Oh, How I Wish I Had Been a Beatnik
DON'T BE CONFUSED
Somewhere toward the middle of the "raging," "rockin'" 50's, with the Bill Haley's, Carl Perkins, and Little Richard's, there popped-up a group of cool, laid-back, harmless people whom I admire. Actually, I have taken my admiration to the level of yearning due to the fact that "I" wish to God that I had been born a beatnik.
Yeah, man. A beatnik. I cannot think of any other social group that has been more misunderstood, underrated, or overlooked more than my friends, the beatniks. What a bummer. When we have true pioneers of poetry, music and lifestyles at our fingertips, we are not content. We want more. More evolution. More power. And more influence in the social consciousness of America. A waste, man, is what this is.
The beatnik, for all intents and purposes, originated in Greenwich Village, New York in those shady, dim-lit, smoke-filled coffee houses that only the brave of soul dare enter. "Best stay clear of those beatniks, Jimmy and Sue. They pose only Communistic-ideas to Free Americans everywhere," a gingerly-talking dad of the 50's would caution his curious, wide-eyed kids before they left home in the family Studebaker station wagon.
Yeah, man. Hang tight. Hang loose. No sweat, brother. We are glad to be just a small segment of this picture called life, man. Can ya' dig it? Ahhh, the sweet beatniks. A life form all to themselves, posing no harm or threat to our way of life, or to the staggering might of our military. "we just want a peaceful life, a set of bongo's, some "expresso," and our friends, man," and was that really too hard for us to handle? I think so. For we no longer see any beatniks around in 2012. An extinct race just like our friends the dinosaurs. Waste. Waste. Waste.
Do not be confused. There is a world of difference in a beatnik and a hippy. I don't even think that beatniks can be accused of being the "pioneers" of hippiedom, for if you closely-examine the hippies, you will find vast differences in clothing, jewelry, music and personal agenda's that you will not understand.
Whereas the poor beatniks, they were not hard to "pigeon hole." They were what they were. No more. No less. Asking nothing from us from their parallel position to the sidewalk where we traipsed to work each day. The poor, lonely beatniks were America's "first starving and depressed artists," who let their dark poetry and fragmented music do their talking for them.
Yeah, man. Dig it. The first real glimpse that "I" had of a beatnik was not in-person. Rats. It was on the fabled "Dobie Gillis Show," starring Dwayne Hickman, the "Joe Cool," college student of his day, the "swingin' 50's." The beatnik was played by the now-late Bob Denver, who's character was "Maynard G. Crebbs," a polished beatnik for social purposes. Crebbs was always shown in "clean" sweat shirts, white pants, and his trademark sandals, not sneakers.
You see, man, if you are going to be an all-out, full-blown, beatnik, you gots to dress for the part. Crebbs, although "spruced-up" for television, was not what we called an authentic beatnik. You see, he was in public way too much, when the real beatniks pretty much lived their lives to themselves, secluded from "the man," and all of his stressful rules and stupid doctrines.
Can you dig this? A "real" beatnik and I do mean "real" to the bone, beatnik wore only black clothing. From his (or her) sweat shirt to the hem of her dress or pants, black. All black, beret and all. And the male beatniks all wore goatee's as a sign of a soulful image with an expressive heart beating inside his lanky, thin body due to not eating regular meals because regular meals meant that the beatnik had to hold down a regular job and "that wasn't cool, man," as America was quick to label the beatnik nothing more than a pack of lazy bums begging for bread.
Man, you are now rappin' on about the hippies, not beatniks. Beatniks knew how to "make bread," by writing and selling their dark, soul-wrenching poetry to other beatniks in search of cool, peace, and total utopia while on earth. Yeah, man.
And if you were blessed to just be in attendance in one of their coffee houses, your ears were treated to "songs," by artists such as "Mongo J.," "Star Circle," and "Ben G.G.," who would strike the bongo's, then look over his RayBan's and say, " . . .the moon howls; the dogs sing; and I walk like a bush . . ." and strike his bongo's again and return to his seat in the club while his peers all snapped their fingers, their way of applauding his musical genius.
Some beatniks "did" have legal jobs such as serving coffee, I mean, "expresso," to their beatnik friends in the "way gone" coffee dens where most beatniks lived after dark. No one really knows where beatniks lived during daylight hours. That is not to suggest that beatniks were "prototype vampires," because beatniks were all about peace and love toward each other.
Oh, sorry, man, I almost forgot about the "fake" beatnik seen in the anti-Vietnam War footage in the hit movie, "Forrest Gump," where Gump has to rescue his childhood gal pal, "Jennie," from this guy who is leading a protest group against our Federal Government for being in Vietnam. Oh, man, this guy "did" have a goatee. And even had the beatnik swagger, but when he lost his temper and struck "Jennie," that was a dead give-away that he was a "non-beatnik," a shame and disgrace to all true, Mother Earth-loving beatniks everywhere.
To help you learn about beatniks, God help us to see a resurgence of them again, you need to know their chatter and words they depend on to get themselves across to you. It's not a college course. Actually, learning the "beatnik slang," is kinda fun.
Beatniks are all prone to saying
Man, which is a term of respect to you if you are "rappin' on" with a beatnik.
Dig it, means do you understand what is going on? And do you approve of what is happening?
Way gone, stands for someone who has elevated themselves into a higher level of thinking or expression. Example: "man, can you dig, Moon Beastie? He just sits and raps with his eyes. He's a way gone cat, man," Now do you understand?
Cool, has transcended from the beatniks to today's youth on skateboard and living in malls in 2012. Cool is just what it means. Fine, dandy and "I" am for it.
Hassle, is just the opposite to cool. Hassle is a load of stress, confusion and nothing easy to cope with such as a steady job with a boss named "Bill" who actually expects his beatnik shipping clerk to do "some" work during his eight-hour shift.
Cop out, was originally used by the beatniks, and somehow the latter generation of beatniks who evolved into hippies, kept using this term to describe someone who has turned their backs on the causes of their group. "man, what a bummer. 'Sally Yellow Shoes,' just flew away and went to work for the post office. What a cop-out, man." See what I mean?
Now that you have the mastery of their lingo, take a look at the wardrobe of a true beatnik.
Sweat shirts in mostly drab colors that do not draw attention to the beatnik.
Sandals, the accepted, official footwear for all beatniks male and female. For a beatnik to wear a Florsheim dress shoe means one thing: They have sold out to "the man," or the governing body of government.
Goatees for men and hair mostly in bus for female beatniks.
RayBan sunglasses to be worn day and night. No self-respecting beatnik worth is bongo's will ever be seen without his RayBan's.
No wallets are ever found on beatniks. Just some loose change he has made selling a poem to someone who "thinks" the beatnik poet is someone famous.
And beatniks, if they ever resurface, will hopefully still listen to
Bob Dylan, who did have his start in Greenwich Village when his voice was not as twangy.
Lenny Bruce, the social commentator who's orations shook society at large with his bold, brazen take's on drugs, gays, and war.
Jazz saxophones, bongo drums and a little guitar, not much. A true, blue beatnik firmly believes that music is made in the soul, not on strings or horns.
Oh, long live the memories I have of beatniks. I do believe with all of my heart that "I" would have made a fantastic beatnik--sleeping 'til noon, then dressing in my black beret and all-black clothing to make my way to the local coffee house to sit all day and write poetry, drink "expresso" and pray that sometime that night hear the sound of my fellow beatniks' fingers snapping at some woeful poem that popped out of my head.