I am one of those folks who was born in the wrong time period, for sure. I am constantly being asked about why I am so entranced by a time period I didn’t live in. Here’s my explanation, phrased as best i can.
I have been fascinated with the 60’s for the majority of my life – the era that speaks the most to me. Anyone who has been to my apartment can testify that it pretty much looks like you walked into a time warp. My furniture is the grooviest I could find, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear some 60’s psychedelic rock coming from my turntable – did I mention I collect vinyl?
Even as a wee lass, I liked 60’s music best. My first cassette was of The Monkees. In high school I became obsessed with The Beatles. Obsessed. I listened to nothing but Beatles for four years. I watched Help! and A Hard Day’s Night endlessly. My room was a Beatles shrine, I wore Beatles shirts every day. My girl friends and I became “The Beat Girls” and I was known from then on out as George. I thought constantly about living in England in the 60’s. I actually did live in England for my junior year of college, and absolutely adored it. I think I moved there so I could pretend that I had also travelled back in time when I arrived.
Except for an ill-advised hip hop period in junior high, and the occasional extraordinary band, I have never listened to modern music. My ideal of beauty is the mid 60’s teased bouffant with dark lined eyes and gobs of fake eyelashes. I wear this style as often as I can, and usually pair it with a mini skirt, or something equally retro. I long to be mod – to drive a vespa around and stand against walls looking angsty and smoking cigarettes.
The thing I love most about the time period – besides the amazing fashion and music – is the philosophy of it. It was the first time that the youth of America looked around at what their ancestors had done and said “Hey! You know what? We don’t have to do it this way!” They “dropped out” of society and focused on things other than money, success and traditional marriage. People opened themselves up to each other in a way that society had never seen before – everyone wanted to see what happened when people actually tried to get along. They experimented with communal living, with open marriages, with growing their own food, with living without material goods. They protested the war. They tried mind altering drugs. They stood for peace. For love. For togetherness.
Snicker if you will, but I admire this generation so much for their courage and willingness to leap into the unknown. People may look back and giggle at the hippies for being saps, but I think working hard for peace and harmony is nothing to laugh at. It’s certainly better than being too cool and ironic to say what you really think or feel.
I’ve been reading a a lot of 60’s literature as well lately. I just finished The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, all about Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and I absolutely loved it. A group of people really pushing the boundaries of society! I also read Woodstock Nation & Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman, one of my favorites. In my heart I desperately long to be a revolutionary, but don’t know where to start. I’m certainly anti-establishment and have no love for corporate America, but can’t bring myself to steal. I’m not political, so trying to bring down the government is out. But I love that Abbie Hoffman felt so incredibly strongly that his generation was being screwed over that he published an entire book on how to screw the government back.
I know a lot of people who read this will say I’m just sugar-coating the 60’s. I know there were lots of bad things about living then, of course. Segregation, war, racism, sexism, etc. And of course I will never know what it was really like. I just am so in love with the idea of a generation that really stood up for itself and tried its damnedest to change the things they thought was wrong with America. To put their lives on the line so that others may taste the freedom they believed was so important. The 60’s generation speaks to me in a way that my own simply doesn’t.
So i wear my hair teased, carry my Beatles messenger bag and read any psychedelic book I can get my grubby little hands on. But I think Abbie said it best when he said “The 60s are gone. Dope will never be as cheap, sex will never be as free, and rock and roll never as great.”