Young Neal Cassady kept busy in Denver, tailing his father to Larimer Street dives, stealing cars and serving time in the Colorado State Reformatory. Cassady's adventures left little time for formal education, which is why he dropped out of East High School after a short stint in the early 1940s. But today, East will bestow a posthumous diploma on Cassady, muse to an entire cast of Beat Generation writers, and especially to his eternal roadside companion, Jack Kerouac.
"Neal Cassady is the most important pop-culture figure ever to emerge from Denver," says Mark Bliesener, local music guru and Beat historian. "Students at East as well as all of us in Denver walk in the steps of Beat history every day."
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Neal's daughters, Jami and Cathy Cassady, will celebrate their father's official status as an Angel in a school-only assembly at East today. But the Third Annual Neal Cassady Birthday Bash, hosted by Bliesener, takes place tonight at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, from 8 to 10 p.m. Musicians David Amram and Janet Feder will join faculty from Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in toasting Cassady, who would have been 86 on February 8. For more information, go to the birthday-bash Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/events/206315476117860.
Fri., Feb. 3, 8-10 p.m., 2012