Writer Neal Cassady would have turned 86 today; but proving that you’re never too old (or too dead) to get some book learnin’, Cassady last week posthumously received the high school diploma he never quite managed in his lifetime.
Meanwhile the movie of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road should finally complete its glacial progress to cinemas this year. It’s amazing that the sizeable Beat heritage industry has waited so long to film the book which features Cassady’s most famous double, Dean Moriarty. Like Herbert Huncke and Bob Kaufman, it was Cassady’s fate to have his own writing barred from the Beat canon, his life serving instead as an exemplar of the rage for existence that the Beat Generation venerated.
This documentary clip is a vivid depiction of the charged, hyperkinetic presence and appalling traffic skills which so inspired Kerouac. Actually it’s difficult to say what was more terrifying about Cassady — his driving or his dancing.