Kerouac, Beliveau, And The GPS Lady


Young fellow in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, just trying to make an honest buck.

I realize now that the three best things I’ve bought in recent memory are a PVR, an electric blanket, and a GPS.

The PVR means we can pause or rewind live TV shows, record shows at the click of a button, and in general do amazing things with the TV that only God or someone of that ilk, like Jean Beliveau, could have invented.

The electric blanket allows me to wrap myself in it and feel a glow all over when the Habs are playing. And having the PVR means I can rewind that beautiful blast from the point in seconds flat.

The GPS is a wondrous device, with a woman with a British accent telling me to go left and right and turn here and there, and allowing us to drive around San Francisco today for hours on end and not get lost once. I love this lady. If I was single I’d want her to bear my children.

San Francisco is a wondrous city with a throbbing heartbeat, a city where every district seems to own a distinct and colourful culture. Coming in from Redding, the GPS lady took us across the Bay Bridge, directly to the Haight-Ashbury district where I bought a second-hand vest at a vintage clothing store, and where we stopped outside the Dead House at 710 Ashbury St, the house where the Grateful Dead lived, loved, laughed and got loaded. 

I wonder what it’s like for the people who live there now, with tourists taking pictures of their house on a regular basis. 

The Grateful Dead's house on Ashbury St during those wild and crazy times of so long ago. And as you can see, they must have been Habs fans.

On command, the GPS lady, who by now was named Kate after Kate Capshaw, directed us to North Beach and the City Lights bookstore, the area where Jack Kerouac and his beat buddies wrote and drank and smoked and argued.

There have been two writers in my life who have made huge impacts. Milt Dunnell of the Toronto Star and his original and unique style of sports writing, who showed me that one can be a little off-centre when writing about sports, that it’s not just stats and numbers that rule the sporting world; and Jack Kerouac

I’ve said often that Kerouac changed my life when I read “On the Road”.

When I was young, hitchiking around the country with nothing in my pockets, I’d sometimes think of Kerouac and how he had done the same thing, and how he’d taken his experiences and written about them, and I related more than I’d realized then. He taught me with his writings that it’s okay to break journalistic rules, it’s fine to sometimes to scribble rambling sentences if the need is felt, and it’s definitely okay to have itchy feet and appreciate the open road and not always follow what society dictates.

Kerouac is known as the father of the hippie movement, a title he disliked, but I understand why he was given it. He was a cool, gifted man, before cool was cool, who died far too young. He and his buddies like Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassidy listened to jazz, sat for marathon hours solving the world’s problems, and shunned society’s standard way of thinking. And as I said, they took to the road. He was a writer who influenced me greatly.

He and Milt Dunnell.

Luciena and I ended our day at Fisherman’s Wharf, listening to blues in an upstairs club, and as I write this, I say with bursting heart that San Francisco is a miraculous place.

Tomorrow (I think), the Hearst Castle and Santa Barbara. And naturally, any Habs stuff I can think of.

7 thoughts on “Kerouac, Beliveau, And The GPS Lady”

  1. Dennis,

    Try and visit a winery or two in Santa Barbara, they’re worth stopping for. Are you taking HWY 1 down to LA? If you haven’t before, it’s a must. The secenary is second to none, there’s a lovely place to stop for lunch in Big Sur, it’s called Nepenthe. Looking forward to reading more of your CA adventures.

  2. Hi Moey,
    We’re not going down hwy 1 this time because this is just a nine day trip with a load of stuff planned so we can’t lose time. But we did it last year and I know what you mean. Big Sur is really spectacular and if we had more time, we’d go that way for sure.
    Thanks for reading my little travelogue, Moey. I’m sure some Habs fans are quite turned off by the lack of Habs news on my site right now but I can’t help it. I have to have a life too. I know you know what I mean.

  3. I’m a bit late for commenting but fun fact, “On the Road” is being made into a movie and parts of it were filmed at a family friends house in Hudson.

  4. On The Road changed my life too. Me, being female, I’ve never hitch hiked. When I decide to go on a trip, it’s usually around the areas of Kerouac’s travels. I’m 49. So, I missed Kerouac’s big era by 20 years, but I”m catching up. I’ve spent years catching up on it. When I am by myself, I look for the roads mentioned in On The road. I’m documenting it, and writing a book about where I went. After the Grateful Dead movie last Wednesday on big screen,(born another 10 years too late) I left, woke up the next day and said, “I’m going to Haight/Ashbury, by myself cause no one will understand if they have to go with me”. I live in Missouri. I’m GPSing it the whole way. I don’t want to see Vegas, I’ve been to Denver, and I want to go to Haight/Ashbury. I don’t think I’ll go to Big Sur, I’m sure it’s spectacular. I want to go where he went in On the Road. It’s almost my life’s mission.

  5. Hi Rhonda.
    I discovered On The Road when I was about 19 or 20 and by that time I’d already hitchhiked all over the place, across Canada several times, down to California, through Quebec, often alone, and with almost no money in my pockets. I felt a need to travel, to see new things, and On the Road helped me make sense of what I was doing. Kerouac and his friends had lived the way I was living, and along with the need for the open road, he inspired me to write, and write in my own way that sometimes goes against the grain. I’m lucky that I was on the scene in the 1960’s for the music and all that was in the air back then, but I know Kerouac wanted no part of it. He didn’t want to be a leader of a generation the same as Dylan has never either, but both influenced so many of us anyway. I loved On the Road and every decade or so I pick it up and read it again.
    Several years ago I discovered that Kerouac spent years secretly creating his own baseball league on paper, with stats and made-up players and scores and standings and the whole gamut. It really impressed me.
    It’s sad that he was tormented and drank too much and died so young, but his legacy carries on.
    Please keep in touch and tell me of your travels. I must warn you though, the Haight isn’t what it used to be but still has a nice bohemian flavour to it. Maybe you’ll enjoy it.
    Stay safe.

  6. that’s my friend’s photo u have on here- the guy w the kick me in the ass sign is Troll. when u took that photo it was 5 yrs ago or more. we are still homeless sleeping on the street in the Upper Haight. he has pancreatitits which was pretty bad 2-3 yrs ago- he was in & out of the hospital& in a lot of pain. its from drinking, which he has cut back on and not been sick from pancreatitis bad enuf to be hospitalized since then. his childhood was a nightmare in Erie, PA, very bad Mom, hence the drinking. he is so insightful, humble, smart and funny, he doesnt say much, he’s very genuine. u are so much more privilleged than we are- i can see by your lifestyle that u have it waaaay more lucky than me and esp him. hope u werent stingy when u were in Our neighborhood taking photos of him.

  7. Thanks Andrea. I asked him if he didn’t mind, he said no problem, and I gave him five bucks.

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