A fabulous Roman candle exploding like a spider across the stars


On this day in 1922, the universe lit the fuse on the roman candle of the existence of one Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac. Somewhere along the line after that there were girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl was handed to him, but like so many that stand at the center when the blue light pops, the pearl drops into the grate on a street where you can still smell the last exhale of the cigarette that the guy put out as he got into the taxi.

The taxi that drove down the wet street, where most of the streetlights were still working, but that one keeps flickering, and no more taxis come and you knew none would. So you walk, and walk, until you get to that corner where there's the place down a few stairs, and you wonder if you'd rather get out of the wet and the rain and have a drink, but then you would have to be with all the other people that wanted to get out of the rain or have a drink or just be with each other.

But, maybe it would just be better to smoke a joint there, in the rain by yourself, whether any cabs came or not, because how you get there is better than wondering why, or is it the other way 'round? And as you exhale the smoke and walk past the door, you remember that the pearl dropped into the grate. And now all the grates look the same, so even if you could reach your hand down there to try and get it, you can't ever remember which one it fell into. So you just keep walking. Let someone else have the pearl or nobody else or maybe there just wasn't ever one at all.

Last 5 posts by Randazza


  1. anne mouse says

    I can never read to the end of a sentence of Kerouac's, and I didn't get past the first sentence of this piece either… because I got distracted by the accent on the first syllable of his name, which I'd never seen before. For anybody accustomed to French spellings of Breton names, it's just wrong.
    So I just spent an enjoyable web-journey learning that Jack was born in Lowell, MA to Quebecois parents of Breton ancestry. His father changed "Kirouac" to "Keroac" upon moving to the US, and Jack added the accent (and the "LeBris de") at some later date. The novel "Satori in Paris" tells the story (to the extent that any Kerouac piece tells a story) of Jack's journey to Paris and Brittany to trace his ancestry. (He could surely read French, since his first language was Joual (Quebecois), apparently salted with remnants of Breton.) It seems he really did have an ancestor called "Le Brice de Kervoach" after whom he named himself, but that ancestor wouldn't be likely to show up in records in France, as that was a name change adopted by the ancestor in 1732 when he was living in Quebec. Jack must have heard about this ancestor from his father.