E.O.F. {Anti} Style Idol: Jack Kerouac [Jack is Back!]

“Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.”

-Jack Kerouac

Every time style blogs or fashion mags bring up Jack Kerouac, they can’t seem to go past exploring his style choices with completely superficial mindsets. What would Jack Kerouac wear today? Where would he shop? Here’s where, and how?! Ta DA! NOTHING. OUTFIT.

“I went one afternoon to the church of my childhood and had a vision of what I must have really meant with “Beat”… the vision of the word Beat as being to mean beatific… People began to call themselves beatniks, beats, jazzniks, bopniks, bugniks and finally I was called the “avatar” of all this.”

“The Origins of the Beat Generation” in Playboy (June 1959)

For example, Esquire Magazine thinks Jack Kerouac would go for a Junya Watanabe coat with Louis Vuiton shoes to hang out with Allen Ginsberg. They also feature him in J.Crew, and for rolling down Beaker Street the shirt and bag combo by Loden Dager is hilarious. As noted in almost every comment, Jack Kerouac would likely never ever be caught wearing thousand dollar jackets, or Patrick Evrell anything, let along so many pairs of Louis Vuitton shoes. Who is Jack Kerouac supposed to be?

Granted, Kerouac can be seen in the simple, utilitarian, work wear looks they attempt to recreate. The only thing is, Kerouac wasn’t going for a certain kind of anything. He just was. That’s kind of the first rule about him.

Completing his draft of On the Road in April 1951 on a single 36 metre (120-foot) role of paper, this autobiographical tale of Kerouac’s journeys across America with his friends is considered the defining work of the ‘Beat Generation‘, and includes hundreds of references to the stories of his adventures on the road.

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“John Clellon Holmes … and I were sitting around trying to think up the meaning of the Lost Generation and the subsequent Existentialism and I said, ‘You know, this is really a beat generation’ and he lept up and said ‘That’s it, that’s right!'”

“The Origins of the Beat Generation” in Playboy (June 1959)

The book wasn’t published until September 5, 1957 but would quickly garner cult status , with it’s wide array of colorful characters, as well as it’s wonderfully liberated prose inspired by the jazz, drug, and poetry that would define the Beat movement.

It was a movement towards freedom, however, it wouldn’t be easily received by the mainstream critics who’s conservatism would lead them to question Kerouac’s anti-establishment philosophies and writing style. In an era of conformity, stuck in the politics of McCarthyism in America, Kerouac would keep doing it his way all the way to the end.

“If critics say your work stinks it’s because they want it to stink and they can make it stink by scaring you into conformity with their comfortable little standards. Standards so low that they can no longer be considered “dangerous” but set in place in their compartmental understandings.”

-Jack Kerouac

Is it all just a great strange dream? Jack Kerouac thought so. He also believed in the meditating powers of Buddha, not to mention having encountered God himself at his first Sacrament of Confession in 1928. He was told he he would suffer in life great pain and horrors but experience salvation in the end of it all.

Little talked about fact: Kerouac first began writing On the Road in Quebec French!

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[Kerouac’s parents were of French-Canadian descent, making Jack an honorary Canadian!]

Funny enough, Kerouac wasn’t exactly the artsy intellectual type in high school, that you might imagine. No doubt he was deep but Kerouac found his tall brooding frame and superior athletic skills leading him to running back for the high school football team, and eventually a scholarship to Columbia University. Who says jocks don’t write poetry?!

Just as his football career began soaring, Kerouac dropped out from school, and continued life in New York City with his girlfriend, Edie Parker. It was there on the Upper East Side he would meet such influential figures as Allen Ginsberg, Neal Casaday, William S. Burroughs who would turn up in many of Kerouac’s works.

Together, this group of misfits, along with others who shared similar views on life contrary to the devastating conservatism of America would band together to foster a movement towards artistic and sexual liberation; freedom free from censorship. Kerouac knew his greatest power would ultimately be his honesty, integrity, and commitment to the truth of the world.

The truth, you ask? It’s the same truth we all are looking for today. The meaning of life, and the truths of existence. Driving the highway searching for the faces of God. In fact, Jack insists:

” ‘On the Road’ was really a story about two Catholic buddies roaming the country in search of God. And we found him. I found him in the sky, in Market Street San Francisco (those 2 visions), and Dean (Neal) had God sweating out of his forehead all the way. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY OUT FOR THE HOLY MAN: HE MUST SWEAT FOR GOD. And once he has found Him, the Godhood of God is forever Established and really must not be spoken about.”

