Thursday, March 12, 2020


October 2017

Onward we roll across the border into Massachusetts, to Lowell, the birthplace of Jack Kerouac whose 1957 book On the Road was my early inspiration. 

Note Kerouac's orb hanging out on high.

I had wandered  Larimer Street in Denver five years earlier with Van Stein looking for Jack’s ghost. 

Jack Kerouac Alley
Painting: Van Stein

A week after that, the artist and I motioned to San Francisco’s North Beach to visit City Lights Bookstore, where Kerouac and the beats congregated, and Vesuvio, where they drank. 

And now here I am in Jack’s hometown, Lowell (“a Lowell point,” says Huckleberry Howard, glumly gawking at grim city streets), a blue-collar town known, these days, for boarded-up diners, tattoo parlors, and addiction problems (and our final stop on a marathon drive from Washington, DC to Portsmouth, NH).

Lowell is also where Kerouac’s bones eternally rest, in Edson Cemetery. 

His simple gravestone—on Lincoln, between Seventh and Eighth—is littered with items left by pilgrims like me:  A Jack Daniel’s miniature, a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, a shot glass emblazoned with Jesus, a lot of pens.  

I leave a wooden nickel good for a free beer at BoHenry's, a bar I once owned.

Nearby, a more recent memorial wall, is inscribed, “The Road is Life.” 

We all, in life, are on a journey, on a road—and it’s definitely the journey that counts, because the destination is the same for everyone.