Kerouac & friends on the road again

Friends and fans of Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Tom Waits, Michael McClure — plus all the rest of you Beat Generation buffs — will be glad to know they are alive and well again (still) thanks to a new documentary now out on DVD, after a round of screenings across the country. One Fast Move or I’m Gone is a fascinating road trip back into Kerouac’s Big Sur.

Co-producers Curt Worden, Gloria Bailen and Jim Sampas (Kerouac’s nephew) have put together an intriguing mix of old and new footage tracing the gifted 60s icon along his journey through San Francisco and retreat to Ferlinghetti’s Big Sur cabin. Everybody’s talking about the choice of new music by Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard, rather than the jazz with which Kerouac is automatically identified, for the film.

I caught the show in New York a couple of weeks ago at the Clearview-Chelsea Theaters on W. 23rd, one of those 10 PM events at which, if you’re old enough to remember the 60s you are forgiven for falling asleep. Didn’t happen. The oldies — Carolyn Cassady still quite beautiful, Ferlinghetti still his charming and articulate self — are vibrant enough to explain their fascination to earlier generations, and the newbies who are still drawn to the scene acquitted themselves OK for this oldie.

It didn’t help that the E line wasn’t running and no one had told HopStop, which led to my getting back to the Upper East Side around 3 AM. One Fast Move will convince you that Kerouac isn’t gone at all, and explain why it was even worth staying up late to check him out a half-century later.

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