I grew up in California’s Central Valley. The Valley was huge but stifling. If you climbed the town water tower one foggy night and the cops hauled you down, it made the local newspaper. Your one goal was a customized car with a flame job and flipper hubcaps. You wore Levis or Chinos and you cut your hair short. And then along came Jack Kerouac and On The Road. Right behind him came William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Philip Lamantia, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and, of course, Allen Ginsberg. And everything changed overnight.
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Caen wrote about these crazy people living in dens of iniquity in North Beach. He called them “Beatniks”. He took the term from Kerouac who used it to mean Beatitude, but Caen mixed it up with Sputnik and a whole generation was born.
The craziness of the Beatniks was magnetic to boys hungry for Nirvana. Along with my other rebellious friends I headed to the City (on the West Coast, San Francisco is-The City), to see what was happening in North Beach. We camped outside the Blackhawk and the Jazz Cellar. We lived for the weekends and City Lights Bookstore where we bought the Beat Bibles—On The Road, Junkman’s Obbligato, Howl. We ran up and down Grant and ate Chinese food in bombed out restaurants, we stayed in crazy wino hotels in the Mission District because the rooms were cheap and the inn-keeper didn’t mind half a dozen doped up teenage hunger artists sharing a room. It was, in a word, exciting to come alive, to rise out of the mind-numbing mind-set of death in life.
On The Road and the Beatniks set me free. Get out of the Valley, they said. Go find your America. And some of us did. Zooming back to the Valley stoned and giddy with wine and words, I knew I wanted to be a poet, be a writer, see the world. So I did.
This novel, The Deification, pays homage to those wild men whose vision of the world opened up the social revolution of the 1960s. They changed me. They changed you. They changed everything.
The publisher, Coffeetown Press is shooting for a release of The Deification to synch with the release of the film version of On The Road coming in December, 2011.
The Deification is the first book of The California Quartet. All four novels are slated to appear under the Coffeetown Press imprint. The Deification will arise on December 10th, 2011. You can buy the novel with a pre-publication order from Coffeetown Press or from Amazon.com. Here are the urls: