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March 14, 1999

Read any good books lately?

don't look back, like dylan in that movie We were second row stage left for closing night of 2 and a half year Seattle run of Vincent Balestri's one-man show Kerouac: The Essence of Jack. I asked two questions during the audience participation q-n-a which was part of Mr. Balestri's reenactment of Kerouac's notorious interview with William F. Buckley.

Question 1:
When are you coming back?
There was a doublemeaning to this, neither of which was where I was really coming from. In one way the question could have applied directly to Mr. Balestri, whose final performance this was. On another level it could have been seen to cast Kerouac as a kind of messiah whose acolytes eagerly await a second coming. Neither of these is really what I had in mind.

I had a dream while visiting Florida, Thanksgiving 1995. In it Kerouac told me something known only to him and Allen Ginsberg, and he instructed me to contact Allen, tell him the secret, and then say, "Tell him Jack is safe and says hi." I woke up immediately and reached for my notebook (at the time I was in the habit of recording my dreams) but of course I couldn't remember the details. Nevertheless, I should have contacted Allen but didn't until it was too late. Now he and Jack are in the same place. It never occured to me until tonight that Florida is where Kerouac died and so it was the logical place for a visitation. I think I meant when would he come back to visit my dreams, but with most of his family and friends now gone why would he need to speak through me?

Question 2:
Past, present, future--where does a writer live?
After asking me to repeat the question, Jack (who by now we were temporarily convinced was speaking through Vincent) said without hesitation, "In the eye of the hurricane," an answer which everyone liked.

Here are some good photos of a past performance, unfortunately coupled to an opaque review written in that beat-imitation style which sacrifices clarity for breathless effusion.