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Flatbush Flashback

I Wanted to Be Kerouac

Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) and Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) in On the Road. Courtesy IFC Films.
We saw On the Road last night, the faithful adaptation of Jack Kerouac's blockbusting 1957 novel/memoir. The film, starring Sam Riley as Sal Paradise/Kerouac and Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty/Neal Cassady was flawed, no question about it. Neither Riley nor Hedlund seemed to have what it takes to fully embody these two mythical characters who are credited with having launched the Beat Generation. But their acting was good enough, and I enjoyed the movie, mostly because it communicated a realistic sense of place and time--America in the late 1940s--and of Kerouac's struggle to become a writer.

Some interviewers have asked me about my influences as a writer, and I usually tell them Hunter Thompson, Henry Miller, and Philip Roth, a "holy trinity" who have profoundly influenced my writing style. But I tend not to mention Kerouac, even though, as readers of Beaver Street know, my nom de porn was Bobby Paradise, a name I chose as a tribute to Kerouac because I saw myself as kind of an X-rated Sal Paradise. Which is to say, the influence Kerouac had upon me was more lifestyle than writing style: When I discovered On the Road in the summer of 1970, I wanted to be Kerouac, and soon embarked on a hitchhiking odyssey that went on for seven years and took me through eastern Canada, Western Europe, all over the USA, and that I employed to get around Brooklyn because it was easier to hitch a ride than it was to wait for a bus or train.

And then there was the scroll, a Kerouacian method I embraced in the heat of transcribing John Lennon’s diaries. Aware that this was going to be a life-changing experience, I wanted to get it all down in my own diaries as I’d never done before. Using an IBM Selectric and a box of teletype paper, I pounded out thousands of words per day for over a year, an endless stream of single-spaced consciousness, some of which a guitarist I was friendly with at the time set to music: Before Lennon seeped into my brain, I wanted to be Kerouac…

Which is why watching On the Road last night set off a nostalgic Kerouacian reverie. We listened to Aztec Two-Step performing The Persecution and Restoration of Dean Moriarty, and I dug out my copy of Allen Ginsberg’s (Carlo Marx in the book and film) The Fall of America, and read from the section titled “Eligies for Neal Cassady 1968.” Ginsberg wrote:

Are you reincarnate? Can ya hear me talkin?/If anyone had the strength to hear the invisible,/And drive thru Maya Wall/you had it —

I wanted to be Neal, too, but that was too dangerous.

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Being Bobby Paradise

Allow me boil down part 1 of my epic Bloodsprayer interview to the top five pull quotes. If this doesn't make you want read the entire interview or maybe even read Beaver Street, I don't know what will. Maybe part 2, which will be posted soon.

"The difference between working on the City College student newspaper OP and working on a porn magazine is the difference between being in a punk band like the Sex Pistols and working on an assembly line in a Chinese dildo factory."

“Porn was transformative, too. I went from being Bob Rosen, starving freelance writer, to being Bobby Paradise, crown prince of the D-Cup boob fiefdom.”

“Canadian censorship laws create a situation where a customs official looks at a photo of a woman jacking off a man with her armpit, labels it ‘degrading,’ and issues a ban on armpit fucking.”

“There will always be people arrested on obscenity charges, be it publishers like Al Goldstein, who were literally asking for it, or some poor schmuck who runs a convenience store in the Bible Belt and sells an especially noxious copy of Hustler to an undercover cop.”

“The contempt with which porn publishers treat their employees is especially pronounced, because in adult entertainment it’s so much easier to see human beings as pieces of meat—it doesn’t matter if they’re editors or porn stars.”

And don’t forget: Group reading celebrating Banned Book Week, featuring authors and porn stars, Thursday, October 4, at 8 P.M. in the upstairs lounge at 2A (25 Avenue A on the corner of Avenue A and East Second Street, in NYC, phone 212-505-2466). And it’s free! More info hereRead More 
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