John Wayne and Jack Kerouac

Geez, there are so many movies around here. They are stacking up. Movie pollution.

Okay, maybe it’s not that bad. But here in Hollywood, everyone is into movies. And I’m not. I like books.

Yes, I’m feeling a bit resentful. There is no one to talk to about books anymore. Just my beloved book club.

Okay, so a friend at work gave me a book to read. It was good timing, because I was running low. I had finished Devil in the White City (I’ll talk about that later), and I hadn’t started House of Mirth (almost done, I’ll try to review it for you).

So my friend gave me this book Ask the Dust by John Fante. As soon as I opened it, I smelled Beatnik.

And I hated the main character.

When I read On the Road, I also hated Sal Paradise for his selfishness. But at least he was going stuff, moving around.

Arturo Bandini was doing nothing.

I hated him violently for most of the book, but then the book turned out to be worthwhile in the end.

I hadn’t read more of the beat genre that Kerouac, really. I kind of like what they stood for, even if I don’t like the aimless and self-centered way they went about it.

But I had a flash of insight. Arturo Bandini talked in poetic terms about his thoughts and experiences. Even if they were kind of annoying thoughts and experiences, he did talk about them in a pretty way.

And when he is coming from the 50s, that was a big deal.

The 50s was the time when John Wayne was the ideal of manhood. At least for a lot of people. John Wayne annoys the freckles off my face. I hate that he is such lump. He never talks about what he thinks or feels. He never says why he does stuff. He just shows up and rides horses, shoots things and gets the girl.

Chris has foisted different Westerns on me, including many Wayne films. The last one I watched, I only watched on the condition that he never make me watch another John Wayne movie again.

It was “She wore a yellow ribbon”. Every once in a while, I will bellow out “CALVARY!” in memory of the film. It was memorably bad.

But anyway.

IF men were walking around behaving like John Wayne in the movies…

THEN any expression of the internal thought life and emotions of men would be welcome.

ALSO the beats’ way of talking about their feelings was kind of pretty.

SO even though they were self-centered and shallow individuals in many ways, it must have seemed like a shaft of light down a dark hole to get a little bit of masculine expression.

When “Howdy Pilgrim” was the alternative…

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