Favorite Decades

After binging on Midnight in Paris it’s only expected that as a writer I’d get thinking about what I consider a golden age for me. And that would be two:

1960’s London
1950’s San Francisco

The 1960’s London is just swingin’, with the music, styles, and party life that just thinks outside of the box, suddenly breaking away from the conservatism of the 50’s. In the 50’s, Britain was seeing more the decline of their empire weakened further by the devastation of World War II, and most of the culture was focused on maintaining that sense of dignity so highly prized by the nation and figuring out what to do despite such a depression in identity– feeling dated, washed out, no longer on top of the game (a genre in Britain known as kitchen sink realism or angry young men depicted in films and stories of that decade from the UK).

And by the 60’s, the UK had figured itself out by a grand “fuck it” coming from their fashion and music. Gosh, imagine arriving on the scene of London in Carnaby Street, and embracing new trends that went above and beyond the imaginations of the black and white minds of Eisenhower America influencing the world.  What I like the most of the 60’s in England is the still very British feel to the movement– very classy, and very comfortable with me.

However, I feel that literary and intellectually I’d do so well with the Beat Generation in 1950’s San Francisco. If, like Gil Pender met Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds and Picasso at parties in Paris, I had run-ins with Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and Allen Ginsberg– I’d know exactly how it’d be in Gil Pender’s position. I love the defiance and purely artistic and self-driven exploration found with the Beats. it wasn’t anything other than finding meaning in life for people, themselves, the world. In the face of the conservatism in the 50’s, San Francisco was seeding its liberal and worldly roots within Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Ferlinghetti, etc.

Sitting here writing this I’m watching interviews of the Beats from the 60’s. Here we talk to William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac– at least talk to Kerouac most of the time. He’s pretty spaced out and wasted in his interviews, possibly high too. it’s accepted though, because it’s just the way of the Beats’ outlook. Their attitude is after all 100% concerned around themselves, and spreading this meaning of self-discovery. it’s too hilarious to be watching Kerouac close his eyes, stare blankly, or go off incoherent tangents. It’s personally not how i’d picture myself being, but he’d certainly would be a character to meet, Jack Kerouac.

The live readings, drinks at Café Vesuvio, listening to the news on the “Howl” obscenity trials– we’ve got the Beat museum now just on Broadway off of Columbus, with all the archives and precious objects belonging to these great masterminds, but if only i could see them in their exact heydays. Kerouac wearing his dull tweed jacket, the letters posted to fellow writers from Ginsberg, and the chairs they even sat on to chat, talk bullshit, write bullshit, they’re all here. And here they shall stay, preserved in this little space that holds on dearly to that golden time in San Francisco when it wasn’t just a city but the city where raving lunatics brought “mad” into a meaningless world.

Beats in San Fran– that shit really cray.


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