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January 13, 2011

RITE OF PASSAGE - PART NINE Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll

"Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll"!

That's the ideal/attitude/memories that seems to paraphrase and summarize the 1970's. Even in my own mind I kind of see it that way; but the phrase itself, wasn't coined until 1979, in music by Ian Dury, a frontman for the UK band, "the Blockheads" - Wikilink:. And fact is, WE didn't live it that way.

In 1975 "we" were pretty straight. At age 18 you were legal to drink alcohol. You were eligible for the draft. You became an adult. There was no "Dirty Dancing", Gangs of any importance, conspiracy to commit fornication, or shirk society. We all knew "drugs" were bad. We all idealized the white house, the beautiful wife, the perfect job, and the picket fence. In NY State anyways most kids in HS had shot-guns in their trucks if they drove to school... there generally wasn't a student parking policy. But in NY and PA most students who were hunters got the day off. That's the way it was. We did think a lot about Sex, and Rock and Roll, but "drugs"? We had alcohol... We thought all the time about alcohol... had we thought about marijuana I believe many of us would be better off today.

Yeah, controversial. But it's the truth. Drugs were a fringe element. Getting drunk was the man thing to do. And smoke tobacco. Seriously, had cannabis been legal, I doubt we would have considered it all that much.

Until 1972 I lived in a country with a military draft. You signed up for the draft, by law, age 18, and at that time, 1972, there was a "draft lottery". On Jan. 01 of the New Year the numbers were drawn for every day of the year. My number was below 20... which meant I was drafted when I turned 18. Headed for Viet Nam.

In those days, the draft wasn't at all popular, especially since if you were "well connected" you could find ways to avoid Viet Nam. And one could always join the Coast Guard, or the Navy or Air Force. But if your mind wasn't on the military, and mine wasn't, what could one do back then?

The idea of the "conscientious objector" was a new one, and most often failed. One went to Canada often, to avoid the draft. Some cut off fingers or toes, some won insanity cases, and some even were bold enough to claim they were gay. But of the latter, few darned claim that.

My father told me sometime in the mid 70's ", he hadn't thought so at the time, but in hindsight he wouldn't have held it against me to have gone to Canada. "The War was wrong," he said.

It was the Beatles truly... who had the most influence on me in the early to mid 1960's. There was a lot of talk then, among my elders, of drugs, and the Beatles with their rock n' roll and long hair, they hated that.

I had an older 2nd cousin who was talked about a lot - John, how he was, "hooked on marijuana" and, had "attempted to jump out a window".

'Really', I wondered? At the time it was very real to me, the idea he had. But I learned later that he'd never tried to jump out a window. He had done acid, LSD, and was found out. "Marijuana and LSD", the parent's worst nightmare! All parent knew what it meant!

Your child would go insane.

I certainly vowed I would never "get hooked on drugs".

What I didn't know then, but do now, is it's a fallacy, born of political and corporate greed and fear.

I grew up on science-fiction, so I was already swimming in my imaginative universe by age 8. At age 6, 1960, I was outside most of the time, or we did have TV, though I forget what I watched that early on... other than cartoons. By age 10 it was "Dennis the Menace", Lassie", "My Three Son's" and "I Love Lucy"... "Combat", "Man from Uncle", and "The Fugitive", "Star-Trek"...

The Civil Rights Movement.

The influence of the Beat Generation and then Hippies... The Summer of Love "The Summer Of Love", The Yellow Submarine by the Beatles. "Pink Floyd", "Led Zeppelin", "David Bowie", Uriah Heap, Black Sabbath, Genesis.... .

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I was home alone, sick from school that morning, watching TV in my parents bedroom. I was almost 10. It was an event that would be forever remembered.

The draft ended Aug. 31, 1974. I was, as far as I felt, I was "a free man". The "draft" was dark angel cloaking the country. Promising freedom, and an end to tyranny.

By 1974 things were a changing. I was 20.

In 1970, however, a documentary on Woodstock was released as a movie. Woodstock, The Movie. I was 16. That summer my family visited my father's sister and my cousins in NY City... well, Long Island. I was second oldest to my 1st cousin Wini, and on par with a cousin Kathy, with my own sister and several cousins more. They were going to the movie... my mother absolutely forbid it, so I didn't go. That would be a mistake as it only made me curious, and me being "curious", well, like I said, things started changing in 1974/75.

In 1970 my family took my sister and I on a vacation to western Florida. I smoked marijuana for the first time at age 16 around a campfire on the Sarasota Beach. Nothing happened! I didn't get stoned. I wasn't drugged. I was only a bit drunk from beer.

I didn't even go for a swim, or kiss a girl, or cause trouble. Went back to the hotel and went to sleep.

To Be Continued... Next: The Awakening...

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