Ten years on from the publication of Lewis Macadams’ The Birth of Cool (a cultural history of the term), and over fifty years since the first publication of such seminal Beat texts as Alan Watts’ “Beat Zen, Square Zen, Zen” and Norman Mailer’s “The White Negro”, film-maker, Zen priest, and all-around agent provocateur Noah Buschel sets the cat among the pigeons with his little essay for Hammer to Nail on-line magazine, Obliterate the New Hipster. “True mavericks like Gary Snyder and Phil Whalen and Don Cherry”, he writes, “have been replaced by little bitchy passive aggressive children who cum on their canvases and have absolutely no idea who they are..”…”(the) Williamsburg vampire squad be damned”… “I believe”, he declares, “today’s hipsters have a shitload of talent and could do things no one else has ever done—if they just let down their board game guards for a minute”.
Beat and beatnik. Authenticity and pose. The reflecting surfaces seem never to have gone away. and Buschel – writer and director of the movie Cassady incidentally – if he does nothing else, opens up the always-necessary debate. The Beats are cool. Oh yeah? But what do we actually mean by cool?
At Montreal’s Galerie Rye (from April 1 to May 3) one attempt will be made to answer that question. Vancouver-based photographer Art Perry will be exhibiting – “HIP! – Portraits of Cool by Art Perry – forty years of counterculture icons” (his portrait of Allen shown above, is, naturally, a part of the show). There will be an artist talk on April 1st , followed by a reception, and, on Sunday, the 3rd, a multi-media presentation, “The Hip Aesthetic: Beats, Beatniks, Hipsters & Authentic Cool”. Would Noah Buschel approve? Would Lewis Macadams? What are the odds the great hipster, hip semanticist, Lord Buckley, gets evoked?