Return of the Generation Gap

The Santa Monica Ice rink has opened and in Australia the citizens are getting all enthusiastic about Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup race.  It’s their version of America’s Kentucky Derby.  Many women go to work on the first Tuesday of November dress up as if they were going to the opera.  Bets are made during the day and by five minutes after three in the afternoon; it will all be over for this year.  Do Americans care about that bit of foreign culture?  Should we write about that or can we find a new take on the Bush wars?

In Los Angeles, the morning of November 1, 2009 was a living advertisement for the rich color saturation characteristic of Kodachrome film – or it would have been if you could still buy that type of film – because there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it seems like a perfect summer day was beginning.  There were various and sundry bits of evidence that another Halloween had been celebrated and they subtly suggested that perhaps it would be a good day to write a column about ghosts such as the specter of repeating Vietnam era mistakes.

A quick check of the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times showed that the only topics they found worth considering were a portrait of President Obama, a tough talk piece on Iran by Doyle McManus, the possibility of fraud in the Afghanistan’s runoff election, and two assessments of economic challenge faced by the state of California.

Speaking of Shepard Fairey’s version of the Obama portrait do you think that someday someone will write about about the AP image just as one has been written about Alberto “Korda” Diaz Gutierrrez’ famous shot of “Che” Guevarra titled “Che’s Afterlife:  The Legend of an Image”  (written by Michael Casey)?

A few weeks back, while we were staying at the Hostel California, in the Venice Section of L. A., and we noticed that one of they young folks bore a striking resemblance to Ernesto “Che” Gueverra.  We asked the others if they saw the resemblance to the Cuban rebel leader and the reply was:  “Who is Che Guevarra?”

Luckily a laptop was nearby and a quick Google Images search produced a picture and the young travelers were delighted to see that the resemblance was quite striking, especially when the young man was shot in a way that would duplicate the famous “Guerrilero Heroico” image.   Cameras were activated and the one young lady who got the best shot promised to send a copy to this columnist.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t arrived in time to be used as an illustration for this column.

Just a few days ago, we were recounting that incident and when they didn’t respond to the name of the place where it happened, we gave them a clue via a line from an Eagles song:  “you can check out anytime, but you can never leave. . . .”  Some of the young folks knew who the Eagles were (no, not Perth’s West Coast Eagles), and that song in particular, but some didn’t. 

Hah!  Isn’t it ironic?  The peacnik hippies, who were on the young side of the Vietnam era’s “Generation Gap,” are now explaining that era’s cultural references to today’s younger generation.  Could it be that thanks to Rush Limbaugh, today’s college students are pro-war and the older hippies are still advocating Peace, Love, and Brotherhood?

Yikes, do the students at Berkeley, who protested budget cuts last month, know the origin of the line “the kids still respect the college dean”?

How can kids, who think they are in the “counter culture”on Telegraph Ave., be “hip” if they don’t know the titles of the Fugs’ biggest hits? 

Were the lyrics: “I used to live in New York City
Every thing there was dark and dirty
Outside my window was a steeple
With a clock that always said 12:30” about the doomsday clock? 

What was the name of the Susan Sontag essay that spawned the “Trivia” craze in the Sixties?  If that one stumps you follow this link

Back in the Sixties every college student knew the answer to this question:  “What was Fibber McGee’s address?”

It’s not that there haven’t been any good bands that formed since the Sixties ended; the band calling itself “U2.” seems promising and wouldn’t Guns’n’Roses be quite good if they could just “get it together”?

This columnist can recall a conversation held in a bar in New York City advocating skepticism about “Tricky Dick’s” plan to win the 1968 election with a secret plan to end/win the War in Vietnam.  The older fellow chuckled when he heard the label we had pinned on Richard Nixon and informed me that was what his kids also called the Republican candidate.

What was so funny about a line in a New York City newscast that said:  “The Jets won and Heidi married the goat herder.”?  Huh?

Is it true that the Smothers brothers got tossed off network TV for not being “fair and balanced”? 

What does the expression “Up Creek Alley without a paddle” mean?

Back in the Sixties the oldies stations played Big Band music.  Now, do the oldies stations feature Sixties music?

Yikes!  As mortgages go upside down has the Generation Gap returned with the hippies now playing on the old fogies team?

Is Joey Heatherton still the hottest go-go dancer you’ll ever see?

Why didn’t kids say that Keith Leger was playing the role made famous by Burgess Meredith?

Will Harry Harrison be able to reassure me that New York City is the greatest city in the world?

There is one intriguing question that remains to be answered about a revival of the draft and a massive surge in Afghanistan:  If Fox News supported Bush’s efforts to start the war in Afghanistan, why will they ridicule President Obama for trying to continue it?  Won’t that indicate a contradictory attitude about the war, the current occupant in the White House, and bring up questions about the sanity of their contradictory stances on the same war as conducted by different Presidents?

So, if President Obama, this week, announces a surge in troop levels for the War in Afghanistan, this columnist expects to endure a massive case of déjà vu and will need to hear repeated playings of certain record albums.

The young people who seem oblivious to the dangers of an eternal war that can’t be won might learn something if they talked to some hippies about war and peace and how America’s latest wars got started. 

[Note:  while this column was going through its final polish (at a coffee house in Venice CA) a bunch of younger people were furiously pounding out key stokes as a group mtual support exorcise for the National Novel Writing Month contest.  When their half hour burst is over we’ll ask them about the clock that always says 12:30.  The second youngest one knew it was from a Mama and Papas song.]

Che is quoted online as having said:  ““If you tremble indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.”  Sounds like he was a hippie.

Now, the disk jockey will play the Snoop-Dog and Willie Neslson duet song, titled “Superman” as well as “Eve of Destruction,” and “Fixin’ to Die Rag,” maybe even throw in Joan Baez’s “Hello in there.”  It’s time for us to go splitsville.  Have a “Hey, Hey, LBJ” type week.



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