Jack Kerouac

"On the Road" Gay Sex; 3 Techies Do Healthcare Web Site (That Actually Works)

“On the Road” Gay Sex

When posting anything about the book or film, On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, it’s simple to veer off topic because everything about the Beat Generation and their literary works is so fascinating. Whether knowing it at the time, or not knowing it, they challenged everything in heteronormative society during a time when the most popular songs in the mainstream had titles like Buttons and Bows and everyone believed films stars like Rock Hudson were straight and loved women. Anything that is even remotely related to homosexuality in books was considered underground, on the fringes, and pornographic in what we would now consider g-rated standards.

In full disclosure, I’ve started reading On the Road many times. As you can see from the photo above I keep it on my nightstand at all times, and I have for years now, because I’m always promising to get around to it one of these days. For some reason I find hard to explain, I simply can’t get past a certain point. So when I watched the film adaptation the other night I was hoping it would inspire me to finish the book once and for all.

And it did inspire me to a certain extent, and yet I still have the same reservations. Even though it’s usually the other way around and people usually read the book before seeing the film, in this case I don’t think that aspect will bother me. Because after seeing some of the gay sex scenes now I’m more curious than ever to see how they were handled in the book. In the film they were cautious but realistic, and I think appropriate to the time period…as well as scenes that could be related to gay sex right now in real life. During that time period it wasn’t acceptable to even discuss homosexuality aloud. This was handled well in the film. The only thing I wish they’d done differently was show more reality, and not in a highly sexual way. The homoeroticism was there from the beginning of the film to the end, however, it was treated so lightly in most parts of the film most people who aren’t gay might not pick up on it and get the full impact of how these characters lived and interacted.

The one homosexual scene I found most interesting was more toward the end of the film when main character, Dean Moriarty, played by Garrett Hedlund, has sex with minor a minor character, a traveling salesman, played by Steve Buscemi. It’s not exactly a detailed scene, but we see enough of what gorgeous stud Moriarty does to this minor character through an open doorway and it’s one of the most realistic scenes I’ve seen in a film for a long time. There is nothing heteronormative about the scene, even though the minor character is clearly in the closet and is accustomed to paying young men like Moriarty to aggressively throw him face down on a bed, climb on top of him, and offer stud services. In the end, the minor character pretends nothing ever happened and both characters go their separate ways.

This isn’t a full review of the movie, because I’m not going to get into other aspects of it that also challenged heteronormative culture in the mid-twentieth century. But I do think it’s a film that is interesting for anyone interested in the way homosexuality was viewed back then. And although it’s treated with care and could have been more realistic, it’s not done poorly either. Without having read the book yet in full it’s impossible for me to go by any standards other than the film.

You can read more about it here. And here. And here. But you won’t find any mention of gay anything in detail with the links I’ve provided because gay still is avoided in most places mainstream. Most reviews of this film you’ll find talk more about the main character’s relationship to women and how poorly he treats them and isn’t a very good dad. And you can’t help wonder if that’s because he’s really gay and couldn’t come out of the closet in that time period. I could be stretching that. But Jack Kerouac did have an ongoing relationship with Allen Ginsberg that lasted for life. This is mentioned in the film, too, but not in any detail. We know the men play around with each other. They let us know they play around. But we don’t go there too often because that would be wrong somehow.

3 Techies Do Healthcare Web Site (That Actually Works)

I think of this as more tech oriented than political, so I’m not forming any political opinions now. Although God knows I’ve seen my share of Obama supporters defend the healthcare web site debacle and I’ve seen my share of non-Obama supporters slam everything about the new healthcare system we’re all going to be dealing with eventually. The fact remains that the government fucked up this time and couldn’t even provide…or plan ahead…a viable healthcare web site that people could navigate with even a modest amount of simplicity. And though I’m no tech genius, I know enough from working on the web for years now that there are certain aspects to consider when creating a web site that take top priority over all else. Evidently, the government is either unfamiliar with how things online work (unless it involves the solicitation of campaign donations), or they hired the wrong people to create the web site. Because a small group of 3 young tech folks in San Francisco recently created a working healthcare web site that’s simple to navigate and doesn’t compromise anyone’s personal info. They did this in something like three days. And I don’t think anyone paid them a dime to do it.

