Humility & Thanksgiving, A Glimpse Into the Abyss. Is Freak Power Really Dead? "Aversion & Contempt in America", Vol. I
City of Boston, Circa 1978
And then there was the 70's....
I'm older than most and younger than many...by such I mean that I'm an "Old Soul" as my Dear Ole' Granddad used to say. In fact he said it so often it became strange to me, it weirded me out, made me feel like there was something wrong with me. But, I get it now. Indeed, do I get it. I'm the product of the very early 70's...or maybe I should more appropriately say a "by-product" of the 60's, the Summer of Love and all that good stuff. Either way, I vividly remember things like Billy Beer, Boston Demonstrations, the Gas Crunch and those long, serpent like meandering lines at the fuel stations, I remember the Mujaheddin (Sen. Charlie Wilson's somewhat personal and absolutely private "war" against the USSR, by and through the United States funnelled millions upon millions of dollars worth of weapons, supplies, ammunition etc and so forth to the Afghanistan Militia....whom, ironically we are at war with now...and I even heard there's a movie about it...what a Country), I remember a lot of my youth actually, which, given the life I've led since, a lot of it intentionally skewed by drugs and alcohol, seems appropriately strange. My parents were sort of like "flower children", but the Peace/Love Movement had ended so they were more into the Freak Power movement than anything. Damn did they embrace it too. Hardcore. My Dad skipped out when I was barely 2, chose his chemical dependency and being a Freak instead, but my Mom hung tough, both with me and the Freak Power Movement...as well as her own chemical (and liquid) dependancies...and by no means was it an easy life or "good" by most folks definition of the word, I was raised her way, which in hindsight is better than nothing I guess although I didn't know any better at the time. From as long as I can remember there were always Hells Angels around, we spent time in Barrooms, we went to amazing Free Concerts on the Boston Common, marched in intense Demonstrations, wrought with violence as massive crowds lurched and churned past the century old Dungeonesque Charles St. Jail and onto Beacon Hill for this reason or that (there were many, I barely recall the actual "reasons", it was just intense...mind you I was about 6 or 7 at my first one, and swore to God I would be trampled to death...but some immensely skinny dude with rancid breathe and no shirt on, carrying a bullhorn, put me on his shoulders and off we went up Beacon Street). Arlo Guthrie, Allen Ginsberg and a whole shitton of folks I have no clue who they were, ranted & raved, spat when they shouted and called the policemen "pigs"...it was a wild time to grow up in Boston. A special albeit deranged environment to be around, yet to this day I have absolutely no regrets.
1970s Protest in Boston, Massachusetts
Library cards are like gold bullion...
Because...there was always the library's and the conversations, gifts bestowed upon by my half mangled Mother, practically incapacitated by narcotic induced psychosis, that have lasted a lifetime. I'm pretty confident when I say her & I moved 20 to 25 times from the ages of birth through 10, I honestly and sincerely don't think I'd be far off the mark either. From Southie to JP, Rozzie to Sunnyside, Archdale to Orchard Park and all over the immediate surrounding suburbs, again & again we moved like gypsies. And no matter where we lived at any given point in time, regardless of her condition...alcohol, LSD, opiates, junk or benzos; one of the first sober things she'd do, without question or hesitation, is take me to the closest library. We'd get library cards! Back then kids cards were made real fancy with scrollwork and such, and with a lot of fanfare too. After typing the name on some ancient typewriter that clicked and clacked like a horse with three shoes, calls were made, phones rang, "Excuse me a moment" was stated with diction and empathy, papers were shuffled, there was hustle and bustle...and then, THE Head Librarian would appear out of nowhere, like an apparition and sign the thing like it was an absolutely necessary official document...and it was to a degree. Especially to me. Some libraries even laminated them, those ones were killer, truly prized possessions . Walking home with my Mother holding my hand, I'd have the library card in my front pocket with a hand snuggly shoved in there to protect this irrevocable token of freedom, and also proof of my identity. Maybe that's why she did it? In case I got lost, stolen, run over by a trolley or some other hellishly horrible demise that seem unfortunately all too common to hear about nowadays, primarily due to the onslaught of social media and cable television, Amber Alerts and all that. Wonderful things. Indeed. But see, in the 70's kids went missing all the time and barely got a 2 inch passage on page 9 of the Record American, maybe page 12 of the Globe and then there was always "Tuesday's Child", thank God for Jack. But see, with the library card they could identify my remains. Ugh. Shit. Seriously? Nah...no way, to be honest, to save a pantload of cash on therapy bills again, I'm going to say I'd rather think all of it was to instill a love of reading. In all honesty I do suppose that's probably right too, Jeezus do I hope so...and guess what? It worked. In fact it worked like penicillin. The appetite for literature developed inside me like an organ, an extra lung where I'd breathe the words right off the pages and into my Soul. Some of the best days of my life were spent hidden in a library somewhere in Boston or a close suburb, reading away like a junkie needing their next fix, fiendishly trying to finish one book absolutely and only so I could move on to the next...read all the classics. Frost, Whitman, Pope, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Thompson, Wilde, Wolfe...and even obscure literature a child had no business reading...yet I LOVED it. And still do.
