Sunday, June 03, 2012

Jack Kerouac's lone Sunday in Avignon

Jack Kerouac went to Avignon. But he didn't stay that long.  According to his biographer Nicosia*, he arrived by bus from Marseilles via Arles in april, 1957, and got ripped off straigthaway by a defective gum-vending machine at the station. Sulking, angry with the French, he went through the sleepy  sunday afternoon streets of the Popes'city, finding them stuffy and provincial. Then the Dharma Bum left to Paris (by the evening train).

Even if you fancy yourself a lucky traveller, take our humble advice  : don't expect too much from Avignon on a Sunday afternoon. Shops are all closed, including those in the  main tourist streets, where small groups  of disoriented would-be shoppers wander clutching their citymaps and useless wallets. Plan your Sunday ahead, find out about village fairs and shows. Try our local undergroud cinema, Utopia, located next door from our building on 5, rue Figuiere : they  have mostly  English-language movies with french subtitles.  (  'On the road'**,  will be on show there  until June, 26). And... beware of vending machines : those contraptions haven't improved that much since 1957, and nowadays we do have a few cafes open on Sundays !.

( *Gerald Nicosia, Memory babe, chap 11, 1983, Grove Press. )
(**On the road, 2012, from the 1952 novel by Jack Kerouac, directed by  Walter Salles, with Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Sturridge, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Alice Braga, Steve Buscemi, official selection at the Cannes Festival.)
 The picture above is from an ad for the book, not the film.