Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Kerouac, damage deposits

I finished reading On the Road last night, after ditching any attempt at writing and plowing through the pages like Dean’s Hudson across the country. Each time I read the book, there are parts that hold my interest more than other times, and other attributes or pieces that I skim over with little interest. This time, I was most interested in the routes of the roads – I followed along with my atlas, and tried to find the paths taken. I was also into the Burroughs stories, since I’d just read a snippet of a Burroughs bio last week, and it happened to be the same piece that was described in OTR. This time, I wasn’t into the music descriptions – Kerouac goes into these long, drawn out monologues about the bop joints and clubs full of musicians and everything, and it’s cool and all, but I didn’t feel like it this time around. Maybe I should re-read it this week and see if my interests transform into something else. Actually, I think the next read will be Desolation Angels, although I got stalled on that when I read it 2 or 3 years ago.

Three years ago today, my Mustang’s engine blew up, and I was in a mad dash to sell it’s smouldering carcass, sell all of my furniture, and get enough cash together to rent a U-Haul and leave Indiana in 2 days. I made it too – on July 1, 1995, I locked the door of the ten-foot moving truck and headed toward Elkhart, where I’d spend the night, loot my mom’s house for anything I’d need to set up shop in Seattle, and beg a few bucks off of my parents. On the way up, the trusty Konrath Sound System ™, a pair of battery-powered speakers I bought in 1991 when my Rabbit was sans stereo, finally died. I stopped at the Kokomo mall, and got a new pair of Koss speakers at Target. Those speakers are on my desk here at work, as I speak. When I got to Elkhart, I pitched the old speakers into a trash at the Concord Mall Montgomery Wards, with great sadness. When me and Ray piled into his Buick – FM radio only – and drove to Chicago to see a show, the Konrath Sound System always saved the day. With that, a walkman, and maybe even a discman, we had demos, new music, and death metal, instead of the boring and static-bombed radio stations of northern Indiana.

I talked to a window washer today, one of the guys that rappels down the side of big glass buildings with a bucket and a squeegee. I always wondered how one got started on a job like that, and he said he worked with an older guy, a sort of apprenticeship. I didn’t know if they went to a trade school, started washing cars first, spent a lot of time mountain climbing, or what. So there’s your useful/useless factoid of the day.

06/29/98 20:50

Just woke up from a short nap with the windows open and a nice breeze whipping through the apartment. I love it in the summer, when a post-work nap doesn’t mean waking up in the dark.

I spent all afternoon moving and reconfiguring a SparcStation and a JavaStation, so they’d work in the conference room in the other building. (We have the original building at 1500 Dexter, and the new building at 1100 dexter. This was moving from old to new, but just ’til tuesday.) It took a lot longer than expected to get the Sparc acclimated to its new gateway and IP number, and a lot longer to get all of the associated baggage involved with the JavaStation to work. The JavaStation boots from the Sparc – it has no disc drive, so it pulls an OS and its associated Java applets from the Sparc to boot, a neat but messy approach. It was fun in an odd sort of way – it presented a bunch of problems and involved a lot of thinking and logical analysis. About three hours into it, both mchines worked fine, and we got the product running on both of them, more than I’d ever seen before. By the time I thought about looking at my watch, it was already 5. I had an absolutely beautiful walk back to the other building, and tried to get as much work-work done as possible before I split.

The second shoe will hit the floor a week from Wednesday at Evergreen Ford in Issaquah. That’s when I go there with the Escort for the estimate on damages and soforth. I thought about telling them I’m thinking about leasing a brand new car as they are writing out my estimate, and then when I return the car and pay their written estimate, I’d say I decided to buy a new Beetle or something.

I started reading Desolation Angels tonight, and I can see why it threw me last time. It’s nowhere near as accessible as On the Road. I’ll have to dig in to keep on this one. Among the many books I want to get but can’t afford right now is the book of Kerouac letters. I wish I knew the whole story behind the Ann Charters vs. Gerald Nicosia vs. Jan Kerouac or whatever. I read the Nicosia biography and found it to be the best. Charters seems to presumptuous, and when I leafed through her bio, it seemed watered down – like if you bought a Sylvester Stallone biography and it had no mention whatsoever of his years in Sweden making porn films. Why would you read a history book with no history. Interested viewers are encouraged to mail me with text files or URLs providing more details about the whole argument.

I have an overwhelming urge to go to Barnes and Noble, but it’s time to work on the book.