A piece of my never-quite-completed-but-will-be-someday book, 922.
The book is fiction, but it happened.
I am too.
It took me 37 years to come to the conclusion that those three words were the answer, the meaning of life, but in 1967 it just means joy.
I’m alive, I exist. Sitting on the floor with my sister and her friends, listening to Sgt. Pepper.
And that’s where it all begins. You wake up a few hundred times, go through days and nights, cry quite a bit, learn some basics and then one day you remember something that doesn’t go away.
It stays, one day I became me. But I didn’t happen to wake up to just any time in history…
I woke up in the sixties.
And that’s why we’re talking I imagine. Do you want to hear the story? It’s a pretty good one but I need to go out on the front steps if I’m going to tell it. It’s just a lot easier to talk out there. Why do I already know the whole story? Well I guess we’ll get to that…
I don’t remember being born, although sometimes I think I do, but I was born on October 14th 1965. It was a Thursday night and I was in a hospital like most babies. I was named after a Beatle and a Quarterback for the New York Jets from what I’m told. In fact, the day I was born happened to be the same day as the very first time the Beatles worked past midnight on a song, they finished Drive My Car right after midnight and The Who recorded My Generation later on the day I was born. I’m not sure if there were any football games that day.
I live in a house in Grand Rapids, Michigan with my Mom and Dad. Mom is 27 and Dad is 42 and Mom is Dad’s second wife. Because of that I also have 2 brothers and a sister that are halfs. They come over on the weekends except Penny who stays here most of the time and is only gone sometimes.
Now, I like my parents and all but you have to understand that my brothers and sister are teenagers and that’s a pretty cool age to be. Teenagers seem to be very important right now.
It seems like it’s important to be a teenager mostly because of Sgt. Pepper, although I checked and I don’t think there is one single teenager on the Sgt. Pepper cover. I like the Beatles, although my favorite is Pet Songs from the Beach Boys.
So all of them are inside listening to Sgt. Pepper again, probably because everyone is listening to Sgt. Pepper all the time now. I like Sgt. Pepper too but between you and me it’s overrated. In time they are going to rate it the best album of all time in Rolling Stone magazine, even though Rolling Stone won’t even start for a couple of months yet. It’s rated just ahead of Pet Songs and Revolver because all of the best albums ever are being done right now.
Why? Well, because it’s the sixties.
You aren’t from around here are you? The sixties are the most important time ever. It’s when everything changed before most everything changed back later. Most colors were invented in the sixties too I think.
Oh yeah, most people around here know all about it. They are turned on they think.
Here, let’s ask this guy.
I can too tell her about it!
Listen, I can hear you muttering dude. Let me guess, “man you’re only two, Paul, you weren’t even there brother!”
Well you know what, you weren’t there either. Zappa was there, no one else was. Its taken over 40 years for someone to say this to you, but no you did not have to be there.
You were here in the sixties yeah, it’s all still the summer of love to you, but we preschoolers watched what happened with you. We were there when the sixties blew up because love actually meant happy-self. We were just getting into school when Manson blew his whistle and ended the party. Manson? You’ll find out. Criminy, you probably think of Woodstock as where Dylan lives.
We were still watching you when the cash register chimed on Dark Side of the Moon and told all of you to finally get off the curb and get regular jobs because your turn was done.
We are the ones who had the perspective that Sgt. Pepper may have been a little better than Frampton or Rumours but there was still a spirit to the music that your generation had lost touch with only because you got old; we had our own mountain to climb to becoming a teenager and Rhiannon told us that on the other side of that mountain were sultry blonde witches rolling around on the ground that we were going to get to enjoy while you sold insurance.
We learned from your generation, we learned what worked and we learned what didn’t. The reason we didn’t sit around the Calder in the eighties debating the Port Huron Statement isn’t because we didn’t care, it was because it got in the way of the party. Reagan dealt with the government and we took the road trip, and that is exactly how it should be. Values and drugs don’t mix. Yeah, Reagan.
So no, you did not have to be there and the reason you think we did has nothing to do with us not understanding your generation and everything to do with you not having any perspective about ours.
But our generation does owe your generation one thing. Thanks for trying.
Don’t pay any attention to him, he doesn’t even know how it all turns out. The silly thing is that they all got what they wanted eventually but they were all too jaded and burned out to care. Don’t tell them though, it would spoil the fun.
What caused the sixties?
I’m not sure, wait a second I’ll go ask.
OK I’m back. Do you want some Kool-Aid? We have green or red.
Apparently it wasn’t Dr. Spock, although that would have been my guess…
What? Yes, I’m two.
My Mom is in Mensa and I get it from her I reckon. I can already read books you know. I hear I may be intelligent.
Anyways, the foundation of what built the sixties started with post-war expansion and the rise of the corporation and military-industrial complex.
Hold on, let me ask. Did I say that right? Are you sure about any of this?
I’m not sure they really know the answer. Most of it hasn’t even happened yet. I’ll give you mine.
After the war, chickens were very important. People wanted to have two cars in their garage and a chicken in the pot. If you had two chickens that was better. Sure, a third chicken would have been fine too. No that’s too many cooks, multiple chickens are OK.
