You either bother with the Beat generation or you don’t. I always thought the people espousing the virtues of the Beats were the same who shroomed around campfires and sat around diners at 3 a.m. smelling vaguely of sandalwood. But then I gave in and read Kerouac’s On the Road. And immediately the Wanderlust took me.
I’ve cruised from coast to coast twice in my life, once with friends and once alone, and I would recommend it to anyone with the opportunity. My solo jaunt westward was fraught with peril and insanity: a hardcore show with my vegan cousins, gambling on a riverboat, my car parading through an endless arsenal of head-scratching mechanics, being chased across West Texas and New Mexico by tornadoes screaming vengeance at the top of my lungs out of my window, and cruising across a desert filled with velociraptor statues. The journey eastward in a caravan changed my life forever: working for room and board at a diabetic camp, backyard campouts with rootbeer floats, gambling for stuffed animals in Reno casinos, showering at truck stops, the night sky over Nebraska bursting with more stars than would fit in my mind, crooning with my best friend to Weezer’s Pinkerton as we rocketed across Ohio at triple digit speeds. On the Road reminds me of that trip, like dipping my toes in the river of memory. It influenced pop culture, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to Easy Rider.
A film adaptation has been kicked around like a rusty can down a Jersey boardwalk, but never found purchase. The rights have passed hand, last time going from Gus Van Sant to Francis Ford Coppola, who’s set to start production this summer. I don’t know if it’ll still be with the Russell Banks screenplay, but Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) is set to direct. Which is an excellent selection.
However, the exploits of Keroauc and his buddy Neal Cassidy as they traveled back and forth across the continent, under the pseudonyms of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, mean difficult acting gigs. Garrett Hedlund — who’ll you’re about to see in Tron: Legacy — is set to play Dean Moriarty, and I’m not entirely sold on the idea. Hedlund was amazing as Billingsley in “Friday Night Lights,” but I think much of that was just the superiority of the film in its entirety. And I have no idea who they’re gonna get for Sal Paradise. It’s gonna be one of those wanderlust pics like Into the Wild, that will get some benefit from strong ensemble performances, but it’s gonna be up to the leads. I’m thinking they need some Ben Fosters or Emile Hirschs, but they really need a James Dean, and I can’t think of who covers that in this generation.
(Source: The Playlist and Production Weekly)