Episode Information

CMS: Groovin' to that Beatnik Jive
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In this episode:

Beatnik subcultures often pave the way for mainstream art and music.


Episode Audio

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.

You can join the conversation. Share your stories with us. Leave your comments below, e-mail [email protected] or Tweet us @wnprcolin.

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 dude .............listen,

 dude .............listen, i missed the "beat" show.  maybe that was good.  cuz the beats are not a show to the hip and happening.  are you not hip?

city lights is on columbus and broadway, not columbia.  it's owned by ferlinghetti and not quite as relevant as it was when i was on the west coast in the 70s - or even earlier, i was way late.  you are in the wrong century.

north beach was, and to some extent still is, a mecca for writers, philosophers, and musicians and artists. we need to simply let it alone.  what is wrong with you?

ever hear the eagles song the last resort?




Listener E-mail from Gerald

Colin referenced "Cantaloupe" by US3. I would recommend checking out Digable Planets as a great example of the spirit of the Beatniks.


Listener E-mail from Robyn

What a wonderful topic to cover! I wanted to expand on the idea of the beatnik culture influencing the hip hop generation. It is evident in slam poetry, but what I've heard from today's portion was congruent with the early nineties hip hop group "diggable planets". The female had an identical cantation (I believe that is the right word). A signature of  beatnik poetry. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words!

Peace and love,

Listener E-mail from Heather

loving the beatnik monday show all ready colin. thank you for supporting the arts and also our dear friends of the libertine collective! the bohemia series and what the L.C. is all about is just what you are discussing. all love, all good vibes, organic and RAW flowing creative energy. We are all connected supporting and influencing one another.


Listener E-mail from Karl

I hope the terminology is discussed, as I always thought "Beatniks" was a word used by squares, and "Beats" was the self-reference.

(This also carries with "Trekkers" v. "Trekkies".)