Thursday, September 3, 2009

1968

Time for another one of John's writings.... what I like to call "John's Thoughts" ....enjoy!


I turned 15 in 1968. It was a year of eruptive psychic growth for me. I read “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Crime and Punishment”. The Democratic convention in Chicago turned into a maelstrom of anger and brutality seething through the streets of the city, permanently shaping my perception os the mechanisms of power. I saw Hendrix live, went to my first anti-war demonstration, met some Black Panthers and read Eldridge Cleaver. And some friends of mine seemed to have had a terrific time at this place called Woodstock.
The ensuing years continued in the same vein – drugs, radical politics, concerts and books – always books and ideas. Psychology, politics, popular culture and the changing nature of the world were daily topics of conversation. Carlos Castenada, Dylan, Muhammad Ali, the Beatles, the Dead, the Stones, Simon & Garfunkel,and on and on – the mental backdrop of the times was a vista of endless possibilities for change.
Then the tide began to turn. Nixon, Watergate, the end of the war. People began to overdose, get strung out, die. The cult conversions. Charles Manson. People began to have kids, get real jobs, graduate college, get married. Disco, for Christ’s sake. I joined the military, and moved away with my pregnant wife. Career, responsibilities.
Still, the books and ideas were portable. A few friends and I stayed in touch. The Reagan years, and the Moral Majority. Rush Limbaugh. From time to time, the few friends and I would wonder what had happened; had the possibilities evaporated? had the world really not changed? Was it turning back into the 1950s?
But, we told our kids about how things had been; Vietnam, the United Farm Workers. The Dead played in the living room, along with Springsteen, Bob Marley and Willy Nelson. Clinton was OK, in a Playboy kind of way.
The new century started as badly as could have been imagined. The “N-word” began to sneak back into the popular lexicon. Terrorists. Tax breaks for rich folks, hugely corrupt politicians in very high places. Breathtakingly bold lies told by a President who claimed to hear directly from God. Another disastrous foreign war. Cultural regression propagated via the should-have-been-cool Web. Despair over the world my kids were growing up in, and my precious, malleable grandson. Horrible place, execrable people in power.
Then a little change began. Young people began to find their voices – world music started popping up everywhere. Celebrations of eccentricity – Steampunk and Cryptozoology.
Maybe…? 2006 and Nancy Pelosi. Maybe…? Neil Young resurrects his career. Maybe…? Can we? A young man saying “Look at all of you”.
Now we know. Yes, we can. The 40 years worth of books, ideas and believing were worth it. Compassion and Justice are back in the national conscience. My kids believe in their own ability to make change. We emancipated ourselves from mental slavery – thank you, Bob Marley.
The wild geese are flying again, and the ants have gone back underground.

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