inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #26 of 351: You took a vow of stupidity? (mcintire) Wed 10 Mar 99 12:05
If that's the very long WBAI version of 'Alice's Restaurant' from 1967, the
one that they subsequently played every firking night for weeks afterward, I
do remember that.
But I also remember the disdain for those who sought to be part of the
Movement by growing their hair long and buying an oz. of weed. Even before
'hippie' became the media term of choice, it was a put-down for those who
put on the cloak of headness/hipness for the weekend crawl or the let's-get-
crazy party. The Movement, if it may be so capitalized, had its own grand
high hailing signs and shibboleths and proof texts. Did you take Church
acid? Did you take pre-illegal acid? did you smoke New York windowbox black?
Were you the first on your block to process keys, back when sentences in
Central Prison were being passed out? did you see the whip dancers at the
Dom,  move to Avenue Z and Zero Streeet because St. Mark's Place was full of
I Touristi de Rumson?
The authenticity of living the life rather than wearing the colors was never
as clearcut as all that, of course, but the line did exist, even if it was
endlessly argued about.
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #27 of 351: David Walley (dvdgwalley) Wed 10 Mar 99 12:39
You must be one of the "old ones"---indeed that version of Alice's
Restaurant was the one that was played, and played and played.I don't
know whether I took to the Church of Acid particularly. I did find out
that taking a trip with Leary's manual was downright silly, and that in
fact Leary was even sillier as I found out when I met him up at the
offices of the EAst Village Other where I was a writer from 1968-1973
or so. JIm Fouratt, the man who invented that deathless CBS slogan,"The
Man Can't Bust Our Music" was hanging around then with Leary I
remember. I was the first on my college campus to process keys, in as
far as I guy walked up to me at the Douglass College student union and
asked whether I knew anyone who's be interewsted in buying keys for
$100 ( long ago and in a far different universe) and I turned him on to
freinds on mine and for that I smoked for free for a year or more---I
remember that. No, I didn't take pre-illegal acid though I did take
window pane and blue flats and owsley acid and enjoyed them. My first
acid trip was like a Mac Sennett movie directed by Fellini as I
recommember. I lived on Tompkins Swquare Park for a spell then moved to
7th between First and Second, a convenient location to be working for
EVO and having my "office" above the Fillmore East and within spitting
distance of the Gem Spa and the B&H---bet we must have run into each
other then. And no, I didn't move to avenue Z because of the tourists,
I just didn't venture out on the weekends if you must know.

"Living the life?" "wearing the colors?" who had time for that? I was
living in NYC fulltime and involved in the burgeoning music scene. Saw
the horrors of the gov't policy on drugs, how it was easeir at one time
to score a bag of heroin than get a good oz. of weed, but we all
remember that, those of us that have memories, yes?

I finally left the lowereastside in '74, when the hard rain was
falling on the streets and there were too many od's, too much death for
the death kultur which the sainted MC5 used to talk about. I moved to
LA (yeah, right) and a few years later moved back to NYC but lived on
the Upperwestside---I was happy to escape the old nabes with my life.
Now I understand it's very NYuish, but it was getting that way back
then too. I couldn't afford to live in the East Village these days not
with the amount of kids I have, but that's another story. Does that
explain anything or nothing? 
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #28 of 351: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Wed 10 Mar 99 14:07
>easier at one time to score a bag of heroin than get a good oz. of weed

Still is.
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #29 of 351: David Walley (dvdgwalley) Wed 10 Mar 99 18:13
but that says something about American consumerism in a sense, doesn't
it, or better the efficiency of the government smack
distributors---but this is a sideways question, Sharon. What I was
remarking upon was what it was like in those dear dear days. For that
matter, geting cocaine is pretty easy and cheap---that's for horses,
not men. And Crack is what I call cocaine mcnuggets (* patent pending).
This is a doper culture whenyou get right down to it, isn' it? only
the drugs are consumer goods these days, the more you buy, the more
yuou want and so on down the line. So one could say that the dopers of
yore are the happy (or not-so-happy) shop-a-holics of today).

