Discussion:
Watch out ,, Beatnicks
(too old to reply)
Will Dockery
2012-01-08 22:15:42 UTC
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The Beats never called themselves "Beatniks." That name was given to
them by a conservative columnist whose name shall mercifully stay
forgotten. It was a combination of "Beat" and "Sputnik" (the
successful Soviet satellite that was dominating the news in those
days), meant to insinuate that the Beats had pro-Soviet leanings.
A fascinating and somewhat contradictory subject viewed through 50+
years of history and changes in the overall "counterculture"/
alternative societies & cultures, but the origin is as you put it,
with any number of volumes of addition and nuance, and volumes have
been posted here on usenet alone on the subject, here's one good
thread for (a fair use) example:

http://groups.google.com/group/alt.books.beatgeneration/msg/e7f54fc90746e4d3?hl=en

"...I know there's been a lot said on the subject lately, but I just
read this in Norman Mailer's Advertisements For Myself.

Hipster and Beatnik
footnote to 'The White Negro'

'Hipster came first as a word...1952 or 1952...New
Directions...Chandler Brossard's Who Walks In Darkness...Ginsberg's
Howl...On The Road...Beat Generation...Clellon Holmes...adopted by
the
mass-media.Beatnik came into existence a year later, in the summer or
fall of 1958, the word coined by a San Francisco coloumnist, Herb
Caen.
The addition of "nik" - "nik" being aperjorative diminutive in
Yiddish
- gave a quality of condescension to the word which proved agreeable
to
the newspaper mentality. 'Beatnik' caught on. But one no longer
knew
whether the Beat Generation referred to hipsters or beatniks or
included
both, and some people to avoid the label of beatnik began to call
themselves Beat." -(from an original post by Emmet Matheson)
George Dance
2012-01-08 22:42:39 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by Will Dockery
http://youtu.be/W3WfXA9JL9w
The Beats never called themselves "Beatniks." That name was given to
them by a conservative columnist whose name shall mercifully stay
forgotten. It was a combination of "Beat" and "Sputnik" (the
successful Soviet satellite that was dominating the news in those
days), meant to insinuate that the Beats had pro-Soviet leanings.
A fascinating and somewhat contradictory subject viewed through 50+
years of history and changes in the overall "counterculture"/
alternative societies & cultures, but the origin is as you put it,
with any number of volumes of addition and nuance, and volumes have
been posted here on usenet alone on the subject, here's one good
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.books.beatgeneration/msg/e7f54fc90...
"...I know there's been a lot said on the subject lately, but I just
read this in Norman Mailer's Advertisements For Myself.
Hipster and Beatnik
footnote to 'The White Negro'
        'Hipster came first as a word...1952 or 1952...New
Directions...Chandler Brossard's Who Walks In Darkness...Ginsberg's
Howl...On The Road...Beat Generation...Clellon Holmes...adopted by
the
mass-media.Beatnik came into existence a year later, in the summer or
fall of 1958, the word coined by a San Francisco coloumnist, Herb
Caen.
 The addition of "nik" - "nik" being aperjorative diminutive in
Yiddish
- gave a quality of condescension to the word which proved agreeable
to
the newspaper mentality.  'Beatnik' caught on.  But one no longer
knew
whether the Beat Generation referred to hipsters or beatniks or
included
both, and some people to avoid the label of beatnik began to call
themselves Beat." -(from an original post by Emmet Matheson)
Sounds interesting, though I do think that (1) Beat came earlier, and
(2) nik was from the Russian.

