Sal Paradise and the Counterculture of “On The Road”
For those who don’t know who Sal Paradise is, he’s the main character in Jack Kerouac’s american classic “On The Road” (1957). A breakthrough novel that presented to mainstream America the comings and goings, in the vast and sizzling back doors of the country’s counterculture, of Sal Paradise. A character who with the help of Dean Moriarty – the mythical hipster – and the hero of the beatniks, created and were praised by the Beat Generation.
He was BEAT – the root, the soul of Beatific.
Extracts – On the Road, Part 3
At lilac evening I walked with every muscle aching among the lights of 27th and Welton in the Denver colored section, wishing I were a Negro, feeling that the best the white world had offered was not enough ecstasy for me, not enough life, joy, kicks, darkness, music, not enough night. I stopped at a little shack where a man sold hot red chili in paper containers; I bought some and ate it, strolling in the dark mysterious streets. I wished I were a Denver Mexican, or even a poor overworked Jap, anything but what I was so drearily, a «white man» disillusioned.
Then we promised ourselves two days of kicks in San Francisco before starting off, and of course the agreement was to go by travel bureau in share-the-gas cars and save as much money as possible.
The girls came down and we started out on our big night, once more pushing the car down the street. «Wheeoo! let’s go!» cried Dean, and we jumped in the back seat and clanked to the little Harlem on Folsom Street.
Out we jumped in the warm, mad night, hearing a wild tenorman bawling horn across the way, going «EE-YAH! EE-YAH! EE-YAH!»… and hands clapping to the beat and folks yelling: «Go, go, go!» … Dean was already racing across the street with his thumb in the air, yelling, «Blow, man, blow!» A bunch of colored men in Saturday-night suits were whooping it up in front. It was a sawdust saloon with a small bandstand on which the fellows huddled with their hats on, blowing over people’s heads, a crazy place; …
Sal and Dean’s 4 trips 1947-1950
- Summer 1947: New York + San Francisco ↔ Denver
- Winter 1949: Rocky Mount NC + San Francisco → New Orleans
- Spring 1949: Denver + New York → San Francisco
- Spring 1950: New York + Mexico City → Denver
Not all the spots that are taken by Sal and Dean are represented in this map, if you want a detailed map you should check Interactive Maps for Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.
None the less, the above map does mark some world famous places and other cinematographic locations, that could might as well make you jump out of your seat and start programming your road Trip 1 – NYC-San Francisco passing through Denver.
If you do get to visit any of these spots, we’d be happy to share your experiences in future posts or by updating this one.
Beat the hype
take the ride.