A time when L.A. was Ground Zero for the Avant-garde. Strange as it may seem now.

1950s – When The West Coast Was Cultural Mecca And L.A. Was Its Epicenter – Past Daily Reference Room

A time when L.A. was Ground Zero for the Avant-garde, strange as it may seem now.

KNX-CBS – Background For Headlines with Bill Keneally – 1958 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Hard to imagine now (although there are still pockets here and there), but right before World War 2 and well into the 1950s, Los Angeles, and the entire West Coast, was considered something of a Mecca for the Arts. The growth of the Film Industry on the West Coast, coupled with the tide of Nazism that swept over Europe in the early 1930s, made L.A. something of a gathering spot for the ex-pats and refugees – with some of the brightest and most forward thinking taking up residence everywhere from Malibu to The Hollywood Hills. Writers, Artists, Musicians, Composers – everyone who looked and saw the world from different eyes seemed to gravitate West.

But it also attracted a large group of figures from the mid-west and East Coast. Not refugees so much as escapees from blasts of arctic weather during the winter months and the sometimes claustrophobic confines of major metropolitan centers which the West coast, by comparison, was devoid of.

In this quarter hour discussion program, produced by KNX for the CBS Radio Network in 1958, journalist and commentator Bill Keneally interviews Lawrence Lipton, himself an early inhabitant of the West Coast via his native Poland, over this latest fascination for settling on the West Coast and the cultural climate of Los Angeles during that time and how it was paralleling the Beat Generation Movement that was capturing headlines and imaginations during the 1950s – echoing the sentiment that The West Coast was in the midst of being Mecca all over again.

Although some would vehemently disagree that The Beat Generation bore no resemblance to the Generation before who changed the landscape of film, art and writing – it nonetheless proved the point that Los Angeles was the place to be no matter when and the Beat Generation would have its time in the sun, sooner rather than later.

Here is that interview between Bill Keneally and Lawrence Lipton from 1958 for the Background For Headlines program from KNX and CBS Radio.


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