So, Dr. Spock told parents to treat their kids nicely and build their self-esteem. This in turn built effeminate fathers who wouldn’t beat the crap out of their kids. That’s what my Dad told me. No, the crying Indian was in the seventies. There was a lot of garbage then though, he was right to be unhappy.
Anyways, the postwar expansion built an unhealthy attachment to chickens and the rise of the corporation meant that people acquired chickens mainly through allowing for their natural values to be subjugated into the corporate mindset. In other words, fathers did what their bosses told them to do even when they didn’t agree so that they would have more chickens.
When they didn’t, the bosses would send notes home to the wives saying that its really too bad that your husband doesn’t do what he’s told because all of your neighbors have a lot of chickens but you don’t have that many and you would have more chickens if your husband would just do what we tell him and maybe you should talk to him if you would like to have more chickens like your friends.
At the same time, the rise of Communism and the Cold War made speaking out against the government the equivalent of treason because instead of speaking out being part of a Democracy you were now a Communist because they spoke out against Democracy too and because no one could tell the difference between Communists and Non-Communists because they both spoke out it was decided that all people that spoke out must now be Communists because our Country is so great because we saved the world in the forties that only a Communist wouldn’t like it.
Now I’m thirsty. Just a second.
Of course I know all of this, everyone here talks about this stuff. The Port Huron Statement was written in Michigan you know. Al Jardine left the Beach Boys to go to Pharmacy School in Big Rapids. We know things here…No, I would have stayed a Beach Boy.
So the fifties culture was about security and chickens. And right in the middle of the chicken era, the Cult of Chicken, Marlon Brando banged on a jukebox and started Rock and Roll because everyone realized that he looked so incredibly stupid pretending that jazz was hep that something had to be done and then Elvis quit driving his truck so that Marlon Brando had a cool soundtrack to rebel to.
Yes it is what happened! Do you think the juves could rap their hot jive to Mr. Sandman? Jive disappeared way too quickly, especially hot jive which is better and/or warmer than regular jive. People should still be doing hot jive now I think. When the dufi in the Wild One ask for one of those Beer-o’s, that is hot jive. Just put o or e’o after every other word and laugh at people who don’t. Cool isn’t difficult.
So once Rock and Roll started, teenagers had their own space and a defined environment just for them for the first time. There was teen culture and the Cult of Chicken but because fathers were now emasculated due to accepting immoral orders at large companies instead of opening western hardware stores coupled with deferring to the wisdom of Dr. Spock and chickenless wives at home they decided not to beat the crap out of their kids for teen culture because they’d already traded their own values for chicken anyways.
The result of this is that when the teenagers of 1955 went into college in 1960 they decided that the Cult of Chicken sucked and they now stood to lose something because their future would not include rebellion or Rock and Roll or Hot Jive and College curriculum at this point only consisted of how to become a chicken-winner by subjugating their values and this now and only now was suddenly deemed insufficient by about 12 people, it was seen as Holden Caulfield’s cliff.
In other words, adulthood was boring and supposed to be and kids now expected excitement in life as a result of teen culture and self-esteem and weak chicken-needy fathers.
All of this created Bob Dylan.
Because Bob Zimmerman was going to be bored if he pursued the Cult of Chicken as a result of watching Buddy Holly 3 days before he died he instead became Bob Dylan and played to 153 people in a coffeehouse which led to 2,000 people buying his album and like Jesus and the fishes this somehow led to the Port Huron Statement happening simultaneously which was read by another 46 people which then somehow multiplied into alienating the entire eastern portion of Michigan’s youth culture and a few blocks in Grand Rapids which somehow again led to the entire West Coast being disenfranchised within roughly a week which as luck would have it led to millions of youth of all colors becoming disenchanted with racism within this same month and fighting the south mostly without fighting and a lot of people died for not being racists and then Kennedy died the day Beatlemania was shown on CBS and racism became Vietnam and Dylan met the Beatles and someone took LSD and saw God and then the south got really mad at the Beatles because more Beatle records were being bought than Bibles even though the Bible and Beatle records and LSD all say your football team shouldn’t still be all white and then Dylan crashed and the Beatles said sorry and created Sgt. Pepper to enlighten teens from hypocritical parents and football fans with way too much chicken on their hands and this is what built the sixties.
Yeah that’s how it happened. All those things happened on top of each other, no one is quite sure how one thing led to another, but somehow it just all did.
Now everyone is growing their hair long and wearing beads and talking about going to California where it’s all happening.
No I can’t go to California because I can’t leave the block yet, I can go down to Ken-O-Shea park but I need someone with me. Personally I hope no one goes to California from here though, I’d miss the friends even though most of them are a lot older than me. I really like Melody next door, she’s a blonde like Penny and we watch movies on her basement wall a lot and I read her books.
I have a few friends my own age but not all of us were meant to watch Romper Room. Goo Goo and slapping the floor only communicates so much. Where’s the depth, you know?
The redhaired girl up the street though, you can tell she gets it. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, do you know? You do on this block. Can you hear the dog whistle? Redhaired girl does. I don’t know her name. I don’t think she knows it either. It’s 1967, so maybe we’ll just make one up for her.
That’s what my parents did. They don’t call me Paul or William, they call me Paco. They call me Paco of course because it’s Spanish for Frank.
My mom is a genius, but not in Spanish…