Though, Kerouac would most likely protest the fancy and folly of the fashion industry of 2012, there is definitely a regard to the poet and free-thinker for his laid-back and casual sensibilities. It’s easy to see the appeal – Kerouac is a very charismatic and handsome guy. Not only that, he always seems to have something on the mind- a sense of mystery.

And while polo shirts, trousers, and denim button-ups are easy to find, Kerouac’s one-of-a-kind rebel attitude and poetic insight make for most of Kerouac’s {anti}-style style. This is where style goes far beyond the clothes on one’s back, and reaches deep into the darkest depths of one’s very soul .

It’s the nonchalance and passion for life that exude from all things Kerouac, so it only makes sense that Kerouac’s day-to-day dress would reflect that in its unbuttoned simplicity.  We are talking about the guy who wrote a draft on one 120 foot long piece of paper, save the time of flipping through page after page.

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”

-Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

There aren’t too many public figures like Jack Kerouac these days, sadly. He died relatively young. On October 20, 1969 Kerouac experienced a violent attack on his body. While sitting in his living room, drinking whiskey and malt liquor, scribbling on a notepad, the writer felt sick, and began throwing up large amounts of blood (“Stella, I’m bleeding!”).

On October 21, 1969 after never regaining consciousness after surgery for an internal hemorrhage due to his lifetime of drinking and drug use, the legend passed at 5:15 AM. Great pains and horrors, indeed. His last appearance on television would be on the William Buckley’s show in 1968 where he rambled about society in what was obviously a little bit of drunken tom foolery on the writer’s account.

“Ah, life is a gate, a way, a path to Paradise anyway, why not live for fun and joy and love or some sort of girl by a fireside, why not go to your desire and LAUGH…”

-Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac was raw and untamed, but this we could not fault him for. Like a pilgrim searching for deliverance from evil, Kerouac wandered the land. He kept his eyes open wide, and with his account, a brilliant and timeless perspective of life as an outsider continues to inspire us to this day.

What works most about Jack Kerouac’s style sense is that every man feels they could dress like that. It is not an intimidating look, but really falls on comfort and confidence. There is a mix of his athletic roots, kind-of-academic, and streetwise to boot. Having the latter two is of the dire essence.

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Jack Kerouac “On the Road”

Sam Riley as “Sal Paradise” in ‘On the Road’ (2012)

 

Walter Salles’ long awaited screen adaptation of the Kerouac classic premiered on May 23 at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Sam Riley stars as Kerouac’s alter-ego, Sam Paradise, in the film. Click here to visit the film’s website.

And the legend blazes on . . .

{ANTI} STYLE IDOL: JACK KEROUAC

[March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969]

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Here’s some stuff we found to {GET THE LOOK}

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Until next time,

{theEye}

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17 thoughts on “E.O.F. {Anti} Style Idol: Jack Kerouac [Jack is Back!]

  1. A very stylistic celebration of a self-destructive man. I still think the best thing written about Jack Kerouac is the 10,000 Maniacs song “Hey Jack Kerouac”, with the lines –

    Hey Jack Kerouac I think of your mother
    And the tears she cried
    They would cry for none other
    Than her little boy lost in a little world that hated
    And that dared to drag him down
    Her little boy courageous

    He chose his words from mouths of
    Babes got lost in the world
    Hip flask slingin’ madmen
    Steamin’ caf’ flirts
    They all spoke through you

    Thanks for the post.

    Like

    • Many thanks, friend! Glad you enjoyed 🙂 So great to get comments like this. Reminds me of why we started making this all happen! Make sure to keep up with us for more stuff in the {future}.

      Sincerely,

      {theEye}

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      Like

    • Thanks so much. This was definitely one of my favorite posts to write, so am glad it resonated. I checked out your blog, and am impressed, and looking forward to reading more! Thanks for visiting us.

      Sincerely,

      {theEye}
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      Like

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    Like

  3. First off I would like to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do
    not mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself
    and clear your thoughts before writing. I have had trouble clearing my thoughts
    in getting my thoughts out. I do take pleasure in writing but
    it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints?
    Appreciate it!

    Like

    • This is definitely a tough problem to shake sometimes, but I find the best way to overcome this is just to persevere through the awkwardness of starting and see where your mind is truly taking you. You might be running into roadblocks from having too many preconceived notions about what you are trying to write. Sometimes it is just best to let your writing write itself. Don’t let your thoughts get too much in the way or you will lose the beautiful little surprises that come from the depths of your mind.

      Hope this helps!

      Sincerely,

      {theEye}
      http://theeyeoffaith.com
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