The episode: “The Home Economics Story,” short in front of “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent,” ep. 317
The riff: Quizzically pointed out by Joel while the wholesome college youth celebrate a football victory and a well-groomed man strolls into the frame.
The explanation: Cassady was a figure of the Beat Generation and psychedelic movement of the 1950s-1960s and a friend of Jack Kerouac. The character of Dean in “On the Road” was apparently based on Cassady. He was also a member of the Merry Pranksters, a group that experimented heavily with psychedelic substances. He was known as something of a rogue, which would explain why Tom follows up Joel’s riff by saying “…only for chicks” under his breath.
Novelty factor: Never heard of him before. I’ve actually never read any Kerouac, as it wasn’t on our assigned high school reading material. This probably explains why I’ve never succumbed to the allure of the glitzy beatnik lifestyle.