Friday, November 10, 2006

On This Day

On this day, November 10, 1969, Sesame Street was broadcast for the first time. Most of us Products of the Seventies were not young enough to really be Sesame Street kids, but we all recognize the influence on future generations.

From Wikipedia:
Sesame Street premiered on November 10, 1969. The very first scene was a clay-animated sequence showing two creates forming the words "Sesame Street", followed by the opening theme music. The first regular performer to appear on screen is Gordon (Matt Robinson) who introduces one of his students to his wife, Susan, as well as Bob and Mr. Hooper. Big Bird also appears, though the first puppet-style Muppets to appear on screen were Ernie and Bert.

During this first season, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch were the only Muppets to regularly appear in Street scenes, while Ernie and Bert and others debuted in separate segments. Big Bird had a much more naïve voice and a smaller head with fewer feathers, and Oscar was a "toxic" orange...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Burger Wars

"Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun."

"Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce. Special orders don't upset us. All we ask is that you let us have it your way!"

And of course, once the eighties hit, perhaps the most memorable...
"Where's the beef?"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Grievous Angel

Recently I have rediscovered Gram Parsons. For those not familiar with Gram Parsons, he was a tortured soul who was the driving force behind the country-rock scene that began in the early seventies. From The Byrds to The Flying Burrito Brothers to duets with Emmylou Harris to a solo career, Gram Parsons was an important figure in the evolution of seventies music. He was rumored to suffer from bipolar disorder, which would explain his legendary alcohol and substance abuse issues.

Parson's last album was called Grievous Angel, and was released after his death in 1974. It's a marvelous album, full of hearfelt songs. A very country feel, it was a precursor to the country rock that became so popular in the later seventies. I highly recommend it.

His death is legendary, he died of an overdose in the desert, at a place called Joshua Tree. It was a place he regularly visited, a spiritual oasis for him. After his death his body was stolen by his manager who was fulfilling a promise made to him earlier. Using a borrowed hearse, they drove his body to Joshua Tree and in a drunken festival botched a cremation attempt. Google him up and spend some time reading the history - it's truly fascinating.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day

This won't turn into a political blog, I promise. But being election day in the US, it brings this to mind.

The final nail in the coffin of the seventies was the election of Ronald Reagan. This is not meant as a commentary of Reagan as president. But the election of Reagan was the beginning of the current age of US conservatism. The mindset of the sixties and seventies was unceremoniously flushed in November of 1980.

It was inevitable, I voted for Reagan as I was ready for a change. I think we were all ready for a change at that time, I just didn't think that change would lead to where we are now.

Monday, November 06, 2006

1974 School Assembly

It was the fall of 1974, and they herded the entire school into the gym for an assembly. We had a big school, particularly for being in the middle of the US heartland. No freshmen at our school, grades 10 – 12 only. But of those 3 classes we had in the vicinity of 2000 students.

We had no idea why we were being pulled out of class, but anything was better than algebra so we were happy. Kind of. We had to sit through a speech by some southern governor. It held my attention for maybe 5 minutes. At that time, the political process couldn’t have interested me less. Not surprisingly I still remember the girl I was sitting next to, her name was Nancy and she had this exotic Brooklyn accent. But do you think I can remember ANYTHING the speaker said? A few years later I became interested in the political process, was a member of the “young republicans”, and a student volunteer for a few campaigns.

That speaker became President of the United States 2 short years later, beating out Gerald Ford, who was one of the candidates for whom I was volunteering. It was, of course, Jimmy Carter.

I now have a deep respect for President Carter. He wasn’t an effective president, but he is a compassionate person and a brilliant statesman, both are qualities hard to find in today’s politicians.

I wish I had paid attention that day.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Cigarette Machines

My kids don't believe me. I tell them when I was a kid, you could go anywhere and buy cigarettes from a machine. When I was just starting to fool around with cigarettes in the early seventies, you could buy them out of a machine for about 50 cents a pack. We had a Dairy Queen close to our junior high school and they had a machine, as every place did. When the owner wasn't looking we'd buy them from the machine, always Marlboro box. If he caught us, he'd buy them back, yell a lot, then kick us out.

I still remember those cigarettes, the smell and feel of a new pack, and the swimming head and nausea that went along with them. But I stuck it out, and became hopelessly hooked. Today, after having quit 17 years ago, I still miss them.