Sunday, April 21, 2013


I suppose you shouldn't care what a Beatnik is or was but if you want to know keep reading. 

(I actually own this book)
You can recognize a Beatnik, they aren't hard to spot and odds are you can name one from TV or the movies but the truth is, I don't think any of them exist any more. The Beatnik is a media stereotype that comes from the "beat generation" a term used to describe the underground nonconformist artistic youths of New York city during the 1950's to mid 1960's. That is why I say if there is one, they would have to be upwards of 80 plus years old, now we do have human beings that are that old but odds are they aren't still part of the beat generation. The same difference would be hippies, if you say there are young people today and they are hippies, not just the people left over from the 60's, then I suppose we could still have modern beatniks. 

Beatniks were known for their love of art, especially poetry, which they would read in coffee houses, their main hangouts. People would then show their appreciation and approval by snapping their fingers, cause beatniks don't clap their hands, and they sometimes would be accompanied by bongos. They are often depicted wearing berets, dark sun glasses, having goatees, wearing black turtle necks or scarfs. This was the stereotype and you could still be one without wearing this stuff. They were also known to love Jazz, and IF there are any beatniks left today I think the best place to find one would be someone in a Jazz band. Their terms included but were not limited to, "coolsville daddio," "square," and "hip cat." Mainly the beatnik would use their artistic talents as a way of expressing themselves because that was the most important thing, not to conform to societies norms.

If you're my age then the best example of a beatnik would probably be Judy Funnie from Nickelodeon's Nicktoon, "Doug." She was the quintessential beatnik and even dressed the part. Or maybe you remember Pee Wee Herman's TV show, "PeeWee's Playhouse," if you remember the puppet land band, they were all beatniks. 

In an episode of "The Simpsons" the character Ned Flanders has a flashback to his parents and turns out they were both beatniks. But the most famous beatnik that appeared in TV would have to be Maynard G. Krebs from the show, "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis." Maynard G. Krebs was the beatnik best friend of the title character and he was played by Bob Denver, who you know went on to play Gilligan. In another episode of "The Simpsons," Homer imagines himself dropping a bomb on a group of beatniks having a poetry reading, the bomb gets stuck so he has to loosen it. (This was a spoof of the movie "Dr. Strangelove") Homer then yells out, "TAKE THAT MAYNARD G. KREBS!" right before he is yelled at for riding the bomb. 

Audrey Hepburn plays a beatnik character in the movie, "Funny Face." A scene from this movie was later put into a commercial for the GAP. And since I love her so much and AC/DC and the commercial, here is a link to the commercial.

Media loved to depict the beatniks in TV, movies, and books but eventually the beatniks got over run with the hippie craze and the beatniks were riding trains to nowheresville daddy-O, sure a few survived instead of going out into the world to get real jobs. If nothing else the beatniks contributed one main thing....the use of the word "like" as a quotative, so the Kardashians owe them a big thanks for that. 

I hope you understand the stereotype of a beatnik a little bit better now, and if not don't be too worried, there aren't that many left and they are and always were harmless. 

Like check out these totally hip clips that really show what a Beatnik was like back when they were living in the WOW man.
From the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Bullwinkle shows how to become a beatnik. 
Maynard G. Krebs in class with his friend Dobie
Maynard explains how clothes are a prison.
A clip from the show Peter Gunn that shows how a coffee shop full of Beatniks might have been like, and Wilbur the beatnik explains his art. 

1 comment:

Zeppy said...

Great piece! I would like to point out, though, that it's "daddy-o", not "daddio".