Dancing with Mary Jane the Boo Fairy
Tom Brokaw is onto something. Given the unqualified success of his book, The Greatest Generation, he has stuck with the generational theme for a follow-up. His latest is titled BOOM! Voices of the Sixties and deals with the kids of the World War II vets, the baby boomers. While I have yet to read it, I would surmise that it will be well received and a welcome addition to the ever-growing list of tomes attempting to explain exactly what the hell happened in the ’60s and what the hell happened to those of us who lived it.
Unfortunately – again, at the risk of prejudging – the reviews I’ve seen that pull quotes from the more than 50 people Brokaw interviewed for the book are not folks who “lived” the ’60s. Of course they were alive but they didn’t, uh, “partake” of the ’60s. They didn’t “breathe in” the once-in-a-lifetime experience of creating something new and unreplicable. They weren’t “tuned in” to the rips in the social fabric and the radical upheaval of the status quo. Oh, criminy, you know what I’m implying: They didn’t inhale.
There were a couple dozen factors that had to coalesce almost simultaneously for the ’60s to have happened, but chief among them was the introduction of Mary Jane to Joe College.
Perhaps the slimmed-down News & Record edited Sunday’s review of Brokaw’s book for length, but the five notables quoted therein were the two Clintons, Cheney, Rove and George McGovern, not exactly a cross-section of Woodstock Nation. In fact, with the exception of McGovern, none of the other four shed any light whatsoever on the phenomenon, not even coming close to cracking the code.
As we all know, Clinton claims not to have inhaled, which might have been the first red flag that the boy plays a little fast and loose with the truth. Long before he was drawing distinctions over the meaning of “it,” he revealed that he’d taken a puff off one of those left-handed cigarettes but never actually inhaled the smoke. Now, that explains so much, not the least of which is why he is such a sorry saxophone player. Somewhere there’s a law that states if a saxophone player wants to get past the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” stage, he must inhale.
Cheney claims he was never offered any pot, that the proliferation of the evil weed never made its way to his home in Casper, Wy. I could almost believe the first part of that lie – I certainly wouldn’t offer him any of my stash – but I happen to have friends in Jackson Hole, Wy., and that could not possibly be any more isolated than Casper. Matter of fact, Jackson Hole became a bit of a hippie haven, so that excuse is as lame as the rest of them. Why couldn’t he just say, “I was already a Fascist by then and rauchen ist verboten”?
Rove’s response, too, was typical. He pointed out that the assumption that everybody was against the war is false, because in 1968 two of the three candidates, Nixon and George Wallace, got nearly 60 percent of the vote.
First of all, in 1968 the tide against the war had not yet turned. The ’60s didn’t really start for much of the country until 1969, and by Kent State (May 4, 1970) Vietnam was every bit as unpopular as Iraq is today.
Second, have you ever seen a picture of Rove in the ’60s? There may have been a bigger dork in America, but I didn’t know him. My suspicion is that his rightward lurch is a result of his being ostracized by the hippies, who, by God, he’d grow up and one day show that peace and love and the brotherhood of man have no place in American politics.
Tragically, he seems to have been right.
Then there’s Hillary, who gave such a convoluted answer that we’ll never know whether she inhaled or not. Just as her explanation for voting for the resolutions that gave Bush authority to invade Iraq and now Iran – yet at the same time being staunchly against both the existing war and the looming war – didn’t reveal much, so it is with her involvement in the ’60s. We do know that she participated in some demonstrations, which leads me to believe she partook of the devil’s weed. So say it, lady.
Finally, we get to good ol’ George McGovern, who was one of the handful of pols who got it back then and gets it now. I can almost see him wrapping up a big fat doob as Brokaw was doing the interview. He acknowledged, “We should have been more sensitive to the effect of the new lifestyle on the working class,” in essence saying the government was completely oblivious. You’d have thought that our encircling the Pentagon and trying to levitate it with vibes might’ve tipped them off, yathink?
So, you ask, was I among those who became enamored of the Boo Fairy?
Nope, not me. I was hooked on downers, man.
Ogi may be reached at email@example.com, heard Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. on “The Dusty Dunn Show” on WGOS 1070 AM, and seen on “Triad Today” Fridays at 6:30 a.m. on ABC 45 and Sundays at 10 p.m. on WMYV 48.