Is This The Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?

Caught In A Landslide, No Escape From Reality

Perhaps Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty had it, right? Drive a beat-up car across the country, searching for the real America; find that touchable and believable reality. The young Marylou is along for the ride; she adds the angst to their search. A real woman, one to drive the two of them mad. Three is a tangled mess. Two recovering Catholic boys question their upbringing. Harsh realisms, self-flagellating, pot smoking, cheap liquor guzzling, teetering on becoming a criminal or a saint.

Roughians, hooligans, hipsters, Bohemians, and rapscallions. These were the self-educated beast shaped by the great depression that taught us that America isn’t perfect and never can be as long as flawed and greedy people make decisions for the masses. Lords and Cerfs; Alms for the poor, sir?

The late 1940s was a time of realism. Fantasy was for the dreams of children. The recent brutal world war ended the tragic depression years, and sacrifices and loss of human life in far-off lands all played out in real-time, not on a roll of film. There was no “escape from reality.”

The coterie of Bohemian writers and artists was forming. Jackson Pollock was dripping paint, Picasso was mutilating women on canvas, and Papa Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Alan Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac sat around small tables in dingy cafes and bars slamming down hooch, and writing the real stuff that made us cry or recoil in disgust. They took the American reality from the 1930s and 1940s and gave it to us with a backhanded slap to the face. It awakened some of us, the ones that paid attention.

Jack Kerouac and the rest of his group weren’t meant for literary sainthood; they were too stained, too fallible, and over-baptized. America was real; life was not always the astringed family of mom and pop, two kids, and a cocker spaniel. Sometimes it hurt. More often than not, it was damned good. Men were riddled with imperfections but still knew how to be male, and women were as perfect as they were created to be.

Somewhere on this trip, along the road, America lost its reality, and people turned to fantasy. Now, we are lost in a landslide, with no escape from a warped reality. The road goes on.

11 Replies to “Is This The Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?”

  1. Good read. Pains me to admit, several “scholarly” lit-nuts have described pieces of my work much like Kerouac’s. I’m embarrassed, thinking myself a much easier, lighthearted read, even when ranting or commenting on our perverse society. Me, I often say, though few understand, “I’ve stayed too long at the dance.” Hang tough, Dude.


  2. Powerful piece of writing. Yeah, if you took that ride today you would not find the ‘real America’ — you’d find an unrecognizable third-world country being destroyed by idiots. I thank the gods that Kerouac and his truthseekers passed this way during my lifetime.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pick any name from your ancestors and any critical time in American history. I don’t know any names in your family, but I know a few of my own. None of them — none, had anything to do with the Civil War (other than bleed in it), our war with Spain in 1898, the fight to end all wars, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, or any of the madness that’s taken place in the Middle East.

    None of my ancestors was responsible for the reconstruction period, but many suffered from it. No one in my family ever stepped in front of an immigrant to accost them for wanting freedom. That’s a fact.

    Here’s another fact: I feel no guilt about slavery — none of my people participated in it. No one in my family got rich off the backs of anyone else. Plus, no one in my family served in Congress or other highfalutin positions, making decisions for everyone else. What my ancestors did do is they stepped up for America whenever the nation called. They asked for nothing other than to benefit from our nation’s “proposed” blessings. It seemed to work out okay until the devoted communists took over our government and began calling themselves by another name.

    You’re right — my imperfect kin knew how to be men, and the women knew how to keep a family together. Hell, I don’t have any answers — at least no more than anyone in my family’s past had. So — here’s what I think: the reality of America is where I’m standing. I don’t like what I’m seeing in our country today, but like my ancestors, there’s nothing I can do about it … except (a) every two years (which for many has become a joke) and (b) I know what I’ll put up with, and what I won’t. For example, I won’t vote for anyone who hasn’t proven to me they deserve my support. If that means staying home on Election Day … well, that’s what I’ll do. On a personal note, I hope the faggot twerkers and other deviants burn in hell — but that isn’t up to me, either.

    America needs more folks like you, Phil.

    Blessings Amigo

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Tim, I read your story,”High Plains Drifter .” You are definitely a good writer. The way you mixed poetry and the west of years past in with your conversation with the truck driver made it flow. You have been there and seen that I assume, traveling the country as you have.There’s a bit of Sal Paradise in your soul. I’ll read your books and your post, keep up the good work.

      Liked by 1 person

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