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March 9, 2004
Rearranged: June 18, 2006
I keep coming back to the
example of the '59 Beatnik.
Imagine a teenage girl in 1959
choosing to put on a ritual set The timeline, for reference:
of black leotards and go strutting
around Greenwich Village in New 1952 - "This is the beat generation"
York City. in the New York Times Magazine
It's not at all unusual to look 1957 - "On the Road" published
down on this girl as a latecomer,
a clueless kid trying to hop on 1958 - Herb Caen christens them
the post "On the Road" bandwagon "beatniks"
without any exercise of
creativity on her part... 1959 - The Dobie Gillis show begins,
with Bob Denver as Maynard
But try to imagine yourself G. Krebs
in her place... think about
how tightly constrained her KREBS
options are, the kind of
messages she was fed all her
life about what she's
supposed to be, the gauntlet I selected 1959 for a reason: it's
of social pressure she needs late enough that every teenager had
to run. That standardized some notion of what it meant to be
beatnik outfit stops seeming a "beatnik", but early enough that
quite so trivial, and more the icon still had some power.
revolutionary -- if not
outright foolhardy. This is probably true on through
the early-60s, but if I said 1962
By anyone's numbering I'd confuse someone who didn't
system, the '59 beatnik realize that in 1962 no one
is at best the second really knew the fifties were over.
model on the market.
(I could be wrong about
But for that particular details though: were
teenager, it's all the black leotards the thing
first time around. in '59? Or was that later?
She plays the cards that
were dealt her, but she Edie Sedgwick sported them
plays them according to in the Silver Factory in '65,
her own spirit. and Life magazine labeled
her "The Girl with the Black
Tights" in November 1965.
The '59 beatnik has to be
regarded as a real "Funny Face" from 1957
individual, a seeker after had a promotional poster
the grail of hipness no less with Audrey Hepburn in
valid than those who blunder black tights, doing some
through the wilderness beatnik-dance pose.
without a media engraved
chess-board to move across. So, the trope was
possibly by this
Everyone who lives No one is ever very movie poster.
is in the first in the first
Something like that.
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