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June 22-26


7:30pm: "To the People," a musical with a theme of freedom and struggle presented by Little Flags Theatre at the Sampas Pavillion on the Merrimack River.

7-11pm: Publication party for "Guide to Kerouac's Lowell" by Brian Foye, at the Pawtucketville Social Club, 123 University Ave.

7:30-10:30pm: "Kerouac: The Lowell Books," a forum with Kerouac biographers and scholars, including Ann Charters, Gerard Nicosia, John Tytell, and Regina Weinreich. Author Robin Moore will from Kerouac's works at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre. $3 donation to Middlesex Shelter.

8-11pm: Poetry reading with Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Creeley and others at Smith-Baker Center, Merrimack St. Donation to the Corporation for the Celebration of Jack Kerouac in Lowell.

9-11am: Kerouac bus tour of Lowell. Leaves from National Park Visitor Center.

9-noon: Kerouac media room with videos, slide shows, audio tapes and films at Merrimack Repertory Theatre

Noon-1pm: Folksinger Bob Martin performs at Eastern Canal Park, Bridge and French St.

1-2:30pm: Opening Ceremony for Eastern Canal Park and Jack Kerouac Commemorative with public officials, family, friends and others.

3-7pm: Kerouac media room at Merrimac Repertory Theatre

4-6pm: Reception for Allen Ginsberg. Photography exhibit at Whistler House Museum's Parker Gallery, 243 Worthen St.

5-8pm: Reception for exhibition of Kerouac inspired artworks at A Brush With History Gallery, Market Mills.

8-11pm: "Back to Jack" performance by Toledo Poets, Jack Powers and Friends at Smith Baker Center.

9-11am: Kerouac bus tour of Lowell.

10am-5pm: Media room at Merrimack Repertory Theatre

Noon-2pm: Open stage for poets and musicians at Parker Gallery, Whistler House Museum. Ron Della Chiesa, WGBH, host.

1-3pm: Bicycle tour of Kerouac's Lowell.

2-3:30pm: Lecture on the Kerouac Commemorative by sculpture Ben Woitena at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium

4pm: Concert by Lucie Blue Tremblay at Market Mills Stage, Market St.

Buddhist influence on Kerouac influenced sculptor's granite work.
By Doug Pizzi

A mandala is what sculptor Ben Woitena had in mind when he considered what type of work would best honor Jack Kerouac began to gel.

Mandala is a Buddhist term for a type of structure which enhances meditation by activating certain centers in the body.

"But it is not a Buddhist shrine," the Houston-based sculptor said of his work in Eastern Canal Park on Bridge Street. It merely acknowledges the Buddhist influence on Kerouac, he said.

And as Japhy Ryder (poet Gary Snyder) told Ray Smith (Kerouac) in "The Dharma Bums," the circle represents the void and the items in it the illusions of life.

For Woitena, the circular nature of the arrangement of the granite slabs represents the void, with passages from Kerouacs books, the more reflective ones nearer the center, as the illusions.

"I liked the configuration so the design of the park is based on it," Woitena said. "It comes on very casually but the substance is there. Its quite complex at the same time."

Asked what he wanted his statue to instill in the people of Lowell, Woitena gave an example.

"During the installation I met a person who came in past the barricade. We talked and he said he never cared for Kerouac," Woitena said.

But after reading the inscriptions in the park, the man told Woitena he would have to reconsider his opinion.

Nearly two decades after death, a city gives Jack Kerouac what life didn't - recognition
By Denise Lavoie

LOWELL - For Jack Kerouac lovers, it's a fitting vision: the rebellious author looking down from heaven, wearing his roguish grin and savoring the irony of all this hometown fuss.

"I bet he's having one great laugh," says Mary Sampas, who was married to the brother of Kerouac's wife. "I think he's probably saying, 'I told you so.' I bet he loves this."

As the city prepares to dedicate its first memorial to its most famous writer - a symbol of the 'Beat Generation' - Kerouac's fans say they feel vindication for the shy boy from Centralville and Pawtucketville who until recently never gained widespread acceptance in his city.

"In Lowell, during his life, it was taboo to like Kerouac, and now it's "I knew him, I went to school with him, I had a drink with him," says Rev. Armand "Spike" Morissette, O.M.I., the priest who knew Kerouac growing up and eulogized himat his funeral Mass at St. Jean Baptiste Church Oct. 24, 1969. Kerouac died three days earlier at 47 after a lifetime of excessive drinking.

Even now, a substantial segment of Lowell society will not acknowledge Kerouac's place in the literary world.

Kerouac's hard-drinking, enfant terrible lifestyle continues to bother some natives who feel recognizing Kerouac's work "glorifies" his behavior.

City Councilor M. Brendan Fleming, whose opposition to a Kerouac memorial attracted national press, hasn't changed his opinion of the writer "one bit." Fleming cast the sole vote against a memorial last year.

"To me, it's rather ironic, and also hypocritical, for people to be saying we should be fighting against drugs, that we should say 'no' to drugs and here we are memorializing a person whose lifestyle was exactly that," Fleming said.

But supporters insist Kerouac the man must be separated from Kerouac the writer. Read his books, they say, and understand.

And what Kerouac fans want Lowell to most understand is what he gave to the city, the legacy he left in his 22 books.

"He really left us something to be proud of. He wrote about the Lowell that I love, especially the French people. He was one of us," says Reginald Oullette, a city planner and member of the Corporation for the Celebration of Jack Kerouac in Lowell, a group formed in 1985 to spark interest in the author.

Oullette and Roger Brunelle, another Kerouac enthusiast and member of the corporation, lead tours of "Kerouac places" in Lowell.

There are the homes, 14 in all, where Kerouac lived from his birth in 1922 to 1939 when he left Lowell.

Pawtucketville club to host Kerouac bash
By David Perry

LOWELL - Cliff Whalen wants to offer a musical celebration of Jack Kerouac, so he's done the logical thing - rented out of the late author's favorite local haunts for a bash.
Garr Lange, Classic Ruins and (who else?) the Dharma Bums share the bill, which is set for Saturday night at the Pawtucketville Social Club from 3pm to 1 am (Whalen is also trying to line up a fourth act).
There will be several "open microphone" opportunities for performers throughout the day and evening, and the mike will be free from 7:30 to 9, said Whalen.
"The idea is to offer something for anyone who might be out there and wants to play something," he said. Yes, he added, he had heard rumors that Kerouac fan Jerry Garcia might be coming to town.