William F. Buckley Meets (Possibly Drunk) Jack Kerouac, Tries to Make Sense of Hippies, 1968

The first modern use of the word hippie can be traced back to 1965, when Michael Fallon, a San Francisco journalist, used the word to refer to the bohemian lifestyle emerging in the city’s Haight-Ashbury district. (Apparently, Fallon took the word hipster used by Norman Mailer and then shortened it into hippie.) By 1967, the mass media couldn’t stop talking about hippies. It was the Summer of Love in San Francisco, the defining moment of the counterculture, and the rest of the country was scratching its collective head, trying to make sense of it all. Who better to do it than William F. Buckley, the emerging voice of conservative America?

In this classic 1968 episode of Firing Line, Buckley tries to demystify the hippie movement with the help of three guests: Lewis Yablonsky, a professor of sociology and criminology at Cal State-Northridge; Ed Sanders, the activist poet who helped form The Fugs; and then Jack Kerouac, author of the Beat classic, On the Road. In many ways, Kerouac inspired the hippie movement. And he, himself, acknowledges the relationship between the Beats and the hippies. But, in watching this clip, one thing becomes clear: in style and substance, he and the hippies were also worlds apart….

Don’t miss Yale’s lecture on Kerouac and On the Road here.

via Biblioklept

Related Content:

Jack Kerouac Reads from On the Road (1959)

Ken Kesey’s First LSD Trip Animated

William F. Buckley Flogged Himself to Get Through Atlas Shrugged

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Comments (10)
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  • Olivia says:

    (Kerouac’s name is spelled incorrectly in the URL and the title of the post …)

  • Dan Colman says:

    Ah, but I got it right in the post where it really counts!

    Thanks for catching the typo.

  • “Possibly drunk”? I like when his eyes roll back in his head at one point while he’s trying to untie his tongue.

  • Thorn says:

    How things change is equal to how they stay the same. Four views from different cultural / world view interpretations all finding it hard to walk in each other’s shoes. ( including interviewer )
    Except Karuac who was possibly have trouble with his own. Though to be fair he has all the hallmarks of been here, seen this, done that, now pay me my fee so I can go back to bar.

  • Thorn says:

    Excuse my diction, I’m definatly feeling a tad Karoaced right now.

  • James R. says:

    Actually Buckley should’ve loved Kerouac, as both were right-wing Roman Catholics, though by 1968 I think Kerouac may have been further right than Buckley was willing to go. I’ve no doubt Kerouac was brought on that program in full knowledge that he was an alcoholic has-been and in full expectation that he would act accordingly and hopefully damage the hippie movement thereby.

  • Houndog says:

    Totally a calculated move on the part of WFB.

  • Paul R says:

    This could’ve been great as a conversation between two kings of erudition, but it was an ill-conceived panel discussion. It turned out OK if you consider how bored Jack must’ve been.

  • Elaine Williams says:

    Jack Kerouac “possibly drunk” Seriously!? He was fucked up and acted like an asshole. I always thought he was an over rated asshole.

  • Gerald Kolpan says:

    The use of “hippies” is WAY older than 1965.

    Just one example: the Orlons’ 1963 hit, “South Street” which begins…

    “Where do all the hippies meet?
    South Street, South Street…”

    And Black America was using the phrase decades before that.

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