Another bit of trivia to source down, I suppose: during the early 60s,
many young kids began flocking to San Fransisco to adopt the "hipster"
lifestyle. The real hipsters looked down on them and gave them the
patronizing name, "hippies."
philo
2012-01-08 23:05:52 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by George Dance
Post by Will Dockery
http://youtu.be/W3WfXA9JL9w
The Beats never called themselves "Beatniks." That name was given to
them by a conservative columnist whose name shall mercifully stay
forgotten. It was a combination of "Beat" and "Sputnik" (the
successful Soviet satellite that was dominating the news in those
days), meant to insinuate that the Beats had pro-Soviet leanings.
A fascinating and somewhat contradictory subject viewed through 50+
years of history and changes in the overall "counterculture"/
alternative societies& cultures, but the origin is as you put it,
with any number of volumes of addition and nuance, and volumes have
been posted here on usenet alone on the subject, here's one good
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.books.beatgeneration/msg/e7f54fc90...
"...I know there's been a lot said on the subject lately, but I just
read this in Norman Mailer's Advertisements For Myself.
Hipster and Beatnik
footnote to 'The White Negro'
'Hipster came first as a word...1952 or 1952...New
Directions...Chandler Brossard's Who Walks In Darkness...Ginsberg's
Howl...On The Road...Beat Generation...Clellon Holmes...adopted by
the
mass-media.Beatnik came into existence a year later, in the summer or
fall of 1958, the word coined by a San Francisco coloumnist, Herb
Caen.
The addition of "nik" - "nik" being aperjorative diminutive in
Yiddish
- gave a quality of condescension to the word which proved agreeable
to
the newspaper mentality. 'Beatnik' caught on. But one no longer
knew
whether the Beat Generation referred to hipsters or beatniks or
included
both, and some people to avoid the label of beatnik began to call
themselves Beat." -(from an original post by Emmet Matheson)
Sounds interesting, though I do think that (1) Beat came earlier, and
(2) nik was from the Russian.
Another bit of trivia to source down, I suppose: during the early 60s,
many young kids began flocking to San Fransisco to adopt the "hipster"
lifestyle. The real hipsters looked down on them and gave them the
patronizing name, "hippies."
Interesting.
I was among the group of people who flocked to SF in the late 60's.

I grew my hair long and smoked a bit of pot and was about as unhip as
can be. In later years I sometimes referred to myself as a hippie
"wannabe". But since I see now that the term "hippie" was of a somewhat
derogatory nature...I guess it is OK for me to refer to myslef as an
ex-hippie.

I was too young to have been a beatnik...
but even as a kid I knew that *ideals* were involved.
Steve Hayes
2012-01-09 02:07:58 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by Will Dockery
http://youtu.be/W3WfXA9JL9w
The Beats never called themselves "Beatniks." That name was given to
them by a conservative columnist whose name shall mercifully stay
forgotten. It was a combination of "Beat" and "Sputnik" (the
successful Soviet satellite that was dominating the news in those
days), meant to insinuate that the Beats had pro-Soviet leanings.
A fascinating and somewhat contradictory subject viewed through 50+
years of history and changes in the overall "counterculture"/
alternative societies & cultures, but the origin is as you put it,
with any number of volumes of addition and nuance, and volumes have
been posted here on usenet alone on the subject, here's one good
I had the impression (possibly mistaken) that the Beats were the actual Beat
Generation writers, while "beatniks" were fellow travellers, those who were
not writers and poets, but admired and/or imitated them and imitated what they
imagined to be their lifestyle. It applied, perhaps to groupies and
hangers-on, and also to what later came to be called "weekend-hippies". One
could say that the hippies evolved out of the beatniks.
--
Steve Hayes
Web: http://hayesfam.bravehost.com/litmain.htm
http://www.goodreads.com/hayesstw
http://www.bookcrossing.com/mybookshelf/Methodius
Dave Moore
2012-01-09 11:13:54 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
On Sun, 8 Jan 2012 14:15:42 -0800 (PST), Will Dockery
I had the impression (possibly mistaken) that the Beats were the actual Beat
Generation writers, while "beatniks" were fellow travellers, those who were
not writers and poets, but admired and/or imitated them and imitated what they
imagined to be their lifestyle. It applied, perhaps to groupies and
hangers-on, and also to what later came to be called "weekend-hippies".
One could say that the hippies evolved out of the beatniks.
--
Steve Hayes
Steve,

Your definition is spot on, in my opinion.

However, it now seems to be increasingly common to mix up the words Beat and
Beatnik and to make them synonymous. I frequently see Kerouac, Ginsberg,
Corso, Ferlinghetti and others described as Beatniks these days.

Surely the Beatniks, who emerged in the late 1950s, were the followers and
would-be imitators of the original Beats, who had first appeared on the
scene more than a decade earlier.

It seems to me that the difference between Beats and Beatniks is a bit like
that between musicians and groupies, no?

