The Decay of a Dream

It wasn’t just sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  It was more importantly do your own thing, peace, and love.  We read Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thoreau who taught us to be our own person regardless of status, style, or what other people said we should be or do.  We weren’t concerned much with making money.  Jethro Tull, “I didn’t care if they groomed me for success, or if they said that I was just a fool.”  So with a love for music, with an ethic of doing your own thing, and little concern for money, the late ’60’s and early ’70’s generated a bewildering diversity of music.  Who ever heard the kind of music that Led Zeppelin came up with.  Their music is now engraved on our brains by repetition, but when it came out it was original.  “Stairway to Heaven” struck a nerve with everyone which is why we make jokes about it now–everyone was enthralled with it when it first came out.  Who would have thought that a man standing on one foot playing rock and roll flute would fill stadiums, as did Jethro Tull?

I still do my own thing.  For my birthday I had an artist make me an earring with a lapis Lazuli stone and a feather dangling on short chains.  People always comment on it–for good or ill.  I have Tibetan pants that I wear with a Nepalese shirt on the streets of the city.  At home I have statuettes of the Buddha, Guru Rimpoche, a Mayan god, Saint Francis, and Egyptian falcon deity, and Eastern Orthodox icons.  I self-identify as Christian.  I majored in Religion and Literature because I like poetry and religion.  It wasn’t a wise career choice if I was after money.

In the late ’60’s, early ’70’s, we bought good stereo systems because we wanted to hear our music clearly.  Then people started bragging about their systems.  What started out as technology for good quality music reproduction became a status symbol.  Then people started bragging about which concerts they had been to.  What started out as a live version of music we loved to listen to became status symbols.  We used drugs to give us alternative states of mind and raise consciousness.  Drugs degenerated into amusement alone, and bragging about using drugs became a status symbol.  Witness Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke.”

The final blow came in the ’80’s.  Then, earning a 6-digit income became people’s ideal.  The Yuppies were born.  People made excuses for Nixon, saying that he only did what everyone else was doing–he just got caught.  Cocaine became the drug of choice, and something to brag about.  David Byrne said that being a musician was, “A good job.”   The dream of the late ’60’s early ’70’s was successfully, and I think deliberately, ruined.

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