A "beatnik" is a child of a literary movement started by the likes of Jack Kerouac in the 1950s.

The term was coined by Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle in 1958. The word was formed by taking the "nik" from the word "Sputnik" (recognizing the un-American ways of beatniks) and adding "beat" to the front of it to represent the culture (that of violent displacement).

North Beach was (and remains) a hotspot for beatnik sightings and the remnants of the beat poets. (Cafe Trieste appears to be their breeding ground.)