Monday, September 19, 2011

Guardian Designates Oct. 7th 'Talk Like a Beat Day'


The sun has barely set on Talk Like a Pirate Day, yet the UK’s Guardian is touting Talk Like a Beat Day. Set for October 7th, the staff admits that it’s their own invention, but they’re dead set on spreading the news in hopes of a latter-day --if for one day only-- beatnik revival.

October 7th is the date of the first official “Beat happening” in San Francisco, when Jack Kerouac used a wine jug to pound out an accompaniment to Allen Ginsberg’s recitations from “Howl.”

Gregory Corso may have said that “Three writers do not a generation make,” but the Beat Generation’s legacy moved far beyond the literary. The term “beatnik” --a portmanteau of ‘sputnik’ and ‘Beat,’ started being applied to anyone out of the mainstream, and, typical of the late ‘50s, potentially communist.

The stereotype became ubiquitous: a guy with a beret, goatee and a set of bongos hanging out with a long-haired chick in black leotards. Heavy, right?

The Beat invasion eventually reached even the Beverly Hillbillies, and for anyone who wants to skip the required reading, the episode “Clampetts a Go-Go” may be the best precis on Beat philosophy ever written:

Jethro: I’ve been goin’ to cool school
Granny: What kind of a fool school is cool school?

Jethro: It’s real groovy Granny. Why, already today I learned that I am one of the angry young men. How bout that?

Granny: Whatcha angry about?

Jethro: Well, uh, let’s see, uh. Oh, we got questions to ask about life, like uh, who am I, and where I'd come from, and where am I goin’. Them is angry young man questions.

Granny: Well, now you’re gonna get some angry old woman answers. You are Jethro Bodine, you just come outta there, and you're goin’ home to do your chores!

For those who’d like to pepper October 7th with more than a few “daddy-o’s” and “hep cats,” here’s a handy guide to beatnik slang.

For digging a little deeper, some recommended reading:

  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
  • Howl by Allen Ginsberg
  • A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  • The First Third by Neal Cassady
  • Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution by Brenda Knight

Don't forget to mark your calendar for Talk Like a Beat Day. Leave your favorite Beat expressions and book recommendations in the comments section --unless you're a square. 


  1. So cool that you've got a blog now and I'm your first follower. I might suggest that you move your "follow Me" button and your "About Me" profile to the upper right corner in the blank sidebar so it's more visible and people are more compelled to click follow.

    Love the idea of Talk Like a Beat Day although I don't know how hip I'd be to the lingo. I finally read On The Road a couple years ago and enjoyed it a great deal--it was more normal than I had expected.

    You've got a good concept here. I'll come up with something to give you a promo shout out on my blog. Let me know if you need any help with it. I'm about to celebrate my 2 year blogoversary.

    Tossing It Out

  2. Hey, if you'd like to add some followers quickly and get into a circle of bloggers who are primarily writers, you might enjoy participating in Alex J Cavanaugh's Wost Movie blogfest which is going on today, but you could still whip something up if you can do it within the next 5 hours.
    Alex's site is

    You'll find the details and see the list to link up on. It's a great way to gain some visitors to your blog and there are several published authors or author wannabes who are participating.
    You can check out my post for today and see what I put up.

    The blogfests are one of the best ways to meet other bloggers and gain a following.

    Tossing It Out

  3. Thanks for commenting, Lee. You're right about the RSS feed. I'm still playing with the templates, but wanted to add a feed right away. I find it best to start out simple and add stuff as I feel comfortable.

    I'll think about the blogfest is I can come up with a quick book tie-in. If not, I'll try to catch the next one.

  4. Forgot about that Beverly Hillbillies episode. I've never really thought about this before, but a lot of people's first exposure to Beat culture must have come from old TV shows we watched as kids like Dobie Gillis and Scooby Doo. Even though it would be years before we understood what Maynard G. Krebs and Shaggy were meant to reference.
    Not to derail your book blog with TV nonsense, but here's another classic:

  5. I might have to post that link on Oct. 7th. TV nonsense/book nonsense = to-may-to/to-mah-to.

  6. Lee sent me - happy to be another follower.

    I am not even gonna try to do this on October 7 - on my upcoming post next Wednesday I will be listing 33? 32? anyway, LOTS of other events/awarenesses occurring in the month of October.

    Love the example you gave of Beverly Hillbillies. Hilarious!