What's your point anyway? Anyway? My book is about consumerism,
teenage and otherwise, and how the selling of the teenager in the
Fifties has become mega business in the Nineties because advertising
has succeeded in turning all of into teenagers, or better managing to
manipulate our needs, desires like teenagers---anyhone agree? disagree?
want to run for President? (no, that's a bad idea, NO ONE wants to run
for President, what would be the use?) 
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #30 of 351: Barry Smolin (shmo) Thu 11 Mar 99 00:31
Anyone who wants to be President of the United States is mentally unsuited
for the job.

I think Mort Sahl said that.

David, explain how it is that our needs and desires are being manipulated
like teenagers. Do you have some examples from contemporary advertizing that
model this point? (There are some good ones in your book, hint hint!) It's
near the end of TNB, I recall, where you very clearly see the manipulation
at work when you go out to various emporiums and fast-food places with your
kids. Why don't you share some of those very fine observations with us?
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #31 of 351: David Walley (dvdgwalley) Thu 11 Mar 99 07:30
Thanks, Barry for the tip of the head, you're referring to an essaqy
in Teenage Nervous Breakdown called "The Twinkie Defense". Ever notice
how when Disney comes out with anothr by-the-numbers animated feature
there's an immediate proliferation of "theme'related" toys which are
sold at the local burgereterias? That your kids work and work on you
until not only to you get the toy and buy the burger but also buy the
video? We have a fast-food culture where everything is reduced bo
McNuggets---I mean what are political campaigns reduced to these days?
"have it your way" aproximately--- or maybe "tastes great, less
filling" is a more approximate example. Through fast food ideology we
have managed to dumb down the American public---for that matter the
whole Zippergate/OJ syndrome is an example of fast food psychology at

I mean talk about cultural imperialism, MacDonalds Kentucky Fried
Chicken and the franchise way of life has done more to destroy foreign
culture than any foreign aid or CIA-sponsored coups. 

Or better, here's how I put it on page 151 of TNB:

Fast food is to food as bumper stickers are to political discourse,
and one need not be a Ph.D. in political science or government to
easily reduce any political campaign, be it for the presidency, state
legislator, or school board, to its basic bottom line. It's clear tha
office seekers could just as well be selling hamburgers as
representative democracy, since the pitches are so similar. Many
contemporary and modern nuanced political scientists maintain that it's
the price one pays for living in our democracy because people are so
busy with their own lives that major issues must be easily
comprehensible and digested. They will further asert...(usually before
a national television audience or talk radio call-in shows), that i
truth, the "business" of democracy is to provide a kind of consumer
satisfaction, that representatives (senators, etc.) are in essence
consumer advocates/ombudsman for its citizens; so using the junk food
sell is a reasonable and justifiable approach."

Politics is like fast food in a sense, and "having it your way" is
what candidates are selling, and here I quote again," However if the
voters are already deciding on muddled homogenized sound bite burgers,
the newly elected senator, congressman, assemblyman, etc., is far worse
off in believing her or his bumper stickers when the realization hits
that in truth the special interests to whom (s)he is beholden, who
bankrolled their campaigns in reality have succeeded in having it
"their" way- and to hell with the poor schmucks who don't have the
money, the ordinary contsituents." (p.152)

We want it "our way" that's for sure, bu we don't want to to take thr
responsiblity for it when we do---

let somebody chew on that for a while
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #32 of 351: an alternative mike in the theatre of the mind (jberger) Thu 11 Mar 99 08:12
Looked like one of the writers on the Drew Carey Show has read this (or at
least is familiar with the premise).  One character's mother was having
financial problems, and another one said "It's happening -- the parents are
turning into the children, and the children are turning into the parents,
but the children are really still children and there are no parents, so do
you know what that means?  Ice cream for dinner!!"

