I'll just stay on 6 all the way to Ely, I said to myself...
Not only was there no traffic but the rain came down in buckets and I had no shelter. I had to run under some pines to take cover; this did no good; I began crying and swearing and socking myself on the head for being such a damn fool.
...I knew he was right. It was my dream that screwed up, the stupid hearthside idea that it would be wonderful to follow one great red line across America instead of trying various roads and routes.
And here for the first time in my life I saw my beloved Mississippi River, dry in the summer haze, low water, with its big rank smell that smells like the raw body of America itself because it washes it up.
I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was - I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. ... I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future, and maybe that's why it happened right there and then, that strange red afternoon.
We arrived at Council Bluffs at dawn; I looked out. All winter I'd been reading of the great wagon parties that held council there before hitting the Oregon and Santa Fe trails; and of course now it was only cute suburban cottages of one damn kind and another, all laid out in the dismal gray dawn.
We got a brief ride from a wealthy rancher in a ten-gallon hat, who said the valley of the Platte was as great as the Nile Valley of Egypt, and as he said so I saw the great trees in the distance that snaked with the riverbed and the great verdant fields around it, and almost agreed with him.
Spoken by the old cowboy: "Nebraska I ain't got no use for. Why in the middle nineteen thirties this place wasn't nothing but a big dust-cloud as far as the eye could see. You couldn't breathe. The ground was black. I was here in those days. They can give Nebraska back to the Indians far as I'm concerned. I hate the damn place more than any place in the world."
"You boys going to get somewhere, or just going?" We didn't understand his question, and it was a damned good question.
I felt something different in the air in North Platte, I didn't know what it was. In five minutes I did. We got back on the truck and roared off. It got dark quickly. We all had a shot, and suddenly I looked, and the verdant farmfields of the Platte began to disappear and in their stead, so far you couldn't see to the end, appeared long flat wastelands of sand and sagebrush. I was astounded.
"What in the hell is this?" I cried out to Slim.
"This is the beginning of the rangelands, boy. Hand me another drink."
As in a dream we zoomed through small crossroads towns smack out of the darkness, and passed long lines of lounging harvest hands and cowboys in the night. They watched us pass in one motion of the head, and we saw them slap their thighs from the continuing dark the other side of town - we were a funny-looking crew.
We zoomed through another crossroads town, passed another line of tall lanky men in jeans clustered in the dim light like moths on the desert, and returned to the tremendous darkness, and the stars overhead were pure and bright because of the increasingly thin air as we mounted the high hill of the western plateau, about a foot a mile, so they say, and no trees obstructing any low-leveled stars anywhere. And once I saw a moody whitefaced cow in the sage by the road as we flitted by. It was like riding a railroad train, just as steady and just as straight.
...as the air grew ice-cold and pinged our ears.
And the truck left (Cheyenne),
threading its way through the crowds, and nobody paying attention to the
strangeness of the kids inside the tarpaulin, staring at the town like
babes from a coverlet. I watched it disappear into the night.
I hadn't slept in so long I got too tired to curse and fuss and went off to sleep;...
And there in the blue air
I saw for the first time, far off, the great snowy tops of the Rocky Mountains.
I took a deep breath. I had to get to Denver at once. ...I crossed a railroad
overpass and reached a bunch of shacks where two highways forked off, both
for Denver. I took the one nearest the mountains so I could look at them,...
And here I am in Colorado! I kept thinking gleefully. Damn! damn! damn!
I'm making it!
And after a refreshing sleep filled with cobwebby dreams of my past life in the East I got up, washed in the station men's room, and strode off, fit and slick as a fiddle, and got me a rich thick milkshake at the roadhouse to put some freeze in my hot, tormented stomach.