Boston Public Library, Bates Hall
Because I avoided the "Children's Books" section like a fear of the dark, often times I'd get caught by a dutiful librarian after hours, hidden under a stairwell with a stack like bricks, or lying on the floor of the research room hiding myself by the old heavy oaken chairs, but caught regardless and driven home after the library had closed. I can recall thinking that librarians must of gone to a special "Librarians School" where they were taught how to speak to children, because I was given almost the same lecture on those rides home by each one. Not stern, never a cuss word, but gentle like a kiss yet with a hit of vinegar at the end. One time I even spent the night in a library and felt perfectly at ease, with only the emergency lighting...me, alone, with stacks and stacks of books, daydreaming...wondering...and of course reading; like a predator devouring its prey, just to go on the hunt again.
Bikers, Beatniks, Hippies and Freaks...
Then there were Freaks and the stunning, no bullshit, mind altering conversations....our home was almost always full of people, some I knew, most I didn't. They'd come & go. Staying over a few days here, a few days there....and let me tell you it was an interesting cast of characters. But that was the really good stuff. Back then I'd be forced to leave the room begrudgingly for a few minutes, never wandering too far, while the deep, pungent, almost musky aroma of weed being smoked intensely billowed out of our living room or kitchen or whatever room the group congregated in. I'd peek in long enough to catch a glimpse of someone passing a joint or the "Bong" (which were relatively new in those days, but apparently can be bought at any cornerstore or bodega nowadays....times they sure havvva changed), and once everyone was sufficiently stoned on what was I guess some pretty decent grass; the conversations would commence. And did they ever.
[ On a bit of a tangent and in honest retrospect, there's one heck of a good chance one of those bikers, beatniks, hippies or radicals sitting in my Mother's apartment, whacked out of their sneakers on pot, mescaline & Schlitz beer could've EASILY taken a shower, shaved their beard, put on a suit and convincingly ran for any political office at the time with probable success. They'd be household names like McGovern, Carter and Dukakis from that era. Let's be honest, they're isn't much of a difference in American Politics between an Average Joe and the actually Elected Official....EXCEPT those "real" ones are elected, tainted for life and hit that viscous public "office"; where their soul is sucked clean out of their ass in short order; that's truly when it all goes downhill, as fast as a freakin runaway freight train. Personally I think an Average Joe or Jane (a REAL one, not some person manufactured by a PoliSci Management Firm hired by one of the party's) would do wonders for those of us whom trudge through our days/weeks/months/years wondering when the coffers will be raided, what if healthcare doesn't work and if our 401k's will still be there in the morning. But I digress, back to the story.....]
The conversations were always intense, overtly radical and dripping with sticky yet palpable substance. I was allowed back into the room once the drugs were consumed, and I'd pick a spot, typically inconspicuous, and just listen intently. Even holding my breathe sometimes for fear of missing someone's opinion or perspective. Almost as if my very existence depended on it. If I closed my eyes there was a good chance I could've confused the scenario for a fabricated one like on any one of the 3 channels of TV available to us back then..."Meet The Press" type shows ya know? There were rarely arguments, they were more like debates and these people; whom most would call dregs of society or some other negative connotation, were so eloquent, insightful and informed it was indeed something to behold. To me, as a little boy, watching a full blown Hells Angel...dressed to the hilt with his "Colors" proudly displayed on his vest, flannel shirt underneath, jeans that could've definitely stood up by themselves they were so covered in axle grease, oil, and umpteen other type stains, beard (complete with crumbs and what not), long greasy hair, a ball peen hammer snuggly tucked into his three inch thick leather belt and tossing a pair of brass knuckles from hand to hand as he spoke....go on and on, waxing poetic about current events, politics, government finance and any other subject that happened to come up. To sum it up in the words of the time: "It was wickid heavy man". Then, as if on cue, once the conversations ended the out of work guitar player, who did cover songs at the Paradise Theatre on Thursday night open mic nights to buy booze & pot, would follow that up with a resounding rendition of the "Country Joe & The Fish" song "Vietnam", mind you he was completely in tune & harmonious...and all of us knew the words, yes, including me...
