By Jack Kerouac

I went to the morgue here at the Times today for the Jack Kerouac clips. I’m doing a little story on his old house in St. Pete, where he spent his last lonely years.

I found a little surprise.


It looks like Kerouac wrote for St. Pete’s evening paper, The Evening Independent, for a month in 1965. The clip file contains just a few of those stories. I have no idea how frequently he wrote. In an editor’s note, Mike Fowler explains that he was planning to write a column on bull-fighting until Kerouac “dropped by the office last night and batted out three stories while I was trying to get one paragraph right.”


Here are two stories I found from Kerouac.

The Greatest Sports Writers Who Ever Lived As Far As I’m Concerned.

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. (Independent) July 10, 1965 – As for me, it was Dan Parker. I never thought Jimmy Cannon was so hot as he thought he was because of all his dismal attempts at trying to sound like Hemingway, or like Runyon, or rather he was trying to sound like somebody’s avante garde idea of what a sportswriter should sound like if he were (or was) really smart. Jimmy Cannon I read with avid interest, but for information I go to Frank Graham and Dan Parker and Red Smith ain’t bad and James Daley purty good. Now you know I can spell but so many of us spend our time reading sports pages we might as well for once start talking about the quality of the prose of our sports writers. I don’t wish to knock Jimmy Cannon. But please pay attention, will you, to the old Daily Mirror columns of Dan Parker and put them together in a book. Frank Graham had a sparse, thin-as-a-rail style that appealed to me simply as reportage devoid of style-consciousness and yet conscious of the quality of what prose should be. This may sound too silly to readers of the sports pages but it’s true.

Dan Parker was the dean of American sportswriters because he wrote a long column every night, using dialects which were Italian, Jewish, Greek, French-Canadian, Irish and Polish but he could never master the Okie accent. My father, an old printer, used to read him with massive delight and I mean massive. He drew my attention to Dan Parker. After Dan Parker there can be no sportswriter in America. Let’s just call this a little eulogy to Dan Parker’s genius. (Am I allowed this, James Wechsler, Editor of the New York Post, where some great new sportswriters are working?) (And there’s Stan Isaacs of the Long Island paper, Newsday, excellent.) As for Grantland Rice, that belongs to the Thomas Wolfe period of American sportswriting.

I could go into a long story about Clem McCarthy, the radio announcer, but let the Managhans, the O’Reillys, the Cassidys, the McInerys and the Kerwicks laugh awhile about that.

What Was The Punch That Knocked Out Liston?

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. (Independent) July 10, 1965 – Somebody said it was a Karate punch, somebody said Liston flopped for money, somebody said it was a hard punch, Muhammad Ali said it was a “surprise” punch he’d been laying up, and some said it was whatever. Somebody here in the office said it was a “six-inch Twist.” And somebody else said he didn’t know what it was but he floored him.

Robert Goulet forgot the words to the National Anthem because he was probably having a big time with the French-Canadians of Lewiston, Maine, where an aunt of mine lives. The referee was that great fighter: Jersey Joe Walcott. Joe Lewis, the Left Jab Champ, said he couldn’t understand what happened. The eyes of all men in the world were on that fight. All men interested in the World’s Heavyweight Boxing Championship fight. The mayor of the town was only in his thirties. From the Maine woods maybe a couple of the old-timers came in, in Jeeps, after a snowshow trek, to see the oldtime American cigar-smoke fight scene. It was all over. Everybody thought it was mysterious. In the old days there was nothing mysterious about Carner hitting Schaff. I have to write this because I wasn’t there. But the Clay-Muhammad Ali-Floyd Patterson fight is coming up sometime and once again men all over the world will be interested. Every man in the world had to put up his dukes at one time or another, or refused to (as Jesus refused to), but it’s always interesting because it’s so personal, immediate, no-bull-allowed. A good prizefight, because with gloves, is still Christianly legal. And remember that they started out without gloves: John L. Sullivan, James Corbett, Sam Langford …

I may be whistling Dixie, but I’d rather see a Heavy-Weight Boxing Championship fight than a P.G.A. anyday. (Golf being distance pool.) (Jack Nicklaus forgive me.) You can bet your life: boxing matches are sad, and everything is sad anyhow, till that day when the Lion lies down with the Lamb.

7 thoughts on “By Jack Kerouac

  1. It strikes me that those newspaper stories don’t read like newspaper stories at all. They read like blog entries. I’m sure that has nothing at all to do with anything whatsoever. Really.

      • This is great stuff – the recent Joyce Johnson on early Kerouac is extraordinary. Years ago, I looked up some of his Lowell Sun stories, as well as stories about his high school football career in the old Boston Post. Gave a talk on his football days once in Lowell, and several of his old teammates showed up.

  2. I wonder why he only spent a month writing for the paper. Maybe he got sick of it. Or maybe he was too drunk to do any more.

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