Daily Fantasy, Daily Life: Volume XXXI - Why I'm nealcassady
I am Neal Cassady.
Well, I am nealcassady. That’s who you’ve been seeing at the bottom of your DFS and best ball contest standings over the last decade or so.
Yep. That’s my screen name. My handle. It’s nealcassady. Now you know.
Why nealcassady? We’ll get to that in a moment, but first, let me tell you why it’s not “jeffedelstein.”
It’s because I was trying to protect my good name. See, I had been a newspaper columnist and a radio and television personality for over 20 years when I first signed up for FanDuel. And I signed up as “jeffedelstein.”
Same with DraftKings. But after a little thought, I started wondering if I wanted my name to be affiliated with such (at the time) quasi-legal stuff. I mean, I was a trusted member of my community! I couldn’t – heavens to Murgatroyd! – be associated with this sports betting shenanigans.
This attitude has been proven to be short-sighted, as now in my home state of New Jersey, DFS (and sports betting) are as legal as mom, apple pie, and marijuana, and yet here I am, still nealcassady.
And uh, you know, I’m now writing for RotoGrinders. I guested on the Swolecast. I’m making every attempt to be a Best Ball expert. I mean – I’m not exactly hiding my gambling any longer. (By the way: Don’t roll your eyes. Eight short years ago, squares were still looking at this stuff as slightly-to-mostly icky. Now they’ve maxed out their bonus offers. Times change.)
I suppose I can ask FanDuel and DraftKings to allow me to change my screen name, but when I changed it to nealcassady way back when I was told that was final.
In the meantime – WTF with nealcassady, right?
Well, Neal Cassady was a real dude. He was besties with Jack Kerouac, and was the basis for the character Dean Moriarty in On The Road. That enough is pretty cool, but then he went on to (literally) drive the bus for Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters during their Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test years.
In short: Without Cassady, the whole counterculture movement might never have become a thing. He was at the center of the Beats, he was at the center of the hippies.
I was waaaaaay into this stuff in college. I was a neo-hippie, and despite being a poseur – I mean, mommy and daddy were writing me checks, you know? – I went all-in on the lifestyle. And when I discovered Cassady, he became a bit of a beacon for me. (For the second time today, please refrain from rolling your eyes.)
I also used Cassady as a barometer of sorts when meeting fellow hippie poseurs: Basically, if you didn’t know who he was, you were a double poseur.
Anyway, life went on, and I later read Off The Road, an autobiography of Carolyn Cassady, Neal’s first wife. (If you’re still here, stick around for the next few paragraphs. You’ll be rolling your eyes for a third time.)
Reading the autobiography, I started seeing a ton of parallels between Neal Cassady’s life and my own. I mean, when I was younger I wanted to be Cassady – carousing, drugging, embracing freedom, basically being a loveable asshat at the center of madness.
But again: I wasn’t. Not when I was young, and certainly not into my adult years.
Some time after reading the autobiography – and by this point I was married, fatherhood, mortgage, all that – it dawned on me: Cassady died (drug-addled and alone on Mexican railroad tracks) four years before I was born. Clearly – clearly!!! – I’m Cassady, reincarnated.
I’m here to live the life Cassady attempted, but failed. He tried to be a hard-working family man, but instead … he wasn’t. My – our? – soul is back on the cosmic wheel, learning from mistakes made, climbing that ladder to Nirvana, man.
Yeah. I know. Insane.
If you want real fun, ask my wife about the month or so I spent diving into Buddhist texts on reincarnation while I “investigated” whether or not I was, in fact, Neal Cassady reborn. Spoiler alert: I’m not. (Or am I? Who knows. Cosmic wheel, etc.)
Anyway, no one had the username nealcassady, so I grabbed it. I may not be an inspiration to generational movements, but I’m also not dying on railroad tracks either. Onward and upward.
Feel free to send me some H2Hs is basically what I’m saying.