Kerouac Characters @ Kerouac Family
Jack Kerouac Memorial GameA Personal Cosmic Baseball Game
|Each season the Cosmic Baseball Association honors the American writer Jack Kerouac with a memorial game played on his birthday. This season, characters created by Kerouac for his novels meet members of the author's family on the cosmic baseball field.|
During the various debates about whether Kerouac was a suitable enough character to be commemorated by the city of Lowell, a distinction between Kerouac the man and Kerouac the writer was manufactured. Apparently, it was easier to honor the writer than the man...as if the dichotomy makes any rational sense.
July 1947. That kind of lifetime most often observable in obituaries of respectable proportions, and indeed in the obituary sketches of most of this world's lifetimes, the kind of life that can actually be summed up in two or three paragraphs -- these lives must surely have been used as cheap coin by the deceased. When you read these obituaries, you often think, "Well at least there's a generation forthcoming from them, who might live a little more intensely." But you know the children of these people will live similar absentminded lives, and die summed up in two paragraphs. A few hollow titles, a few "public notices," a medal, some property and means, a diploma for something -- that's what they leave for their children to mull over, if indeed their children are capable at all of mulling over anything in the heat of blind acquisitive days. --(Source: Windblown World- The Journals of Jack Kerouac, 1947-1954. Edited by Douglas Brinkley. Viking Press, New York: 2004)
Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)
To be alone in a house of home is the last unhappiness...
9 Lupine Road, Lowell, Mass.
Jack Kerouac's First Home
(--Jack Kerouac in a letter to Neal Cassady: June 27, 1948)
Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, on March 12, 1922, “at five o'clock in the afternoon of a red-all-over supper time” (Doctor Sax) and died in St. Petersburg, Florida, on October 21, 1969, at the age of 47. Kerouac's first seventeen years were those of a typical Franco-American youth living in Lowell; his next thirty years were those of a traveling Ulysses living with everyone everywhere.
Jack was the third (& last) child (& second son) of Leo and Gabrielle and the younger brother of Caroline and Gerard. On March 19, the Reverend D.W. Boisvert baptized Jack Kerouac at the St. Louis de France Church in Centralville. On October 24, 1969, a funeral mass for Kerouac was held at the St. Jean Baptiste Church in Lowell. Reverend Armand "Spike" Morissette delivered the eulogy.
According to Kerouac biographer, Ellis Amburn, some Catholic priests in Lowell tried to prevent Jack's dead body from entering any church. (Amburn, Subterranean Kerouac- The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac. St. Martin's Press, New York: 1998; page 376.)
The Jack Kerouac Commemorative
Nearly twenty years after his death, Kerouac was honored in his hometown with a "commemorative." (He lived in fourteen Lowell, Massachusetts homes between 1922-1939) In 1988 the City of Lowell dedicated the "Jack Kerouac Commemorative" as part of the Lowell National Historical Park. The commemorative, created by Texas-based sculptor Ben Woitena, honors Kerouac, the writer.
The Commemorative had its origins in 1985. At that time, "[T]he world knew that Kerouac was from Lowell, yet within the city of Lowell there had been no official recognition." To rectify this situation, a group of like-minded individuals created the Corporation for the Celebration of Jack Kerouac in Lowell. The goal of the non-profit group was to generate hometown recognition for the writer.
A fund raiser was convened on March 17, 1986 and some three hundred souls showed up including Kerouac's Beat Generation comrades, Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso.
On December 30, 1986, the Lowell City Council voted 8 - 1 to enter into an agreement with the Lowell Historic Preservation Society to budget $100,000 for the establishment of the Kerouac Commemorative. The lone dissenting City Council member, Martin Brendon Fleming, a former mayor of Lowell (1982-1983) did not think that Kerouac was a proper role model.
--Council Member Fleming (Parenthetically, Fleming was the father-in-law of a man who lost his life when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.)To me, it's rather ironic, and also hypocritical, for people to be saying we should be fighting against drugs, that we should say 'no' to drugs and here we are memorializing a person whose lifestyle was exactly that.
Kerouac's hard-drinking, enfant terrible lifestyle continues to bother some natives who feel recognizing Kerouac's work "glorifies" his behavior...But supporters insist Kerouac the man must be separated from Kerouac the writer. Read his books, they say, and understand.
On June 25, 1988 the Jack Kerouac Commemorative, located near Bridge Street and Eastern Central Park in Lowell, Massachusetts was dedicated. The commemorative is a series of columnar objects with engraved inscriptions of Kerouac's writings arranged in a mandalic design. It has become as popular as Kerouac's grave in the city's Edson Cemetery.
The success of the Corporation for the Celebration of Jack Kerouac in Lowell is demonstrated by the Commemorative and other Kerouac-related events that now take place in the city.
Kerouac Characters Win, 11-8
When Kerouac biographer Ann Charters published her early biography of Jack Kerouac (Kerouac: A Biography. Straight Arrow Books, San Francisco: 1973) she included an "Identity Key" table. (Appendix 5, page 410). The table was a matrix of 21 rows and 9 columns organizing 20 real individuals and their fictional counterparts in eight Kerouac novels.
