I'm taken back to a scene from one of my favorite movies Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas wherein Johnny Depp's character Raoul Duke has a soliloquay about the late 60s and the power that time held. The delivery of that monologue is moving, and always has moved me to tears. I'm going to hazard to quote the book's version over the movie's, but there is reason:
“Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.
My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder's jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .
There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .
And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.” -- Hunter Thompson
Whenever I read or hear this, I feel as if I were born at the wrong time, or perhaps cursed by some affliction of never being part of a generation who had an impact on the world. The mind takes you to that time in the late 60s where there was love in south california that pervailed over the right wing society that was imposing onto the people of America.
There is a power in people that we have long since lost, something that showed we are able to ascend what we were and are into something greater. When was that vision lost? How did we lose sight of that which we needed most. The summer of love brought with it a change in everything, positive change that proved that the world can move on just fine if we take the time to love one another (yes I'm quoting the Youngbloods song).
I am a metal head. My life is based on being the outsider, the person ostrisized from society in general because I chose to stand against the status quo, to have my own ideals and beliefs that defy what is acceptable and challenge authority at every turn. Anger, hate, apathy, these are emotions common to people like me who have felt the world has turned its back on me; and yet, despite that, I long for that fabled summer of love. Why?
Is it because that was a time of acceptance, when a man like me with long hair, tattoos and a notion that there is something wrong with the powers that be could get by with nothing more than a couple joints, some good friends, a song, and a sense of belonging? My current financial situation has seen me out of the metal community for a long time, the last concert I attended was in 2011. But even then, somehow, I didn't feel I was part of something greater, despite how much I support the metal culture.
Is it folly to think that even then, in that time of innocence and free thinking, I would have belonged? I have always been an independant thinker, the kind of man who never is in favor of one side or the other because both are equally wrong and seldom right. Politically I stay out of the mix on the national level, focusing on community and state over nation. I find right wing and left wing groups equally evil, the government a corrupt and befouled thing, and that we as a nation are destined to be crushed by other powers.
Would I have been happy, smoking refer, reading R. Crumb comics while sitting on the curb at Haight Ashburry while Big Brother with Janis Joplin played just a few doors down? Would I be imbittered by Vietnam as I am about our current conflicts? I know that I will never know that, but in a way, thats what makes this hurt. We look back on better times that we may not have been part of and wonder how it would have been to make a difference when it counted.
Today it seems like in this socity nothing really counts for much. We measure ourselves based on thumb ups and likes and tweets to validate our existance (I myself am guilty) yet we never take true stands, we never unite and strive to make change happen for the better, to challenge the powers that be.
I don't know where I am going with this. I suppose this is just another rant blog, but if somebody gets the gist of what I'm about, please feel free to voice what you think and feel.