I stumbled along with the most wicked grin of joy in the world, among the old bums and beat cowboys of Larimer Street. (ed. note: 1999 - Larimer St. is now a yuppie tourist mecca with plenty o' upbeat "cool" places to shop)
(About Central City) - Then Central City became a ghost town, till the energetic Chamber of Commerce types of the new West decided to revive the place. ... "Sal," he cried, clutching my arm, "just look at this old town. Think how it was a hundred - what the hell, only eighty, sixty years ago; they had opera!" "Yeah," I said, imitating one of his characters, "but they're here."
"The bastards," he cursed.
Central City is two miles
high; at first you get drunk on the altitude, then you get tired, and there's
a fever in your soul. ...
I wondered what the Spirit of the Mountain was thinking, and looked up and saw jackpines in the moon, and saw ghosts of old miners, and wondered about it. In the whole eastern dark wall of the Divide this night there was silence and the whisper of the wind, except in the ravine where we roared; and on the other side of the Divide was the great Western Slope, and the big plateau that went to Steamboat Springs, and dropped, and led you to the western Colorado desert and the Utah desert; all in darkness now as we fumed and screamed in our mountain nook, mad drunken Americans in the mighty land. We were on the roof of America and all we could do was yell, I guess - across the night, eastward over the Plains, where somewhere an old man with white hair was probably walking toward us with the Word, and would arrive any minute and make us silent.
...Suddenly we came down from the mountain and overlooked the great sea-plain of Denver; heat rose as from an oven.
(ed. note: 1999 - If Sal and Dean thought it was bad, you should see Central City now. They've turned it into one of those huge gambling meccas where fat women in stretch pants stare mindlessly at slot machineswhile their children die of heat exhaustion out in the car with the windows rolled up.)
I suddenly realized I was in California. Warm, palmy air - air you can kiss - and palms. ... I wandered out like a haggard ghost, and there she was, Frisco - long, bleak streets with trolley wires all shrouded in fog and whiteness.
... but all I wanted to do was sneak out into the night and disappear somewhere, and go and find out what everybody was doing all over the country.
I said to Remi, "I'd love to sleep in this old ship some night when the fog comes in and the thing creaks and you hear the big B-O of the buoys." (Ed. note: My dad always talked about the buoys in the bay going 'Beeee-Ohhhhh', and he would make the two-toned sound they made.)
Here I was at the end of
America - no more land- and now there was nowhere to go but back.
...before me was the great raw bulge and bulk of my American continent; somewhere far across, gloomy, crazy New York was throwing up its cloud of dust and brown steam.
All the magic names of the valley unrolled - Manteca, Madera, all the rest. Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries. I stuck my head out the window and took deep breaths of the fragrant air. It was the most beautiful of all moments.
Ah, it was a fine night, a warm night, a wine-drinking night, a moony night, and a night to hug your girl and talk and spit and be heavengoing.
I had a book with me I stole from a Hollywood stall, "Le Grand Meaulnes" by Alain-Fournier, but I preferred reading the American landscape as we went along. Every bump, rise, and stretch in it mystified my longing.
We arrived in St. Louis at noon. I took a walk down by the Mississippi River and watched the logs that came floating from Montana in the north - grand Odyssean logs of our continental dream.
I thought all the wilderness of America was in the West till the Ghost of the Susquehanna showed me different. No, there is a wilderness in the East; it's the same wilderness Ben Franklin plodded in the oxcart days when he was postmaster, the same as it was when George Washington was a wildbuck Indian-fighter, when Daniel Boone told stories by Pennsylvania lamps and promised to find the Gap, when Bradford built his road and men whooped her up in log cabins There were not great Arizona spaces for the little man, just the bushy wilderness of eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, the backroads, the black-tar roads that curve among the mournful rivers like Susquehanna, Monongahela, old Potomac and Monocacy.
(He hitches a ride with a skinny man, who says)... "I myself haven't eaten for three days. I'm going to live to be a hundred and fifty years old." He was a bag of bones, a floppy doll, a broken stick, a maniac. I might have gotten a ride with an affluent fat man who'd say, "Let's stop at this restaurant and have some pork chops and beans." No, I had to get a ride that morning with a maniac who believed in controlled starvation for the sake of health. ... But the madman drove me home to New York.
