That Kerouac himself provides all the narration assures us we’re watching a movie fully committed to the Beat mindset. “Early morning in the universe,” he says to set the opening scene. “The wife is gettin’ up, openin’ up the windows, in this loft that’s in the Bowery of the Lower East Side of New York. She’s a painter, and her husband’s a railroad brakeman, and he’s comin’ home in a couple hours, about five hours, from the local.”
Kerouac’s ambling words seem at first like one improvisational element of many. In fact, they provided the production’s only element of improvisation: Frank and company took pains to light, shoot, script, and rehearse with great deliberateness, albeit the kind of deliberateness meant to create the impression of thrown-together, ramshackle spontaneity. But if the kind of careful craft that made Pull My Daisy seems not to fit within the anarchic subcultural collective persona of the Beats, surely the premises of its story and the consequences thereof do. The aforementioned brakeman brings a bishop home for dinner, but his exuberantly low-living buddies decide they want in on the fun. Or if there’s no fun to be had, then, in keeping with what we might identify as Beat principles, they’ll create some of their own. Or at least they’ll create a disturbance, and where could a Beat possibly draw the line between disturbance and fun?
Poet Randall Maggs discusses his book “Night Work” about the troubled soul of legendary hockey goalie Terry Sawchuk plus the nuances of story-telling, conversations with goaltenders, Sawchuk’s Ukrainian heritage and convergence of history and hockey with host Dave Thorvald Olson at the Robson Square covered outdoor rink in Vancouver following a poetry reading promoted by publisher Brick Books.
On Remembrance Day in sunny, brisk Vancouver, Ian Bell (fresh from a CBC appearance “On The Coast“) joins Dave to read from Grandpa Mark’s diaries written in the trenches in WW1 as a young Canadian. From the library steps with a flask of scotch, they reflect on the costs and motivations of war, importance of friendship and the ethereal experience of going “over the top” and facing the terror on the other side, plus anecdotes about capturing Germans soldiers and discourse on the importance of personal documentation to pass forward to generations.
From a forested pathway along the open Pacific between Tofino and Ucluelet, DaveO reads poetry from Gary Snyder’s Myths + Texts and Rip Rap plus essays about Wobblies, timber-jacks, logging camp culture, and giant trees from Beloved of the Sky then the words Siddhartha the Buddha spoke upon achieving enlightenment.
Dave O spiels forth about the exploration of rivers and lakes, the impetus for ventures and motivations for trade ~ augmented by autoharp songs by Larry Harper dreaming of floating the Colorado River down Glen Canyon ~ then freeverse – mostly from stumbling around Europa in 1992 – thinking about connectedness, lifespans of mysteries and reasons for peeking into the unknown with Trauben and Funboy providing guitar stylings whilst camping alongside Owl Creek in the British Columbia highlands.
By a campfire on Owl Creek, Dave reads an instructional guide to hitch-hiking about a November trip from South Carolina to Rhode Island with a series of tips including smiling, signs, watches, and going with the flow while Dan Funboy noodles on guitar.
While summertime camping alongside Owl Creek and charging the recorder with the rays of the sun, Dave reads a short story written while on the road with ole dead Grandpa called So the Legends Go (.pdf) – a portrait of life one morning in Navajo Nation in 1987 – accompanied by adolescent observations and musings. Accompanied by Dan Funboy on guitar and solar-powered vaporizer.
From Halfmoon Bay on Clayoquot Sound, Vancouver Island, Dave gives it up for zen poet hero Gary Snyder and recounts beat history from The Old Ways and logging culture from Myths and Texts plus poems about hitchhiking, girls, baths, clear-cuts and the Buddha – then finishes with original freeverse poetry about the transient experience called “Railyards Passing By.”
Alongside raging Lynn Creek, Dave remarks about boulders which are indeed interesting as the sign pointed out, then reads a haibun about books and statues on a curly maple shelf, and poems about buying hardware and fruit in Bucerias, mysterious curves and clouds, and solace for weary delirious travelers, while Wm. Lenker sings the traditional folksong Moonshiner (Rye Whiskey).
From a skunk-scented perch along Mosquito Creek, Dave spiels about feverish dreams in a Mexican clinic, personal archeology, mirages about the Wonder Hotel, and reads verse about late trains, dammed rivers, watching ships, and men in white coats walking past.