Litkicks Message Board Archive

Venice West: Beat Gen. in Southern California

Posted to What Are You Reading?

This is a scholarly volume from John Arthur Maynard dealing mainly with Lawrence Lipton's pushing of the Venice West community as 'Beatniks'--he thought he might as well get the benefit of the national interest in the Beat phenomenon at the time. His first idea had been to call these artists and 'voluntary paupers' the 'disaffiliated'. But Lipton had a long career in the popular media, selling stories and radio and tv scripts under different names. When it came to art he seemed incapable of not giving it a turn that made money. (Maybe he was just what the Venice West dope heads needed, after all.) 'The Holy Barbarians' defined the Beat Generation for many in the late '50s and beyond. It's a racy, readable book, never mind that he featured many of the characters he described under two names or more sometimes to make it seem the community was bigger than it really was. Stuart Perkoff, who along with Alax Trocchi was probably the most celebrated writer associated with Venice West, called 'The Holy Barbarians' 'the Holy Bullshit', but there's not much doubt that it helped get him what little attention he did receive.