Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This Is Why I Love Jack Kerouac's Writing

THIS IS AN OLD DINER like the ones Cody and his father ate in, long ago, with that oldfashioned railroad car ceiling and sliding doors - the board where bread is cut is worn down fine as if with bread dust and a plane; the icebox ("Say I got some nice homefries tonight Cody!") is a huge brownwood thing with oldfashioned pull-out handles, windows, tile walls, full of lovely pans of eggs, butter pats, piles of bacon - old lunchcarts always have a dish of sliced raw onions ready to go on hamburgs.  Grill is ancient and dark and omits an odor which is really succulent, like you would expect from the black hide of an old ham or an old pastrami beef - The lunchcart has stools with smooth slickwood tops - there are wooden drawers for where you find the long loaves of sandwich bread - The countermen: either Greeks or have big red drink noses. Coffee is served in white porcelain mugs - sometimes brown and cracked. An old pot with half an inch of black fat sits on the grill, with a wire fryer (also caked) sitting in it, ready for french fries - Melted fat is kept warm in an old small white coffee pot.  A zinc siding behind the grill gleams from the brush of rags over fat stains - The cash register has a wooden drawer as old as the wood of a rolltop desk.  The newest things are the steam cabinet, the aluminum coffee urns, the floor fans - But the marble counter is ancient, cracked, marked, carved, and under it is the old wood counter of late twenties, early thirties, which had come to look like the bottoms of old courtroom benches only with knife-marks and scars and something suggesting decades of delicious greasy food. Ah!

The smell is always of boiling water mixed with beef, boiling beef, like the smell of the great kitchens of parochial boarding schools or old hospitals, the brown basement kitchens' smell - the smell is curiously the hungriest in America - it is FOODY insteady of just spicy, or - it's like dishwasher soap just washed a pan of hamburg - nameless - memoried - sincere - makes the guts of men curl in October.

-Jack Kerouac
From Visions of Cody