This book isn't going to teach you how to be cool. It's not going to tell you which bands to listen to, or how to dress, or how to talk. It's going to teach you that the phenomenon of "hip" is too elusive. Once you think you have it figured out, it goes and changes on you. However, in this book, John Leland is going to give you a fascinating, fairly comprehensive history or pop culture in America, focusing on race, sex, drugs, Bohemia, jazz, fashion, heros, idols, Madison Avenue, literature, and everything in between. You're going to learn about the origins of hip - it didn't start with Miles Davis, folks. You're going to learn about some key players, movers, shakers, mavericks, and influencers, such as: Lenny Bruce, Robert Johnson, Patti Smith, Walt Whitman, Max Roach, Charlie Parker, The Velvet Underground, Neal Cassady, Billie Holiday, Johnny Thunders, Tupac, and more.
I thought I knew a little bit about this thing they call "hip". After reading this book, I feel like I've had a brief education that has been enlightening, frightening, and eye-opening. The next step is getting out there and living. This book is not a manual for how you should model your life. Hip often goes hand in hand with deadbeat dad, unfaithful spouse, drug abuser, and other not so pleasant titles, as this book will inform you.
If you want to know more about the soul, the backbone, of America, you need to read this book. Hip is something "uniquely American".