Suddenly I found myself on Times Square. I had traveled eight thousand miles around the American continent and I was back on Times Square; and right in the middle of a rush hour, too, seeing with my innocent road-eyes the absolute madness and fantastic hoorair of New York with its millions and millions hustling forever for a buck among themselves, the mad dream - grabbing, taking, giving, sighing, dying, just so they could be buried in those awful cemetery cities beyond Long Island City. The high towers of the land - the other end of the land, the place where Paper America is born. (ed. note: I'll never forget driving into New York City with my daughter, Ruth, when she was sixteen. We parked two blocks from Times Square and walked over. And then we just stood there in awe: you can feel the incredible buzzing energy of New York. It was great.)
..., we all realized we were leaving confusion and nonsense behind and performing our one and noble function of the time, move. And we moved!
The purity of the road. The white line in the middle of the highway unrolled and hugged our left front tire as if glued to our groove.
"The ideal bar doesn't exist in America. An ideal bar is something that's gone beyond our ken. In nineteen ten a bar was a place where men went to meet during or after work, and all there was was a long counter, brass rails, spittoons, player piano for music, a few mirrors, and barrels of whiskey at ten cents a shot together with barrels of beer at five cents a mug. Now all you get is chromium, drunken women, fags, hostile bartenders, anxious owners who hover around the door, worried about their leather seats and the law; just a lot of screaming at the wrong time and deadly silence when a stranger walks in."
(Looking at the Mississippi R. in New Orleans):..and as the river poured down from mid-America by starlight I knew, I knew like mad that everything I had ever known and would ever know was One.
When you start separating the people from their rivers what have you got? "Bureaucracy!" says Old Bull; ...
What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-by. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.
What is the Mississippi River? - a washed clod in the rainy night, a soft plopping from drooping Missouri banks, a dissolving, a riding of the tide down the eternal waterbed, a contribution to brown foams, a voyaging past endless vales and trees and levees, down along, down along, by Memphis, Greenville, Eudora, Vicksburg, Natchez, Port Allen, and Port Orleans, and Port of the Deltas, by Potash, Venice, and the Night's Great Gulf, and out.
Now we're on the great Texas plain and, as Dean said, "You drive and drive and you're still in Texas tomorrow night."
Straight ahead lay the distant lights of El Paso and Juarez, sown in a tremendous valley so big that you could see several railroads puffing at the same time in every direction, as though it was the Valley of the world. We descended into it.
It seemed like a matter of minutes when we began rolling in the foothills before Oakland and suddenly reached a height and saw stretched out ahead of us the fabulous white city of San Francisco on her eleven mystic hills with the blue Pacific and its advancing wall of potato-patch fog beyond, and smoke and goldenness in the late afternoon of time. "There she blows!" yelled Dean. "Wow! Made it! Just enough gas! Give me water! No more land! We can't go any further 'cause there ain't no more land!"
When we staggered out of the car on O'Farrell Street and sniffed and stretched, it was like getting on shore after a long voyage at sea;...
And for just a moment I had reached the point of ecstasy that I always wanted to reach, which was the complete step across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm, and the sensation of death kicking at my heels to move on, with a phantom dogging its own heels, and myself hurrying to a plank where all the angels dove off and flew into the holy void of uncreated emptiness,...
... and that's my ah-dream of San Francisco.
Everybody in Frisco blew. It was the end of the continent; they didn't give a damn.
I wished I were a Denver Mexican, or even a poor overworked Jap, anything but what I was so drearily, a "white man" disillusioned. All my life I'd had white ambitions; that was why I'd abandoned a good woman like Terry in the San Joaquin Valley. I passed the dark porches of Mexican and Negro homes; soft voices were there, occasionally the dusky knee of some mysterious sensual gal; and dark faces of the men behind rose arbors. Little children sat like sages in ancient rocking chairs. A gang of colored women came by, and one of the young ones detached herself from motherlike elders and came to me fast - "Hello Joe!" - and suddenly saw it wasn't Joe, and ran back, blushing. I wished I were Joe. I was only myself, Sal Paradise, sad, strolling in this violet dark, this unbearably sweet night, wishing I could exchange worlds with the happy, true-hearted, ecstatic Negroes of America. The raggedy neighborhoods reminded me of Dean and Marylou, who knew these streets so well from childhood. How I wished I could find them.
