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A Far Rockaway of the Heart

The Faraway Rockaway of my Heart.

Rolling into Rockaway, NY Saturday morning was like coming home. We’d made good friends there last year during our first Beat Museum on Wheels Tour and Geoff and Sal and the good folks at the Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA) saw fit to bring us back for an encore.

Rockaway is right across the water from Manhattan. You can see the skyline of the city from many points. When the twin towers fell on 9/11 the smoke hovered over Rockaway for days. Many local people worked in those towers and the local Fire Department was in the thick of it and lost many members. You can see images of the twin towers in both the Chamber of Commerce sign that greets you as you drive in to town as well as the painting that stands in the entranceway to the Artists Alliance.

But our time at Rockaway was a celebration! Levi Asher stopped by with two of his three children, Daniel & Abby. It was great for John and me to reconnect with an old friend of many years. If you’re unfamiliar with Levi’s website, it is the mother of all literary websites! It started as a Beat website ten years ago and today is so large and complex there is nothing on the web that rivals it. Check it out here: http://www.litkicks.com/

The show was great and afterwards was even greater with lots of jamming and good times. Alan played harmonica and this, being an artist group, Henry drew the scene for posterity. Bobby brought a photo he was given by none other than Robert Frank just the week before. The photo is of the hood of a car looking out at the tail lights of another car as they cross a bridge. But it’s the caption on the back that is really arresting. Written in Frank’s hand are the words: “Florida, 1957. Kerouac is sleeping in the back of the car (Plymouth Sta. Wagon) he wakes up and says – OK, I had my dream….”

The next day was a whole new event in itself. A bunch of kids were playing ball in the field across from where we were parked so Sal and I decided to get in to the act prior to leaving for the day’s excursion.

Rockaway is only a few miles from Ozone Park and those of you who know your Kerouac history know that Jack’s family lived in this little town in Queens while he was going to Columbia. Ginsberg actually called Jack, “The Prince of Ozone Park” and this was the apartment where Jack’s father, Leo, died in 1946. Neal Cassady actually came to this apartment one time and Memere allowed him stay there with her for two days while he waited for Jack. There was a bar across the street called McNulty’s that is still there (now called Glen Patrick Pub). Inside of that bar they have magazine articles about Jack hanging on the walls, one of which is about a woman who said Jack was her prom date.

As we drove out of the city we felt like we were in “The French Connection” - the girders holding the highway in place above us looked so familiar. We learned that God loves us all so much he wants to kill us. And we marveled at the New York City skyline as we drove up the New Jersey Turnpike toward our next show.

 

Painting of The 'Rockaway Artist's Alliance' That Greets You Upon Arrival.

Levi Asher Plays as His childen Daniel & Abby watch Sal Scat

The Evening's Crowd Gathers (note painting to far right)

This Digital Photo at the Artist's Alliance Grabbed Everyone

John Talks About Family Photos

Reading from Book of Blues

Bobby Was Given This Photo the Week Before by Robert Frank

Caption of Photo Reads 'Kerouac is Sleeping in the Backseat of the Car'

Sal, John, Larry, Alan, Geoff, Bobby & Jerry

John Plays as Alan Jams with Harmonica

Henry Starts to Draw as the Boys Jam

The Finished Product at the Artist's Alliance

Next AM Departure with Jerry, Sal, Geoff & John

'I Got It! I Got It!'

John & Sal

Ginsberg Called Kerouac 'The Prince of Ozone Park'

Kerouac's Family Lived Here from 1943 - 1949

Historic Landmark Plaque by the Door

This is the Building from the Front

Kerouac's Room on the Second Floor by the Corner

McNulty's was Right Across the Street ( now called Glen Patrick Pub)

The Entranceway to McNulty's Where Jack & Family Toasted a Few

Local Magazine Article about Kerouac Living in Queens

Newsday Article about Jack the Local Boy

Driving out of Brooklyn Felt like the French Coonection

Remember, People, God Loves You So Much He Wants to Kill You.

So Long, New York! ( Note Empire State)

 

 

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