Friday, May 7, 2010

The Beatniks

The beatnik; a (usually) young person (back then) who participated in a social movement of the 1950's and early 1960's which stressed artistic self-expression and the rejection of the mores of conventional society.  Etymology: American slang, 1958.  Author's Note:  Wow, here's a blast from the past!  About 1960 or 1961 Buddy and Elvis made me take guitar lessons every Saturday morning in the basement of Doug's Music store, a basement which had been converted to a club called "The Grotto".  It was a "beatnik" club, with an entrance in the alley lit by a single light bulb, dark colors inside with a few purple accents, wonderful abstract murals, a stage with bongo drums, those little round bar tables with ratty chairs and a candle - and the pervasive impression that something wonderfully cool and subversive had gone on here last night.  Beatnik music was jazzy and bluesy and revolutionary.  I exhibited zero musical ability back then, and can only play the stereo to this day (although I play it exceedingly well), and can't help but wonder if I was too distracted by my surroundings to concentrate (lame excuse, Balf).  The beatnik culture was drowned out by the British Invasion (the Beatles probably began as beatniks), but may be considered the ideological precursor of the hippie culture to emerge later.  That's a bus I didn't miss.