Neal Cassady was undeniably the real genius behind the Beat movement. He was a force of nature. The inspiration behind Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road”, the man Allen Ginsberg dedicated his landmark poem “Howl” to, the man who motivated and inspired William S. Burroughs, Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters, the Grateful Dead…and untold number of others. Who was this man? To the world, he was an icon of the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the psychedelic movement of the 1960s, the Holy Goof, Cowboy Neal at the wheel of the bus Furthur on the road to Nevereverland, To us, he was husband, father, and friend. We are the Cassady family, dedicated to bringing you the real Neal, the Neal we knew. Neal’s wife Carolyn Cassady and their children; Cathy Cassady Sylvia, Jami Cassady Ratto and John Allen Cassady wanted to bring the world the truth about the man, the myth, the one and only Neal Cassady.So join us in this odyssey of discovery, learn the truth behind the myth as we memorialize not the legend, but the man, Neal Cassady.Note: This was the first description we used to define Neal and the purpose of the website.
Carolyn Cassady has revised and expanded her book, "OFF THE ROAD, My Twenty Years With Cassady, Kerouac and Ginsberg". It is published by BLACK SPRINGS PRESS, LED.134-145 Curtain Road, London, SC24 3AR U.K.It can be ordered from them until other outlets are available. It will be on the stands in July 2007.It should answer most of your questions, but you are welcome to e-mail her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also contact your local independent booksellers to start requesting it!
Cathy Cassady Sylvia and her husband, George, have been enjoying the benefits of retirement living. They spent a year full-time RVing (most of which was spent as "workampers" at a beautiful lakeside resort in Washington state), and have settled in an active adult community in
St. George, UT. Among other activities, George plays
senior softball, and Cathy is helping with the literacy program
in a local elementary school. Between them they have three
grown children (Cathy's son, Bill, and George's daughters,
Traci and Tricia), and six grandchildren ranging in age from
20 yrs. to 6 months. April's update will include some highlights
from Cathy's life over the past 30 years.
Jami Cassady Ratto hopes you are all enjoying this site, we have gotten some very nice and interesting e-mails so far, keep those cards and letters coming!This month I am reflecting on all of the wonderful people I have met in my life and what a range of interests and personalities I have had the pleasure to know. From my teen years when I was picked up by Neal at Saratoga High School (with my brother John) and being driven to a high school in Palo Alto to hear a band practice in the gym (no other than the Grateful Dead!); to having both Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg being known to me as "uncle"; to many ballet stars in New York City and San Francisco; all my parents fascinating friends when I was growing up; some of the famous and creative friends of my mother's both here and in the U.K. (where she now lives).; many Hollywood stars who were excited to play in movies about my parents; and all the new people I have had the pleasure to meet at the events put on by Brenda Knight (The North Beach Festivals), Jerry Cimino and The Beat Museum, Lawrence Ferlinghetti at City Lights Books; readings at The La Honda House Café; and tributes all over the land for Neal and The Beat Generation and Carolyn. I'm a lucky lady!I am including a picture of me and Carolyn Garcia (also known as "Mountain Girl") when we attended the "Summer Of Love" in San Francisco, Oct. 1997. I had just had her sign my copy of the book "The Further Inquiry" by Ken Kesey (notice my t-shirt with the famous photo taken by Carolyn of Neal & Jack and my Ginsberg button). More musings next month. Please write with any questions or stories you have. Happy Spring!Jami Cassady-Ratto - March 26, 2007Email Jami
John Allen Cassady has released excerpts of his soon-to-be-published book,"Visions of Neal,
Memories of a Boy’s Life With His Father" by John Cassady.You may order it from The Beat
Museum Press, San Francisco, California.John's booklet, with pencil sketch of Neal in 1951,
by Carolyn Cassady
Site Voice...Jami and Randy spend a lot of time traveling and a lot of people have asked me to write about places to stay and eat. So, starting with San Francisco, here are some of my recommendations.We have been going to San Francisco since the mid-seventies (we met in 1972). Our favorite place to stay is The Royal Pacific Motor Lodge on Broadway. Nothing special, just clean rooms, (with coffee in the room), but most important, location, location, location! The Royal Pacific is located more in Chinatown, but just across the street from North Beach, within walking distance of all the important sites in San Francisco. It is also relatively inexpensive and has some rooms with balconies overlooking Broadway. Another favorite is The Hotel Boheme, a European style boutique hotel on Columbus. No elevator. Climb the steep stairs and walk into a unique hotel that oozes "beat"! Photos from Allen Ginsberg’s collection line the hallways and are in every room; antique furniture (some rooms also have "mosquito netting" falling from the ceiling around the bed!), bathrooms in every room, (the rooms are kinda small), a very friendly staff, and free Cognac in the evenings where Jami always had fun discussing her family with the concierge! Rooms looking over Columbus Avenue (we stay there for the Italian Day Parade every year) are more expensive.Going out of North Beach and heading toward the wharf, we like The Columbus Motor Inn. It is very nice with good parking facilities (very important in San Francisco.