As boomers, we had the luxury of being raised in affluent times, and have
since been able to spoil ourselves as our allowances got bigger and bigger
(and came from McCorporation instead of mom and dad).
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #33 of 351: David Walley (dvdgwalley) Thu 11 Mar 99 09:27
I'm delighted if that were true; I didn't see that show, but then
again I'm not a big fan. I hate to be a pain here, but you realize that
the term "boomer" is an advertising term, a way of pigeonholing
people, of turning statistics into flesh as it were and is! I mean,
jeez! I'm not a boomer as I was born in 1945 and missed out on the
whole thing. Here's where advertising has eaten into everyone's brains
with the term "boomer"; firk the boomers!! and now of course since all
the "boomers" are aging, everyone's going to be bored to death with
problems of death, dying and ageing. I wonder what the pundits are
going to do when there are no boomers to kick around anymore. And of
course I can understand why the twentysomethings are so inalterably
pissed off at the "boomers" because they are hogging the stage. But at
time it doesn't give them leave to be insipid and vapid. Why should
everything devolve into some kind of generational race war I ask you in
all good conscience?

I like the term "alowance" but it just proves my point that "we" seem
to accept the terms which advertising has pegged on us.

inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #34 of 351: Cynthia Heimel (plum) Thu 11 Mar 99 09:52

What you say sound so right, David!  I dunno though about your "boomers"
theory.  Boomer may or my not be a consumerist word.  The baby boom is real.
WHen I went to school there had always been three separate grade school
classes, but we needed four.  My generation is like a giant rat going
through a python.  WHo the hell knows why I like that metaphor?

ANd we change everything we encounter.  Now we're aging, and I for one am
hellbent on changing the portrait of aging (ageing?) because so far my role
models are becoming a granny with a white bun looking disapproving while
knitting furiously or a desperate youth-clinging-to-cocktail-swilling-face-
cream-addicted face-lift person.

Neither will do of course.

I took acid on a sugar cube.  Is that cool?  I really hope so!
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #35 of 351: David Walley (dvdgwalley) Thu 11 Mar 99 10:40
Cynthia! delighted you seem to come back on-line at the same time
every day. I think the metaphor is the pig in the python, although it
could be something taken from an illustration in The Little Prince by
St. Exupery (sp!!). You like that metaphor because it's good and apt
and to the point and descriptive, and you should because you're a
writer who uses apt words to describe your apt feelings. Anyway the
"pig in the python" IS a term used in demographics. And yes, it's true
that the generation really choked the educational system for a while,
now we're into the econd boom, the boom of the boomers.

"Boomer"---yes well you're a little younger than I am I think, I was
born in '45.And it's also true that "boomers" will change the face of
aging, and you'll be seeing more ads with "silver fox" models. I don't
know about aging, every age has its pluses andminuses. You know the old
saw about "youth is wasted on the young"? I used to cringe when I
heard that when I was a "yooth", not I'm not so sure. I think the
secret of aging is to realize that when one door closes, another opens.
Simon de Beauvoir said she was very happy when she hit the big "m",
because that was something she no longer had to worry about. I think
what will throw the doper mentality b oomers is that they're going to
have to come up with some form of spirituality which really does it.
I'm not talking about some new form of consumer cabala either. Actually
the real interesting phenomenon is that the United States as a country
is getting metaphorically older, we are no longer that
testosterone-driven teenager which has been rip=-assing around the
community of nations for so long---in a way Monica-gate is the
beginning of it.America is losing its moral cherry if you will (you
know what I'm talking about here, Cynthia).

New models for aging, surely that's true, but it's just learning how
to understand and accept time. Aging is part of the process. I know I'm
not interested in living forever specially since my friends are dying.
If boomers are interested in immortality, then let them leave things
behind which have some heft and sense to them. Writers hope to leave
behind works of fiction or art, maybe as boomers face aging, they
should think about the kinds of legacies they'd like to leave
behind---the gift that keeps on giving. Me, I'd like to endow a chair
in cultural history at my old alma mater, Rutgers Unversity (class of
'67, Cynthia, we went from civil rights to acid in 4 years and it was
one hell of a ride).

