I knew why I picked the book.

I had just finished The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test for the second time. The first time around it didn’t make sense so I put it down after a few pages but then someone said, no, don’t read it the way you read it – you have to read it the way you think. So I did, let it run on, and it made exciting sense on that second try.

Then, one night, at a gathering of our tribe, I overheard someone say, in that book, that man swinging the hammer, Neal Cassady, was Dean Moriarty in On The Road. Never heard of it I thought but hell if it had anything to do with Wolfe’s book it might be worth reading too.

So there I was on the brooklyn bus all of us sitting in hard blue plastic seats, all diesel fuel and lumbering weight, with books and newspapers in our hands, staring out at shuttering shoeshine shops and grocery stores.

Then I read. And understood. You write the way you think.

And so I wrote, pen to paper in some strange haiku style until the halts and hesitations slowed me down to a frustrating crawl. I needed some rhythm and speed so bought a second hand typewriter at the basement shop on 23rd street, where the lime colored machines lined up along the narrow aisle like lost dogs at the pound waiting for someone to take them home.

I typed it all out not really caring about punctuation or grammar or any rules at all other than you had to get one thought out to let the other thought in. Because, you see, when you let that thought loose it didn’t leave a vacuum but it left room for the next and the next one after that. And they came from every direction, high, low, left, right, didn’t matter where really just popping like fireworks on a freight train.

That was when it felt best, strongest, had the most meaning. Somewhere at the intersection of innocence and energy.

Then again, I was just a boy on the bus. With a book in his hands….

The author – early 1970’s – in my best road pose…

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