What is cool?

Singer Elvis Presley performing on stage in Hollywood, California. June 22, 1956 Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA
Singer Elvis Presley performing on stage in Hollywood, California. June 22, 1956 Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA

milesd1 jackkerouacpicture10

What is this thing we call cool?

I see all these kids walking about wearing clichés with their hair and clothes. They ape each other, and their idols, in attitude, costume and posture as they try to be cool. Most are merely achieving ridiculousness. Fashion victims are manifest on every high street.

It seems that every age has its version of cool. I bet the cavaliers and 1920s flappers thought they were cool.

Modern-day cool comes right out of black 50s culture and Rockabilly. Black culture epitomised cool. They were discriminated against, lived in poverty (I stereotype) but knew how to have a good time, let their hair down and develop a style that was full of flair. They did not have to fit in. They could wear garish pastel coloured suit, dance and express their sexuality.

White 50s culture was prim, proper and strictly coded. Your life was mapped out. Your hairstyle and clothes carefully manicured. You did not deviate. It was all ordained.

Then came the Blues and Rockabilly and Youth Culture and Cool were born.

Kids no longer worried about their futures and how they fitted in to the status quo; they cared about how their peers saw them. To be in was to be cool.

In the 1950s Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation focussed on Jazz and the Cool Negro life-style.

1950s Rockabilly adopted ducktails, flouncy skirts, side-burns and hi-heeled sneakers, contrasted clothes and posturing.

The sixties epitomised youth culture and the alternative culture.

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and the crooners came out of white culture and can never be cool.

Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, 1956 Elvis and Captain Beefheart are cool.

Cool is not fashion.

For me ‘cool’ has to be born out of rebellion and alternative vision. You can’t ape it. You have to have it inside. It is a state of mind. Cool is an attitude.

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