the old-time honesty of gamblers and straw hats

LIFE Interview: Allen Ginsberg

Kerouac was all-American if anything. Neal Cassady was an all American kid, foot warts and all. But it really was Americana and Americanist, something in an older literary tradition that runs through Whitman and William Carlos Williams and Sherwood Anderson. There was that old Americanist tradition of recognition of the land and the people and the gawky awkward beauty of the individual eccentric citizen. Or as Kerouac said, "the old-time honesty of gamblers and straw hats." His 1959 [Playboy, June] article on "The Origins of the Beat Generation," that's his statement on what he intended, a kind of yea-saying Americana which was interpreted as some kind of negative complaining by the middle class who were themselves complaining. So yes, we were, or I was quite aware of the [cultural] impact. But so was Kerouac in "Origins of the Beat Generation" and in The Dharma Bums. He predicts a generation of long-haired kids with rucksacks. He predicts and asks for it.
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