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WOULDN'T YOU know it? Kerouac is dead. Neal Cassady is dead, and now Kerouac, of a "massive hemorrhage." He drank too much. He couldn't seem to make the transition to the flower- power scene. He was too much the dirty bum, the dope fiend, the sinner redeemed through his sin, innocent the whole way, embarrassingly sincere, impatient, hostile, one of the most generous souls of his time, a creator of the American underground, avatar of the ones who could not fight the Nova Police because there were too few of them, and they would have been crushed: William Burroughs. Gregory Corse, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac. So they ran.
It seems that these days, after the myth of the possibility of a congenial and happy world has been ripped from our grasp by the mandolin and ranting politicos, that maybe the spirit of the Beats is the only viable one for those of us who are tired of waiting around for a fight we don't want, who agree with Kerouac that stupidity is prolific, who are just not naive enough any longer to be hip, who just want to live. and stop playing magician with the realities of our lives, pulling revolutions out of thin air, pulling our personalities from the pages of underground newspapers and half-baked talk, turning nonsense into our daily bread, like some mad troupe of sorcerer's apprentices-Cum-epileptic Luther.
According to his friends, Kerouac was almost never tired and always hopeful. No one went to visit him in his time; we were embarrassed by our writing teachers who told us that Kerouac's prose was bad. It isn't. Now he's dead; but he was a good man, and the ideas for which he was mocked, that "bad prose" which liberated so many, are still good. We should say a prayer for him: God give us strength to be as alive as Kerouac was. Send us more to help burn away the bullshit.
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