As we crossed the Colorado-Utah border I saw God in the sky in the form of huge gold sunburning clouds above the desert that seemed to point a finger at me and say, "Pass here and go on, you're on the road to heaven." Ah well, alackaday, I was more interested in some old rotted covered wagons and pool tables sitting in the Nevada desert near a Coca-Cola stand and where there were huts with the weatherbeaten signs still flapping in the haunted shrouded desert wind, saying, "Rattlesnake Bill lived here" or "Brokenmouth Annie holed up here for years." Yes, zoom!
Out we jumped in the warm, mad night, hearing a wild tenorman bawling horn across the way, going "EE-YAH! EE-YAH! EE-YAH!" and hands clapping to the beat and folks yelling, 'Go, go, go!" Dean was already racing across the street with his thumb in the air, yelling, "Blow, man, blow!" A bunch of colored men in Saturday-night suits were whooping it up in front. It was a sawdust saloon with a small bandstand on which the fellows huddled with their hats on, blowing over people's heads, a crazy place; crazy floppy women wandered around sometimes n their bathrobes, bottles clanked in alleys. In back of the joint in a dark corridor beyond the splattered toilets scores of men and women stood against the wall drinking wine-spdiodi and spitting at the stars - wine and whiskey. The behatted tenorman was blowing at the peak of a wonderfully satisfactory free idea, a rising and falling riff that went from "EE-yah!" to a crazier "EE -de-lee-yah!" and blasted along to the rolling crash of butt-scarred drums hammered by a big brutal Negro with a bullneck who didn't give a damn about anything but punishing his busted tubs, crash rattle-ti-boom, crash. Uproars of music and the tenorman had it and everybody knew he had it. Dean was clutching his head in the crowd, and it was a mad crowd. they were all urging that tenorman to hold it and keep it with cries and wild eyes, and he was raising himself form a crouch and going down again with his horn, looping it up in a clear cry above the furor. A six/foot skinny Negro woman was rolling her bones at the man's hornbell, and he just jabbed it at her, "Ee! ee! ee!"
Everybody was rocking and roaring. Galatea and Marie with beer in their hands were standing on their chairs, shaking and jumping. Groups of colored guys stumbled in from the street, falling over one another to get there. "Stay with it, man!" roared a man with a foghorn voice, and let out a big groan that must have been heard clear out in Sacramento, ah-haa! "Whoo!" said Dean. He was rubbing his chest, his belly; the sweat splashed from his face. Boom, kick, that drummer was kicking his drums down the cellar and rolling the beat upstairs with his murderous sticks, rattlety-boom! A big fat man was jumping on the platform, making it sag and creak. "Yoo!" The pianist was only pounding the keys with spread-eagled fingers, chords, at intervals when the great tenorman was drawing breath for another blast - Chinese chords, shuddering the piano in every timber, chink, and wire, boing! The tenorman jumped down from the platform and stood in the crowd, blowing around; his hat was over his eyes; somebody pushed it back for him. He just hauled back and stamped his foot and blew down a hoarse, baughing blast, and drew breath, and raised the horn and blew high, wide, and screaming in the air. Dean was directly in front of him with his face lowered to the bell of the horn, clapping his hands, pouring sweat on the man's keys, and the man noticed and laughed in his horn a long quivering crazy laugh, and everybody else laughed and they rocked and rocked; and finally the tenorman decided to blow his top and crouched down and held a note in high C for a long time as everything else crashed along and the cries increased and I thought the cops would come swarming from the nearest precinct. Dean was in a trance. The tenorman's eyes were fixed straight on him; he had a madman who not only understood but cared and wanted to understand more and much more than there was, and they began dueling for this; everything came out of the horn, no more phrases, just cries, cries, "Baugh" and down to "Beep!" and up to "EEEEE!" and down to clinkers and over to sideways-echoing horn-sounds. He tried everything up, down, sideways, upside down, horizontal, thirty degrees, forty degrees, and finally he fell back in somebody's arms and gave up and everybody pushed around and yelled, "Yes! Yes! He blowed that one!" Dean wiped himself with his handkerchief.
