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March 30, 1958 - Image 15

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Michigan Daily, 1958-03-30
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1

AZINE

Sunday, March 30,

THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE

... .. ... ... ... ..w...

va 3v.J~ .J, I1.0

KEROUAC

The Sunshine State and The

T

A Fourth Class American Traveler

A Haven for Snow-Sickened Rich

And The Beat Generation

THE SUBTERRANEANS. By
Jack Kerouac. Grove Press.
New York. 111. pp. Paperback,
$1.A5.
By KEITH DEVRIES
WHAT IS the present younger
generation? Crys of "conform-
ists" and "non-committed" are
commonly heard. Time magazine
attracted much attention last fall
with an article about the "No-
Nonsense Kids" and recently Life
ran a widely-read report on "The
Unsilent Generation,' a condensa-
tion from a book of the same title.
What has become increasingly
prominent, however, is an analy-
sis which dubs us the "Beat Gen-
eration."
Briefly, the "beat" thesis is that
the significant young man of to-
day is a "hipster": i.e., he goes
wild over jazz, motorcycles, hitch-
hiking, sex, marijuana and little
else. In most accounts he is pic-
tured as "looking for something,"
often finding it in Zen Buddhism.
Presumably it is this trait com-
bined with his always present ex-
pletive "gass" and "man" which
keeps him from being classified in
the old "Lost Generation."
The scoffers usually sneer that
these characteristics apply to on-
ly about ten people in the coun-
try, most of whom belong to.the
Keith DeVries, a senior in
English Honors, was formerly
a Daily staff writer. He makes
his first appearance in the
Magazine with his review of
"The Subterraneans:"

small group of San Francisco mu-
sicians and writers who have pro-
claimed themselves the official
spokesmen for the "hipsters."
WHATEVER the actual size and
significance of the "beat"
trend may be, it has received a re-
markable amount of publicity. The
slick magazines, Esquire, Playboy,
Life, even Mademoislle, have de-
voted considerable and excited
space to its western prophets. In
San Francisco the city govern-
ment helped the "push" by at-
tempting to ban as obscene the
most famous "beat" poem, Howl,
by one of the famous "poets", Al-
len Ginsberg.
The subsequent hearing, at
which the ban was removed, was
enlivened by the prosecuting at-
torney, who apparently represents
the rage of the bourgeoisie at the
group. "Can you tell me," he de-
manded of the Bohemians and
critics he brought to the stand,
"what a line means like 'angel-
headed hipsters burning for the
ancient heavenly connection to
the starry dynamo in the ma-
chinery of the night'?" That does
not seem so very difficult, but no
one would enlighten him. The best
answer he got was "you can't ex-
press in prose what you can say
in poetry."
In spite of the lawyer and his
fellow Philistines across the coun-
try, the Movement has flourished.
LAST FALL, another of the
spokesmen, Jack Kerouac, a
35 year old citizen of the high-
ways, had his novel On The Road

KEROUAC
... non-committed?
published. His second book and
his first genuinely "beat" one, it
described a series of mindless,
frantic wanderings across Ameri-
ca.
The volume sold surprisingly
well and fast, particularly after a
great number of magazine"articles,
many inspired by the book, ap-
peared towards the end of the
year. So extraordinary indeed was
its success that Grove Press de-
cided to publish another of Ker-
ouac's novels, The Subterraneans,
which had previously been rejected
by the publishers. Soon Kerouac's
frenzied fans received word of the
new book and bought out nearly
the entire first edition before it
reached the retail stores.
In the midst of all this excite-
ment, it is a sad duty to report
that The Subterraneans isn't a
very good book.
Its plot is essentially a love
story of a wandering "beat" nov-
elist in his thirties, Leo Percepied
and a Negro girl, Mardou Fox. All
that really happens is they sleep
together frequently, realize on ev-
ery other page the magnitude of
their love, question their rela-
tionship on the pages in between,
and finally drift apart. The effect
is to make the 111 page book seem
very long indeed.
EVEN drearier than the plot are
the moaning complaints Ker-
ouac makes about the awful suf-
ferings his hero goes through in
an awful world.

