The Beats. In 1958, Larry Fink was an 18-year-old college dropout. He moved from his native Long Island to Greenwich Village, and decided to hitchhike across the country with the second generation of Beat artists. “It was my fate to be aligned with the Beats because of my propensity for drugs, anger, and poetry,” Fink writes in The Beats.
Larry was quick to hit MacDougal Street where he met Turk, Mary, Bobbie, Motha, Ambrose, Randy, and Mike Stanley, not to mention Hugh Romney (a.k.a Wavy Gravy), LeRoi Jones, and so many more. Photographing, singing, and smoking weed scored in small brown paper bags on the avenues of the Village, Fink was living with internal rage, infernal optimism, and oh so many new freedoms. Just a kid, Larry yearned to get out and fight the revolution and to photograph while doing so.
Although he never fully aligned himself with them, Fink’s photographs echo the spirit of the Beat Generation, or the popular notion of it: instinctive, romantic, spontaneous. The individuals in his photographs fit the stereotype of a beatnik, in their clothes, manner, and action. In The Great Lakes, Ohio (1958), a barefooted man in sunglasses and a classic black turtleneck kneels, playing guitar; another man facing him smokes a cigarette in a jean jacket. They’re distinctive from the other people in the picture, and not just because they’re focused in the foreground—their dark, unkempt clothing and stances of idle repose set them apart from the “normal” passersby who in contrast, are actively going about their lives in typical garb of 1950s America.
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