Had one of those wonderful days today. Blew my plans because I blew my mind. Sounds dramatic, huh? Was going to the hardware store, boring. Instead I stumbled across Woodstock: Three Days of Peace & Music (40 anniversary collector’s edition) on the TV. My behind was immediately implanted onto the sofa for the next 3 hours.
The music slipped into the groves in my mind like a comfortable old shoe and it went flying back. Ah, it was yesterday, but wait a minute…40 years? WTF happened? My mother took me to see the filmed version of Woodstock when I was an impressionable 15 years old. I was impressed. It cemented in me a fierce love of music that’s been with me ever since.
One day I said to myself: ‘I’m forty!’ By the time I recovered from the shock of that discovery, I had reached fifty. – Simone de Beauvoir. The Second Sex author.
The movie is great, the music of course, but I forgot about all the interviews with ordinary Joes that were in the movie too. A grumpy older guy mutters, “Oh, they’re all on pot,” waves his newspaper, and walks off. Any of that mind altering hanky panky happens nowadays and it is immediately on nationwide media, followed by moral outrage; next bible thumpers or other variety of objector protest loudly, summon authorities, with the camera focus on the thorns more than the roses. The committers of said violations of the code du jour are marginalized, sued if possible, given time in prison, instructed to burn in hell and rot for all eternity, their name stricken from the registers of polite society.
Am I at the other end of the life cycle side from teen Angst? Some sort of senior /lovey dovey/flower child kind of angst? Am I getting old and cranky because I’m tired of this nonstop, in yer face, judgmental, 24/7, frenetic, plugged in, finger-pointing, holier than thou, never ending media data stream of hysteria?
We rocked out just as hard back in 1969 as kids do now. I know, I was there. I lived through that time. Lost a bit of my hearing from standing too close to speakers. Sure it sounded different. But, that feeling of “I got something to say at the top of my lungs” is still there in me, I can feel it. I don’t think we ever really lose it. It goes underground, gets stacked away in the attic, with the baby clothes and old knickknacks.
I was a fairly suburban, sheltered kid. But, I knew things like – you can’t run from the fuzz. Not that I ever had experience of that. Really, I swear. I’ve never been in a car chase ever. Well, I’ve been in a car full of teenagers following another car full of teenagers, all on our way to the drive in theatre. A car load (six passengers) for 99 Cents on Tuesday nights, that’s a bargain. We had to cooperate then and plan ahead. The people stuffed in the trunk on bargain night had to know better than to shout “are we there yet?” when the car was still in the ticket booth. And all this got done without text messages or cell phones at all. Somehow it worked out ok.
In an interview with the farmer who owned the land at Woodstock, he said “Think about, a half a million kids got together, had fun and made music for 3 days, and did nothing but that.” I must wonder, could we do that now? Would it even be allowed? The permits alone would be a nightmare of red-tape. Could the kids or the parents afford it?
Flowers and dry clothes dropped from helicopters into the crowd. What we drop today? Frozen turkeys, “you’re going to hell but, Jesus loves you” pamphlets, crowd dispersing gas? The Army brought in about 40 some medics to assist the crowd. Of course in a crowd that size there a few problems, but overall 500K people went to the party of the century and most managed to have one helluva good time.
Would anyone today want their kids going to an event like that? In the U.S., we must be reaching a saturation point with a child raising obsession. God, I certainly hope so, I can’t stand much more of it. I have to wonder, when does a kid get to be a kid?
Parents script every moment of a child’s life starting before birth. They play prenatal music to them. The kid arrives in a civilized time frame, induced during the day between 9:00am and 3:00pm at the birthing center. Preferably not during lunch break. Then we spend the next 20 years trying to sanitize and inoculate them from every conceivable thing that can possibly happen.
Another thing I want to know is when do teenagers get to be teenagers? I couldn’t raise kids today. I would rip my hair out and check into a padded perma-spa. That or I’d be in jail for letting my kid play with a dangerous toy. Mothers that manage children these days amaze me.
Is this what happens when we get at a certain age? All the silver foxes start waving things around and yelling “you kids, stop screaming and yelling! If you can’t play nice, then you have to take a nap or go home!” And we are talking to whole countries here, not just our kids. I guess I’m not a typical gray hair. I spend much more time worrying about kids getting stifled than I do about how much social security I’m going to get. By the time I get it, it will only be enough to cover my joint cream and the half ‘n half for the coffee. If I get it at all.
I love the world as it is now, but I do miss that world too. And I have to ask, when did talking about peace, sharing, and brotherly love fall out of fashion? I’ve tried half-heartedly in the last few years. I’m met with eye rolls, or a verbal pat on the head. Aren’t you just the cutest little flower-brained, throwback, dinosaur. Half the civilized world is embroiled in an escalating emotional, judgmental, arms race. Sometimes only figurative, other times a little more dangerous.
We are labeled a nation of stressed out people. All the lovely statistics talk about how stress is frying our hearts and making us fat. Most of our recreation is sedentary. Who goes out dancing anymore? I’m getting concerned. Our God given right to cut loose, get down, get baked, de-stress or whatever they call it now, is in serious jeopardy. It’s a medical issue I tell you. The Surgeon general should make a speech about it on national TV. Something along the lines of “Chill out man, your life depends on it, life is too short to hate your neighbors.”