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Homage to Clio

By Owen Paine on Saturday July 5, 2008 12:29 PM

Here's a memo for the Fourth from a Woodstock generation hanger-on (for meritorious eyes only):

Go 40 years in the Wayback with me -- to July 1968. Now don't it look like Dawn of the Dead? We shoulda gone into mourning if not hibernation. The high 60's ended that summer all over the world -- in Chicago, Prague, Paris, Peking you name it.

Now of course Clio taunted us with Her usual eddies of false prospect. Allende's Chile -- the Black Panthers -- the PLO. But it was over, really and truly over, that summer. Turning points and high water marks litter the era like carnival tattoos. My quondam Virgil, the dumfounding Hunter T, saw the wave break earlier -- way back when a detail of Hell's Angels, 'Nam backers and melanophobes headed off the Joe Colleges at the Oakland-Berkley line. But that was a prefiguration -- a scoop. The massive turn, the turn we all felt, came that summer in 68.

The shift, the quake, the national impasse, wasn't just generational. Or even racial. The real killer was the class fissure right inside us boomer white folks ourselves. And that fucker just kept widening from then on: from those late 60's summers through the "fuck it" Saturday night fever of the Carter dispensation till what else -- uncle Ronnie took America under his Hollywood wing.

It was seemingly bridged for a moment that May in Paris -- pure steet theatre, alas. Even among that nation of hams, it was already crumbling by July. What could have held 'em together? Once the eternal routine of job life kicked back in for the waged smurfs, and the left bank revolutionary merit classers had only their holier than thou arpeggios -- the anarcho unionist oxymoron worked out a nasty separation agreement, and quite easily too -- and not just in France but all over the advanced patches of the planet.

In little more than ten years we got Deng and Thatcher. The topsy turvy was righted -- the iron laws of the market place re-legitimized.

Let's tick off the stations: that ugly July 68 -- July 78 -- don't forget July 88 -- how 'bout that July 98 -- and here we are at July 08, 40 years later. Seems longer, somehow.

Well my fellow highly edified world changers -- I hope you paused to savor each milestone station. Do ya feel better about stuff? Feel it's only the gun fuckers and Jesus creepers that are bitter?

Now cometh Obama. Oh the irony for us Woodstockers. Our devotion to black liberation was both our golden and poison apple, from rad freaks to beatific Aquarians -- and this is our Disney ending? This id projection taking flesh, this lank smoothie, the promised Emperor of ice cream?

As always I take my solace in an upside down rendering of old Hegel's dialectic. I believe history, human history, has her reasons. The peculiar features of our social progress have a loose slothful necessity. So what if it zigzags like a lazy Tennessee river? Why the big hurry? It ain't all about us.

The '68 pivot was a right pivot, so the next one's gotta be a -- well, fill in the blank. And mates, when it hits, it will hit hard and good.

Comments (2)


once again my pontifications
sooooo here's more
but suitable for
a fortune cookie format

vicious class divides
we can't progress with em
we can't liberate ourselves
without em


Editor's apologies, OP -- I missed the point. Bad dialectician! BAD!

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