How The Beats Begat The Pranksters, & Other Adventure Tales

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About the author:
Brian Hassett has been writing about Jack Kerouac and the Beats for over 30 years, including helping put together and write two of the keynotes essays for The Rolling Stone Book of The Beats. He also produced (booked, stage managed, hosted) many Beat related multimedia events with many of the living leading lights in various downtown clubs in Manhattan, as well in L.A., Toronto, London, Amsterdam and elsewhere.

In Winnipeg in the 1970s he helped organized a series of bona fide Acid Tests with multiple bands and light shows and everything that goes with it. By age 17 he was touring Western Canada with the rock band Yes, and by 19 working with Bill Graham producing The Rolling Stones 1981 tour.

In the 1980s he became close friends with Edie Kerouac Parker and Henri Cru, and by the Beat boom years of the '90s fell in with Carolyn Cassady and just about everybody else. He also hosted Carolyn and son John's first ever stage appearance together as they inducted Neal and Jack into the Cultural Hall of Fame in Amsterdam.

He saw his first Grateful Dead show at age 18 in Seattle, June 1980, and his 2nd thru 6th shows were in the front 3 rows of Radio City Music Hall, after sleeping out on the sidewalk for tickets. He has ticket stubs or setlists from at least 116 shows, and before Jerry died he took at least 36 different people to their first show.

He has performed both his own and Kerouac's writing, often with musical accompaniment, at the St. Mark's Poetry Project, the Knitting Factory, Wetlands, the Bitter End, the Bowery Poetry Club, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and many other subterranean saloons.

In 2001 he produced the multimedia "50th Anniversary of Jack Kerouac Writing On The Road" shows - on the day he started it, April 2nd, in New York, and on the day he finished it, April 22nd, in L.A., each with a long list of celebrity readers and performers.

He wrote The Temp Survival Guide about how to make a living without having a job, and ended up for many years as an Executive Aide-de-Camp at MTV working with Tom Freston, Judy McGrath and others.

His work on the Beats can be found in High Times, Relix, the Toronto Star, Beat Scene, DharmaBeat, Ken Kesey's Intrepid Trips, Levi's Jeans ads, and many other sources.

He maintains an active website with all sorts of current adventures - including falling back in with the Merry Pranksters and Furthur at Yasgur's Farm in 2014 - at -

How The Beats Begat The Pranksters, & Other Adventure Tales

Authored by Brian Hassett

Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation including Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, William Burroughs and many others, continue to resonate through the world's cultures to this day, including numerous annual festivals, conferences, multiple major motion pictures and never-ending allusions in songs.

One of Jack & the Beats biggest and most direct influences was on the Merry Pranksters, and their house-band the Grateful Dead.

Pretty much all the members of the group and all the original Merry Pranksters weigh in here on the matter, giving explicit credit to, in particular, the book "On The Road" and the person of Neal Cassady as changing their lives.

The title piece includes accounts and observations by Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Robert Hunter, Paul Krassner, Ken Babbs, Dennis McNally, Robert Stone, Sterling Lord (both Kerouac & Kesey's literary agent) and Paul Foster, plus new interviews with Wavy Gravy, Mountain Girl, George Walker, Anonymous, Roy Sebern, Mary Microgram & Kesey biographer Robert Faggen.

Original Prankster George "Hardly Visible" Walker wrote both an Introduction and a colorful remembrance of his many years & Adventures with Neal Cassady - the unique American hero who drove both Kerouac's car and Kesey's bus.

Also featured in this "Lonesome Traveller"-like collection
are Adventure Tales set at:
- the historic Beat Shindig put on by The Beat Museum in San Francisco in 2015;
- three premieres of the movie "On The Road" - in London, Toronto and New York;
- the annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac festival;
- the Kesey Bus and nouveau Pranksters at Yasgur's farm during a Woodstock anniversary;
- Prankster "Family Reunions" that are still blazing to this day;
- a typical current Beat show at The Bitter End in New York City;
- a magic moment with Phil Lesh at his Terrapin Crossroads club in San Rafael;
- and lots of other electric time-travels.

The book also has nearly 60 photographs illuminating all of these different Adventure Tales.

This is a follow-up to the author's previous book, "The Hitchhiker's Guide To Jack Kerouac" - written in the same voice and published in the same style - taking the story Furthur. "Hitchhiker's" was about the largest gathering of Beats and their offspring ever staged - Boulder 1982 - with Ginsberg, Burroughs, Holmes, Corso, Abbie Hoffman, Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, George Walker, Ken Babbs, and the Grateful Dead playing three shows at Red Rocks in the middle of it.

These collected stories and essays take that Adventure into the 21st century - including Dead shows in the middle of a Beat summit! - with many of the same characters still weaving magic in the present day.

Including - author Brian Hassett, and original Merry Prankster George Walker, teaming up and touring the continent performing live Kerouac & Cassady shows at festivals, museums, clubs, bookstores & libraries.

The presence of the Beats in the Pranksters has been obvious and a part of their mindset since before Neal Cassady ever pulled up unannounced and unexplained in Ken Kesey's driveway on Perry Lane in 1962. But no one has ever written about the connection until now.

To a man and a woman, the living Pranksters were eager to talk about it when asked, and those who have sadly left us, left behind some goodly insights into the connection, and how one really grew out of the other in the fertile garden of San Francisco.

The one time Jack Kerouac ever met Ken Kesey - which was also the last time Jack & Neal ever saw each other - was a party in Manhattan in June 1964.

This book has the largest collection of firsthand accounts of that historic event ever assembled in print.

There are some Pranksterish Beat stories . . . and some Beat-infused Prankster adventures.

This is those worlds merged into one - each alive in the other.

The book is both scholarly and fun. It's printed in a large font so it's easy to read. And it moves as fast as Cassady drove.

Publication Date:
099472621X / 9780994726216
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6" x 9"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Literary Collections / American / General

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