On the Road, with Jack Kerouac


Day 24: Layover in San Francisco

What’s an aspiring writer to do in San Francisco, but to make a pilgrimage to the fabled Vesuvio bar, where Jack Kerouac stopped before his famous City Lights debut reading, launching the Beats into national recognition. Steeped in 60’s memorabilia, the place seems frozen in time, though it really is just another North Beach dive bar.

Strange how what was so radical, back then, seems commonplace now, especially in this city. The hostel sponsored a Harvey Milk art memorial with grade schoolers.  Californians will vote soon on labeling all GMOs in foods.  The city is filled with arts of so many forms:  sculptors, dancers, painters, poets, and musicians from every genre and national heritage.

I spend a lazy day cruising around the downtown and waterfront, then finally board to BART to cross under the bay to Oakland, where I will stay over with Russell and Sarah.  I met Russell over 20 years ago at the Massachusetts Men’s Gathering in Beckett. 

Radical to me at the time, the gathering had the intention of supporting men in breaking free of stereotypes and roles.  Today, much of that liberation agenda has been accomplished.  Yet, the Canadian redneck guy at the hostel last night seemed a holdout to those old male values.  And pretty racist as he bashed Obama.  Still more work to be done.


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