Out on the street Dean said, "Now you see, man, there's real woman for you. Never a harsh word, never a complaint, or modified; her old man can come in any hour of the night with anybody and have talks in the kitchen and drink the beer and leave any old time. This is a man, and that's his castle."
But they need to worry and betray time with urgencies false and otherwise, purely anxious and whiny, their souls really won't be at peace unless they can latch on to an established and proven worry and having once found it they assume facial expressions to fit and go with it, which is, you see, unhappiness, and all the time it all flies by them and they know it and that too worries them no end.
It was a hot, sunny afternoon. Reno, Battle Mountain, Elko, all the towns along the Nevada road shot by one after another, at and dusk we were in the Salt Lake flats with the lights of Salt Lake City infinitesimally glimmering almost a hundred miles across the mirage of the flats, twice showing, above and below the curve of the earth, one clear, one dim. I told Dean that the thing that bound us all together in this world was invisible, and to prove it pointed to long lines of telephone poles that curved off out of sight over the bend of a hundred miles of salt. His floppy bandage, all dirty now, shuddered in the air, his face was alight. "Oh yes, man, dear God, yes, yes!"
Dean headed pellmell for
the mighty wall of Berthoud Pass that stood a hundred miles ahead on the
roof of the world, a tremendous Gibraltarian door shrouded in clouds. He
took Berthoud Pass like a June bug - same as at Tehachapi, cutting off
the motor and floating it, passing everybody and never halting the rhythmic
advance that the mountains themselves intended, till we overlooked the
great hot plain of Denver again - and Dean was home.
It was with a great deal of silly relief that these people let us off the car at the corner of 27th and Federal. Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.
At night all the lights of Denver lay like a great wheel on the plain below, for the house was in that part of the West where the mountains roll down foothilling to the plain and where in primeval times soft waves must have washed from sealike Mississippi to make such round and perfect stools for the island-peaks like Evans and Pike and Longs.
As the cabby drove us up the infinitely dark Alameda Boulevard along which I had walked many and many a lost night the previous months of the summer, singing and moaning and eating the stars and dropping the juices of my heart drop by drop on the hot tar, Dean suddenly hove up behind us in the stolen convertible and began tooting and crowding us over and screaming. The cabby's face grew white.
A cricket kept me awake for some time. At night in this part of the West the stars, as I had seen them in Wyoming, are big as roman candles and as lonely as the Prince of the Dharma who's lost his ancestral grove and journeys across the spaces between points in the handle of the Big Dipper, trying to find it again. So they slowly wheeled the night, and then long before actual sunrise the great red light appeared far over the dun bleak land toward West Kansas and the birds took up their trill above Denver.
...and we began packing as fast as our hands could go. Dangling neckties and shirttails, we said quick good-bys to our sweet little family and stumbled off toward the protective road where nobody would know us. Little Janet was crying to see us, or me, or whatever it was, go -...
"Well, no speedometer, I won't know how fast I'm going. I'll just ball that jack to Chicago and tell by time." It didn't seem we were even going seventy but all the cars fell from us like dead flies on the straightaway highway leading up to Greeley.
(by Sterling, Colorado)
Beyond we saw the light of Ed Wall's ranch house. Around this lonely light
stretched hundreds of miles of plains.
The kind of utter darkness that falls on a prairie like that is inconceivable to an Easterner. There were no stars, no moon, no light whatever except the light of Mrs. Wall's kitchen.
