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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Personal 60s #1

[Carli photo of young Steeley and Geo.; Geo. poem 1969]
Now that I am firmly entrenched in my own personal 60s, I suppose it's inevitable I go somewhat archival. Picture above was taken near the close of the general '60s, the 1960s, the poem written shortly after. It was taken somewhere along California's American River, where I would escape to from cities where much had to be done that left one unsettled. I see I have riding boots on and had grown my own cowboy hat.

Understand, it's been more than twice the number of years since this was taken than I was old at the time. Still, I credit young Geo. with enough sense to address the future, even though he overestimated its interest. The '60s are as remote to the current generation as Edwardian times were to his. My father was born the year Edward VII (and Mark Twain, whose journey-work coursed a greater American river) died. And yet, and yet, the suffragist movement was at its height in 1910. In the words of one of its most articulate proponents, Wm. Lloyd Garrison: "I am in earnest--I will not equivocate--I will not excuse--I will not retreat a single inch--and I will be heard."

No expiration date on those words.

I don't often indulge in '60s memories. There were too many disappointments, tragedies, disillusionments --too many sell-outs and way too many casualties. But the following clip kept me reamazed enough to escape the negative associations that usually attend '60s reverie. Certainly, "Sunny Goodge Street" was recorded by some wonderful artists, not the least of whom was Donovan Leitch, its composer. But nobody captured the surreal intensity of its lyrics like Canadian singer, Tom Northcott :

I was refreshed by it and glad to have been in that confluence of sound economy and positive vibes. There was a lot to do and we made it look like a lot more fun than it really was. We dressed funny. We grew hair. We made a nationwide clown that danced and capered and showed how ridiculous a war was. Then, thanks in part to Nixon of all people --who was brought along by Ike, so maybe not so strange-- that war ended.

And because of the '60s: Some of it was was wonderful. Some of it was horrible. I was in San Francisco, Chicago, Berkeley. How I ended up a hick again escapes me, but this little production reminded me of personal decisions and commitments that still reverberate --some fine things that got to happen and lovely people who got to live because of what we did.

Question is, now that there's need of it, can we build a clown that big again?


  1. Oh Geo., you are such a hippie hunk! Zeitgeist before there was a zeitgeist.
    And I'm working on the shoes as soon as I finish typing this. We can do it again.
    You've just lifted me out of a sudden onslaught of ennui!

  2. It was a true renaissance: a time of personal discovery and ideas and ideals,of passion,adventure, color, light, optimism - a virtual Fellini circus of possibilities.
    That era can never be repeated or recaptured, except in the distant realms of our memories.
    My "hippie days" came after the 1960's at the very end of the golden era, but I savor them and remember them well...

    Holy crap, I'm rambling again. I hope some of this made sense but I doubt it.

  3. Simultaneously making sense and doubting thematized the era. I believe you got it, Jon!

  4. Love the photo and the song... and your post. I can't be certain, having been born in '75, but I think it would have suited me back then. I enjoyed grunge and doc martens, but things didn't seem to have that hopeful, exciting, things they-are-a-changin' edge.

  5. Thanks CarrieBoo. I knew there was some reason the world started making more sense in '75.

  6. Ah, the sixties... I try not to romanticize the decade too much, but damn! it was an amazing time, wasn't it? The music, the energy, the overall involvement. I dunno, it just seemed like people CARED more then. Nowadays, there seems to be more apathy than empathy, and as long as the latest "Housewives of Whatever" freak show isn't delayed by the intrusion of a news bulletin, the vast majority of people simply don't give a flying flip.

  7. You're right, Susan. Definitely, there was a keen sense of engagement. It's returning, I hope.

  8. Dropped by from CarriBoo's place. Refreshing words, Mr. Geo. The video resurrected that whole era for me. Wrinkles, warts and all the '60's was an amazing time to be alive.

  9. Thank you, Leenie. Welcome.

  10. I'm glad to see so much and so well-deserved commentary so far! It was good being there then with you as it still is now. Oddly when I tried to get in to comment I first got this comment from Google: 'The page you requested is invalid.' It made me feel as if--if ever so briefly--that some monolithic element of the present would like to deny all of what happened in the '60s! I can definitely grok "Nowadays, there seems to be more apathy than empathy...." That being said, thanks for reviving the memories with image and words; now I look forward to hearing one or another of your songs from that era at this site. Can you do that?


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