The result is a bare-bones site that lets users enter their zip code, plus details about their family and income, to find suggested plans in their area.

“The Health Sherpa is a free guide that makes it easier to find and sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. We only use carefully vetted, publicly available data,” the site reads. “The Health Sherpa is not affiliated with any lobby, trade group or government agency and has no political agenda.”
 
Bravo!! At least the rest of us know it can be done. Now let’s see if the government can get it right by March.
 
You can read the article I linked to above here. I found it at CNN.com on the tech page…just so no one thinks I’m getting too political here. It’s a non-partisan piece without a slant that just gives facts.
 
You can check out the three guys who designed Sherpa, here. All are adorable and smart.
 
And here’s the link to Sherpa itself. It’s almost so simple and so wonderful I can’t help but wonder if it’s true. So far I haven’t heard anyone say it isn’t.
 
If nothing else, I think these guys could be naughty boys with a strong story.
 
Please refrain from all political comments on the thread with this post. I don’t entertain partisan politics here. This blog is for information and fun, not vitriol.
 

Gay Sex in Film Version of "On The Road"

 
 

I’m glad to see there will be a few gay sex scenes in the movie version of Jack Kerouac’s novel, “On the Road.” And really only because I can’t see how they could be ignored. To ignore the gay sex would be to ignore the rebellious aspects of the entire Beat Generation.

I’ve read a great deal about the Beat Generation and Jack Kerouac’s personal life. I keep “On the Road” in print version on my night stand, and that’s the only book I keep there now. Allen Ginsberg lived right here in New Hope, back when New Hope was a theater town and filled with all kinds of creative types. There was no “gay” then. Whether or not Kerouac and the rest of the most famous members of the Beat Generation were bi-sexual or homosexual is not always clear. But one thing’s for sure. There was gay sex.

I think it’s important to make the distinction, though, that “On the Road” is not gay fiction and was never meant to be gay fiction. It can get a little confusing to understand for those who are younger and have grown up knowing the word “gay” as it applies to homosexuals. In those days homosexual wasn’t something discussed openly…or even thought about in a positive way. In those days, a lot of the gay sex associated with the Beat Generation was almost shameful for some and for others a rebellious act against society. At least that’s how I’ve always viewed it.

There’s an interesting article here. The other thing I think is important about the entire topic has more to do with the evolution of “gay” men and “gay” sex since that time. What they thought of as rebellious back then has now become so commonplace it often goes by unnoticed. Not totally, but I don’t think anyone considers being gay a rebellious act anymore.

But while the movie is brazen about gay sex (well, male gay sex), it may not attain queer classic status like My Own Private Idaho, Bound, and Mysterious Skin. While some film critics accuse Salles of turning his nose up at the gay sex in the book, the truth is that Kerouac’s novel is not really a queer work, just a work with queers. While Truman Capote, James Baldwin, and Gore Vidal wrote about men loving other men, On the Road has male characters simply jumping into bed with each other. Also, the book is way too stocked with misogyny and homophobia to be a testament to the LGBT experience, says Don Romesburg, an associate professor of women’s and gender studies and the queer studies adviser at California’s Sonoma State University.

“On the Road’s homoeroticism doesn’t affirm homosexuality or bisexuality as much as it shores up the narrator’s and main character’s prerogatives, as Beat but ultimately straight white males, to go where they want and fuck who they want,” Romesburg says. “But it’s all in the service of their freedom, not ours. Being queer and reading On the Road can be like that drunken one-night stand with a straight boy who won’t make eye contact with you after.”

On the Road, by Kerouac, Now a Movie!!!


ON THE ROAD is the only book I keep on my nightstand. At all times. And not just because it defines the Beat Generation, or because Jackie Kennedy loved it. For me, it’s the way in which the book was crafted and executed. The New York Times said is was, “the most beautifully executed, the clearest and most important utterance” of Kerouac’s generation.

I’ve also always been interested in Kerouac because of his relationship with Allen Ginsberg, another writer who was part of the Beat Generation. In this article it says, “When he (Ginsberg) met Jack Kerouac, those latent gay feelings were at last brought to the surface. The two became occasional lovers, often sharing a bed after a long evening of discussion and wine together.” Although this information is rarely discussed, I can’t help wondering more about both men and the kind of relationship they shared.

