drunk, etc. Bob performed Back to Jack with four other local poets for several years. Sometime in the late 90s the guys stopped performing. We all talked about it together, how great it was, how it was missed, and eventually I collaborated with poets John Swaile and Caroline Gauger to bring Back to Jack back to Toledo. We’ve been performing with a rotating cast and new additions to the script for about 4 years now. The original Jacks seem to dig what we do. I have to ask you about Back to Jack. It occurs to me that I’ve heard a lot of stories about Back to Jack from the other guys who performed in it, your friends and colleagues who supported the reading and partied with you after, but I don’t know what got the reading started. When did you guys start performing together? Was the whole thing Nick [Muska’s] idea, or did you all contribute something to it? And didn’t you perform Back to Jack in Quebec and Lowell, MA, in front of Jack’s friends and family? What was that like? Can you talk about meeting Ginsberg and the other writers who were in the audience at this reading?
The annual Back To Jack memorial reading was Nick Muska’s idea and he originally chose the pieces to be read. After a couple of years Nick asked the participants to suggest other pieces so it wasn’t the exact same text each year. I was not an original member of the cast. Back To Jack began in 1984, if I remember correctly, with a performance at the Colony Bookstore. Edie Parker Kerouac came down from Detroit and was a special guest. I took the place of the inimitable John Henry Newmark (aka Johnny Hi Fi) in 1987 and the first time I participated was at the tremendous Kerouac festival in Quebec City. I was scared to death and thought I did a terrible job. Afterwards, Allen Ginsberg came up to me and poked his finger in my stomach and said, “I liked you.” That sure made me feel better. 149
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