Saturday, August 27


Pace Kathy, yesterday's discussion of The Great Swing Revival was not intended as an intergenerational grenade toss, and the fact that I followed it by marching off to another site and actually tossing one--a long one, no less--instead of having the wit and grace to put the pin back in is an unrelated source of embarrassment for me. If you're going to actually indulge in that sort of behavior you should have the good sense to keep it short, which, believe it or not, I've usually done on comparable occasions. I once told someone prattling about "Boomers" that I "could never get enough of people congratulating themselves on being young". I would have reused it, but it didn't quite fit.

But there's a few things I'd like to get straight (with myself, mostly). Most of those being personal and cranky but at least one having Larger Implications:

1) "Boomer", "Gen-X" and the like are the stuff of headline writers. Generations certainly have their shared experiences, and the post-War baby boom is real enough in a demographic sense, but the foolishness of making sweeping pronouncements about the people contained in those demographics is easily and amply demonstrated by the simple expedient of looking around you.

2) What we think of as "The Sixties"--in reality a convergence of shifts in thought, behavior, interpersonal relationships, politics, pop culture, etc. etc., most of which actually took place in the 50s--knocked down an already shaky cultural edifice, and loose bricks hit more than a few people on the head. Those people have been shaking their fists about it ever since, and they've done their damnedest to demonize the whole litany of 60s Excess. But, again, taking a look around is all it takes to demonstrate how cultural change works, even when it's propelled by commercial interests and mass communications. "The Sixties", even as an oversimplification, was not the product of some left syndicalist free-love pot-smokin' Berkley associate professor putting some crazy ideas in the heads of a few impressionable young people leading to an exponential tidal wave swamping the previously idyllic Christian America.

3) What I wrote specifically about Mark Gavereau Judge missing about the abhorred lowliness of the Sixties was tailored to what I'd learned about him. It's certainly possible to cast a wider net, and I can do so without apology. The Republican party has been making political hay out of the mythical American Eden of the 50s for twenty-five years now, but it never does anything about it. Why is that? Because they know people wouldn't stand for it. It's the Red Staters watching Desperate Housewives and buying porn. If you removed everything James Dobson finds objectionable about the culture tomorrow, it's the sort of person who complains about the Sixties who'd be out of his coconut first. And the whole process of knocking down the artificial barriers to how people really want to live and ought to be allowed to would begin all over again.

4) I've got no brief against complaints about Boomers, writ large, assuming they are raised against cultural trends and don't treat people like ants. Hell, I agree with most of 'em.

5) I was born eight years into the Baby Boom. I grew up in the Midwest. I wasn't yet old enough to drive when the Sixties (nominally) ended. I'd just turned ten when the Beatles played Sullivan. I found sex, drugs, and rock and roll highly enjoyable, and I still do, but most people in my high school were beer and car aficionados. I didn't break faith with the government; the government broke faith with me. I had a lottery number for the year the draft ended, but my opposition to the war had nothing to do with my own meat. I never drove a VW, said "Far out" or "groovy", or owned a bong. I didn't go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao. If I've known a dozen hippies in my life eight of them were the recently minted faux variety, and they're the ones who wear patchouli. I never knew any revolutionaries, but Angela DeAngelis, who burned to death in that SLA house, student taught at my high school one semester. The people I went to college with were mostly there to get an education and have a good time while doing so, like college students before and since. Some where idealists. Some were Marxists. Some were idiots. I could have made more money if that's what I wanted to do, and I may be able to retire someday if neither my wife nor I get a catastrophic illness. I've never knowingly cheated anybody and I'm scrupulously honest on my taxes. I've paid more into Social Security than I'll ever get out, and I'm fine with that. And if you imagine you know who I am because you watched Hair one night, or they make you listen to the Oldies station at work, well, lemme buy you a beer some time.


eRobin said...

And if you imagine you know who I am because you watched Hair one night, or they make you listen to the Oldies station at work, well, lemme buy you a beer some time.

I love reading this blog.

harry near indy said...

iirc, dan wakefield wrote a book about the 1950s, and said that many of the contra-majority culture started to sprout then, but went into full bloom in the 1960s and hit places like indiana by at least 1975.

you're right about the social tyranny of the 1950s, doghouse, especially in indiana.

social tyrannies are, in one way, better than political tyrannies, because there's no kgb to bust your ass or gulag to sent your ass to.

in another way, they're worse, because you can always get rid of the policeman outside you -- it's the policeman inside you that's harder to kill.

keep up the good work, doghouse.

handdrummer said...

Nicely said Sir. Can we get an Amen for the gentleman?