Monday, March 12, 2012

on the road on film

Ooh. Ooh, ooh, ooh.

I hate to say it but I have mixed feelings about this. I loved and still love this book; the cliche 'it changed my life;' truly does apply to 'On the Road.' When I was a teenager and first discovered Kerouac--and later, through him, Burroughs and Ginsberg--I was entranced, enthralled. Hypnotized. In love with the idea that it was possible that one could live and exist and be something other, something outside of the drone-clogged, worn pathways and ruts of the suburbs where I lived. I imagined another world, another way of looking at the world, and Kerouac and Burroughs opened the door to someplace wild and free and uninhibited and scary-wonderful-heavenly.

When I say 'On the Road' changed my life literally, this is what I mean: I hitchhiked out of Atlanta one gray afternoon in summer, standing on the side of the freeway with rain clouds threatening, a too-heavy duffel bag on my shoulder.

I haven't been back.

The road only goes forward.

I hitched to New Orleans, and a few years later to Denver and later out to LA--with a few odd Greyhound trips mixed in there.

Now, without that book--and not incidentally, without a certain stupid optimism/desperation of a rather emotionally fucked-up teenager--I would never have attempted this idiotic journey, 20 years after such travel had ceased to be even moderately safe, 30 years after it had gone out of fashion.

But dealing with the adversity out there and learning from the people I met made me what I am. As hard as it was, I wouldn't in a million years trade my experience for a 'normal,' straight to college, straight to job, straight to career, straight to marriage, straight to kids then straight on through to death type of existence.

I'm far too bent for all that straightness. Or at least I've become so.

I have far too many tales from my time on the road to share here right now. But my main point is that that famous book by Kerouac changed everything I was, everything I saw, everything I became.

And so to see it committed to film is...trepidatious for me. I hope it is incredible--the director is the same guy who directed 'The Motorcycle Diaries,' so hope is not unreasonable.

On the other hand, Kristen Stewart.

It smiles!

Why, O Why, lord do you suffer fools?

No, I guess it doesn't smile after all.

The one-expression wonder is leaving her sparkly gay vampire behind and joining Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty and the other mad ones, mad to live, mad to yadda yadda, mad to...sparkle? Her attachment to the project fills me full of fear. It's not a huge part, I'm sure--hopefully not big enough to ruin the film. And I'm definitely looking forward to seeing Viggo Mortensen as the William Burroughs analogue.

But taking a book like that and making it a film is always tricky. So I guess I'm cautiously optimistic.

At least I've learned something of the cautious part of that over the years. I hope I'm still as optimistic as I was back then. We'll see if it's well-placed when the film comes out.

Jack and Neal in all their mad glory.

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