Just as you asked, I thnk my first trip of acid was blotter paper but
I can't be sure. I know that I took half ( I always did that just so I
wouldn't get overdosed---well the only time I did that was at the First
Alternative Media Conference in 1970 or 1971 in Plainfield,
Vermont---Kenny Shafer brought all this orange sunshine up in a record
jacket, I stuck my hand in to get a tab, got one and the licked my
fingers of the dust---WOWIE ZOWIE, that was sure something special!)

does that do it for ya?
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #36 of 351: Shaun Dale (stdale) Fri 12 Mar 99 00:33
Hi David - it's Shaun from Cosmik.  I'll re-read all this over the weekend
and have something to add, but I just wanted to say howdy and it's great to
see you here on the Well...later...
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #37 of 351: Cynthia Heimel (plum) Fri 12 Mar 99 13:40

David you old fart--

Because you are a guy, you are probably not madly aware, as the chicks are,
about women and ageing.  I'm not worried about dying (well, I'm always
worried about dying, but no more so than usual.)  I am more worried about
why I can't find any clothes that fit!


inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #38 of 351: David Walley (dvdgwalley) Fri 12 Mar 99 15:27
Cynthia,my darling, of course you are right about men, and why
wouldn't you be? I'm very much aware of women and their probloems with
aging. When wasn't it ever thus? Unless a new drug is developed pretty
quick, people are going to get older, breasts sag, asses do to, but
perhaps the real erogenous zonw which should improve with age is the
brain, and so I'm thinking that's why cyber sex seems to be getting to
be a larger and larger rage among the netteroti. I'm facing my 54th
birthday this week, actually March 18th (anniversasry of the Paris
Commune and the Revolutions of 1848 in Germany), thinking about aging,
would rather be in bed. Probably I wouldn't think so much about it
except that I have children, twin boys age 7, a teenager 13 (going on
18) and a 10 year old. I wouldn't care that much about aging if I
didn't have children, but the simple fact is that children eat up time
at an amazing rate. At Holloween, they're already thinking about
Christmas vacation then what will they do for Spring break. Time used
to be slow when I was a kid, and now it just gets faster and faster. If
I didn't have my children, those little alarm clocks, perhaps I
wouldn't think about it as much---but I do.

I don't mind getting old as such, I just don't like feeling lame which
my teenage daughter is very good at making me feel (but then again,
that's what teenagers do, isn't it? What is it that they say," A
teenager is God's punishment for having sex?" yeah that's it.

If this is going to be a discussion about aging, then maybe one
shouyld concentrate on making things that outlast their times---I write
books, you do too, and that's the way you hope to get immortality. I
don't want to live forever because it would be boring, I'd be like St.
Germain. No, there's a beginning and an end to thiungs, it's elarning
how to face the whole shebang with equaniminity (I hope I spelled that
correctly). Then there's that phrase, "Life's a banquet and half the
poor bastard's are starving to death". Thent here's that other older
saw that the sign of wisdom is knowing when to make room at the table
for someone else. We used to bitch and complain about our "elders" not
knowing when to gracefully retire. Eventually we will have to do the
same things----

and yes, there's always that problem with finding clothes that fit. It
gets depressing when the jeans I used to wear don't fit anymore, but
then again, men for the most part don't give that much of a good
goddamn about clothes regardless of what they're selling in the NY
Times style section. Women have the right idea, experienced women that
is, their closets usually have room for maybe a decade and a half's
worth of clothes so the hemlines go up aned come down---and boots,
gotta have them in all styles of heels---sigh.

