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Friday, May 25, 2001

A Novel Approach

7.05 a.m.
Big mistake. I put John McLaughlin and Shakti on this morning. The speeding raga work out of Joy was just too much Joy for me at this time in the morning. Eighteen minutes later I felt totally knackered. And all I was doing was sitting still while it playing. If that was the impression it had on me, can you imagine the state of mind you have to gear yourself up to, to be able play music like this ? So Johhny Mac got the boot and a genteel Ravel String Quartet passed with flying colours.

Recently finished reading a Jack Kerouac biography by Gerald Nicosia. I'd bought the book back in the 80s but only just got round to reading it. Now that's what I call planning ahead.

Like many people, I first read Kerouac when I was a teenager and the combination of what seemed to be his unconventional approach and felt inspired to hop on the nearest bus and go, go,go Daddio ! I recall hitch-hiking to London and the Hammersmith Odeon to see Weather Report and Shakti in 1976 with the spirit of Kerouac very much in mind. The Beats seemed to be an ideal combination of promiscuity in all its various manifestations but there was also the intellectual, existentialist aspect which also greatly appealed and seemed to validate our getting drunk and being lecherous. We were always able to say that we were "living life !" in order to be able to write about it. The bit missing of course was that we never did that much writing.

I used to live in a bedsit in Jesmond (well heeled suburb of Newcastle but with a huge transient student population) and got to know another guy in the house who was a writer. Tony and I would meet up in each other rooms and discuss Kerouac whilst listening to Green Haze by Miles, Eastern Sounds by Yusef Lateef, solo Monk, Parker et al. Imagining ourselves to be Cassady and Kerouac discussing Thoreau or the state of the human condition we usually posed the nights away, aided only by copious pots of tea and our overdriven egos.

We used to read each other poems we'd written and I was always impressed by the fact Tony had written a novel. The thin sheets of typing paper were collected together to form an impressively dog-eared bundle which was the very appearance of what I imagined a manuscript should be. In the six months or so that we lived in the same house, I never did get to read the thing. Our marathon sessions were only curtailed by the breaking of dawn's early light, complaints from the neighbours or the onset of laryngitis.

I heard on the radio the other day that the manuscript of On The Road was sold at auction for $2.43m (£1.7m). The new owner of the 120-foot scroll was also the owner of an American football team. Neal Cassady in a letter to Kerouac dated January 7th 1947 wrote "Art is good when it springs from necessity. This kind of origin is the guarantee of its value; there is no other.


The scroll is 120 foot long and written without paragraphs

Talked to Michael Giles yesterday. He'd got in touch to see how the book was going. We both agree that it'll be impossible to keep all the people happy all of the time. Also heard from Gordon Haskell who's album Alligator Man has been renamed Look Out. Gordon sent me a copy a while back and it is such an upbeat album. His voice sounding almost Beefheart-ish at times. Gordon is convinced that this album will be the one to break through and gain him the recognition he believes he has been cheated out of.

Try and fail to make contact with Jack Kimberac of Leafy Highgate. I'm going down there next week to frighten his porcelain and ravage his squirrels. A chum rang earlier in the week to tell me that the book of Channel Four Top Ten series has already been remaindered in a chain called The Works. There's a chapter on the Prog Rock prog and I get a mention in it. Couldn't bring myself to spend ten quid on a book simply because my name appears in print. However, now it's retailing well under a fiver, I think my vanity can be tempted. I figure it'll be going cheaper somewhere in Charing Cross Road.

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