I was up and out the door at dawn as morning thawed to gray. Sean yawned at me from behind the wheel of his mother’s tan Toyota. Xander was sitting shotgun, snoozing, with his face buried in a pillow against the passenger door. His blond bedhead was out of control.
I stuffed my duffel bag into the trunk and crawled into the backseat beside a big blue plastic cooler that was packed with the provisions we’d procured the night before: wheat bread, peanut butter, strawberry jam, apples, oranges, peaches and a case of bottled water. This would be our sole sustenance for the three days that lay ahead.
We pulled out of my driveway and onto the highway – southbound, baby. Our destination (destiny) lay half a thousand miles south in rural Tennessee. A man had a farm there where music would be.
I’m a week late here, but this past March 12 would have been Jack Kerouac’s 90th birthday. Arguably the most influential writer of the 20th century, his lyrical prose made music of mere words. It’s tragic that he got so sad as he aged, but the truths he imparted upon the world before he left will echo for years to come.
“The sun lowered itself through the roof of clouds, ignited the sea, and filled the big picture window with molten light, so that we did our dealing and dreaming in a brilliant fog.” -Denis Johnson
Jesus’ Son is a book of short stories, some of the best I’ve read. The narrator, a young man known only as Fuckhead, possesses the drug-addled soul of a poet. As we accompany him on his journeys across 1970s America, his simple yet profound observations about the human condition affect us on a visceral level. He humorously conveys the pleasures and pains of existence in such a way that one can’t help but nod in quiet recognition of the notion that we are, all of us, borne from the same seed.
The 1999 movie starring Billy Crudup, as FH, and Jack Black, as a spastic emergency room orderly named Georgie, is also an underrated gem.