Serving as the model for Kerouac’s Noble Savage, Dean Moriarty in On the Road, and “N.C., the secret hero” of Allen Ginsberg’s provocative poem Howl, Neal Cassady spent part of his childhood in a Larimer Street flophouse, and most of his youth hustling across America as the consummate delinquent, encountering controversial literary figures like Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson into the bargain and becoming their muse without trying. Cassady’s charm, manic energy, sexual swagger, and free flowing verbosity made him the authentic “hero” of the Beat Generation of the late 40’s and 50’s, and the perfect choice to drive Ken Kesey’s bus into the acid swirled sixties. Hell, even Charles Bukowski met him once.
I remember Neal’s face was among all those of local notables adorning the parking lot wall of the DCPA (apparently since renovated out of existence) and as a teenager a friend and I retraced the route from the flophouse to his grammar school (Ebert Elementary on 23rd and Tremont) as outlined in The First Third , a collection of Cassady’s autobiographical musings never published during his lifetime, but aside from The Last Time I Committed Suicide (1997), starring Keanu Reeves and based on a letter Neal sent to Jack that supposedly inspired Jack’s kick for “spontaneous prose”, Neal’s multitudinous life hasn’t made it to film. Now creative producer/director Heather Dalton has secured an agreement with the Cassady Estate for photographic and archival rights as well as literary rights for The First Third and Carolyn Cassady’s biography Off the Road. Currently in post production, this film features interviews with prominent and historical figures including Carolyn Cassady, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, David Amram, John Allen Cassady, Jami Cassady Ratto, Cathy Cassady Sylvia, Jerry Cimino, Tom Noel, Ed White and Al Hinkle. Heather is seeking underwriting to cover the costs of final edit, literary/image rights, closed captioning, dvd replication and program distribution for Neal Cassady: The Denver Years.
Heather Dalton has built a solid reputation as a creative producer of original, Emmy nominated programs for public television focusing on independent film, culture, politics and social issues. She produced and directed the series Out of Order and Dropframe.
Co-Producer Joshua V. Hassel is known for his public television documentaries – enduring and historic profiles of artists, art and architecture – Allen True’s West, REX RAY: How to Make a Rex Ray, and Sandzén: Ecstasy of Color.
Associate Producer Mark Bliesener is a beat historian,lecturer and organizer of Denver’s annual Neal Cassady Birthday Bash (which will take place on Friday February 4th at the Mercury Café, 2199 California, from 8-10pm. The “Bash” is free and open to the public of all ages). His career in the music industry includes managing the careers of Alan Parsons, Big Head Todd, Lyle Lovett, Danielle Ate the Sandwich and others.