Kerouac certainly hated the concept of Beatniks. Here are some of the things
he had to say about it:

"I have never, personally, had anything to do with 'the bearded beatniks'
and I am angry now." (1959)

"The vision of America is being destroyed now by the beatnik movement which
is not the 'beat generation' I proposed any more but a big move-in from
intellectual dissident wrecks of all kinds and now even anti-American,
American-haters of all kinds with placards who call themselves 'beatniks'."
(1960)

"I never was a beatnik. Do you know what a beatnik is? Usually some guy ...
they leave home ...they write a line of poetry, type it up in a great big
expensive five dollar binding book, put it under their arm, put on sandals,
grow a little goatee, walk down the street and say they're poets. It's just
a kind of a fad. It was invented by the press. Listen, if I'm a beatnik, I'm
a railroad brakeman, merchant marine deckhand in war time. Beatniks don't do
those things. They don't work. They don't get jobs ... What are they?
They're just plain phonies, phonies walking around." (1964)

"I refuse to be called a beatnik." (1967)

Kerouac was particularly scathing about Beatniks, and being thought of as
one, in his book Big Sur:

"I'm supposed to be the King of the Beatniks according to the newspapers, so
but at the same time I'm sick and tired of all the endless enthusiasms of
new young kids trying to know me and pour out all their lives into me so
that I'll jump up and down and say yes yes that's right, which I cant do any
more -- My reason for coming to Big Sur for the summer being precisely to
get away from that sort of thing -- Like those pathetic five highschool kids
who all came to my door in Long Island one night wearing jackets that said
'Dharma Bums' on them ..."

Allen Ginsberg also had strong views on the subject and once wrote to the
New York Times to deplore "the foul word beatnik," commenting, "If beatniks
and not illuminated Beat poets overrun this country, they will have been
created not by Kerouac but by industries of mass communication which
continue to brainwash man."

Dave
Steve Hayes
2012-01-09 15:09:37 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
On Mon, 9 Jan 2012 11:13:54 -0000, "Dave Moore"
Post by Dave Moore
On Sun, 8 Jan 2012 14:15:42 -0800 (PST), Will Dockery
I had the impression (possibly mistaken) that the Beats were the actual Beat
Generation writers, while "beatniks" were fellow travellers, those who were
not writers and poets, but admired and/or imitated them and imitated what they
imagined to be their lifestyle. It applied, perhaps to groupies and
hangers-on, and also to what later came to be called "weekend-hippies".
One could say that the hippies evolved out of the beatniks.
Your definition is spot on, in my opinion.
However, it now seems to be increasingly common to mix up the words Beat and
Beatnik and to make them synonymous. I frequently see Kerouac, Ginsberg,
Corso, Ferlinghetti and others described as Beatniks these days.
Surely the Beatniks, who emerged in the late 1950s, were the followers and
would-be imitators of the original Beats, who had first appeared on the
scene more than a decade earlier.
It seems to me that the difference between Beats and Beatniks is a bit like
that between musicians and groupies, no?
It's certainly what the word "beatnik" suggests.

As someone noted, it is a combination of "beat" and "sputnik".

Sputnik was the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth in October 1957,
and it was sensational at the time and all over the media. So everyone knew
that the word was Russian for "fellow-traveller".

