Re: RARA-AVIS: 77 Sunset Strip

From: Patrick King (
Date: 12 Feb 2008

I never met anyone who actually talked like Kookie. The media at the time had a serious love-hate relationship with beat counter culture. In my recollection, none went far enough to actually explore it. They were a little afraid to be perceived as condoning or encouraging it. It was closely linked to Communism, remember. Kookie was a take-off on jazz trumpet great, Chet Baker, who actually performed in the clubs on Sunset Strip a decade earlier. He was loved by the media because he looked and acted like James Dean before there was a James Dean. But his lifestyle was steeped in hard drugs and his television and movie appearances were limited because of this. Steve Allen was probably the one guy with a weekly show who was most interested and least afraid of what the beats had to say. He brought Kerouac on his show and let him read the end of ON THE ROAD, which was perhaps Kerouac's greatest public moments. but Kerouac's own struggle with alcohol, etc, prevented most producers from using him further, while Truman Capote, also an alcoholic and an outrageous extrovert, became a media darling. Kerouac gave off a violent vibe, Capote not so much. For the most part, the beats were looked on in the media as figures of fun, like Kookie and Maynard Krebbs on DOBIE GILLIS. The actual beat movement made no effort to court the media, and not much protest as to how they were depicted. Unlike the hippies, the punks, and the Xies that came after them, the beats had real philosophical content and it was anti establishment and anti commercial. It's only been in the last twenty years that the genius of the writers and musicians among them has been acknowledged.

Patrick King

--- Richard Moore <> wrote:

> Oh, I've watched reruns of 77 Sunset Strip recently
> with enjoyment
> but the enjoyment in the episodes I've seen is
> primarily nostalgic.
> I enjoy watching all those old WB shows not because
> they recreate a
> period in America because they don't, other than
> such things as the
> cars and hairstyles and not because they are
> particularly good. I
> enjoy seeing the old actors going (usually rather
> stiffly) through
> their paces and often laugh out loud at how much the
> writers could
> get away with in those days. I have fonder memories
> of Peter Gunn
> but I have not watched one in many years. Some of
> the Johnny
> Staccato episodes are quite good. There is one with
> Cloris Leachman
> that is stunning.
> Do you really think Kookie's dialog is an accurate
> reflection of the
> patter as spoken by hipsters circa 1960?
> Richard Moore
> --- In, "Jeff Vorzimmer"
> <jvorzimmer@...>
> wrote:
> >
> > > wonder if it would hold up? Mysteries too tied
> to music trends
> or
> > > hipster lingo date very badly. It's like
> watching a rerun of "77
> > > Sunset Strip" and listening to Kookie go through
> his patter. Too
> > > gone Daddy.
> >
> > I've been watching reruns of 77 Sunset Strip
> lately and I'll have
> to say
> > that they're actually as good as I remember them.
> I disagree with
> your point
> > on slang. To say something is "dated" suggests
> you're talking about
> a story
> > from the not-too-distant-past, in which their is a
> lot of slang
> from a
> > period in which it has just recently been out of
> vogue. If you're
> reading
> > the same story or watching a show like 77SS 50
> years later it helps
> recreate
> > the whole time period and can be nostaglic (if
> you're old enough),
> fresh
> > again, or new to you (if you weren''t around then)
> and interesting
> to hear
> > the patter as spoken by hipsters circa 1960. I
> laugh when I hear
> Kookie
> > again all these years later, just like we laughed
> at him then. Same
> as
> > hearing Wilbur again in Peter Gunn. It's a gas,
> man.
> >
> > Haven't read Bloch's Dead Beat, but I just
> recently read Markson's
> Epitaph
> > for a Dead Beat and the beatnik lingo really helps
> recreate the
> time period.
> >
> > Jeff
> >

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