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baraka's death and beat clips

I was flipping around on the radio the other day and I found “Democracy Now” on my preplanned channels (It must be one of the best radio shows and news sources). “Democracy Now” did a whole hour report on a major poet who just died last Thursday at the age of 79 of an unknown cause, Amiri Baraka. He was known to many for being leader of the black arts movement (which lasted up until the 70s) and he changed his name from Leroy Jones (he wrote some important plays under that name). He was an accomplished poet and playwright as well.
The radio segment contained a lively panel discussion on his life and importance featuring the following people: Felipe Luciano, an original member of the poetry and musical group; The Last Poets, Sonia Sanchez, one of the foremost leaders of the black studies movement, and Philadelphia’s poet laureate; Komozi Woodard, the author of A Nation Within a Nation: Amiri Baraka and Black Power Politics., and Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress in Newark, New Jersey.

The show contained two very inspirational and thoughtful quotes from the late, revolutionary art figure. The first was “Either give us our lives or be prepared to forfeit your own,” and “Take your words and make them into bullets.”
All in all it was a superb radio program, and it can be accessed at

Early on, Baraka was closely associated with the beat movement, (later on, he spread his wings and distanced himself from it.) This might have been because he publishes many early works by beat writers, and he himself went through a beat phase.

Of course I used the word “Beat,” not beatnik which was the preferred term for the stereotypical Hollywood version of the beat which was popularized on “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” show as well as the following cartoon and clips (Many people still use the terms interchangeably) . Usually the beats were depicted as lazy, slang spouting, finger snapping, bongo beating, jazz loving dullards,

In this beatnik Popeye episode (called Popeye’s cartoon coffee house) the trendy Bluto and Olive have become pretentious beatniks, and Popeye becomes one to compete better for Oliver’s affection..

On the Bullwinkle and Rocky show which was usually quite intelligent, Mr. Know it All (a Bullwinkle persona) did a guide on how to be a beatnik.


Here’s a beatnik poem delved by a female bohemian from “High School Confidential “ in which she critiques materialism.

Here’s a clip to a self-described beatnik cartoon called “Venus in Violets”, which is kind of creative in its own primitive way.

This preview for “The Rebel Set “is wonderfully campy.

Audrey Hepburn played a beatnik chick in this clip from” Funny Face.” I like the expression on the leading man’s face when she dances.

This Beany and Cecil cartoon features a white beatnik character that talks like Wolfman Jack and dresses kind of like Dizzy Gillespie. It even refers to Birdland (a real jazz club at which Art Blakely did some of this best recordings) and writer, Oscar Wilde.

Believe it or not here’s a modern commercial in which Patty Duke slags off beatniks for their alleged lack of intelligence. She says that the social security web site is so easy to use that even a beatnik can use it.

Despite the outrageous exaggerations, I have affection for some of these clips.

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