From _The Nation_

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Thu Dec 23 02:03:36 UTC 2004

On Wed, 22 Dec 2004 17:54:37 -0600, Mullins, Bill
<Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL> wrote:

>zazous -- beat slang?
>"Hip, Cool, Beat - and Frantic," _The Nation_, 11/16/1957, p. 349/1,
>Herbert Gold
>"Kerouac has appointed himself prose celebrant to a pack of unleashed
>zazous who like to describe themselves as Zen Hipsters - poets, pushers
>and panhandlers, musicians, male hustlers and a few marginal esthetes
>seeking new marginal distinctions. "

"Zazou" was a French hipster equivalent dating to the swing era:


How did the Paris juveniles react to the war and occupation? Not unlike
the Mexican "zoot suiters" of California of exactly the same period:

A number of the young rebelled by adopting Zazous or "hepcat" look. The
name Zazou came from a song sung by Charles Grenet with a chorus of Je
suis swing, zazou, zazou. The boys dressed in baggy jackets down to the
knees, the long stovepipe trousers with cuffs gripping the ankles, and
platform shoes deliberately unpolished, the round collars of their shirts
held together by a straight stickpin under a linen or wool necktie, their
hair always slicked back with salad oil, and whatever the weather they
carried umbrellas.

--Ben Zimmer

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