Lucius Beebe: Foppishly Refined Foodie
November 25, 2011
Anyone know who Lucius Beebe was? My uncle Kent mentioned him so I looked him up. He was considered the best-dressed man back in the 30's-40's. He was a sassy dapper dan, a top food and culture writer, with several long-lasting columns spanning decades in newspapers and magazines like Gourmet. As a young newsreporter he would cover fires in formal attire. He coined the term "cafe society," saying only 500 people worldwide qualified, and that they had to have elan and panache and be adventurous and interesting. He was a railroad expert, writing classics about it and owning ornate Pullman cars that he traveled the country in. He was a fancy lad who did Europe and was kicked out of both Harvard and Yale before deciding the Wild West was for him. He lived awhile in San Francisco then went to Idaho (or Nevada or maybe the Sierras) and bought a newspaper with his personal and professional partner, Charles Clegg. He was a bonafide bon vivant who was unabashedly "out."
Now, why would a make-do outdoorsman relate to Luscious Lucius? Well, maybe both the top of the ladder and the bottom are more interested in style than strain. : ) It might be that the middle is where the focus is on career and overtime with raw rest and thrill flipflopping in the off-hours -- lord, love 'em, someone has to do it. But if you're not going anywhere -- either because you're already on top or because change is not in the picture -- then you can go for "elan and panache" as long as you have the basics covered. Of course, everyone (hi, lo and middle) appreciates a dose of armchair inspiration. But I recall reading that Southern/Frontier po' folk culture back in the benighted days was built around just enough work not to starve (and a roof that was as dry as any man's when it wasn't raining) then the rest of the time it was all about horses, dogs, pals, guns, long trips, booze, stories, music and dance. Folk culture, in other words. ...And in this sense, there are likely more than 500 folks living large on a shoestring in town or in the sticks, worldwide. Millions? All it takes is imagination and the effort to be creative, to make do, to make happen. And it does take a sizable amount of effort to avoid stagnation, and it takes mutual encouragement. Such playas may not count to the Monaco set but they don't mind. They know the score. Life goes to the bold.
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