Re: Beginning of the sixties

John Pastore (
Sun, 23 Jun 1996 08:46:48 -0400 wrote:
> My take on the beginning of the sixties is pretty simple. There may have
> never been two eras as distinctly different as the sixties and the fifties.
> If you went back in time, there really wouldn't be much difficulty in
> spotting which was which. The sixties began at different times in different
> places, some places did not witness the sixties until the last half of the
> decade and others, arguably, never. But if you are going to identify the
> beginning of the sixties, you have to go back to a time in which it existed
> somewhere. When the voter registration drive began, the sixties simply
> didn't exist, no where, no place, no how, the entire nation was fifties to
> the bone. I agree that the roots of the sixties can be found in the voter
> registration drives, but the roots of something are not the thing itself.
> The primary roots of the sixties, after all, was the fifties.

Hello Everybody,

Excuse me for jumping into a thread, but being new here, I have to start somewhere. I
graduated high school 6/6/66 in was little more than the pines woods of the
thought-was-going-be suburbs north of Atlanta. My father had moved our family from Long
Island, N.Y. in 1961 --talk about culture shock.

Perhaps it has been mentioned before, but there is something to be said about the demise
of the 50's into the 60's, as far as I see it till 1967: the mass migrations from, the
cities of the N.E. to the West, and particularly the, then 'Bible Belt', now 'Sun
(Bible) Belt, of the South. The disrooting of the mass had many implications for those
who had moved, and those who had been moved into. Far too many to reiterate here, but it
was more than just a clash, and more like an atomic explosion --the reverberations of
which are still manifest. For the first time in the U.S.A, people from widely different
regions, and ethnic traditons, had to, if not reevaluate, at least adjust for their
differences, and even mind-sets which revolved around everything --especially education,
politics, race relations, and even militarism. This reevaluation spawned, in the early
60's such phenomenon as the revival of folk music in the early 60's based mostly on such
populist artists as Ledbelly and Woody Guthrie. The baby-boomers had been dropped from
the cradle to confront a new social-consciousness at best, or a new, by being so
massive, estrangement at worst. All the era missed, and still misses, was a Steinbeck,
as in "The Grapes of Wrath", to capture at least a part of it. To this day the dilution
of the liberal vote in the U.S.A., by this dispersion, has had, and continues to have,
the most profound effects.

Kent Manno asks:

> Well, I uncovered my copy of Easy Rider (the movie) yesterday
> and popped it in the vcr for immediate viewing...I had a quick question(s)
> for list participants...
> 1. Your impression of the movie.
> 2. At the end of the movie when Peter Fonda says: "We blew it"
> what exactly does he mean...? His life...their life...???

My impression of the movie, for me in the South, when it first came out, was it's
flagrant capitalizing on an increasing paranoia of those times. In the Southeast at that
time, the 'hippy' scene had been composed almost exclusively of middle-class liberals
from the more ethnically diverse North. The most extreme 'red-neck' element of the South
was still too preoccupied with the notion that, if they tolerated the hippies, they
could eventually cash-in on their misperception of 'free-love'; and it had yet to occur
to the 'silent-majority' of not so extreme rednecks that they too could become hippies.
Their was, however, tension (bad vibes). But, like foreigners in a foreign land,
long-time residents will have, surprisingly, far more tolerance than one would suspect
and absolve whatever friction with: "Well, they're just too stupid to not know any
better" --and leave it at that.

'Easy-Rider', not only, showed that rednecks can become, at least pseudo-hippies, and
that such so-called hippies can be shot, but also, that doing so could be fashionable.
The quasi-rednecks then began to flood the ranks of 'hippies' telling their own that
they were not like them. By the droves they high-tailed it from Marty Robbins to Bob

Taking their cue from the movie however, the extreme rednecks then, with all tolerance
or hopes for free-love forgotten, counterclaimed saying: "No you're not, you're still
us. You think you are better than us? Well this is what traitors get, and I don't give a
damn if you think you look like white Indians. We shot them squatters too."

That the prospect that the 'hippie' movement would itself be diluted by such
quasi-rednecks was disheartening in that it guaranteed its eventual doom. And
'quasi'-rednecks was exactly what they were. The utter ridiculousness of 'biker-hippies'
is anathema till this day. VW Van hippes yes. Biker-hippies, no. Having capitalizing on
the general paranoia of the period, I think the film ended up doing for the 70's what
"Clock-Work Orange" did for the 80's.

Why did Fonda say what he did? After that first time I saw the film, when it first came
out, I thought that he was simply recognizing the 'vapidity' that this quasi-redneck
participation in such a movement would have while merely playing out the inevitable
delusion scene made encumbant for box-office by James Dean's roles, while also making me
more paranoid than ever. The bucket was tipped.

Having seen the film since, I do not think there was any greater message, if even that
one. Though it might be fashionable to read into his script an unconscious realization
that they were doomed because they had become traitors to their own kind, yet having
done so, were too peace-oriented, disestablished, or mindless in face of the hardest of
the hardcore-established to not survive, if not their own mindlessness, I think more
than anything else, Peter Fonda said what he did because he was being paid to say it,
without much, if any, of a second thought. The whole country was being railroaded to
eliminate any opposition to the war in Viet-nam. Whole hippy neighborhoods, such as
Atlanta's, long-gone "Tight-Squeeze" were being besieged by police using Nixon's
"No-Knock" laws. They were being burned to the ground. And those who didn't get drafted
were being killed anyway. That film helped dupe and mobilize a whole segment of the
population to help effect such. And when the bikers finally arrived, they were not

Well excuse me if it sounds a little heavy, but those were heavy times, and I think the
film, as a film, was over-rated then, as it is now.

John Pastore
Hotel Plaza Caribe
Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mx.

"...she entertained herself, besides, with such humane achievements as
sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue torn out with
pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in
the rain to do honour to a dirty procession of monks
which passed within his view...

---Charles Dickens