When nothing left to write I tend to take liberty and write a biography of someone or people that may have been of some influence. I was always intrigued by the Beat Generation, how it started and what it transformed. Coffee Shops, cafes or bookstores, I think it may have been a combination of all three. The important part of it was the writing on the wall, not the Graffitti, but the poetry, short stories and long stories that made an impact. Howl, Dharma Blues, On The Road and even City Lights. City Lights is the famous bookstore in San Francisco, the other three are a poem and two books.
Lets begin with The Beat Poets. They were the original Beatniks from the 1950’s. They met at the prestigious Columbia University in New York and did some recreational socializing at coffee shops in The Village (Greenwich Village, NYC). Not to get confused with the media socializing of today, that’s Social Media. There were no smartphones back then. Not even Captain Kirk’s communicator was around yet in the 50’s. Most importantly The Beat Poets did the writing that made an impact on society that would outline generations to come.
Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs to name a few. There’s a school in Yonkers, Burroughs Jr. High, It was not named after William Burroughs. And I really hope not because William Burroughs was a known heroin addict. It took him many years to overcome the addiction. So don’t even try it, heroin I mean. Jack Kerouac wrote the book, On The Road, that made an impact on society by influencing the American youth after writing with a tumultuous and bohemian tone.
Kerouac introduced the phrase “Beat Generation”, generalizing from his social circle to characterize the underground, anti conformist youth gathering in New York at that time. The name came up in conversation with John Clellon Holmes, who published an early Beat Generation novel titled Go (1952), along with the manifesto This Is the Beat Generation in The New York Times Magazine. In 1954, Nolan Miller published his third novel Why I Am So Beat , detailing the weekend parties of four students.
The Beatnik movement took place coffee shops, bookstores and cafes. They wrote about the current issues of society. The events at the bookstores were something similar to what we call today “Open Mic Night”. They would be transformed into The Hippie Generation as the 1950’s rolled into the 1960’s.
The troubled 60,s started with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The war in Vietnam became a plague that divided America. The youth took a stand. The Beats became hippies. America teenagers read On the Road, published a decade before. Allen Ginsberg wrote “Howl” and it became famous when he read it at City Lights bookstore in San Francisco.
Thousands of American teens swarmed out to San francisco looking to transform their being. To live outside of the norm, to resist society’s rules. Allen Ginsberg led The Human Be-in, then there was The Monterey Pop festival and The Summer of Love, all attributed from the Beat Generation. The Counterculture had arrived in the mid 60’s. It changed America.
Today’s Generation, whatever we call it, has changed and continues to change with the infusion of the generation before us. Near Curtis Street we celebrate with the writers jam, Howl At The Moon. It needs not be underground, it need not persuade, it is open speech like open source. Has the generations before opened us up for a free freedom? Our Social circle is online, on our Mobile devices, we can blog, or snap photos and get our message to the world faster than we ever could before. Is this generation a fruition from the Beat generation?