Friday, August 7, 2009

Hobo In The Sun

It's feast or famine. Going from no Kerouac, to total Kerouac immersion. I am reading both On the Road and Dharma Bums simultaneously. Holding one in each hand and splitting my eyeballs between them. No, not really. I read one chapter of the Road book, then switch over to the Dharmic. It gives me a nice, unsettled feeling. A feeling that is hard to conjure up when you've been living in one place for too long, but that might magically arrive when you slip unexpectedly into a neighborhood that has been tucked away, that you didn't know was there. Jumping from one Kerouac to another seems fitting, something he would understand, like jumping on a train, as he does in Dharma Bums. Or jumping off the flatbed he was riding in On the Road. I wanted him to stay on that flatbed and ride it all the way to California with the other hitchhikers. That would be the more settled thing to do. The two brothers driving the flatbed were going to pick up farm machinery in California, and they didn't care who was riding in the back before they got there. Here was a free ride and a sure thing, with fellers who were amiable enough and were reliable about sharing a bottle, and I felt relief when he was on that flatbed with the highway rolling beneath him, but he had to unsettle me and jump off in Cheyenne. Just to take part in some wild west days festival, and because he was bent on going to Denver. So that's where I left him, and where he left me, and now I don't know where his next ride is coming from.

So I slipped over to the Dharma Bums, and read about a man who chose the hobo lifestyle. Partly influenced by the time he was a little boy, when a hobo stopped by the house and his mom gave the hobo a piece of pie. And the little boy asked his mom, "What is he?" and the mom said, "Why, he's a hobo." And the boy said, "I want to be a hobo someday."

That reminds me of a line in a Partridge family song that always cracks me and the kids up. The song is about someone who was a wanderer, until they found love, of course:

There were times when I was happy
being free was fun
Like a hobo in the sun
echo of background voices: like a hobo in the sun

The background singers make it sound so nice. What a peaceful thing to be. So a hobo in the sun is the image I'll put on a sign out front of my new coffeeshop, the Kerouac Cafe.


  1. Yeah! Dig it! I'm applying for a barista position in your cool cafe. This post makes me really excited! And weirdly enough, a little sad...? Tell me what you think about these books!

  2. so i guess the de-cluttering has taken a back seat to kerouc. you really want to be a hobo in the sun??

  3. Well, I didn't say I wanted to be a hobo in the sun. I'm saying the word hobo has almost quaint connotations, and that it's funny when the Partridge family sang about hobos in kind of a romantic way. So I was being ironic when I talked about putting a hobo on a sign for my coffeeshop---as if being a hobo was as romantic and peaceful as those images make it out to be.

    And hell yes I have to take a beatnik break and read some Kerouac!!