And so the "beatniks" were those who were in orbit around the Beats as Sputnik
was in orbit around the earth. The Beats were no more beatniks than the earth
was Sputnik (though of course the earth is in orbit around the sun, but that
is stretching the metaphor too far.
Post by Dave Moore
Kerouac certainly hated the concept of Beatniks. Here are some of the things
"I have never, personally, had anything to do with 'the bearded beatniks'
and I am angry now." (1959)
"The vision of America is being destroyed now by the beatnik movement which
is not the 'beat generation' I proposed any more but a big move-in from
intellectual dissident wrecks of all kinds and now even anti-American,
American-haters of all kinds with placards who call themselves 'beatniks'."
(1960)
"I never was a beatnik. Do you know what a beatnik is? Usually some guy ...
they leave home ...they write a line of poetry, type it up in a great big
expensive five dollar binding book, put it under their arm, put on sandals,
grow a little goatee, walk down the street and say they're poets. It's just
a kind of a fad. It was invented by the press. Listen, if I'm a beatnik, I'm
a railroad brakeman, merchant marine deckhand in war time. Beatniks don't do
those things. They don't work. They don't get jobs ... What are they?
They're just plain phonies, phonies walking around." (1964)
"I refuse to be called a beatnik." (1967)
Kerouac was particularly scathing about Beatniks, and being thought of as
"I'm supposed to be the King of the Beatniks according to the newspapers, so
but at the same time I'm sick and tired of all the endless enthusiasms of
new young kids trying to know me and pour out all their lives into me so
that I'll jump up and down and say yes yes that's right, which I cant do any
more -- My reason for coming to Big Sur for the summer being precisely to
get away from that sort of thing -- Like those pathetic five highschool kids
who all came to my door in Long Island one night wearing jackets that said
'Dharma Bums' on them ..."
Allen Ginsberg also had strong views on the subject and once wrote to the
New York Times to deplore "the foul word beatnik," commenting, "If beatniks
and not illuminated Beat poets overrun this country, they will have been
created not by Kerouac but by industries of mass communication which
continue to brainwash man."
Dave
--
Steve Hayes
Web: http://hayesfam.bravehost.com/litmain.htm
http://www.goodreads.com/hayesstw
http://www.bookcrossing.com/mybookshelf/Methodius
Will Dockery
2012-01-09 18:40:58 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by George Dance
Post by Will Dockery
http://youtu.be/W3WfXA9JL9w
The Beats never called themselves "Beatniks." That name was given to
them by a conservative columnist whose name shall mercifully stay
forgotten. It was a combination of "Beat" and "Sputnik" (the
successful Soviet satellite that was dominating the news in those
days), meant to insinuate that the Beats had pro-Soviet leanings.
A fascinating and somewhat contradictory subject viewed through 50+
years of history and changes in the overall "counterculture"/
alternative societies & cultures, but the origin is as you put it,
with any number of volumes of addition and nuance, and volumes have
been posted here on usenet alone on the subject, here's one good
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.books.beatgeneration/msg/e7f54fc90...
"...I know there's been a lot said on the subject lately, but I just
read this in Norman Mailer's Advertisements For Myself.
Hipster and Beatnik
footnote to 'The White Negro'
'Hipster came first as a word...1952 or 1952...New
Directions...Chandler Brossard's Who Walks In Darkness...Ginsberg's
Howl...On The Road...Beat Generation...Clellon Holmes...adopted by
the
mass-media.Beatnik came into existence a year later, in the summer or
fall of 1958, the word coined by a San Francisco coloumnist, Herb
Caen.
The addition of "nik" - "nik" being aperjorative diminutive in
Yiddish
- gave a quality of condescension to the word which proved agreeable
to
the newspaper mentality. 'Beatnik' caught on. But one no longer
knew
whether the Beat Generation referred to hipsters or beatniks or
included
both, and some people to avoid the label of beatnik began to call
themselves Beat." -(from an original post by Emmet Matheson)
Sounds interesting, though I do think that (1) Beat came earlier, and
(2) nik was from the Russian.
Another bit of trivia to source down, I suppose: during the early 60s,
many young kids began flocking to San Fransisco to adopt the "hipster"
lifestyle. The real hipsters looked down on them and gave them the
patronizing name, "hippies."
I'll add a bit of local trivia to the mix, and yes, I do think that
"Beatnik" was directly used in response to the then thrilling exploits
of the Sputnik rocket:

Down on First Avenue, then and now considered a "boondocks" type area
on the river here in Columbus, was the little Sputnik Bar:

http://tinyurl.com/Sputnik-Bar

I often admired it for many years in my childhood and youth, as it was
obviously "marketed" at the oddball characters of the area, as well as
the less high class folk... was known as a great place for billiards,
hookers and that sort of Beat activities.

I finally went there back around 1984 or 85 with some of my Graveyard
Shift fellow millworkers, as this was one of the few bars (Pop-A-Top
Lounge was another) that was open at 7am just as the all night shifts
would be ending.

Anyway, a glimpse of personal perspective and I'm enjoying this thread
greatly, good to see the newsgroups livening up in 2012.
--
Gone Too Far / Will Dockery
http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_11596860
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