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"Jack Was Here" graffiti pays stenciled homage to Kerouac

"Jack Was Here" graffiti pays stenciled homage to Kerouac
A "Jack Was Here" stencil on the Central City opera house, posted on jack-was-here.tumblr.com blog

Sixty years after Jack Kerouac filled a 120-foot scroll in a haze of lust, creative ambition and amphetamines that resulted in the original On the Road, producer Francis Ford Coppola is actually making a movie of the book — his third attempt. But while On the Road is a distinctly American classic, he's filming the entire movie in Canada.

That snub is particularly egregious considering that Denver factors prominently into the action — in fact, you could argue that our fair city is a main character in the book. While, sure, some of the action takes place on either coast, Denver is like the meat of that literary sandwich, providing the book with a prodigious amount of its soul, not to mention its hands-down best character: one Dean Moriarty, known in real life as Neal Cassady, Denver boy and Beat god.

And in the rabble-rousing spirit of Cassady himself, at least one team of "elite street thugs" is not taking the slight lying down. For the last few months, cloaked in secrecy and carrying a copy of On the Road and a handful of stencils, this group has been visiting known Kerouac hangouts and doing the writer a favor he may or may not have gotten around to himself: tagging them with a likeness and the words "JACK WAS HERE."

"I got the idea when I heard about the film adaptation coming out," explains the artist and ringleader, a shadowy figure who calls himself only Theo. "The filmmakers substituted Gatineau, Quebec, for Denver. I've been a Kerouac addict for years, and I've always wanted to pay tribute to the author in some way, but it only recently hit me just how this could be done: It's just a simpler reminder that Kerouac was here in Denver and not some small town in Canada that no one's ever heard of. I think it's an appropriate gesture to celebrate one counterculture with another."

You can find the art in the 2100 block of Larimer Street and the Taco Bell on East Colfax (it wasn't a Taco Bell when Kerouac was here, by the way); a tag put on the opera house in Central City, where Kerouac spent time, has already been removed. And this Friday, the Kerouac Project, sponsored by the AWE Collective, will take its show on the road — at least to Crash 45, a new bar and gallery space at 321 East 45th Avenue. Until then, watch for a Q&A with Theo on our Show and Tell blog.

 
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36 comments
Iain Mavro Coggins
Iain Mavro Coggins

As much as I sympathize with Denverites who would like to see the actual Denver play host to a film adaptation of On The Road, Denver no longer looks anything like it did in the late '40s and '50s; and there's only so much you can do with digitization.

da realist
da realist

Go Gatineau, Quebec! On the northern banks of the Ottawa River, across from Ottawa, Ontario, the capitol of Canada. No reason for cross border hating .. beautiful country!

Ken
Ken

arghh....these people are a-holes and what they do is vandalism, which is a crime. just because it's a pic of a wht guy we all know does not mean its not vandalism. it's a quality of life crime, which shows a disregard for other people's property and the arrogance and selfishness of the individuals who stencil these things on the walls.

True123
True123

Dont be mad at Coppola for doing what all directors do. Going somewhere that is affordable, and has retained character, instead of building Taco Bells and concrete cul de sacs.

D.E.
D.E.

Denver has about as much of a literary tradition as Tombstone or Deadwood. The only reason Kerouac and Ginsberg spent any time in Denver was because a great character grew up here.

Druid
Druid

One of the most unreadable books ever written.

Rebrus
Rebrus

I've heard of Gatineau. Been there in fact and it is beautiful.

Jimi99
Jimi99

Too bad Coppola is doing it, he's been lame for years. A young hungry director would be ideal and might even be true to the locations and the spirit of the beatifics.

Whatever
Whatever

this has been up for a long time. there has been a tag in sonny lawson park for months.

The Dude
The Dude

Who cares.

Eroc
Eroc

apparently you care enough to post

George DeLuca
George DeLuca

There's really no need for graffiti. If you want to pay tribute to Jack Kerouac, Come To Lowell in October 6-9 for the Annual Kerouac Festival. People come from all over every year to tour his old neighborhoods and haunts, listen to music, read poetry, and just have a wonderful time. It's a good old fashioned love fest!George DeLucahttp://www.cometolowell.comScheduled events:http://www.lowellcelebratesker...

Johnsmith123
Johnsmith123

wasn't Kerouac a homophobe and his buddy (dude who started niroba school) a pedophile?

Jimi99
Jimi99

What you say has an element of truth but if you can't appreciate art without judging the artists as people, stick to Transformer movies, dude.

Johnsmith456
Johnsmith456

First of all, Kerouac and Ginsberg were NOT that great, just because sombody is poor, lazy, thinks they are entitled to everything and is a rebel just for the sake of being a rebel doesn't make them a "great artist" or a "genius". In fact, those folks are usually called "posers". Second, an artists personal morals or lifestyle do, in fact influence their art and their legacy long after they are gone. Example, Jackson Pollack was a violent abusive alcoholic and guess what, his art kinda sucks and is way overated because he never painted when he wasnt shit faced and angry at women. Everybody knows he was a coward that beat up his girlfriends, even folks who like his half-assed work. The artists with true genius strive to live to their fullest capibilities in ALL aspects of their lives because that transfers to their artistic medium. Hate to break it to you friend but having a major personality/moral defect like ass raping little boys (michael jackson & allen ginsberg) does in fact taint your legacy and artistic output. Also, acting like ginsberg's lame ass poetry or kerouac's corny ass remedial literature is SO much deeper than some hollywood gimmic like "transformers" is faulty seeing as how the "beatnicks" were the original hipster, follower, self-righteous, brain-washed-marxist, hollywood dick riders.

john
john

....are you drunk?

D.T. Pennington
D.T. Pennington

Lots of drunk comments! Keroac's best friend (his "pedophile" buddy) was Ginsberg. Ginsberg was openly gay. He started Naropa University.

I think there is a need for something like this, especially in the medium of graffiti. We can read about the places, or we can be passively reminded that Denver helped create the circumstances he wrote about.

Schainejp
Schainejp

Best writer ever.( Along with Hunter S. Thompson.)

 
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