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CRONIES, about the adventures with Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady and the
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The big book I'm working on, Cronies,
is a burlesque, a legitimate literary genre defined as "an historical
with inventions and exagerations." Gets me off the hook of being
factual or totally made up, for the book is neither a memoir
nor fiction, but a series of adventures starting with meeting Kesey at
Stanford in 1958 and ending with his death in 2001.
An example of a burleque is "Knickerbocker's History of New York City",
supposedly written by Daedalus Knickerbocker, which
caused quite a scandal when it came out in the late (i think) 1700's
with things like, "why does the mayor of new york city meet
the boats bringing in immigrants and hires the young good looking girls
to work in city hall?"
Finally the true author was revealed: Washington Irving, the most
popular author of the day and the first author in America to
make his living solely by writing books.
Here's an excerpt from Cronies. I'm almost done with my fifth and final
(for now) draft and am sending it
to my agent in NYC the end of this week, Friday, Feb. 8.
"I had an
Kesey told me. "A flash. My short story teacher was J.B. Hall, a real
because he wore white
shoes. He pointed out to me a part in a short story called "Soldier’s
in which this guy
Krebs has come home from the war and
is sitting at the breakfast table
to do with the
day. Whether to watch his sister play indoor baseball or just exactly
wants him to get a
job, 'God has some work for everyone to do . . . I pray for you all day
at the bacon fat
hardening on his plate.
Hall says, 'See, there’s where it happens; right there.' And I saw it.
opened up to me
and it’s never
been closed. I
thank this man from the bottom of my heart. It’s a turn-on and has
intelligence. It has to
do with somebody grabbing somebody and saying, 'I know something that’s
I’ll give it
to you for nothing.
You’ll have it all your life.'"
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2019
COMING UP THIS SATURDAY, APRIL 13
four in the afternoon I'll be doing a reading from my book, Cronies,
for 45 minutes,
then a number with the band, Cubensis,
an all-new rap. Ken
the train from Portland to Eugene, great window seat with terrific
view, decided after a while to write down
some of the sights. Graffiti on wall:
FUCK TRUMP. Doghouse in woods. Plum trees in bloom. I 5 on the left,
grass field on the right. Cows. Walnut
orchard. Back yards and junk cluttered industrial lots. Town of
La Mota store. Taqueria. Enormous flat
fields, brown dirt. Green grass. Solitary crow. V flight of geese.
pipes on wheels. Wastewater lagoon.
Tiny Christmas trees. Small clear cut, small logs, lumber yard.
Trespasser almost on tracks. Checking rear brakes, ten minute stop.
Coming into Salem. Old hot tubs turned
down. Trucks nose to nose jump starting. Gold statue man shining atop
capitol building. Departing Salem,
out. Woods and hills. Horses. Park and softball diamond. Baby calves.
Lambs. Irrigation ditch. Falling apart
sagging moss covered roof colored bright green. White van
abandoned in a field. Port a potty.
covered with blackberry vines. Kids on bikes. Crossing
the Santiam river. Old corn field
dirt. Going under I 5. Next stop, Albany. Pallet warehouse,
lots of them stacked next to track.
Manufactured homes. Rail yard full of old junky cars and
engines. Old guy salutes the train.
wallet and phone on train, stop the train, conductor waves
the stuff and a woman comes running
the goods. Leave Albany again. Hard hatted crew digs with mattocks in a
pile of dirt. More piles of pallets.
train brings food. Crinkle of chip bags opening. A blue tarp
homeless camp. Junction city mental
yard. Graffiti painted cars. Coming into Eugene. End of
snowstorm hit a couple of weeks ago, knocking out the power, knocking
down trees -- the
oaks took the greatest damage, their limbs sticking out from the
trunks, all that weight, broke
limbs, split oaks in half. Fir trees drooped and kept their limbs,
every once in a while one would
shake and a torrent of snow would fall. Now, snow is melting slowly, we
have one car and my
work truck out, driveway still clogged. With the generator, wood stove,
and propaned cook
stove we were all right, no internet however, now everything working
First morning after the storm
Catching a flake
Oak tree falleth across the vidie van,
to the splitter, then hauls split wood to the house
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18,
at a struggling startup business and decides to get
rid of all
the employees that are slacking. On a tour of the office, the CEO
notices a guy leaning
on a wall.
He can't believe
this guy would just stand around on the job. The new CEO walks up to
the guy leaning against the wall and asks, "What are you doing here?"
"I'm just waiting
to get paid," responds the man.
Furious, the new
CEO asks "How much money do you make a week?"
surprised, the young man replies, "I make about $300 a week. Why do you
The CEO quickly
gets out his checkbook, hands the guy a check made out to cash for
and says, "Here's four weeks pay, now get out right now and don’t come
The young man puts
the check in his pocket and promptly walks out of the office.
good about himself, the CEO looks around the room and asks, "Does
want to tell me what just happened here?"
From across the
room comes a loud voice, "Yes, you just tipped the pizza delivery guy
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1019
93rd birthday. Here's a Bukowski piece
about Neal that appeared
in the book, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, columns that Bukowski wrote for an LA
underground paper in the late
THURSDAY, JANUARY 10, 2019
Questions from Danny Waxkirsh
and my answers:
What was/were the biggest influences
which inspired you and the Pranksters to use acid, drive across America
and start the Acid Tests?
Ken Kesey first took acid in the early sixties at the VA hospital in
Menlo Park, California where the government paid 25 dollars a session
to some grad students at Stanford, giving them pills, studying the
effects of different drugs. Kesey managed to bring home a bottle of
Swiss Sandoz Lab LSD and that's when I and our friends (we weren't the
Prankster then, that came a couple of years later) started using
acid. In 1964, Kesey bought a school bus converted into a motor home
and he and the Pranksters (we had our name by them) drove it to
Madhattan for the coming out party of his new book, Sometimes A Great
Notion. We decided to film the whole trip and edit it and release
it in theaters, a revolutionary film genre, neither documentary nor
madeup, but a combination of the two for we would take acid, stop
somewhere, people would flock to the bus, we'd get out and join them,
play our musical instruments, be part of the local drama, filming
the whole thing. When we returned to California we started editing the
film but were arrested. The cops raided Kesey's and found some
marijuana. We decided then to do the acid tests, get the action out of
Kesey's house. The band first known as the Warlocks joined in.
Was there any political motivation for your actions?
None, other than by example, living the life of the free, free to do
your own thing, free to dip in and out of business, performance art,
life at home, look any person in the eye, shake hands, be he or she a
down and outer or the president of the U.S.
How much did your group interact with the Leary camp and how similar
was your ideology? (Other than the awkward summit between your
groups described in 'The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test).
We spent a couple of days at Leary's placein Millbrook, New York while
on the bus trip to Madhattan. They were coming down and we were
getting high. It was awkward at first but we meshed nicely. EKAT laid a
false impression that we didn't get along and Leary told Kesey and me
as we were leaving we were doing the same good work and would continue
to do so, together or apart. Leary became a good friend and we did
do some works together. Check out the film on youtube: Leary's Last
Lastly, do you think we can still 'turn on the world'?
We were not the only ones doing the work of keeping the world a great
place. Many rode that first wave and contributed, and many many more
did their part to keep this bumpy ride moving along; still do, world
wide, working to restore our water and air and land and the minds of
troglodytes. Kesey said, "The only true currency is that of the
spirit." Our work has always been to raise the spirits high.