3 December (1953): Jack Kerouac to Carolyn Cassady

Below, Jack Kerouac responds to an invitation from Carolyn Cassady (Neal Cassady’s wife) to come west for the winter and take a job as an attendant at a local parking lot. In so doing, Kerouac also touches upon advances, critics, and the apocalypse. “God is alone,” he informs Carolyn, “and I am better off because of it.” (Also: “Strawberries” is a euphemism for marijuana, which Cassady was attempting to grow in a lot beside his home.) 

December 3, 1953, Richmond Hill, NY

Dear Carolyn—

The parkinglot job sounds like it’s made to order for this old philosopher. With a guarantee from you or Neal that it is there and not a changeable by-the-time-I-get-there deal, I am ready to take off at the first possible moment, which is, the day after Xmas, by bus, arriving around Dec. 29 & ready to work & glad to be with my 2 buddies again for another New Year’s Eve.

As you know, Ginsberg won’t get to San Jose till February at the earliest. He’s made the astounding discovery that the New World had a “Greece & Rome” of its own & you can get there by 2nd class buss.

I have $30 to my name & hope to earn some in Xmas rush baggageroom work if possible in this overcrowded frosty fag town; the least of which I can say for it. I always end up knocking off a couple more prose masterpieces ere the publishers repeat & make known to me thru masks of “luncheon” & “contracts” their dark contempt for the dedicated prophetic & pure scribbler beholden to no contract but that which the stars drew up, in the end, to no revision but Time’s own sea of it, to no commercial slant but the sun’s on the commerce of the brow, to no hope of earning but the harvest after sleep.

God is alone, and I am better off because of it. It’ll be more important for me to know—in the Apocalypse of the Fellaheen to come, when all culture & civilization are done—that the shallow-eyed potato is the best potato, then t’would be for me to know the sum of my Advance, what J. Roger Critic said, and the politics of reprint rights…reprint indeed, and what tweedledee in a tweedledum world. In Strawberries, take note of best producing runners—cut down the others. All my life and all my lifework ahead of me, during which I make it my hobby to feed myself, before God. Irrigate only in hot July & August, not before or after, except in a dry Spring, of which beware.

Purple thoughts for a parkinglot & a chance to avoid an Eastern winter, & see my little Jamie. Hire out as brakeman in the Summer rush—head for Thanksgiving Mexico, return Spring of ’55 new senority [sic].

As ever & same old,