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'Rocky Mountain Cultural Honesty'
Queer Chicken Dinner by Ron West, pages 28-30
© 2018 James LaFond
Allan Temko confronts Cassady with “what’s this I hear you are sleeping with three girls at the same time?” .. Cassady looks down at the carpet with a sort of nervous foot-shuffle: “Oh yeah, that’s how it goes.” .. his innate but dying Rocky Mountain cultural honesty admits he’s treating the women like dirt, his vanishing conscience feels a faint twinge. Meanwhile Kerouac disses Temko’s perception of Cassady as a moron and a fool and claims “of course he [Cassady] wasn’t.”
Meanwhile, having set in motion divorcing his wife and promising to marry the girl he’s been cheating with, he’s continued to cheat on both his wife and girlfriend with a third girl (and certainly with Ginsberg as well), all the while under Ginsberg’s tutelage. A bit later on, at one of Cassady & Ginsberg’s ‘learning sessions’, Ginsberg presses Cassady on his ‘honesty’ with Ginsberg over Cassady being into Ginsberg’s pocket for his money (the hypocrisy is indeed rich), at which point Kerouac [in this context] honestly observes honesty is beyond reach.
Kerouac meant this observation in a macrocosmic way but what is patently obvious is, Kerouac does not see beyond his dishonest microcosmic worldview, and he misses the paradox he’s created for himself; honest admission of dishonest perception or alternately stated, subliminal confessions in dishonest chronicles.
We had our dishonest folk. More often than not, they were immigrants, and I’m not talking about Mexicans, but people from the city. Chuck was a good enough seeming fellow, and you did not get the feeling he’d rip you off, likely because he wouldn’t. But there is such things as ‘degrees’ of dishonesty’ it would seem. Chuck had nearly gotten in over his head when he’d decided he could backpack the wilderness with George and myself. In fact he WAS in over his head, only reason he’d not been left to die on his own was, George and I didn’t want to be in a position of having to answer for it. So, the day had come we knew we had to get out, on account of a Spring storm and coming high water. We’d told Chuck we’d be hiking out that day, 30 miles. George and I took Chuck’s pack, emptied it and divided the contents between us, so he’d be hiking with no weight at all. Subpoint here being, if he’d quit, he’d have no survival gear, putting Chuck in a circumstance [in his mind] if he did not keep up, he’d damn certain die. But we [George and myself] kinda were of the opinion Chuck would die anyhow, left on his own. And we hiked out, 30 miles that day. Chuck never fell much more than a half-mile behind, and that’d be about the time George and I would take a break, and when we could see Chuck coming up the trail, we’d resume marching, we were brutal, but it was what it required to get out that day. Chuck made it.
A few weeks later, my dad approached me with a big grin. Chuck’s and my dad were acquainted and Chuck’s dad had always felt his kid was a kind of hippie wuss. My dad had told me Chuck’s dad was beside himself with glee over George and myself had “hiked his kid’s ass off.” It was reported back [via my dad] Chuck had lain on the sofa at home and moaned for a week. Now, Chuck could not brag his life achievement of a one-day 30 miles hike with two local, well known mountain-boy characters, at Columbia Falls, Montana, in any honest way. It required returning to live in Riverside, California, to live up to his heroic deed (in his mind.)
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