This is the time I grew up in, complete with B&W TV, nattily dressed announcers and singers JUST starting to push the boundaries of the ‘accepted norms of society’. It’s what I inherited from my immediate environment. I grew up during one of the more notable cultural shifts of the 20th century and I had a front row seat. I was privy to both sides of the fence – the ‘establishment’ (aka, ‘The Man’) and the ‘counter-culture’.
From the squeaky clean to the dangerously subversive and the unbelievable stuff inbetween
‘The Man’ was pushing squeaky clean music at us from inside the AM radio.
And then, ‘almost overnight’¹ the bubblegum stuff gave way to the tsunami of music that celebrated and revelled in hedonistic and sinister lyrics, bands like The Doors.
And then there was this haunting melody that’s lasted through the decades of my life,
Then, the music of my ’60s bled into my ’70s with beautiful folk-inspired stuff from groups like Simon & Garfunkel,
and then there was,
Led Zeppelin, Tangerine Dream, David Bowie, Elton John, Alice Cooper. I’d listen while staring out my bedroom window, my nose pressed against the screen to … a better life, a more tranquil life. One of the sweetest times in my life.
From 2 B&W channels to 20 Colour Ones
My ’60s started with the innocence of the very early days of television and ended with the most divisive televised moments in full blood-soaked colour. I recently came across some YouTube videos of a show called Komedy Kapers, which was basically a compilation of silent slapstick films packaged as a kid’s program – think AFV, Most Extreme Challenge (original Japanese version), and …. In the mid-60s came the British invasion and we had HR Puffnstuff. Hollywood combined that with the hippie culture to produce The Monkees, who were really funny on screen. They played a band, but few of them could actually play. The ‘real’ Monkees recorded the songs and the actors pretended to sing and play. It worked. My cousin and I used to beat the hell out of his little drum set in Willowdale, pretending to be the cool Monkee, Mickey Dolenz.
From Hop on Pop to Penthouse
My reading list in the 60s was pretty limited — Mad Magazine, Cracked Magazine, Sports Cards, Peanuts, Zombie Comic Magazines, and secretly, any and all porn I could get my hands on. In elementary school, we were still forced to read ‘Dick and Jane’ shite, but But it was also when Dr. Suess released things like Green Eggs & Ham, Thing One and Two, Hop on Pop.
I was sneaky little bastard, I would steal things, became expert at leaving no traces behind. Then one day, sneaking around where I shouldn’t have been, I discovered my Dad’s 8mm ‘dirty films’ hidden in his work bench. I grabbed the 8mm projector and Viola!, began to discover the wonderful world of …
Sex on Film
Playboy had existed for a while and was now part of the ‘establishment’. so much so, that the most ‘hip’ show was ‘Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In’, loosely based on a visit to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion. I’d been masturbating to porn for a few years already, but it exploded with the issuing of Bob Guccione’s Penthouse. This boundary-pusher featured shots of what lay beneath the public hair of women. It instantly pushed Playboy into the realm of the passé.
By the time I hit Grade 7/8, we were sneaking off into the woods behind our school to make out with girls. It wasn’t very involved, mostly limited to kissing (sometimes French), groping tits, barely ever did we ‘go to third base, or home’. But there was one series of sexualized moments that sticks out. There was this girl who would let us pull off her top and bottoms and ‘really’ cop a feel of her bare tits and vagina every morning before school started. She’d invariably end up laying on her back in a barely out of sight spot on the edge of the schoolyard while 30 of us boys explored to our penile delights. Horrible in retrospect, but given that we were kids inundated with ‘Free Love’ messages from the media, I guess in tune with our times.
At the time, us young ones were watching as our older cousins became hippies. Images of Woodstock and The Doors and The Manson Family only reinforced my skewered POV of sex and love, and ushered me down a path to my highly sexualized period of 70s and 80s. The early to mid-70s were a time of titillation and innocent exploration. By the ’80s, I was freely exploring all aspects of sex.
The Dark Side
The last time beards were the ‘it’ image was the late ’60s.
Charlie led a ragtag bunch of misfits living in a backwater California commune to commit a few horrific crimes that would catapult him from country-singing hack to the America’s #1 criminal. From a nondescript guy to the most recognizable master criminal of all time.
War and Violence
I watched Vietnam on TV, I watched the riots in Detroit, in Watts, in Paris, and in London. The Detroit riots hit me the hardest … I’d been there, but more importantly, it was one of those things MY Dad and I had. On lazy Saturday afternoons, we’d have the radio tuned to the Tigers’ games while we did ‘stuff’ together in the backyard. I miss you, Dad.
¹ John Cleese, interview with Eric