Denver Celebrates Neal Cassady’s Birthday

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Interview reported and produced by David HIll

Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel On the Road begins with this line.

“I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up.”

The Dean he refers to is Dean Moriarty. Kerouac describes him as “the holy con-man with the shining mind.” Moriarty was a thinly veiled version of Neal Cassady. Cassady was a car thief and a charmer who grew up in a series of Denver flophouses in the 1930s. He died in 1968 and would’ve turned 85 this year. Longtime Denver band manager and Beat historian Mark Bliesener has organized a birthday party to celebrate Cassady’s life. It’s tomorrow [February 4,2011].