A few weeks ago Roger L. Simon announced The Death of Cool and remembered his first encounter with the sexy idol:
Back when I was a kid, I desperately wanted to be cool. I endlessly played my Miles Davis Birth of the Cool LP and devoured Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti — not to mention Kerouac whom I saw when I was fifteen reading from The Subterraneans at Hunter College auditorium while swigging from a bottle of Scotch he had brought with him. (I thought that was cool.)
It was fifth grade and the new elementary school in Indiana where I’d just enrolled was having a ’50s dance. Everyone was supposed to come in ’50s style clothes and then we’d take off our shoes and have a “sock hop.” Most girls were to wear poodle skirts and boys were expected to sport the greaser look a la John Travolta. My Boomer Dad had other plans, though. He pulled his vintage copy of Howl off the shelf, read a few lines from it, and suggested I go as a beatnik. I don’t remember if I took his suggestion. I think I did. Or at least at some point I put on the black sweat pants, black turtle neck, black beret, dark sunglasses, and brown sandals costume. Of course it was exciting as an 11 year old to have adult-sanctioned F-WORDs. I could say the F-WORD if it was followed by “yourself with your atom bomb.” Game on.
Rule for Baby Boomers: Your counterculture icons can either be cool or costumes for your children, but they cannot be both.
Additional Rule for Gen Xers: It’s way too soon for Kurt Cobain Halloween costumes for your toddlers. Please. And no it won’t be hip and ironic if you include a little toy shotgun along with the flannel. Your Gen Y siblings and co-workers still think Nirvana is cool.