37. “Hey, there’s Neal Cassady, I didn’t know he went to college.”

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.

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3 thoughts on “37. “Hey, there’s Neal Cassady, I didn’t know he went to college.”

  1. Neal was also a friend of the Grateful Dead and mentioned in a couple of their songs. One of the writers at MST3K was obviously a Deadhead from the many references to the Dead throughout the shows run.

  2. Kerouac also wasn’t on my high school reading list; I don’t think he was on anybody’s. I did read “On the Road,” and I highly recommend it. Another recommedation is Tom Wolfe’s “Electric Kool-Air Acid Test,” that chronicles Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters bus trip to Woodstock (among other adventures).

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