The River's Badge

Friday, July 21, 2017

If You're Going To San Francisco


There are a lot of fables in popular culture about the sixties. I was there.

The Summer of Love is represented in TV montages by young girls with garlands of daisies in their hair dancing about (not really dancing, but rather, floating on a marijuana cloud). Apparently teens in the late sixties were endeavoring to blot out the cruel world of reality. Frankly, I don't remember reality being all that awful. That's not true, of course. I was twelve in 1967 and life for me was a minefield of evading my mom's bitching and cursing and my dad's tipsy staggering across the parking lot of our motel. Luckily for me on that front, I rarely saw my dad.

Too, if one watched the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, things were definitely not fine. Young boys were getting killed in Viet Nam for no Godly reason. Truth was, though, Viet Nam was so far away, and we were safe and sound beside the pool, slathering Coppertone on our legs; white-framed sunglasses shading our eyes -- it was easy to get hypnotized by the summer sun and by Jim Morrison wanting to light our fire.

Nineteen sixty-seven was the summer of denial.

Despite, or maybe because of, my family issues, I let the July sun warm me; bake me; anesthetize me. The Rascals wafting from my transistor's speaker turned everything all right. "Groovin" helped me forget.

Much like today, I think the more "politically active" teens protested simply for something to do. It's not as if they were political science experts -- I learned more by just keeping my head down and studying actual civics than they did from holding "be-ins".  And geographically, things were just different. In the semi-rural Midwest, we watched these strange beings frolicking on our TV screens and saw them as otherworldly. They were apparently "Communists" -- today known as "Socialists", or "Idiots". Yes, life would be sublime if we could all just gather together on our communes and barter our organically-grown lettuce for a used radio. Sure, everything is groovy until human nature kicks in, as it inevitably does; and bad things like "jealousy", "greed", and "betrayal" rear their ugly heads. Changing the human essence is a losing battle.

Nevertheless, all we really needed to make this world a better place was:


"Love" was a very important word in 1967 (unlike now). Everything, every life's goal, was to obtain "love". The Jefferson Airplane sang about love, but it sounded angry, sort of like the "love" I experienced in my family; which was not a desirable state:


"Love" actually sucked, and it was phony. Perhaps that's the issue I have with 1967 -- its artifice. Frankly, I could have just as well worn flowers in my hair and have been equally happy:


And, naturally, it was the Age of Aquarius, which is another way of saying I'm a gullible imbecile who reads my horoscope every day in the newspaper and believes it. Of course, I have to barter away my hemp-woven moccasins for a newspaper, but still, it's well worth it. The Fifth Dimension, in retrospect, was just trying to make a living in show business, and they hitched their wagon to little Jimmy Webb, who, while on an acid trip, wrote a song about balloons:


Truth be told, there were a lot of crappy songs that were hits in 1967. By the same token, there were a bunch of good tracks, the ones we rubes really liked. But that's for another day, another post. Listening to these "hits", though, kind of makes me feel icky -- takes me back to a time and a place I don't care to remember. That's why I prefer the "nice" songs. 

Stay tuned...







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