Sop is this what the Teenage Nervous Breakdown is all about, Cynthia?
does it just have to do with fashion? I'm sure that might be the case
but then it's more likely that there is no hope, and my book is trying
to offer a way to fight back against the cruel night of cultural


Juan Carlos Rosenbloom
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #39 of 351: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 12 Mar 99 17:18
It might have to do with generational identity.  as does fashion...
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #40 of 351: Martha Soukup (soukup) Fri 12 Mar 99 18:07
Time accelerates horribly when you don't have children, as well.
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #41 of 351: David Walley (dvdgwalley) Fri 12 Mar 99 20:37
Gail, you'll have to be more specific than that---this generational
identity. One of the points about TNB is that it seems as if
advertising has a major role in giving "us" a generational identiy, for
an experiment, just watch how advertising sells, how it constructs
images of "youth" and "middle age", how being cyberwise and "cutting
edge" is used to sell cars, clothes, life insurance, and of course
beer. It's a very old game really if you've been paying attention. The
point I'm getting at is to be able to be a refusenik in a sense, to
talk back to the tv set, to set up walls, to not believe in the magic
of advertising or the goodness of goods. One of the little changes that
have taken place that I've seen over the past twenty five years is
that for the most part, music is very corporate in its stance, that
back "then" music was anti-corporate. I mean look at rap and its
corporate image, it's a little scary to contemplate, don't you think?

For myself, I've always been a little suspicious of mediums that are
supposedly talking for me. "Don't follow leaders, watching parking
meters." as the man used to say.

Hi Martha!

there used to be that song by Jessie Colin Young and the Youngbloods
(shows you how old I real;ly am!), "Gettin' Faster all the Time", and
it is, and computers make things faster and all kinds of media make
things get faster, and then I ask myself what good is it. Fastyer
doesn't mean better, it just means faster. Bigger doesn't mean better.
Here's an example, for the most part I compose using WP5.1 a very
powerful program which I only use maybe 15% of but nevertheless I also
have Corell 7 and 8, because it's Windows driven. The hard drive I have
is a 1.6 Gig---easily to fit the entire words of Dostoyevsky, Azimov,
Gogol, Tolstoy yet I'm getting pushed to get a 3 gig hard drive, and my
daughter just got a laptop which had 6.5 gigs---she's not a writer,
she doesn't even use graphics that much, yet its there. I don't get it
but I know that technology has its own mad imperatives. I try to use
the computer not have the computer use me. The best part about having
acomputer is for writing, you know spell checking, editing, etc. I
could care less about the rest of it, but it's there.

So we just get older and that's fine, I don't mind getting older, I
just hope I get wiser though that doesn't seem to be in the mix.
Mankind has been around for a while and it still makes the same stupid
mistakes and technology only makes the mistakes more permanent in a
way. But earth will out, you know?

I'm thinking that this well thing is supposed to be a meeting of the
minds such as they are---it's like I'm getting probed, the Vulcan mind
probe? What do you want to know about me? I can just write because
that's what I do when I'm not at the inkwell. vue, that's my job. It's
solitary and I don't mind, but what can I tell you out there, what do
you want to know. Sometimes I think Im just writing to the warm void. I
sometimes think that as wonderful as the on-line life it, it onoy
exacerbates the alienation that everyrone feels. Cyber sex? the mind is
an erogenous zone? live on line sex? my brain is far more complex than
any fantasy I'm going to see while I'm surfing around.

Think about it and get back to me, I'm here and will be until you get
tired. Teenage Nervous Breakdown is what has happened to American
soceity over the past thirty years. We can change it, we can turn off
the tv, the MTV, the all-night shopping stations, the Home Box, and
all-Monica all night stations, WWF wrestling. What would happen if we
did? Would we be part of the problem or part of the solution.

you decide and get back to me
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #42 of 351: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 12 Mar 99 23:46
Ok, I can get specific.  The generational identity aspect of rocknroll
is ironically connected with commerical impulses pretty far back.  One of
the reasons a youth culture could emerge was the 'boom' of numbers of kids
and their relative affluence in a good economy. Rock grew from that
economic petri dish as well as from the esoteric and sullen traditions of
"heads and beats" as you're laying out.  Right?

