MacDougal Street’s Son-of-a-Beats


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July 7, 1960, Vol. V, No. 37

Where Do We Go From Here?

By J.R. Goddard

The heroes and villains of MacDougal Street — actors all in a minor epic of our time — have a habit of disappearing almost as soon as they have “arrived” as painters, writers, entertainers. After the war the place was overrun with the G.I. crowd. Most are gone now. Then came the beats — new heroes like Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso — who had their brief hour, then decamped for the East Side or the Cedar Bar.

In 1960 the actors get younger. “Second-generation” beats (for want of a more definitive term) now step out on a stage well worn by the hundreds who have gone before.

They are many in number. There are satiric young poets like John Brent or Hugh Romney, featured on a recent LP entitled “Beat Generation.” There are singers like Varda Karni, struggling for individuality amid the highly partisan, opinionated world of folk music. There are loafers: a neurotic dog named Lamont Cranston, local Jewish girls singing blue-grass songs, Southerners warbling Elizabethan ballads. There are the adventurers, the fugitives from Omaha or White Plains. There are the hip, the beat, the off-beat, and occasionally, the mad.

These, in short, are MacDougal’s most colorful inhabitants. Some are talented. Few, however, have proved their talent conclusively, even on these short blocks. But the fact that the young — especially the entertainers — still do have a chance to present themselves to a large public is perhaps one of the street’s few real virtues…

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