I loved Jack Kerouac. He was of French-Canadian descent and originally from New England. Me too. He was a widely read novelist. And I wanted to be like him.
When I lived in Greenwich Village (New York City) in the 1950s as a young man, I frequented the famous Cedar Tavern, a watering hole of Abstract Expressionist painters – Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and al., as did Kerouac. He was on legendary pub crawls in the village with de Kooning, an up-and-coming painter of the time, who later sold his paintings for millions of dollars. I always missed him. The bartender told me that Kerouac had come the day before.
One day, flipping through a dusty old book, I came across a list of 85 books in his personal library. You would think he read narrow books of his genre. No, his reading was universal. He even wrote a cookbook and his apple pie recipe was enjoyed by our family on a recent Thanksgiving.
The first standing. There were the usual suspects – the Beats: Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky and William Seward Burroughs II. Then the influencers: Charles Dickens, Paul Gauguin, Victor-Marie Hugo and Joseph Campbell. All in all, he possessed a very sophisticated mind – he was not the “barbarian saint” he was accused of being. He was a Renaissance man. A recent list of the most important novels of the 20th century named “On the Road” among the best. It is still widely read more than 60 years after its publication and has inspired millions of us to broaden our horizons.
Maurice R. Berube, Distinguished Scholar Emeritus, Old Dominion University, Norfolk
Re “Virginia is on track to pass California’s new EV rules, but some lawmakers say it’s not that fast” (Aug. 26): Earlier this year, I considered buying a plug-in hybrid car. The two dealerships I visited both told me to “forget it”; plug-in hybrids were nearly impossible to get in Virginia. They said automakers are prioritizing them for California and the Northeast, where tighter emissions controls are now mandatory. Even getting a regular hybrid is now a long wait here. If Virginia fails to enforce strong emissions controls, Virginia will end up being a second class market for vehicles. By 2035, when California and other states implement an electric vehicle mandate, our problem may not be that we are forced to buy electric vehicles, but rather that Virginia buyers are forced to settle for obsolete gasoline-powered cars.
Rogard Ross, Chesapeake
As we enter the midterm election season, I find that I can no longer remain silent as I have been repeatedly accused of being “woke”. I wake up to the fact that our society is riddled with systemic racism, oppression and privilege while one party wants to whitewash our history through censorship, banning the non-existent teaching of critical race theory, the distortion of the founding principles of our country and the acceptance of discrimination and “outing” of LGBTQ students.
I’m awake to the burgeoning climate crisis and the existential threat it poses as I listen to the tortured reasoning as to why we can’t do anything meaningful about it, and leave our children and grandchildren to themselves. take care of it. I am awakened by the paradox of evangelical Christians who continue to defend every action of the former president, who embodied the most anti-Christian behavior I have seen in a world leader, and wave “patriot” flags with bumper stickers. -shocks “Let’s Go Brandon”. I am awakened by the fact that I have been there to see what Americans can do when we have a common goal, and the good we can do together. We are far from it.
Sean Horan, Chesapeake