Forgot to say that The Royal Pacific also has great parking!).Not as inexpensive as The Royal Pacific, but not as expensive as Hotel Boheme. All are excellent for a stay in that part of town.Let’s see, where to eat...San Francisco is a foodie’s dream!!For breakfast we usually go to Moe’s on upper Grant (we introduced this place to Jami’s brother, John, and he liked it so much that he orchestrated a big dinner there for the likes of Brenda Knight, David Amram and assorted entourage!). You can get a great burger (they grind the meat themselves and cook it on a circular charcoal grill) any time of day. Lots of fun pictures of The Three Stooges, Marilyn and James Dean on the walls.For lunch or dinner, try a small Chinese restaurant across from The Royal Pacific on the corner of Broadway and Stockton called "Yuet Lee". They have some very exotic dishes or you can just order regular, traditional Chinese food. Inexpensive and very good. Try the frog’s legs! Another plus is that they stay open very late.A little way down Columbus is what I feel is the most "Italian" restaurant in North Beach. Osteria Al Forno. In Italian that means "food from Osteria baked in the oven". Not a really great pasta place, but great pizzas and roasts. A small place, it is always packed so count on waiting awhile.Further down Columbus around the corner on Union (Washington Square Park) is another small place that Jami and I accidentally stumbled into called "Cineterre". All about Italian Cinema with Italian movie star posters on the walls. Great lasagna and sandwiches and pizza.The last time we were in The City (for Neal’s 81st birthday party), Judith, a great friend of the Beat Museum and our family, took us to Francino’s, next to the Stinking Rose on Columbus (so tiny, we passed it twice before we found the entrance!).
All of us that night (Dawn and Al Hinkle, John, Jessica Loos, our daughter, Becky, Jami and I ) really enjoyed the food and the staff (wonderful, warm and happy members of the same family).For a relaxing moment there is, of course, Café Trieste on upper Grant. A very famous coffee house where many notable beats, artists and writers (both then and now), hang out.Also on Columbus, Jami and I like to have a glass of wine at the outdoor table in front of The Steps of Rome....tour buses go by and you can wave and look cool!Then we have to mention, of course, Vesuvio’s, next to City Lights on Columbus. If you haven’t had a chance to visit this extraordinary bar/art gallery/museum...you are in for a treat! The walls are covered in wonderful, nostalgic photos and newspaper clippings of many of the famous people and events related to North Beach. Stop by and say "hi" to Janet, the owner, and tell them Jami and I sent you.Well, I could go on for pages, but that’s about it for this month. If any of you have favorite places to eat or stay in the North Beach area, please let me know.Thanks! More next month. Randy RattoPlease email Randy with any questions, comments or media inquiries.
Friend’s Page Update 3-27-07 This month we would like to tell you about The Beat Museum. This wonderful showcase, book store, gallery, museum of memorabilia and all around font of history and lore of the beat generation poets, artists and intellectuals really started years ago in Monterey, Ca., the dream child of Jerry Cimino and his wife, Estelle. They already had a successful internet bookstore, kerouac.com. Carolyn and John and Jami visited there often and Jerry and Estelle put on readings, (some show casing Carolyn) and many other events to promote the books of authors and painters and performers who made that era of history so important.
The Cassady family has followed and supported this important venue ever since, and are so pleased to announce their new location at 540 Broadway at Columbus, North Beach, San Francisco, after having been housed at 2 previous locations (at the "Live Worms Gallery" on Grant Street and for a short time at Ghiradelli Square.) It’s great to have them back in North Beach and across from City Lights Bookstore!Jerry and John Cassady also traveled around the U.S.A. in the "Beat Mobile" an old Airstream (beautifully decorated!) with a trailer towed behind with all the Beat Museum books, posters, buttons, t-shirts, hats, etc.( also a work of art!). They put on multi-media presentations at high schools and colleges to spread the history of the Beats. Jerry and John read parts of books, told wonderful stories and John accompanied the talks on guitar or piano. It was a great show that I wish everyone could see!Jerry and Estelle now put on weekly poetry readings and poetry contests with the help of a great poetess, Jessica Loos (one of our favorites!). They also honor different painters and sculptors in the gallery.
For the last two years they have held the Annual Birthday Bash for Neal Cassady (the first one in 2006 would have been Neal’s 80th, and on February 8th, 2007 they hosted his 81st Birthday Bash, with amazing cakes, lots of wine and fascinating remembrances from many people who had great stories to tell. When Wavy Gravy showed up for Neal’s 80th, he delighted the crowd with many stories of his friendship with Neal.Last December 29th, Carolyn Cassady gave a sell out performance honoring her good friends, Jay and Fran Landesman. Her introduction was amazing, telling the story of how the Beat Generation REALLY began! She then read a selection from Fran Landesman’s many entertaining poems, while John played guitar as background. Quite a show! Please visit their site at kerouac.com and support this great venue. We are also excited to announce they have started a book publishing company, The Beat Museum Press. My brother, John, and Jerry have some "chapter books" available now, with full length publications available soon.We cannot stress enough the importance of buying from an independent book seller. There you can talk to people who are knowledgeable, know who you are inquiring about and also the money supports the community instead of a corporate conglomerate. Your local independent booksellers need your support!We encourage everyone to hit the road and make a trip to this special place, located where it all began. You won’t be disappointed! Jerry also has a wonderful, knowledgeable staffTell them Jami and Randy sent you! (no discounts, just a big smile!). Buy a book, take it to Café Trieste, have a coffee or glass of wine and immerse yourself.Enjoy!Have a memory you'd like to contribute? Send us an Email!
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