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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Blessed Oblivion: 1958

Blessed Oblivion: 1958

April 1958. "Hubert Leslie, human guinea pig for medical experiments (also an artist known as 'Hube the Cube'), one of the 'Beatnik' community of San Francis­co's North Beach district." 35mm negative from photos by Cal Bernstein for the Look magazine article "The Bored, the Bearded and the Beat." View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Today, right over there

Save for the off-the-shoulder look, this guy would be right at home amongst today's Millennials. Well, maybe the beard should be trimmed to weekend stubble length.

Personally too young to be a proper Beatnik (and later too old to be a Hippie), I nonetheless made San Francisco's City Lights Bookstore one of my first excursions when my family moved to the Monterey Peninsula in early 1960.

Tat text

Gladstone used "blessed oblivion" in a speech, to describe (with some scorn) the likely status of Ireland under home rule. Churchill used it in his postwar history of the Second World War, to describe the virtue of taking afternoon naps. An art film about bikers, Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising (1963), ends with the death of a biker with a "blessed blessed oblivion" tattoo, but the split-second shot of it reflects that it was on his forearm, not shoulder.

59 Years Ago Today

The word "Beatnik" was coined by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen.

Objecting to the term, Allen Ginsberg wrote to the New York Times to deplore "the foul word": "If beatniks and not illuminated Beat poets overrun this country, they will have been created not by Kerouac but by industries of mass communication which continue to brainwash Man."

Old-guy tattoo

This guy would be about 90 if still kicking. I wonder how legible that tattooed wording would be now. Can it still be read six decades later? What did the grandchildren think?

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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