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Conned Beyond their Ability to Grasp
Queer Chicken Dinner by Ron West pages 1-5

This endeavor began by accident or, alternatively had been engineered by fate and the gods. I’d been perusing the International Herald Tribune (Global Edition of the New York Times), May 23, 2012 and noticed the ‘On the Road’ (on the big screen) article in the culture section, about an upcoming screening of a new film at the Cannes festival in France. I’d thought to myself, ‘ok, it’s long past time I’d read this book.’ So I bought ‘On the Road.’

The 'Penguin Modern Classics' edition of Jack Kerouac's 'On the Road' has a brief (23 page) backgroundcharacters biography by Kerouac biographer Ann Charters. At this point in my rebuttal, I'd read that and chapter one. My initial impression .. Neal Cassidy, the bi-sexual Denver skid row kid who the central character Dean Moriarty is based on, is hardly representative of the western states 'spirit of freedom' despite whatever Kerouac, Ginsburg, Burroughs et al, impressions might have been.

I'm not saying Cassidy is entirely devoid of 'the free spirit of the west', only he was not anywhere near a whole picture, but more like a factory damaged misprint. The kids I knew in my youth were probably ten times as dangerous and interesting. Likely the comparison to Gene Autry is correct, a lot of his act was tied up in acting, trying be something in actuality he was not.

I'm putting my money on the thought the 'beat generation' philosophers in fact were conned beyond their ability to grasp just how conned they were, but mostly just self-conned. Bob Dylan (Zimmerman) stated about ‘On the Road’

“It changed my life like it changed everyone else’s”

Well, Zimmerman got it wrong. There was this phenomena I’d known in my teen years and as a young man, that was altogether uninfluenced by ‘On the Road.’

I will write this rebuttal chapter by chapter, not having skipped ahead. Each of Kerouac’s ‘yarns’ concerning the Rocky Mountain character particularly, and the western states generally, will be a fresh experience, my not having read ‘On the Road’ previously, when making criticisms and any comparisons to the ‘Real McCoy.’

We had what was known as ‘the line.’ The line was the old U.S. Highway 2 from Blue Moon Tavern at Columbia Falls to Freda’s Bar at West Glacier, Montana, in the 1950s, 60s & 70s. And it was every bar and pub between. Kids from ‘up the line’ were known to be particularly wild. The line was about 16 miles and 24 bars along a strip of pavement through what was in those days ‘wild country’ in ways that defy the stereotype. That wild country produced wild young people no Denver skid row kid could ever hope to compete with.

A related personal note on so-called ‘Beat’ writers would be, likely this is why I could never relate to the work of Gary Snyder, also I'd met Richard Brautigan when he was living in Paradise Valley in the late 1970s and found him insufferable, conceited, rudderless, empty in ways

that cannot be explained by Zen (and unapproachable as soon as he realized he'd met a real Montana country boy from a mixed White/Native American community.)

Looking back, I have to say I was impressed at the man’s lack of reality, in a sense, a fraud. Did moving to Montana in some sense confer a Dean Moriarty-like authenticity in Brautigan’s mind? I suppose that might be motivation for an outsider, in process of trying to convince their self of something they in reality cannot and never will know. I see it this way: A country kid can go to the city and have his eyes opened. A city kid can go to the country and have his mind blown. There is a nuance here I am speaking of, for instance when you go into the wild country away from the ‘noise’ .. it takes about five days for all of the reverberations and echoes to vanish and find the stillness. City kids often freak out at the silence. Country kids often find it healing.

At 61 years, I’m certainly not going to write my rebuttal correcting the western ‘character’ and ‘freedom’ in Kerouac’s style of three weeks Benzedrine psychosis.So I will browse ‘On the Road’ at my favorite horseback pace, a leisurely walk. And give my impressions of the book in juxtaposition to authentic recollections of those years alcohol was interspersed with mescaline, LSD, et cetera in a wild country with wild characters who oftentimes simply and soberly loved the area we lived in because it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL.

Reminisce: I was riding horseback through the forest in the Great Bear wilderness on a moonless & overcast night, you could not see your hand in front of your face.

The route was from the Middle Fork of the Flathead River headwaters country, across the Continental Divide at Badger Pass and out into the foothills of the Rocky Mountain Front on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. I had total trust in my barefoot Blackfoot pony to keep its footing in the pitch dark, know the route and to stay on and make a correct decision at any fork in the trail. Relaxed in the saddle, I brought out my rolling tobacco and made a cigarette I never saw until I'd lit the match ...

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