In no time at all we were back on the main highway and that night I saw the entire state of Nebraska unroll before my eyes. A hundred and ten miles an hour straight through, an arrow road, sleeping towns, no traffic, and the Union Pacific streamliner falling behind us in the moonlight. I wasn't frightened at all that night; it was perfectly legitimate to go 110 and talk and have all the Nebraska towns - Ogallala, Gothenburg, Kearney, Grand Island, Columbus - unreel with dreamlike rapidity as we roared ahead and talked.
Everything was straightened out and we roared on. Newton, Iowa, it was, where I'd taken that dawn walk in 1947. In the afternoon we crossed drowsy old Davenport again and the low-lying Mississippi in her sawdust bed; then Rock Island, a few minutes of traffic, the sun reddening, and sudden sights of lovely little tributary rivers flowing softly among the magic trees and greeneries of mid-American Illinois. It was beginning to look like the soft sweet East again; the great dry West was accomplished and done.
Pretty soon the redness turned purple, the last of the enchanted rivers flashed by, and we saw distant smokes of Chicago beyond the drive. We had come from Denver to Chicago via Ed Wall's ranch, 1180 miles, in exactly seventeen hours, not counting the two hours in the ditch and three at the ranch and two with the police in Newton, Iowa, for a mean average of seventy miles per hour across the land, with one driver. Which is a kind of crazy record. (ed. note: you can now make the drive Chi to Denver in about 15 hours on I-80/I-76. But the adventure is gone.)
Great Chicago glowed red before our eyes. We were suddenly on Madison Street among hordes of hobos, some them sprawled out on the street with their feet on the curb, hundreds of others milling in the doorways of saloons and alleys.
I took up a conversation with a gorgeous country girl wearing a low-cut blouse that displayed the beautiful sun-tan on her breast tops. She was dull. She spoke of evenings in the country making popcorn on the porch. Once this would have gladdened my heart but because her heart was not glad when she said it I knew there was nothing in it but the idea of what one should do. "And what else do you do for fun?" I tried to bring up boy friends and sex. Her great dark eyes surveyed me with emptiness and a kind of chagrin that reached back generations and generations in her blood from not having done what was crying to be done - whatever it was, and everybody knows what it was. "What do you want out of life?" I wanted to take her and wring it out of her. She didn't have the slightest idea what she wanted.... "What does your brother don on a summer's night?" He rides around on his bicycle, he hands out in front of the soda fountain. "What is he aching to do? What are we all aching to do? What do we want?" She didn't know. She yawned. She was sleepy. It was too much. Nobody could tell. Nobody would ever tell. It was all over. She was eighteen and most lovely, and lost.
Whenever spring comes to New York I can't stand the suggestions of the land that come blowing over the river from New Jersey and I've got to go. So I went.
I had a television set. We
played one ballgame on the TV, another on the radio, and kept switching
to a third and kept track of all that was happening every moment. "Remember,
Sal, Hodges is on second in Brooklyn so while the relief pitcher is coming
in for the Phillies we'll switch to Giants-Boston and at the same time
notice there DiMaggio has three balls count and the pitcher is fiddling
with the resin bag, so we quickly find out what happened to Bobby Thomson
when we left him thirty seconds ago with a man on third. Yes!"
(ed. note: And no remote. You can see here how Kerouac is not just the prophet of his nextgeneration but ourcurrent one as well)
Dean took out other pictures. I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered, stabilized-within-the-photo lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, or actual night, the hell of it, the senseless nightmare road. All of it inside endless and beginningless emptiness.
I couldn't imagine this trip. It was the most fabulous of all. It was no longer east-west, but magic south. We saw a vision of the entire Western Hemisphere rockribbing clear down to Tierra del Fuego and us flying down the curve of the world into other tropics and other worlds. "Man, this will finally take us to IT!", said Dean with definite faith. He tapped my arm. "Just wait and see. Hee! Whee!"
O sad American night!
So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.