Aug 20, 2023 - Culture

My Brother's Bar connection to the Beat Generation

My Brother's Bar co-owner Dave Newman points to a copy of a 1944 letter written by Neal Cassady. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios

Next to an ATM machine that doesn't work, a framed copy of a 1944 letter written by Neal Cassady hangs on a wall inside the bar.

Details: Cassady wrote the letter from prison, the Colorado State Reformatory, and asked his East High School counselor to pay his tab at Paul's Place β€” the former name of My Brother's Bar.

  • He owed $3-$4 (about $52 in 2023).

Why it matters: The letter showcases My Brother's connection to the Beat Generation, a literary movement that grew prominent in the 1950s, and included Cassady and writers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.

  • Cassady, who grew up in Denver, is often cited as a major influence on Ginsberg and Kerouac, who based the character Dean Moriarty in his famous novel "On the Road" on Cassady.

What they're saying: "Neal Cassady is arguably one of the biggest literary pop culture figures, one of the most influential, from Denver β€” maybe of anybody," Brian Trembath, a librarian at the Denver Public Library, told the Colorado Sun in 2019.

Of note: The city's tourism office offers a Beat Generation tour showing places alluded to in writings from Beatniks, including Sonny Lawson Park in Five Points and Civic Center Park.

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