When Paul Maher, Jr. published his biography (Kerouac: The Definitive Biography. Taylor Trade Publishing, New York: 2004), he included a list of "Fictional Names in the Novels of Jack Kerouac." The list, reprinted from the emptymirrorbooks.com website includes 58 names of real people and how they were represented in Kerouac's books.
Douglas Brinkley published some of Kerouac's journals he had edited (Jack Kerouac: Windblown World- Journals 1947-1954. Viking Penguin, New York: 2004). Brinkley's book contains a section called "Cast of Characters" which is a listing of 66 real people and their relationship to Kerouac. Occasionally, Brinkley provides the fictional counterparts.
Eight of the nine Kerouac Character players in this memorial game are drawn from three of Kerouac's novels: The Town and the City, On the Road, and Doctor Sax. The ninth Kerouac character, Jack Duluoz, appears in nine novels: Big Sur, Book of Dreams, Desolation Angels, Maggie Cassidy, Satori in Paris, Tristessa, The Vanity of Duluoz, Visions of Cody, Visions of Gerard.
Of the nine Kerouac Family players, six are "blood" relatives; the other three are wives of Jack Kerouac.
All of the fielding positions are synchronized except the shortstop and right field positions. The shortstop for the Kerouac characters is Carlo Marx who in reality represents the poet Allen Ginsburg. On the Kerouac family team, the shortstop is Kerouac's daughter, Jan. In right field, the Kerouac character is Dean Moriarty who was Neal Cassady's paradigm. On the Kerouac family team, Jack's third wife, Stella Sampas, plays in the right field position.
Defensively, with sixteen fielding errors (eight for each team), this was a sloppy game, but the rain didn't help matters. The Characters got on the scoreboard first. In the top of the second inning, three singles, a sacrifice fly, and an error by Kerouac Family member, first wife Edie Parker, set the score at 2-0. The Kerouac Family rebounded in the bottom of the third inning when they moved three players across the plate thanks to a base on balls yielded to Gabrielle by Character pitcher Jack Duluoz; two errors by Character shortstop; Carlo Marx, a single by Kerouac sister Nin; then Duluoz hit Kerouac daughter Jan, and Edie Parker hit a sacrifice to left field, apparently in atonement for her earlier error. After a couple of more runs in the top of the fifth inning, the Characters led, 4-3.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Family scored four runs on multiple errors and singles. The Family led 7-4 going into the top of the eighth inning...Then the Characters exploded for seven runs (as the fielding continued to implode...three more errors were recorded by the Family.) Now 11-7, the Family eked out one more run in the bottom of the ninth and lost the game, 11-8.
On the strength of her performance at the plate, Judie Smith, a character from Kerouac's first novel, The Town and the City, was named the recipient of the game's Most Cosmic Player Award. Smith had three hits and two runs batted in. She also committed an error in left field leading to some post-game grumbling that Marguerite ("Marge") Martin, also a character from The Town and the City should have been given the MCP award. Martin had one hit, three RBIs, and no errors while fielding at the catcher's position.
That this game is able to surface these tensions is understandable. Judie Smith is the fictional representation of Kerouac's first wife, Edie Parker. Marguerite Martin is the analog for Gabrielle Kerouac, Jack's mother. Tension between a wife he might not have loved and a mother he loved and could not let go of & vice versa.
Kerouac had a great interest in the game of baseball. A child he created the "Summer League", a fantasy baseball endeavor that included players, teams and various accoutrements including game reports, player cards and marbles representing baseballs.
On Tuesday August 17, 1948, Kerouac made the following entry into his personal (now public) journal: Babe Ruth died today, and I ask myself: "'Where is the foundling's father hidden?' -- where is Babe Ruth's father?"
Leo Kerouac, Jack's father, had died two years earlier than Babe Ruth, in the spring of 1946. Kerouac wrote The Town and the City during the following two years. Biographer Charters observes that Kerouac, "had taken Thomas Wolfe as his model, but his book was really written for his father, to prove to the memory of Leo Kerouac that Jack could write a book that would sell, that he could make money as a creative writer." (Kerouac-A Biography, page 65).
Related External LinksJack Kerouac Character Key (a)
Jack Kerouac Character Key (b)
Jack Kerouac Character Alias Key
Beat Literature Character Index
Jack Kerouac Character Reference Key
The Beats Pave the Way for the Digital Revolution
Book Review: Use My Name Kerouac & family
Related Links at the CBAJack Kerouac Chronology
Kerouac Estate Controversy
Notes on The Memory Babe Archive
Jack Kerouac's Summer [Baseball] League
Jack Kerouac 1996 Cosmic Player Plate
Jack Kerouac 1997 Cosmic Player Plate
Jack Kerouac 1998 Cosmic Player Plate
Other Related Games
Personal Cosmic Baseball Game Report|
2007 Jack Kerouac Memorial Game
Published: March 12, 2007
COSMIC BASEBALL ASSOCIATION3061