The Origins of Cool Has SF Bay Connection

The Origins of Cool 

By Joel Dinerstein

The University of Chicago Press

Some readers might be put off by the fact that The Origins of Cool is authored by an intellectual, and published by an academic press. But the smooth narrative is gripping from the very start, and should be regarded as the last word on a very complex and often misunderstood ethos.

The San Francisco Bay Area plays a big part in this work, too. As many of us know, West Coast Jazz as personified by Chet Baker was a major movement here in the 50’s, as was the “Beat” movement celebrated by Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, and Alan Ginsberg. Perhaps less well remembered is the role that Alan Watts played in this era, with his Cool expression of Zen and spiritual experience on the waterfront in Sausalito (where he lived for a time in a houseboat).

We would have enjoyed a few insights on how cool the ferries are, but those of us who rely on this transport mode already know the answer.


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