7.30.2008

Ride the Wave

So it's definitely been a while. No doubt any readers that I once had have probably given up on me and run to greener (or blacker?) pastures. I don't blame them.

After trying to pound my way through a tough semester, I was swept away on a month-long road trip with my granddad and sister, where I unashamedly cheated on the Bazaar. Writing in one blog each night was enough for me, there was no way I could keep this bad boy going.

But now I'm back for good. I'm in my apartment with a few weeks to relax, regroup and revel in the few weeks that I have before I jump right back on this whole college carousel one more time. I hope to use that time to get back into the habit of writing, starting...

...Now.

"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...
[...]
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 S. Thompson -- "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"

I couldn't be there in the 60s. I wish I could. Hell, I wish I could have been running through North Beach with Kerouac and his Dharma Bums in the 50s.

San Francisco was hotbed of liberalism then, the counter-culture mecca. It was freedom to the highest and craziest extent, something that many of us can't wrap our head around. It was, as Hunter S. described it, "a very special time and place to be a part of."

It's different now. Not just the city: the world, the people. Most of our generation -- myself included -- idolizes the 60s, puts it on this pedestal and dreams of peace marches, sit-ins, Woodstock and free love. We smoke weed and listen to the Velvet Underground, Hendrix, Marley and Jefforson Airplane and say things like, "Yeah man, he had it right. He understands! DIG this..." I think we're fooling ourselves. Inside we realize that there's no hope in this. We can say the slogans, wear the T-shirts and sign the petitions, but the passion is not behind it.

"Our energy would simply PREVAIL. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum."

There was a blind faith then, as Hunter S. points out, that simply believing and pure energy and faith would turn the world around. But once that "wave" crashed, we realized that it was all a lie. Blindly we churn along, hoping to bring a tsunami across the nation, the world, but there's nothing behind the thought and we keep lapping idly against the sand.

But how are we supposed to change? We realize that we need more than marches and speeches and rallies to change the world, a wave machine. Enter Barack Obama.

He's not the perfect candidate by any means. He's not going to change the world the day that he walks into the White House. In fact, I only used his name because he's the most recent example. Let's use a general term: political stimulant.

The machine that our generation is looking for must come in politics. We know that we can't do this alone: we learned it the hard way. We can't fight the system, we have to use it. We have to start trusting at least a few people over 40.

Gradually we're starting to realize it.

It's obvious. Just look at how many young people have registered to vote this year. Look at the obscene amount of political blogs that have surfaced over the past few years and, more importantly, look at how many of our generation are hitting the "Refresh" button 20 times a day.
So I take back my earlier statement, the people haven't really changed. For the most part we still want a lot of the same things. I meet people everyday that are extremely intelligent and have great ideas for ways to change our society for the better. I'm inspired by the things I hear about my generation doing all around the world, from Peace Corps to backpacking Asia simply just to do it, to experience it.

I have faith in our generation, no doubt. We're a lot more like the 60s than I ever thought. We even have awesome music. All I can hope is that soon we'll figure out how to weasel our way into a political system that has been run by old, white-haired and white-skinned guys.

When I was in San Francisco this weekend, I found the mark of that massive wave that Hunter S. talks about. It's on the bearded old man playing guitar on the side of the road, it's in Castro and it's as far away from Fisherman's Wharf as you can get.

Just across the Bay in Berkeley, I think I can hear the surf getting a little stronger.

1 comment:

Chris Monaghan said...

That was a righteous article. I'm glad you're writing and musing again. You roped me and I roped ben (http://brutalfuckingmurder.blogspot.com/)

It's easy to long for the 60s. But there's a dark side for every seemingly euphoria. Somebody has to pay, and in the 60s it was usually the people who rode the wave. The Dark Side to hyppiedom, as they say.

I've come to feel that it's all about individual choices and lifestyle. I hung out with this incredible guy in the bronx last night. I met him through Leah, who met him through her lesbian friend Michelle, who met him when she got a small tattoo. I guess the world's as small as you want it to be. But anyway, he said he smokes weed anywhere he wants. To him, it's morally sound and he'll do it without getting caught, but he said it's all about doing what you think is right and not being afraid. The philosophy seemed so off-the-cuff that I didn't think about it until a while later.

Anyway, I'll see you soon man. It's been too long.