Edginess, denture as it pertains to “rebellious” subcultures, ed is a transient phenomenon. Flapper culture, buy condemned as the pinnacle of licentiousness during the Roaring Twenties, is now viewed as a fashionably quaint example of a more innocent time. The spectre of leather-and-denim clad delinquents was enough to set off a full-blown moral panic back in the 1950’s, but a sanitized version of the archetype was offered as a kid-friendly role model less than two decades later.
And the less said about this…
Familiarity, overexposure, and eventually nostalgia will inevitably conspire to denude fringe movements of their mysterious and dangerous auras and pigeonhole them into something safe and marketable. While the intent to challenge normative standards might remain in truly devout, it’s a form of rebellion that the mainstream can codify, classify, and ultimately dismiss.
I say this not to mock, but as someone who mucked around punk subculture long after the bloom faded from the rose — sincere intent packaged as a predictable set of trappings, gestures, and symbols. Even then, it hadn’t yet hit the comical lows it did in the post-grunge era when “alternative” became synonymous with “mainstream.”
As the Fonz and other examples of the 1970’s fixation with “Fifties” culture demonstrates, there is a certain appeal in turning to after-the-fact, de-fanged rebellion when current, more virulent strains are perceived as too threatening. That might explain why — as other adventurous youngsters were tuning in, turning on, and dropping out –the June 1967 issue of Tower Comics’ low-rent teen comedy series Go-Go and Animal gave the following advice to its readers…
C’mon, everybody! It’ll be a Kerou-wacky good time for all!
Other important beat party staples include benzedrine, marijuana, and (for the more adventurous guests) some injectable opiates. (PROTIP: A courteous host makes sure that there are plenty of clean syringes and a tub of diluted bleach solution on hand.)
Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night
you look so fat in that dress, Clarice
I’m sorry but I had to tell you
Insufferable poetic wankery, cold cut platters, and recreational drug use will only get you so far with your beat-style hootenanny, however. At some point, you’re going to have to pull out all the stops and let the confines of square morality slip away to the sweeping song of the cornhusk siren…
…and if the broomstick bacchanalia fails to sate your bohemian hedonist urges, you could always get shitfaced and take turns trying to shoot a tumbler of water off of your partner’s head. (Just be sure to do it in a place with an easily bribable legal system in case certain…complications…arise.)
Recommended Listening: Harpers Bizarre – Anything Goes (from Anything Goes, 1968)[audio:0223hbat.mp3]
Cole Porter goes psychedelic — or a reasonable treacle-pop facsimile thereof — in a very 1960’s update of a very 1930s show tune.
Everything old can be new again…for about five minutes before the dust starts gathering in appreciable levels.