In 1962 my birth mother squirted me out into this strange world, naked, helpless and unable to provide for myself. I will probably exit this world in the same state. That is another discussion altogether.
A veritable boatload of things have happened since the time I was a little screaming titty babby. Let’s explore a few of them.
When I was born people made telephone calls on a land line connected solid based rotary telephone that was attached to the wall by a short cord. You dialed a seven digit number no matter where you were calling within a certain local calling district, or you dialed the American country code (1), an area code, plus the seven digit number if you were calling “long distance.” Calls to foreign locales where almost unheard of. Long distance calls were expensive and rare and often caused parents to scream about how they were not made of god damned money.
Now almost everyone has a computer/communications device that is way more powerful than the computers that put mankind on the moon in their pockets which they use to stare dumbly into all hours of the day, while texting one another with bad grammar, occasionally making actual telephone calls, looking at porn and cat pictures; all while the US government uses these devices to spy on its citizens in a clear and obvious violation of the fourth amendment that no one seems to give a shit about.
Getting from there to here in a little less than 50 years is amazing. Technological progress coupled with America’s unhinging and losing its collective shit after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have led us to a brave new world of fewer rights and greater technology.
America, Fuck Yeah
In my life so far I’ve “seen” the assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK, among others. The ongoing civil rights struggles and progress. Race riots in Watts, Detroit and Cleveland. The 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Watergate. Kent State. The demise of unions. The rise of an insane religious Christian right. Ronald Reagan starting the dismantling of the middle class, along with the Bushes, Clinton and Obama continuing the destruction. Joe Namath wearing panty hose on television. The steady gain of Gay rights. The decline of NASA and science. The steady decline of Constitutional rights. The glorification and embiggening of wacko American gun culture. The corporate takeover of Hippie, Disco, Punk and Skate culture. The demise of the Soviet Union. The rise of an elusive Terrorist “Threat.” The NSA and TSA. Politicians of both major parties just continuing being beholden to special interests and the money of the 1% who own their asses. The birth and decline of Occupy Wall Street. An ever increasing Oligarchy and last but not least the very real threat that we as a species will eliminate ourselves from the planet due to global climate change.
Over half a century and still no flying cars, hoverboards, sexbots, or unlimited leisure time due to automation. But, we work more, vacation less. We have over 300 channels of shit on teevee and endless choices of horrible cheap fast food to shove into our pie-holes, so we’ve got that going for us.
One constant over most of my years has been the skateboard toy. I’ve skated boards with steel wheels, clay wheels, saw the rise of urethane, the death of vert, the rise of street, and then the rebirth of vert. The rise of backyard ramps, the first wave of skateparks, the death of skateparks, the rise of street then the rebirth of skateparks. And now every John Doe seems to have his own pool or bowl in his backyard. Skateboarding is mainstream and corporate, but it is still fun. I’ve broken bones, skated well, skated badly and resigned myself to the fact that I can still skate, but not as hardcore as I once could. It is a fun thing to do.
Rock and or Roll
In April 1962, when I was hatched the top pop song according to Billboard’s Top 100 was ‘Johnny Angel’ by Shelley Fabares. The pop charts that year were dominated by the likes of Elvis Presely, Chubby Checker and Ray Charles. ‘Monster Mash’ was number one in October (cool).
The Beatles would have their first number one hit with ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ in 1964. The radio of my early days as dominated by my mother’s choices were usually Bobby Vinton, Johnny Mathis, Motown Girl groups, and whatever was on the pop stations.
I think that I started actively listening to radio when I was 8 or 9. I remember going to school one day and a classmate was bemoaning the fact that his sister had told him over breakfast that morning that some lady named Alice had knocked ‘American Pie’ off the top of the charts. I had to get home and tune up the radio to find out what was happening. Much to my surprise Alice wasn’t a lady, and the song rocked. The song was ‘Eighteen’. It seemed so odd in my little kid mind that a guy was singing about being eighteen years old and full of angst. I was still playing with Hot Wheels and riding bikes for fun. But, I dug the tune.
My father’s older brother has three sons who are around my age. When we would go visit them in rural northern Ohio I would love to go through their 45s. Their collection was always so much more expansive than mine. This is where I first heard the Rolling Stones, Jerry Reed, 5 Man Electric Band, War and the like.
My birth mother’s younger brother had a stereo up in his room while he was an angsty high school teenager. When we would visit my mom’s family I would often go into his room when he was away and put on his head phones and crank whatever he had on the 8-track player up to ten. This is where I first listened to “Dark Side of the Moon’. I was mesmerized. Then I found a tape on the floor called ‘Black Sabbath’. I put it in the player and rocked the fuck out for the entire album. From the first notes of ‘Black Sabbath’ to the time it got to the second song ‘The Wizard’ I had found something that moved me in a way the pop of the day did not. I remember listening to it all the way through then playing certain cuts over and over. I think I would have stayed up there all day listening except my grandmother called up the steps and said that she had made some nut roll — I wasn’t going to miss out on that stuff. The Croatian in me loves some nut roll.
Everything changed again when I bought the Ramones album and Duty Now for the Future by Devo. This lead to me getting into hardcore punk and some metal.
Rock music has gone through many stylistic changes. It has definitely become another tool of our corporate betters, but I’ve seen and heard some amazing stuff over my 50+ years. The highlights being 70 punk, American hardcore in the 80s, and bluegrass American roots music.
Blah Blah Blah
The world is a mess. We as a species may not be around for much longer, but hell, we’ve had a good ride. As Tom Tomorrow said in today’s comic: The world is a dark and chaotic place, devoid of meaning or hope, in which evil frequently triumphs and sociopathic brutality is the norm. Human beings are advised to find what small solace they can before tragedy inevitably overwhelms their insignificant lives.