From the Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Paris I learned of a new scroll being created to commemmorate the original scroll used by Jack Kerouac when he wrote On the Road. Apparently I just made it under the deadline of Sept. 1. This was my submission.
When I was a reporter on the Denver Post in 1974 I went up to Boulder to interview Allen Ginsberg, who was staying that summer in connection with the Naropa Institute. I was already a fan of both Allen and Kerouac. We spent two hours in a deli talking. Two of the best hours of my life. Allen made conversation an art form. He was not just brilliant, not just creative. He was a creative talker. Kind, polite, a terribly decent human being. He described Kerouac as his "teacher." The two hours flew past in a shot. I went back to the office and wrote a story. Later it struck me that much of On the Road took place in Denver, and I wondered whether any of the characters from the novel were still around town. I called Allen. He lost track of no one. He immediately read me current phone numbers for four members of the old crew -- Bob Burford (Ray Rawlins), Beverly Burford (Babe Rawlins), Ed White (Tim Grey) and Justin Brierly (Denver D. Doll). I looked them all up and wrote a series about Kerouac in Denver. It struck me that all four of these people, like Allen, were fascinating, extremely intelligent people, just as Jack described them in On the Road. They never said the obvious thing but went three, four, or five thoughts beyond it. They were also gracious and cooperative. I was 31 at the time, not really a fully formed adult. From them I learned more about how people should try to conduct themselves. Later I would run into others who’d become characters in Jack’s books. I distinctly recall Herbert Huncke and Carolyn Cassady. At one point I recall attending a Kerouac conference in Boulder and driving Carolyn somewhere afterward, and I told her, “Carolyn, I can’t believe you’re in my front passenger seat. You don’t know what this means to me.” She just laughed. She wasn’t conceited, but she was totally self-confident. When she entered a room she expected to take it over with her presence, and she did.
I interviewed lots of famous people over the years. Most of them I barely remember. Allen was one of the two most impressive people I ever spoke with. The other was Marshall McLuhan. If McLuhan could write the way he talked he’d be even better-remembered, but he wrote in academic jargon. Allen’s conversation was another form of poetry. Many years later, after he had passed away, it struck me that if he were a Buddhist, and he was very much a Buddhist, it’s something I should look into more deeply. I did, and gradually I became a Buddhist myself -- a poor one, but a student nonetheless, and it’s been wonderfully helpful to me. A big change in my life. Now I at least know what to strive for. Before I was just dangling in space. So Allen, even after his death, was still a guidepost, still helping me.
Jack and Allen and the people around them were vitally significant individuals, very special. It wasn’t just coincidence that such brilliance and startling creativity emanated from them. How they all found one another I’ll never understand.
August 31, 2012
Ivan G. Goldman
Los Angeles, California
Causes Ivan Goldman Supports
American Heart Association
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Beit T'Shuvah Recovery Program