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March 9, 2004
Rearranged: June 18, 2006
I keep coming back to
the example of the '59
Imagine a teenage girl in
1959 choosing to put on The timeline, for reference:
a ritual set of black
leotards and go strutting 1952 - "This is the beat generation"
around Greenwich Village in the New York Times Magazine
in New York City.
1957 - "On the Road" published
It's not at all unusual to
look down on this girl as a 1958 - Herb Caen christens them
late-comer, a clueless kid "beatniks"
trying to hop on the post
"On the Road" bandwagon 1959 - The Dobie Gillis show begins,
without any exercise of with Bob Denver as Maynard
creativity on her part... G. Krebs
But try to imagine yourself KREBS
in her place... think about
how tightly constrained her
options are, the kind of
messages she was fed all her
life about what she's I selected 1959 for a reason: it's
supposed to be, the gauntlet late enough that every teenager had
of social pressure she needs some notion of what it meant to be
to run. That standardized a "beatnik", but early enough that
beatnik outfit stops seeming the icon still had some power.
quite so trivial, and more
revolutionary -- if not This is probably true on through
outright foolhardy. the early-60s, but if I said 1962
I'd confuse someone who didn't
By anyone's numbering realize that in 1962 no one
system, the '59 beatnik really knew the fifties were over.
is at best the second
model on the market. (I could be wrong about
details though: were
But for that particular black leotards the thing
teenager, it's all the in '59? Or was that later?
first time around. Or never?)
She plays the cards that Edie Sedgwick sported them
were dealt her, but she in the Silver Factory in '65,
plays them according to and Life magazine labeled
her own spirit. her "The Girl with the Black
Tights" in November 1965.
"Funny Face" from 1957
The '59 beatnik has to be had a promotional poster
regarded as a real with Audrey Hepburn in
individual, a seeker after black tights, doing some
the grail of hipness no less beatnik-dance poses.
valid than those who blunder
through the wilderness So, the trope was
without a media engraved established early...
chess-board to move across. (possibly by this
Everyone who lives No one is ever
is in the first in the first
Something like that.
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