The Hipster Spake Nazz More Than Zarathustra
Take an ex lumberjack, if there can be such a thing, (they are like alcoholics, once a lumberjack, always a lumberjack) Lord Richard Buckley, the moustachioed fully automatic aristocratic dispenser of monologue that flowed from his mind faster than sex on viagara influenced a decidedly hip and counter culture underground that frequented dingy clubs and back alley coffee houses in the fifties. His mercurial flow of hipster jargon in story form gave us such delightful characters as Gandhi or in Buckley language..the Hip Gahn..the Marquis De Sade (The King of Bad Cats) and even tackled the classics from the Gettysburg Address to the Raven. Among those who fell under the Buckley spell were Bob Dylan, Ken Kesey, Tom Waits, George Harrison and Jimmy Buffet! He is also one of the first Hollywood celebs to be busted for marijuana possession back in 1941. Other smokers and tokers of the times include Cary Grant, Groucho Marx, Errol Flynn and Robert Mitchum. He was also a fan of LSD and wrote extensively about his first trip aboard the Good Ship Hip Lollipop when it was legal before most of us knew our ABC’s about LSD.
Getting Hip to the Nazz, A Night with the Lord who Spake the Smooth…
California born in 1906 Lord B was working the club circuit in Chicago by the 1930’s and the 1940’s. During Hitlers big shindig he toured with the USO to entertain the troops though I doubt much if they understood a word he was saying but had to be a diversion from German Tanks and 88 mm shells bombarding them day and night on the front lines. Buckley had to be better than bombs! By the dawn of the Atomic Age, Lord Buckley began to emerge, a nuclear mutant comic and poet from the atomic rubble and began playing clubs and performing with music and introduced scat singing into his hip hypodermic needle and used sound effects for punctuation in advance of Spike Jones. Insert whistles and kazoos here!)
One of his favourite routines was to remake Shakespeare’s Roman characters in his own Buckley hipster image..friends, “Romans and country men,” became “Hipsters, flipsters and finger popping daddies and lend me your ears became knock me your lobes!” His most famous piece is the Nazz –as in Nazareth where Jesus works as a professional “carpenter kitty!” In the mid Fifties he worked the strip club circuit in Los Angeles and was frequently on the bill with a young raunchy comic named Lenny Bruce. On stage together, if the crowd was stiff and the room hard to work, they would turn their backs on the audience and play to the decidedly hipper band members with appropriate rimshots and lots of drug jokes and lots of between the knees hipster slang that the band got but the audience was left in the dark –and rightly so. Drink up Shriners!!!
The Good Lord Certainly Got Around and Widely Known were the Exploits of his Court
Buckley made it to television as a guest on the Groucho Marx, You Bet Your Life Show in ’56 as a contestant..the explosive hilarity of back and forth dialogue and banter between Groucho and Buckley is sheer ad lib genius. They later became fast friends. He also created other characters such as Go Man Van Gogh and was portrayed as himself in Beanie and Cecil well after his death with the hipster scat voice provided by Scatman Crothers. Buckley was hounded by the FBI and drug task forces for years and it all ended at the end of the hip cattle drive trail in 1960 when he had a stroke soon after his final appearance at the Jazz Gallery in St. Marks Place which the police at the city’s request closed his show down. He was cremated and you can only imagine what hip strip club with hipster hookers in hipster heaven is getting an earful of Lord Buckley..maybe even the Nazz himself will buy a front row ticket and buy a round of drinks for the band and the strippers.