---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 14:52:19 -0700
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Challenging status quo not just a 60s thing
Challenging status quo not just a '60s' thing
By Amanda Balzer <email@example.com>
Is it possible to be nostalgic for something you've never experienced? I
have asked myself this question for years in an attempt to explain what
happens to my brain when Jefferson Airplane comes across the radio waves,
and what it is that jogs my memory when I hear the opening notes to "Me and
Bobby McGee." When I listen to music from the '60s and early '70s, I feel
like I'm back in time on the Washington Monument mall, joining the Freedom
Rides and hitchhiking to San Francisco, of course with flowers in my hair.
As the decade of tumultuous social change, the 1960s (spilling into the
'70s) liberated and imprisoned, educated and stifled the American people.
From the civil rights movement to the sexual revolution to the division
and disillusion of Vietnam, the times, they were a-changing. Perhaps it is
the tumult and truth-seeking (or at least I'd like to think) that draws me
into this purple haze of protest and propaganda.
Blame it on my roots, I guess. As a child, I knew the lyrics to "American
Woman" and "Spinning
Wheel," not "U Can't Touch This." Every road trip was an opportunity for my
dad and me to guess
artists, albums and years of release. To this day, we still call each other
when we're stuck, hearing a familiar song we forget who performed. I have
spent hours in front of an old turntable, wailing with The Mamas and the
Papas and echoing John Denver's Rocky Mountain high. I watched the show
"Tour of Duty" just to hear the Stones' "Painted Black."
Evidently there are others who share my Sixties' sentiment. The Harvey
County Historical Society's current exhibit, "Missiles, Marches and
Mustangs: Remembering the '60s," discusses America's run through the jungle
with clothing, albums, toys and other paraphernalia. Music, though, is a
large part of the display. One placard said the two major factors driving
the hippie movement were music and Vietnam. There is something about '60s
music, unlike any other, that links the listener to a time and a place.
But, for me, the fascination goes beyond the music. I love the stories
depicted in movies, books and PBS documentaries. I sat through Robert
Altman's "Nashville," mostly confused, just because it was a slice of time.
Of course, the only fruit of my obsessive absorption materializes in
"Trivial Pursuit" and conversations with Baby Boomers.
I am a trivia fanatic (I own four or five versions), often playing the game
myself when no one else can be persuaded. When I lived at home, my parents
and I would engage in a trivial pursuit of the 1960s.
And I won. Their excuse, actually quite legitimate, was I studied the '60s,
and they just lived
through it, missing some facts along the way. I have to admit, I would lose
big time in a game of '80s trivia. (Though I'd like to think it is less
about living through it and more about conscious memory block and denial.)
Just so you know I don't live completely inside my head, I have experienced
legitimate de ja vu. In
Kenya in 2000, I was walking through a Sudanese refugee camp, and a crowd
of people fled past me.
As I turned to assess the situation, the wind threw burning acid in my
face. Dodging for cover helped my breathing, but my skin was still on fire.
To get down to it, the U.N. soldiers were cutting us down with tear gas. It
was less than pleasant at the moment, but in the aftermath, I was at Kent
State on the pavement thinking about the government. (Maybe it was LSD gas ...)
Those who lived through my time of all times are shaking their heads at my
naivete and idealism, but, for what it's worth, I'll keep on believing. All
I know is I have to challenge the establishment, and the best examples are
found in the time of "hawks" and "doves," lunch counters and fire hoses,
birth control and Alice's Restaurant.
With the impending war in Iraq, constant racial profiling and a glass
ceiling still shadowing the family and church, I have my chance to fight
for equality in America (gotta revolution, gotta revolution).
Amanda Balzer is a news reporter for The Newton Kansan.
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