49:29 minutes (23.75 MB)
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I seem to have a small, slightly resentful story for every occasion.
It's about 1969. I'm 15. Making my first pass through "On the Road." I don't know what to make of it exactly. It's so wild and expansive and my life, at that moment, is so confined and cautious.
I'm visiting a friend whose aunt is a high school teacher. She's in the house as I'm cruising through with the book under my arm.
My friend points it out to the aunt and says: what do you think of that? And she snaps, "Glorified trash."
Which was a deeply stupid but not all that uncommon take. The beats begat the hippies, and the whole counterculture was irredeemably shallow, right?
No. The movement that spanned from Cafe Wha? on McDougal street in the Village to City Lights Books on Columbia Avenue in San Francisco was deeply connected to Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman. And worthy of those comparisons.