Those were the best days of my life.

July 7, 2009

It’s the touchstone of the flower child experience. That defining essence of the Sixties soaked up in an acid haze with dirty feet. It’s Woodstock. That combination of idealism and love, of King bush and brown weed. It’s the baby boomers big wet dream when they turn up Steppenwolf in the Chevy HHR.

And it was forty years ago.

If you know me, you know I am no fan of the post war generation. As a whole they are self centered and immature. Terrors as kids, passing from their salad days to a Viagra blue tinted malaise. Shitty parent became  “come on, Goddamn it! Can’t I have a second chance!” grandparents.

Forty years ago, it was their summer and it included so much more then their concert film and future tie themes and coffee mug images. The Stonewall riot that kicked off the gay rights movement erupted on June 28th in New York City. A few weeks later Edward Kennedy would forever end his bid to follow in his brothers footsteps with a run for President when he deep sixed Mary Jo Kopechne in a Chappaquiddick channel and received a suspended, two month jail sentence.

Twenty-three days after Stonewall, on July 21st, Neil Armstrong disembarked from the Apollo Moon Lander and uttered the phrase that even public school graduates can attribute; “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” From the accounts I’ve read (probably idealized by a former hippie revisionists) a country torn apart and a world in turmoil were united in one achievement and captivated, If  only for that moment moment, by the grainy images from the apparent last frontier.

Luckily, I’m a life long resident of Western PA, and so I know that high, that sense of accomplishment with Six Super Bowl wins.

TWENTY days would pass and the bodies of coffee heiress Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, hairstylist Jay Sebring  and an eight month pregnant Sharon Tate would be found in Roman Polanski’s Hollywood Hills Home stabbed with ropes tied around their necks.

On August 15th, Woodstock began and somewhere between the Stonewall rebellions and August 18th when the three days of peace and music ended in Bethel, New York, somewhere deep in the suburbs of Kingston, Ontario, Bryan Adams got his first real six string .

Ultimately, the year would end darkly. The Manson family was hauled in and charged with the Tate murders and the deaths at the Altamont Speedway Free Concert would reveal a darker side of flower power and undermine the idealism of Peace and Love the permeated the third eye that summer.

In 2009, all of these stereotypes are still with us. Tweaked a bit, but still with us.

The peacenik thing has been co-opted by that annoying environmentalists that drives a Prius with Obama ‘O’ and WYEP stickers. They look down their nose at ‘breaders’ and drinks Grande, not Medium, coffees. They insist that you be sure to throw your recyclables into the blue can’s. Oblivious that the bags from the blue cans go into the same dumpster as all of the other trash. They wear leather shoes while they eat their meatless lunches and smoke cigarettes, forgetting to offset the impact of a  two-pack-a-day habit has on their carbon footprint.

I’m not sure if funny or douche bag is more apropos for the thousands of dollars-a-dozen bikers that broady in packs on freshly washed and garage kept horses through the Laurel Highlands every weekend.

Live to Ride, Ride to Live. On the weekends as the rub elbows with real m.c. prospects in scattered bars along their routes. Miller Ultra and Coors Light keeping them buzzed in the officially licensed Harley leather vest and jeans. The boots and watch by Bulova, ordered from Zappos.com.

AND while you don’t really have any Mansons running around except for Marilyn and a Bubba the Love Sponge staffer, I do recall a time in the late 80’s where people were covering Charlie’s songs and there was a re-released of a complete album that he recorded. I guess it was because it was the twenty year anniversary and since fashion runs on that cycle, there was a reason for Charlie Rose, Tom Snyder and “HA-rallo” to sensationalise him. I mean the guy did give himself a tattoo of a swastika between his eyes. That shit scared the squares even then. Now it’s nothing for your 23 year old son with a tattooed face and black finger nails to be living in your basement. But not in 1989.

FORTY years later and we don’t have a ‘Woodstock”. That happened back in 1994 to be followed by Woodstock 1999, best remebered for corporate sponsership, pay-perview, Limp Bizkit, date rapes and riots.

Forty years from now, history will look back on 2009 as the Sumer of Shit. Not because of the celeberty deaths in and of themselves, but for their archetypical status. I’m not alone in remebering Farah’s nipples theough the red one piece bathing suit that adorned my friend, Scott Bicic’s wall. And the people who were geniouinly touched by Michael Jackson to the point that they can easily suspend their judgement of a guy that was locked down with a guarded bedroom compound with Jesus Juice and kids. And the thirteen trillion puond elephant in the room; at what stage are we in of the freefall and when we finally hit the ground what’s it going to be left?

And who will be the poor man’s Bryan Adams?

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