Still worse there is really no
meaning given to Percepied's
troubles, not even the meaning of
no meaning. Kerouac never both-
ers to examine the standard Amer-
ican ideals and values which have
presumably brought his charac-
ters into Bohemia. An occasion-
al mention of racial prejudice and
one comment on "midtown silli-
ness" are his only attempts in
that direction.
Neither does he make the "beat"
environment of North Beach a
significant background. The
people there, who get drunk con-
stantly, play Gerry Mulligan con-
stantly, and dance the Mambo
naked are sillier than they are
dreadfully or excitingly nihilistic.
ONLY other conceivable
excuse for the final cries of
"I don't want to live in this beast-
ly world" would be an explora-
tion into the individual depravi-
ties and failings of the central
characters. While Kerouac at-
tempts a little of this, he makes
Percepied's supposedly terrible be-
trayal of Mardou only absurd. (He
pushes her into a taxi and sends
her home _alone so that he can
get to a bar before it closes.) Mar-
dou's subsequent betrayal is mere-
ly justified and again a little stu-
pid.
As disappointing as anything
else is the writing. In -his intro-
duction to Howl Allen Ginsberg
hailed Kerouac as the "new
Buddha of American prose, who
spit forth intelligence into eleven
books . ..creating a spontaneous
bop prosody and original classic
literature." He doesn't live up to
his billing.
IT'S ONLY fair to say that in
some passages, particularly
those describing the affection be-
tween Mardou and Leo, Kerauac
achieves a real beauty. Between
these high points, however, are
long, masses of uninspired, tedious
prose.
Early this year Kerouac turned
up in New York to read Ginsberg's
poetry to the accompaniment of
jazz. The clothes he wore then,
brown slacks, brown shoes and a
shirt that glowed in the dark, were
so decidedly non-cool as to raise
fears among his disillusioned fans
that he might have killed off the
Whole movement.
What he didn't do by his clothes
he may well do through his book.
All in all, it just doesn't roll.

ON THE ROAD. By Jack
Kerouac. Viking. New York.
310 pgi., $3.95.
By DONALD A. YATES
jACK KEROUAC. wanderer and
lover of America, comes as,
close as anyone writing today to
being the Thomas Wolfe of his
generation. And we should have
a Wolfe in every generation-
someone to sing the praises and
the glory of the country in terms
of the poetry that Jamestown,
Valley Forge, Gettysburg, and
Chicago inspire, not in terms of
machines and might and motion.
Author Kerotlac, as a fourth-
class traveler 'of the U.S. has been
close to what this country is un-
derneath the generalizations and
statistics. He can - and does --
speak to us of the power and
beauty that lies in the heart of
America, in the souls of Americans
who have to be reminded of what
they really are -- so far have
material concerns removed them
from their origins.
Kerouac writes with'great free-
dom, and with surprising effec-
tiveness. It would seem it is diffi-
cult for him to write badly, even
when he is obviously not writing
consciously dramatic or descriptive
pages. The reader wants to be-
lieve in him as the seer and feeler
of all the sights that he, as the
author, has experienced and that.--
he unselfishly reveals to us.
Time and time again, our sym-
pathies are won over by a line, an
observation, written always on the
same theme-America Ias a place
where some people still live con-
sciously and believe in the past.
Here is an example of the love_
for what is American, of the au-
thor's concern for what is at the
soul center of the country: "I
didn't know what to say; he was
right; but all I wanted to do was
sneak out into the _night and
disappear somewhere, and go and
find out what everybody was doing
all over the country."
KEROUAC IDENTIFIES himself
with the "Beat" Generation,
the young idealless people who
want to "dig" whatever's exciting
and live, live, live. This novel tells
what it's all about. There's no
doubt that the "beat" group man-
ages to get closer to the soil than
the "Lost Generation" ever did.

SUN DRENCHED BEACHES-Florida beaches are noted for their
white sand, picturesque palm trees and dry bathing suits.

