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Roger L. Simon

Death of the Cool

September 18th, 2011 - 8:43 pm

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.)

Being cool was everything to me then. And to most of my friends. We started as boy beatniks and morphed into hippies (of sorts) as the times rolled and then turned into yuppies, going upscale, but the values were the same. Many of us pretended to be Marxists, but at heart we knew we were liberals, just like mom and dad. Or most of our moms and dads.

But whatever our politics, play or otherwise, we were big time cultural rebels. Thought we were anyway. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

All of that is so over. Just as it reached its apogee, with Stevie Wonder boogieing in the White House and the values of the Sixties spread through the upper echelons of our government, filled with more czars than the Hermitage ever dreamed of with a president who palled around with Bill Ayers, for crissakes, cool is now dead.

Maybe not officially dead (how could that be?) but dead enough. In fact, not only is it dead, it’s decomposed.

Cool depended on liberalism. In fact, it was an offshoot of it, suckling on the mother’s milk of Keynesian economics. As long as there was plenty of deficit spending to go around, we could all be cool. Life would be one long evening at Max’s Kansas City.

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