“We give and take and go in the incredibly complicated sweetness zigzagging every side.”
-Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac's "On the Road"
By Stacey Warde
Good ol’ Dean Moriarty, Sal’s pal in Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.”
Dean, as you know, was modeled after Kerouac’s buddy Neal Cassady, who drove the Merry Pranksters around the country in a psychedelic bus years ago—nearly 20 years after “On the Road.”
Neal could swing it—yes! yes! Yes, he could!
He knew language and life, and he could swing them in that “incredibly complicated sweetness zigzagging every side.”
Kerouac said this about his friend: “There was nothing clear about the things he said, but what he meant to say was somehow made pure and clear.”
Like jazz and bebop, Neal’s language, OUR language, whether you get it or not, can somehow be made pure and clear. No artifice needed, just that simple jazzy song of a soul on fire—or, if you prefer, on ice.
That’s what we look for at The Rogue Voice: People burning inside. “That incredibly complicated sweetness.” Hot or cool, it doesn’t matter.
So, with help from contributor Steve Hawthorne—see this month’s piece, a Montana memory, “The farewell feast,” —we hooked up with Merry Prankster and Skypilot Captain Ken Babbs, who was on that bus.
Ken’s still riffin’ it, as you’ll see in a poem he sent our way, “Capn be rappin.”
After all is said and done, if something feels right, makes you wanna snap your fingers and tap your feet, laugh and shout out loud, those are the stories and poems we look for. They swing, zigzagging every side.
We’ve been zigzagging, swinging with a Scrooge-like joy, over Mark Bryan’s “Cyclops Santa” on the cover of this month’s holiday edition, which marks that time of year when people put on four weeks of good cheer and try killing themselves through drink and shopping and family visits.
Santa, as depicted in Mark’s painting, isn’t carrying his usual bag of goodies.
As you can see, he’s carrying a load of toys that any good American kid would want: gunships, assault rifles, a sword, an archaic mace for that special under the Christmas tree moment when you want to bash sister in the head.
Mark paints the dark side of life with the brightest colors imaginable: “The Mad Tea Party,” for example, with Dick “No Heart” Cheney cutting up the world cake with little baby Ceasar George W. Bush. There’s Alice from the Wonderland, some little piggies, a bunch of sheep, and little tanks for tea kettles.
And all the pretty colors.
But as Alice says, “I’ll never go there again!…It’s the Stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!”
We love Mark Bryan’s work and we’re thrilled that he agreed to show Santa in a different eye in The Rogue Voice. Mark’s paintings can be viewed online at www.artofmarkbryan.com, or at the Steynberg Gallery at 1531 Monterey Street in San Luis Obispo (www.steynberggallery.com).
In keeping with the theme of one-eyed monsters, publisher Dell Franklin’s taking a cyclopean view of the holidays, too. You can read about his humbug hero, Robert “Don’t-you-dare-call-me-Bob–or-Bobby” Krauser, who doesn’t just hate Christmas, he celebrates hating Christmas. Turn to Dell’s holiday buster, “Scrooge lives!” on page 2. Find out how Krauser can make you wish you never wished him a Merry Christmas.
You might think Dell’s a killjoy because he loves to write about Scrooges and people who’d rather get drunk at the bar on Christmas than spend it at dysfunctional family gatherings where grandmothers want to preach to you about baby Jesus.
But he’s got a sunny side, too, believe it or not. Check out his “Cabby’s Corner” on page 11 if you have doubts. Frankly, I’d rather sit in a cab with Little Miss Sunshine this holiday than be anywhere else. That’s never going to happen.
Artist David Settino Scott, who illustrated “Obscenities” in previous issues of The Rogue Voice, joins us again with another view of “Supporting our troops” in the Letters section on page 3. It’s great to have David back. Be on the lookout for similar illustrations from the SLO County artist in upcoming editions.
A number of new artists have taken note of the “incredibly complicated sweetness” of this thing and sent in offerings of their work in recent weeks, more than we’ve ever received since we got started one year ago.
This ride’s like a psycedelic bus running wild down a mountain road with Neal Cassady at the wheel. We don’t exactly know where the bus is going, but we do know it’s going to get there—in the full raging color of an electric kool-aid acid test.
That’s if the cops don’t get us first. Newcomer Steve Bird, a Morro Bay fisherman, chimes in this month on police relations in his new column, “Fish Tales” that will run periodically with insights into the smelly and wonderful world of a little fishing village on the Central Coast.
We introduce two new poets, Rachel Pagel and Harry E. Northup. “The heart screeches” in Rachel’s poem “half dead,” alongside our Rogue of the Month, Jim Ruddell, who owns and operates the Smokehouse, located on the greatest little corner with a view in Cayucos. And Harry tells us more about taxis.
We try too hard to be logical in an illogical world. But, like Neal Cassady, we can feel our way to freedom. It’s there—yes, it is!—if you just let yourself feel something, like that incredibly complicated zigzagging sweetness. §
Stacey Warde is editor of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.