Here’s the article from The New York Times:

Many consider Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” sacred text. The novel was, after all, originally typed on a scroll.

Translated into 40 languages, millions of copies of the Beat generation classic have sold worldwide since the novel was published in 1957, placing it among the 20th century’s most influential books.

When it comes to the big screen, however, “On the Road” has faced a Kerouac curse. Past efforts by Hollywood to adapt the author’s work have been failures.

Now, somewhat quietly, “On the Road” has finally been made into a movie. The $25 million production, shot in San Francisco, Montreal and other locales, is scheduled for release this fall.

The movie is expected to be of keen interest in San Francisco where the Beats and their old hangouts are a cottage industry. Each year, thousands of people flock to North Beach to visit the City Lights bookstore and the bar Vesuvio or to gawk at Kerouac artifacts in The Beat Museum.

But with so much interest comes anxiety.

Adapting any beloved book for film is perilous and apt to irk fans, especially when it’s a literary classic where the language itself played a starring role — something not easily translated onto the screen. “On the Road” is particularly daunting since the provocative ideas that defined the novel — casual sex and drug use and a rejection of materialism — are unlikely to raise eyebrows with today’s multiplex audience.

The creative team from another counterculture road movie is leading the project: the director Walter Salles and the screenwriter Jose Rivera from the award-winning Che Guevara biopic “The Motorcycle Diaries.”

The cast is peppered with actors with box-office appeal, including Kristen Stewart of “Twilight” fame, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams and Viggo Mortensen. The two male leads, characters based on Kerouac and his fellow flâneur Neal Cassady, are played by lesser-known actors, Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund.

In July, before filming began near the primary sets in Montreal, the cast and crew went through Beat boot camp — three weeks of immersion with Kerouac experts.

One “drill instructor” was Gerald Nicosia, author of “Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac,” considered by many (including William S. Burroughs) to be the definitive Kerouac account.

None of the cast and crew were old enough to remember the Beat era, so Mr. Nicosia, of Corte Madera, approached the sessions as if he were teaching ancient history, “like I was bringing them the Holy Grail.”

He said the actors were especially intense, knowing they would upset a lot of people if they didn’t portray the characters accurately.

At the camp, Mr. Nicosia played an audio interview that he recorded in 1978 with Lu Anne Henderson, Neal Cassady’s young wife, on whom the book’s character Marylou is based. That conversation is also the basis of “One and Only: The Untold Story of ‘On The Road,’ ” a new book by Mr. Nicosia out this fall.

Could the cast and crew dig, er, relate?

“They’re all very unconventional in their own lives,” Mr. Nicosia said of the actors. “If you’re an outsider, you understand what counterculture is about.”

This striving for authenticity is a stark contrast to many past efforts to film Mr. Kerouac’s work.

His novel “The Subterraneans” about an interracial love affair was turned into a 1960 movie starring George Peppard and Leslie Caron (note: they’re both white). And in 1980 “Heart Beat,” about Kerouac’s life, was derided by critics as having about as much literary substance as a Tic Tac.

Mr. Nicosia said concerns that “On the Road” would be similarly botched have thwarted past attempts to make such a movie. (The film’s producers did not respond to requests for comments.)

Concerns remain. Joanna McClure, a Beat poet who was immortalized as a character in Kerouac’s novel “Big Sur,” is curious about the new film, but said: “It was the writing that was so exciting. How do you make that into a movie?”

Ms. McClure also wondered whether today’s young movie audience, which she described as obsessed with “trying to get into corporations,” could grasp a story about shunning worldly possessions.

“It must make a nice fairy tale for them to think about,” she said. “People wished they lived in a world where that could happen.”

Yet in San Francisco such wishes still resonate.

Gravity Goldberg, editor of the local literary journal Instant City, said many of the submissions she receives today are inspired by Kerouac.

“I think his influence, consciously or not, slips into the work of all these semi-autobiographical bar-hopping, nirvana-through-a-bottle-of-J.D.-seeking writers,” Ms. Goldberg said.

Whether Hollywood success finally comes, or not, the beat goes on.

Scott James is an Emmy-winning television journalist and novelist who lives in San Francisco.
sjames@baycitizen.org