Political Elections, Social Movements

Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio? Our Nation Turns Its’ Lonely Eyes Towards You: The 1980 Presidential Election

There are certain presidential campaigns where one can practically feel the tension in the air almost, as if there is a battle for the soul of the American nation taking place. I think the past election of 2020 certainly qualifies. Some past historical presidential campaigns that also had this significance in my opinion would be those of 1960, 1968 and the one I will discuss a bit here, 1980. The summer of 79 witnessed the emergence of gas lines throughout much of the country, yearly inflation that reached the double digits, mortgages with 20 percent interest rates, the three American auto manufacturers failing dismally and American productivity and manufacturing quality overall very much in decline. In regards to international relations and foreign policy matters there was even more pessimism. The year saw the Sandinista Victory in Nicaragua which established the second communist run nation within the Western Hemisphere. Islamic fundamentalism began to explode throughout the Middle East, especially once the Islamic Republic was established in Iran with the fall of the Shah in the earlier part of the year. Christian Fundamentalism in the United States was also increasing greatly as many Americans began to feel there was a moral rot of sorts taking place in American Society. During the fall of 1979 things became even worse when American diplomatic staff was taken hostage when the American Embassy was stormed by militants in Tehran, Iran. Americans woke up each morning to see video footage on the morning talk showing effigies of Carter and America being parade in front of the seized embassy in a mocking and demeaning manner. For many Americans this incident symbolized a sort of basement low point of sorts. This atmosphere of anxiety, pessimism and national angst was how the 1980 Presidential Campaign kicked off and which would lead to the political demise of Jimmy Carter and the election of the former governor of California and Hollywood “B” movie actor Ronald Reagan.

Environmental, Social Movements

Conspiracy Theories About Public Health Issues Have Long Been Part of American History

Fashion, Sexual History, Social Movements

Niche Groups In America Through Time: The Beatniks, Questioning the Core Values of Polite Society, 1945-1965

In post World War 2 America a new social group emerged in urban environments such as Greenwich Village in New York City and San Francisco called the beatniks. Some people call the beatniks the precursors of the hippie generation that sprung up in America in the mid to late sixties. There is some connection between the two social movements, but there were key differences as well which I shall elaborate on.

The beatniks took inspiration from the thoughts and ideals of writers such as Alan Ginsberg and William Burroughs among others. Basically this literary clique stood in firm opposition to the conformist values of polite society such as working nine to five Monday through Friday, maintaining certain respectable material standards and conforming to the ethos of Christianity and Judaism, especially in regard to sexual expectations. The beatniks kind of ascribed to a philosophy of life having meaning through the very essence of experiencing, all things, without any conventional goal necessary.

This philosophy caused many of them to experiment with drug usage, unconventional sexual practices, alternative living styles and religions and music and entertainment that was outside what was conventionally fashionable. They had an affinity for jazz music and writing and poetry that celebrated raw unfiltered emotion. Some of these values were later adopted by the hippie movement of the late sixties.

However there were some notable differences. As much as the beatniks sort of took a dim view of civilization, they were very much for the most part urbanites who felt out of place in a rural setting. The hippie movement had a much more romantic back to the earth kind of idealism. Additionally, and this may bring many down votes from aging ex hippie baby boomers, the hippie movement was very much rooted to opposition of The Vietnam War. I kind of feel like many, not all, but many late sixties hippies sort of just adopted the lifestyle as a fashion statement really and as a way guys could get “chicks” who digged long hair and such. I kind of wonder if absent the Vietnam War, and long hair being in vogue and thought sexy, if many would have been more than happy with their crew cuts and conservative society trappings. In many ways I guess they sort of remind me of the grunge kids of the nineties in that respect. This is my personal opinion of course. I also think this is why the beatniks never became in any way as numerous as the hippies.

Fashion, Social Movements

Niche Groups in America Through Time: The 90s Grunge Kids

The Grunge Kids of the Nineties can be said to have had their birth as a backlash reaction to the Republican, materialistic and conservative values very prevalent in the 1980’s, especially espoused by the 80’s niche group, the preppies. They had a disdain for those values and a fondness for a fashion of anti-establishment message t-shirts and rumpled,messy multi-layered clothing. The idea was to dress to project a romantic image of living on the margins of society as a sort of F-You to establishment society. In truth, the clothes were often anything but cheap, with the rips, tears and holes present in the fabric purposely placed in all the right and strategic areas by the manufacturers. Additionally, the clothing was accentuated in many cases by the adornment of perhaps a nose ring or dyed hair of unnatural colors. In some ways, they resembled the hippie niche group of the late sixties and early seventies, but the difference being that they tended to project a much more pessimistic and angry type persona of the “troubled, sexy, misunderstood soul”. In fact, Kurt Cobain, of rock group Nirvanna was the epitome of this romanticized ideal. His suicide in 1994 cemented his celebrity pedestal status among grunge kid culture. Nirvanna became known as the most famous example of the Grunge sound, which was music often characterized by pitched dark emotion and fatalistic overtones. The Grunge Kids were particularly popular in the Pacific-Northwest cities of Seattle and Portland, but could be identified throughout the nation in almost every city.

Fashion, Music, Social Movements, Uncategorized

Why I Have A Special Fondness for the Early Seventies

Why I Have A Special Fondness for the Early 70’s

I have a particular fondness for the early 70’s. I was a toddler then, so it is really before my time. So it is not due to any personal nostalgia. I liked how there was still a spirit of idealism in society while we had matured as a nation, so to speak. The sort of stiff WASP “Father Knows Best” and suffocating Conformity of American society pushed in the fifties was seen for the very unrealistic sham it was. However, there was still a, how shall I put it, a certain kind of innocent idealism present in society. I don’t know if I can quite put it into words frankly. There was still a gentleness of sorts in society. Some might call this Pollyanna, but it is a Pollyanna I miss. My early seventies subjective bias surely comes through by the number of posts I have of that period.