For John, BLUF: Jack Kerouac is not just about Lowell. Nothing to see here; just move along.
In today's issue of The International Herald Tribune I found someone On The Road, checking out "Kerouac’s Mexico".
I found Jack Kerouac’s Mexico on a strip of beach that separated the old hotels from the heaving Pacific, at a bar near where he sat on the sea wall and watched the sunset 61 years ago.The story itself goes on for quite a while, but respect for the Reporter and the newspaper requires I not quote too much. However, an interesting story.
My best friends in Mazatlán, whom I had met only a day earlier, were behind me arguing and laughing. But with a beer in hand and my own perfect view of daylight’s final yawn, I was too blissed out to talk. The crashing waves sounded like drums, and everyone in the water seemed to be dancing: a tangle of teenagers splashed around and flirted, their wiry limbs shimmering like lures, then came a dazzling woman wearing a bathing suit of rainbow stripes, her bare feet catching the surf, her long hair waving in the breeze.
That moment was the closest I got to channeling Kerouac on my journey inspired by his 1952 bus trip from the Arizona border to Mexico City. The scene before me called to mind the Mazatlán he described to Allen Ginsberg: “hot and flat right on the surf, no tourists whatever, the wonder spot of the Mexicos really but nobody hardly knows, a dusty crazy wild city on beautiful Acapulco surfs.”
Still, I wondered, how much did Kerouac’s romantic vision match up with reality?
Mazatlán is one of the many places that the Beats used to bolster the idea of Mexico as the destination for debauched recreation and self-discovery. Hollywood headed south first (Errol Flynn and John Wayne vacationed along Mexico’s Pacific coast), but Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, who moved to Mexico City in 1949 to avoid a drug charge in New Orleans, laid down in literature a charmingly simple notion of the country that has endured.
Regards — Cliff