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Matt Weinstock, July 30, 1959

July 30, 2009 |  4:00 pm


July 30, 1959, Choosy

"Seems to Me You Have a Complete Disregard for the Female of the Species."

Beatnik Memo

Matt Weinstock As others before him, Lawrence Lipton, Boswell of the beatniks, has learned that all sorts of unlikely things can happen when a person writes a book. Exhibit A is a letter Lipton received from D.A. MacInnes of Chicopee Falls, Mass. In it was a wryly amusing sales pitch MacInnes had received from a plywood firm in Memphis.

Offering with seeming reluctance to supply materials for beatnik shops, the firm wrote, "I guess there is a little beatnik in all of us, especially in the summertime. This letter is to show how far people will go to get out of work and to warn you that if you have any salesmen or secretaries who are either growing beards or wearing leotards you had better either replace them, marry them or send them to Memphis." Memphis to Chicopee Falls to Venice, Cal. Don't try to make sense out of it, it's pure irrelevance.

July 30, 1959, Beatniks THEN THERE was Lipton's discovery that the story line of "The Romance of Helen Trent" -- KNX at 11:30 a.m. -- has been revamped to include two beat characters -- Mike, a kind of hip square, and Allen, a beatnik poet from "West Venice." (In Lipton's book, "The Holy Barbarians," it's "Venice West.") Well, you see, this Allen wants to marry Helen Trent's protege, Audrey, but Helen isn't so sure about him. After all, who knows if a beatnik is a good guy or a bad guy?

In fact, there is a strong suspicion that many people don't even care.

::

IT HAPPENED while Louis C. Stoumen and a Hollywood camera crew were in the little town of Carcross in the Canadian Yukon recently taking background scenes for the TV series, "The Alaskans."

They attracted the attention of a pretty Indian girl of 15 named Jeanette who lived in a log cabin on a riverbank. She was shy at first but overcame it finally to express her delight and wonder that they were from glamorous Hollywood. Finally she broached the question closest to her heart. "Don't you think it's terrible," she asked, "that the Army made Elvis cut his hair?"

Thus does American culture penetrate the wilderness.

::

THE LADS on the copy desk figure they've been lucky lately with the nice short names of people involved in headline murder trials -- Scott, Duncan and now Finch -- which fit nicely in big type. Their constant nightmare is that someone prominent named Whiffenpoor will do in a relative and their only recourse would be to do as they've done with Khrushchev -- refer to him as Mr. K. Those who haven't experienced it have no idea what a difference a letter or two can make in composing a headline on deadline.

::

ENCHANTING TYPO in a mimeographed press release: "This example of public relations on the part of busy executives is the most heart-warming in this day of CRASH commercialism." And when it crashes, man, it busts wide open.

Another press release points out the dangers of electrical shock, which kills approximately 800 persons a year in the country, and warns: "Remember, being electrocuted in your bathtub is such an undignified way of leaving the world." But clean.

::July 30, 1959, Abby

AT RANDOM -- Kenneth Bromfield Jones writes from Aruba, Netherlands Antilles that he has just gone around the world in exactly 80 days on the freighter SS Trojan and if anyone plans to make an updated version of the Mike Todd epic he's available. Jones was a TV actor before he shipped out as a seaman . . . Hal Morris asks a typographical posy for the unknown do-gooder seen hacking away the brush obscuring vision and signs on winding Beachwood Dr. in the Hollywood Hills.

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