"Well come on all of you big strong men, Uncle Sam needs your help again,
he got himself in a terrible jam, way down yonder in Vietnam,
put down your books and pick up a gun, we're gunna have a whole lotta fun."
Country Joe & The Fish - Vietnam
And then it got real bad...
Then, late in 1979, as if almost like an earthquake with multiple aftershocks, everyone's worlds were rocked by stunning events, that just unfolded one after another. Gold and Silver reached record highs, which subsequently caused a massive run on bullion and making the stock market, along with the economy, very very shaky. Unemployment skyrocketed, and No jobs meant no money. Oil prices continued, unbelievably, to climb higher than they had been, poor President Jimmy Carter was getting flogged like a cabinboy on a tallship, The Federal Government began bailing out big business in crisis...specifically Chrysler, then a Detroit based auto manufacturer (now owned/operated by Daimler Benz Gmbh of Germany), to the tune of $1.5 billion dollars. Lee Iacocca was all smiles as he took that call from President Carter...Pope John Paul was still Pope at the time, leading a Catholic Crusade and World Tour the likes that hadn't been seen in a Century and of course, Iran's Ayatullah Khomeini was insanely voted Time Magazine's Man Of The Year.....in case anyone hasn't connected the dots here, it was then a heck of a lot like it is now...and when the shit hit the fan, let me tell you, we all got some on us.....and it was bad. Real F'ing Bad.
Man of The Year? Seriously?
AUTHORS NOTE & EPILOGUE:
Please give this a good read....maybe even read it twice or a few times. If your from my Generation, my Mother's or any other for that matter, please weigh in and let me know if you can see the parallels of damnation that seem to refresh themselves every couple of decades, like a web browser. Any comments are welcome, if you have any profanity laden soapbox stuff I'd truly prefer you abide by the rules of HubPages and/or contact me directly. I am a writer and a journalist, both novice and professional and this is indeed my first attempt at: a) abandoning the "rules", not altogether but relaxing them to the point where there's no fine line or gray area, b) writing about myself rather than an antiseptic topic with which I am required to write about and c) this is actually my very first post on on a website/blog and to be honest I like it....very much actually. And I hope you do as well.
Also, before someone jumps all over me like a rabid badger....I'm not affiliated with any political party. In fact I'm a libertarian libertine; if anything at all. As well as being DEEPLY Patriotic (you'll hear about that in Volume 2 and so on). I can write about pretty much any topic objectively, especially from the journalistic perspective; but I'm honestly not trying to get any fervor whipped up here or anything, more hopeful someone will get some enjoyment out of my writing as much as I enjoy writing it. Further, I am an absolute unequivocal, incontrovertible non-conformist ("Freak") through and through and have been literally all of my life (as the paragraphs above elude to, its in my blood so to speak). My point is I didn't wake up last week and decide to be "myself"....I've danced to my own drum, with only a very few others along the way, essentially since the days of what's written here...and have lived a quite enjoyable life by and through a philosophy of "Gan Aifaela" which loosely translated in Gaelic means "Attempt to live ones life without regard to regret...learning the lessons along the way."
Finally, this is Volume 1, as stated in the title. There will be more, and they will blow your mind; but the entire point is to hopefully, by the Grace of Anyone & Everyones Higher Power, OPEN some minds to creative thinking, humility, thanksgiving and maybe, just maybe prove to me that the Freak Power Movement is alive and kicking. I'm going to leave with a quote from one of my favorite authors, only because it sums up my philosophy, my hopes & dreams and very much my life; yet in words only he could write.
--With Much Love and Respect, TF
Quotation from Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
― Hunter S. Thompson
Please take A Moment To Answer This Question.
Do you think the Freak Power Movement is Alive?
© 2014 ThomasFoolery