The Fearless Four – “Problems of the World Today” (Video – 1983)

November 10, 2008 at 5:19 pm (Music)

This is a song I remember listening to alot back at the time (my friend Steve had the 12″ single). Can’t believe it’s been 25 years since I last heard this – sounds like only yesterday.
This Kurtis Blow-produced effort was definitely influenced by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s 1982 groundbreaking single “The Message.”
This video is definitely low-budget. Ha!

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Scott Nicholson – “The Life to Be: A Conflict of Self” (2007)

November 10, 2008 at 11:33 am (Jack Kerouac, Reviews & Articles, The Beats)

Another interesting essay blog written for his site Scottnsblog, this one deals with Jack Kerouac. Written June 20, 2007… 

 

Through the study of portions of Jack Kerouac’s journal “Almost On The Road”, and the novel excerpt “On The Road”, by Kerouac, a conflict of his inner self is revealed. Many times an author projects his, or her, personal goals and aspirations into the lives of their characters, and, as is clear from these two articles, the author’s life proves somewhat conflicted with that being projected by his work. A deeper look into the focused text of the author, Kerouac, reveals where his writing is consistent with his propertied ideologies, and where it strays. In the process, enhanced understanding of the author develops, and his persona, though conflicted, emerges.
There are certain notable similarities between Kerouac the man and Kerouac as he projects himself and his ideals into the life of his characters in his novel. He reveals his simplistic ideology through a journal entry in which he states, “My life is going to be a farm where I’ll grow my food. I won’t do nothing but sit under a tree while my crops are growing, drink homemade wine, write novels to edify my soul, play with my kids, and thumb my nose at the coughing wretches.” (Kerouac “almost”) This same unfettered view toward life is exemplified by Kerouac’s key figure Sal Paridise in the novel excerpt from “On the Road”, who is hitch hiking from New York to Colorado with little money in his pocket and only the clothes he can carry in a bag. Simplicity was clearly an issue with Kerouac the man and author.
A genuine sense of compassion also seemed to resonate from both articles. Fellow author and good friend of Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, seemed to have enormous issues dealing with his own ego, much less the puzzlings of the world. His fits and rages perplexed even Kerouac who wrote, “How can I help a man who wants to be a monster one minute and a god the next?” (Kerouac “almost”) Similarly, in the novel, Sal shows a willingness to help his new friend Eddie writing “The drizzle increased and Eddie got cold; he had very little clothing. I fished a wool plaid shirt from my canvas bag and he put it on. He felt a little better.” (Sal “on”) Compassion and sympathetic gestures are visible in both works.
An occasional drink seems to quench the thirst of both Kerouac and his central character. While taking a road trip through Butte, Montana, Kerouac muses while exploring the streets, “This was a Sunday night – I hoped the saloons would stay open until I had seen my fill.” (Kerouac “almost”) In like fashion, as we join the character Sal at the beginning of the excerpt from the novel he remarks, “I walked, after a few cold beers, to the edge of town, and it was a very long walk”. (Sal “on”) Kerouac displays an almost lusty exuberance for alcoholic refreshment in both cases.
I found the most striking similarity between the two works to be Kerouac’s desire to throw care to the wind and go west. At the core of Kerouac’s being, and through his character, he longs for a free spirit. During a 1949 road trip with a friend Kerouac seems almost giddy when he explains, “We in the car jubilant, beating on the dashboard of the ’49 Hudson coupe…headed west.” (Kerouac “almost”) Sal’s trip west parallels the same carefree spirit that Kerouac clearly desires for himself.
Certainly as plausible, and I believe more telling than the consistencies of Kerouac’s essence are the blatant unmistakable deviations there of. Take for example, the simple ideology of a man whose life’s’ goal was to have a farm and play with his kids. That sweet and basic desire for the quiet little things of life seem arbitrary to a man who within the same body of text asks with anticipation, “In twelve days my Town and City will be published and the reviews will appear. Will I be rich or poor? Will I be famous or forgotten?” (Kerouac “almost”) Clearly his simplistic stream runs shallower in some places than in others.
The compassion he expresses toward his friends and illustrates in the novel through the example of Sal giving Eddie his plaid shirt, are marred by the sarcastic and disparaging way he views the working class people of his own environment. He describes them poignantly, “People rush off to meaningless jobs day after day, you see them coughing in the subways at dawn. They squander their souls on things like rent, decent clothes, gas and electricity, insurance, behaving like peasants who have just come out of the fields and are so dreadful tickled because they can buy baubles and doodads in stores.” (Kerouac “almost”) Instead of caring and compassion on the part of Kerouac, this seems more than just a little condescending and self-righteous.
Though a more difficult case to make, but one worth making, are his seemingly casual references to alcohol in his novel, as opposed to an outright alcohol dependency in his own life. We see Sal enjoy a few cold beers at the opening of the novel excerpt, as though it were just a meaningless form of refreshment on a hot afternoon. Conversely, Kerouac’s alcohol consumption in his own life was one of excess, of which I believe was not casual at all, but rather compulsive.
Conclusively, the most striking inconsistency of all, I feel, is Kerouac’s expression of free spirit. This issue can be more easily defined as who he wants to be, in the form of Sal, and who he really is, himself. Trapped in a mundane and suffocating Eastern culture, he seems trapped behind his own typewriter, coming up with tedious statistical correlations between when he hopes to finish his novel, and Ted Williams’s batting average. On the rare occasions he does pre-empt his writing for other explorations, he is ultimately bound to the confinement of his inevitable return to form. It’s as though he really can’t allow himself to enjoy the freedom of spirit that he aspires to, because it would in some way distract from his work. He is, in that way, as predictable and narrow-minded as the peasants who he is openly disgusted by.
Kerouac, like many successful authors, is at battle with himself. The question of who he is, and who he aspires to be is somewhat definable, but much less attainable. Most of us would admit to certain aspirations that we would like to achieve as a means of attaining true happiness, but limitations of all types constrain us at certain points from carrying them all out. Kerouac proves himself to be just a confined by his own inner conflicts as some of us would be. Where to go and how to get there? What to do and how to achieve it? When to work and when to wander? Truly Kerouac lives, and writes, in a perpetual state of inward turmoil.

Scott Nicholson

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John Cougar Mellencamp – “Cherry Bomb” (Video – 1987)

November 10, 2008 at 9:51 am (John Mellencamp, Music)

The former Mr. Cougar…this is one of his most timeless songs – probably my favorite…

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