Neal Cassady and Ken Kesey

Magic Bus Poster

poster for the documentary, "Magic Bus"
poster for the documentary, "Magic Bus" | Source

Kesey and Cassady

Cassady and Kesey At the Movies

So you’re curious ‘bout this man who I speak
‘Cause he tears you and scares you out of your sleep
I am sure that you’ll find, if you open your mind
That it’s you and not he who is really the freak…”

lyrical comments about Neal Cassady from The Persecution and Restoration of Dean Moriarty

by Rex Fowler of Aztec Two Step

A Double Dose of Neal Cassady

Originally planned to be released on the heels of “On the Road”, the producers of 'The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test' are remaining mum on whether this will actually happen. Since the Kerouac-Cassady film will definitely be viewable at Christmas time, it remains doubtful that that the Tom Wolfe account of life on the road in a hippie school bus will immediately follow suit. Fans of the psychedlic will likely have to wait till next year for the movie to be made available. At this point the cast has been kept secret, but some observers expect Woody Harrelson and Jack Black to have major roles. What is known is that the screenplay of the Tom Wolfe non-fiction book is written by Gustin Nash and Dustin Lance Black. Gus van Sant is the director and the film was produced by Richard N. Gladstein. Though the official release date is still listed as 2011, I would be surprised if this is not pushed back to sometime in early 2012.

Documentary Is Out

For Ken Kesey fans who can't wait until the New Year to visit the new road movie, a documentary of the famed bus voyage has just been released. This film is called “Magic Trip” and it is the creative product of Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood. The moving picture is culled from the actual 1964 journey, which was extensively filmed by its participents. Magic Bus has been playing in various theaters since early August and obviously heralds the imminent arrival of the feature film. Kesey is the central character in this historic voyage, but Cassady's presence as the bus driver adds nearly as much color as the brightly painted sides of yellow school bus, which successfully circumvented the lower 48.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

The notorious bus trip in “Further” (the name of the bus) occurred two years after Kesey published his bestseller, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest”. Besides a West coast philosophy sometimes referred to as “Mobile Transcendentalism”, the group that traversed the country was very much into the use of LSD, which was still legal at the time. The journey was organized by Kesey and the film attempts to explain some of the philosophy of Kesey at the time of the trip.

The Everpresent Neal Cassady

Though Neal never had the literary impact of Kerouac or Kesey, he did write and publish some poetry and an autobiographical novel, “The First Third”, which is widely accepted as classic Beat literature. Moreover, Neal's great contribution to the literary and cultural movement was his endless energy and infectious outbursts of uncontrolled charisma. As a result, characters or personages, based on the wild nomad, show up the writing of Hunter Thompson, Allan Ginnsburg, Charles Bukowski, The Grateful Dead and of course, Kesey and Kerouac. Still, all this cultural acclaim can create an inflated portrait of the main character. Fortunately, “Magic Bus” provides some real-life footage and interviews with both Cassady and Kesey. Avid film goers can attend both cinematic presentations and see how the two portrayals compare.

Musical Book Report

Music lovers can check out this musical performance by Aztec Two step, who in 1969 wrote the popular song about Neil Cassady, called the Persecution and Restoration of Dean Moriarty.

Portrait of Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac

cover of Cassady's novel, The First Third featured a picture of Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac
cover of Cassady's novel, The First Third featured a picture of Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac | Source

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