One of the; popular attractions
on Clearwater Beach is the arrival
of the fishboats. They leave early
in the morning ladened with tour-
ists, fishpoles, minnows and little
boys who catch all the fish. At
about 5 p.m. they boats return,
ladened with exhausted tourists,
broken fishpoles, and enormous
fish jubilantly, if not strenuously,
held up by the little boys.
Cars line up for blocks along the
docks to watch the old fishing
boats moor. Observers ooh and
ahh in unison when a successful
fisherman flaunts his catch. After
the fishboats are in, a day in
Clearwater is complete. Now comes
the night life.
MUCH is to be done in Clear-
water at night. Tourists hit
the nightclubs and movie houses.'
Residents stay home and watch
television. If you're the athletic
type, and young, you can always
find a beachparty and a late
swimming party. But, the water
is cold, and hardly anyone goes
in swimming --only the laymen
tourists. They know better later
on.
Traveling along a Florida high
way, one, while o c c a s i o n ally
glimpsing the water, is constantly
faced with citrus orchards and
advertisements proclaiming fresh
orange juice and pecan nuts pick-
ed right from the trees. Otherwise
highways in Florida are compar-
able to those in Michigan, except
for the presence of palm trees and
lack of maples.

By DONNA HANSON
Daily Personnel Director
Florida's Chamber of Commerce
handles a booming year-round
business. It is impossible to read
through a newspaper - without
coming across some type of propa-
ganda extolling the virtues of the
"Sunshine State." About every
Florida newspaper takes up much
front page space with details on
the weather and po p u l a t i o n
growth.
This is a bad year for the Flori-.
da Chamber of Commerce though.
.Rumors have it that snow and
freezing weather have been plagu-
ing the sunny south-with Florida
being no exception. This is bad
news for Florida businesses which
flourish on tourist trade.
Nonetheless, Florida is a haven
for the snow-sickened rich. It was
quite an experience for an uncos-
mopolitan Northerner like me
when I saw my first palm tree.
And the water - "the blue,
sparkling, sun - specked Gulf of
Mexico softly lapping on the snow-
white sandy beaches." And it's all
true. The water is blue and it does
lap on snow-white sandy beaches
but you never see anyone swim-
ming in it. It's too darn cold, and,
on top of that it's too darn salty.
DURING Christmas vacation, I
flew from Winter Park to Palm
Beach. If you want to cross the

state, you travel by car, bus, or
plane, since trains can't cut across
the swamps. Anyway, I had an op-
portunity to view Lake Okeecho-
bee from the air, and believe me,
it was impressive. As was all the
swamp land on which clever, fast-
talking businessmen and real
estate brokers are building their
fortunes.
PalmsBeach is beautiful-really.
The homes are magnificent and
found in a multitude of sizes and
pastel shades. Yachts bob quietly
up and down in their moorings at
the docks and the cabanas are
absoluely indescribable.
Residents aren't too ostentatious
in Palm Beach. You'll find the up-
stairs maid dressed more elegantly
than the lady of the house when
on a shopping expedition. It's the
fashion to dress sloppily in Palm
Beach, but sloppily-in an expen-
sive way. Those aren't rhinestones
around her neck!
ON TO THE western seaboard-
Clearwater, 21 miles f r o m
Tampa, is right on the edge of the
"blue, sparkling Gulf of Mexico."
Acually, Clearwaer is a fine
"little" town-when it's devoid of
tourists. The motels are grandious,
each with its own brand of swim-
ming pool and schedule of rates--
each attempting to be bigger,
grander and more expensive than
the other. They're great, for sight
seeing.

r tfHETHINGS I find so unusual
about Florida, other than the
palm and fresh pecan trees, are
the homes. Wood or brick homes
are rare. Most are adobe and are
painted in pastel colors. This is
something hard to imagine in the
North. Chartreuse and white are
popular colors, as are the more
feminine pink and white and blue
and white.
Christmas in Florida is interest-
ing, if not an unusual experience
for a Northerner. Christmas trees
in homes 'are rare. Santa's sleigh

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Numbler of Passengers per Trip
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REMEMBER!!

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