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The early bohemians usually had a sense of mischief and could see the humor of their own position. The Beats were against elitism and mass movements. The Beat movement made a statement against conformity, even though their anti-conformist rhetoric and style of dress established a model.
They had a peculiar parlance, beginning with the nominal term, Beat.
Wichita Then and Now
Jack Kerouac, one of the pantheon of Beat writers, first used the term in the early part of the decade. It referred to many things: an understanding of cool jazz the musical beat , a downtrodden minority, and disillusionment with American values. Faced with the nuclear missile-backed tension of the Cold War, they "got beyond the point of caring," as Moore put it. John Clellon Holmes, author of the Beat novel Go , wrote in a New York Times essay: "A man is Beat whenever he goes for broke and wages the sum of his resources for a single number; and the young generation has done that continually The familiar Beat terms have fallen in and out of favor over the years: hip, cat, chick, pad, square, bread, dig, head.
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- Moody's Skidrow Beanery.
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- Moody's Skidrow Beanery: Kansas Underground from Beat to Hip;
They used this argot as the communication method has been used for centuries: to keep them distinct from the masses and to underscore their heightened awareness, keeping the concepts of their lifestyle always as a reminder in their speech. With their democratic approach, the Beats were categorized as anti-intellectual by the poets of academia. A number of magazines came into being to explore this new literature. An obscenity suit was brought and production blocked for a time. The newspapers and magazines began to pay attention to this odd assortment of folk who practiced "disengagement and disaffiliation" Parry Their actions were thought strange and psychotic by hard-working, middle-class Americans.
The November 30, , Life magazine contained a feature on the Beats, showing their newsworthiness and the curiosity with which the majority viewed the movement.
Props, labeled in the cut-line, included: espresso coffee, marijuana, bongo and guitar for "accompanying poetry readings. In the lengthy article, O'Neil pointed out that "Beat philosophy seems calculated to offend the whole population. The industrious square O'Neil rebuked the Beats for their strident criticism and avant-garde posturing. Douglas, downtown Wichita, in a run-down block, flanked by the elevated mainline railroad tracks, that also held the Salvation Army headquarters and Okie's Tavern.
A few months later, Connell changed the name to Moody's Skidrow Beanery. His sense of humor and compassion for people down on their luck--"They don't lose their pride when they come in here"--plus a flair for confrontation and the dramatic, put him in the sights of the media, particularly the newspapers.
New Appeal to Reason: Wichita gets and doesn't get beat culture
The Wichita Eagle and Beacon's combined offices were two blocks away. The same article reported Connell's plan to mix the two cultures of hoboes and Beats, and his idea for a book store, Socrates' Square, with booths for customers of all religious faiths, free from pressure to convert. They don't trust a mission. Every time they go to a different mission to spend the night, they've got to be converted all over again.
The menu at the time was: Okie T-bone toast and creamed gravy - 15 cents Pea-farm [prison farm] Steak baloney, fries, onions, bread, and beans - 25 cents Jail House Chili - 25 cents. The fare was popular among the hoboes and low-income crowd. The Wichita Beacon noted that a little monkey had the run of the place. Connell stated that the city was creating difficulties for him with constant inspections. A sign in the Beanery read: "Through our doors walk the finest bums on earth--our customers.
Moody's was housed in one of the deep, narrow buildings that lined Douglas. According to the February 2, , Beacon , furnishings included "straight back wooden chairs, rough carpentry, tile floors, grim walls, and faded colors. Socrates' Square held a few rickety booths, two old sofas, and an antiquated piano.
Moody's Skidrow Beanery : Kansas underground from beat to hip
Parts of the wall lack plaster, lighting is poor, ventilation does not exist. One month after the above article came out, Connell was told by police, regular visitors to the Beanery, that he must take down a painting exhibited on the wall and beware of selling books of poetry officers labeled "obscene trash," Wichita Beacon , March 17, Police Lt. Colonel J. Reeves said he was concerned about juveniles who attended some of the poetry and music sessions.
A year-old and year-old were found in the back room of the Beanery and taken to Juvenile Hall until their parents could retrieve them.
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The youths were cautioned against going to such places in the future. The Beacon article said that Captain E. New Appeal to Reason. Wednesday, April 19, Wichita gets and doesn't get beat culture. Showcasing the artists and poets who contributed to "Semina", Berman's free-form journal published in California in the s and 60s, this multimedia exhibition includes rarely seen collages, paintings, assemblages and films by Toni Basil, Jay DeFeo, Allen Ginsberg, Walter Hopps, Michael McClure, Dean Stockwell, and Berman himself.
But then there's this part of the invite Beatnik attire encouraged "Beatnik" is, of course, a derogative term. Not that much has changed. Here's a paragraph from O'Conner The artists, musicians, and poets who gathered at the Beanery were involved in expressing ideas for the betterment of society. The symbols chosen, modern art and Beat poetry, were to serve a "new generation. This same majority labeled the Wichita Beats and folk singers as deviant. So even when Wichita recognizes the beats, it really doesn't get it. No comments:. Newer Post Older Post Home. Subscribe to: Post Comments Atom.