Being different from the depraved plastic fantastic lov... er, the
consumptive consumer culture, the wall, the blue meanies, Mr. Jones, all
those nightmares of establisment...   was so important we had to buy stereos
instead of TVs, and a lot of albums, and hiking boots or motocycle boots or
good hand made sandals and the right sort of hip clothes, maybe homemade but
likely some trade went on for most of us. Some learned about wholesale and
retail transactions on the black market, but many learned the rules of
money, and the money fed that square culture, that military industrial
complex, that opposition, too.  

As soon as rock anthems to rebellion and different quests started to inspire
a shared identity, they also sold records, and plane tickets and TV
appearances and the awesome or terrible power of absorbtion and cooption
that is modern capital and commerce.  

Those pathetic old dweebs who were playing old Perry Como songs were
maintaining their popular culture generational identity, and suddely the
generational idenity of the new guard became more lucrative to promoters and
business in general.  Well, relatively suddenly, with intersting resitance.
There were those free-boxes of second hand clothes....  those interesting
ways of not making enough money to pay taxes while simply living.  

So.  Yes.  Your argument makes some points .  We're spending a lot of money
letting crafty ad firms sell us nostalgia and identity.  We don't know how
to become  older.  Life is getting faster and the need to decide what is real
is apparant to us, as Martha points out, with or without kids in the picture.   
Great territory for a book, great to see your take on it, and your wading in

Do you prescribe blowing up ones TV set?  Also, I just finished Carol
Brightman's book, you may have noticed her interview topic very near to this
one.  She compares the political activists of the sixties and the culture of
the Grateful Dead.  How do you see those two trends flowing from the heads
and beats duad?  Or is that dualism incompatible with the cosmology of the
teenage nervous breakdown/midlife whatever? 
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #43 of 351: Cynthia Heimel (plum) Sat 13 Mar 99 00:04

Here's why we don't know how to become older:  We have to reinvent it.
That's what I'm writing about now in my (AHEM) new book, which is about
everything and is called *Call of the Wild Girl* since Simon and Schuster
won't let me call it *Sex Tips for Hobags.*

Also, while I bragging and preening, I have to say I'm going to be at the
92nd Street Y in NYC this Sunday with Katha Pollitt and AMy Bloom talking
about marriage (I'm against it), and then on Tuesday  there is a night with
just me at the NY Public Library.

David, come along!  Anybody?

Here's something I think about the music -- the 60s was one of those times,
like the time of Mozart or, er, well, a big musical time, and the music will
be around forever.  Is the music now as good?  No.  Mostly no.
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #44 of 351: Barry Smolin (shmo) Sat 13 Mar 99 00:23
I'm glad someone brought up Carol Brightman's book because, first of all
she's here on the Well right now and I think she would be a valuable
contributor to this topic (Come on in, Carol!), and secondly I was just
about to ask David to bring his perspective to a discussion of the Grateful
Dead and the enduring scene that continues to surround them.

I'm fascinated by the concept of generational identity. I sit in a strange
cultural Bardo, having been born in 1961 and so not really a "Boomer",
though my birthyear is usually attached to that generation; those of us born
in the early sixties, remember, were little kids when Woodstock happened.
I've seen that little window of years given the epithet "Tweeners," as we
sit between the Boomers and the GenXers. All of these generational
identifications and definitions, though, only refer to the cultural
Zeitgeist as it is experienced (and expressed) by middle-class White kids.
What's so fascinating today is that the current generation just now coming
of age is enveloped in the very dominant popular influence of Hip-Hop, a
rabidly multicultural phenomenon. For the first time in this Post-Elvis Age,
a mainstream demographic is emerging that moves beyond the White middle-
class. Now there are even more people to sell images and products to!
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #45 of 351: David Walley (dvdgwalley) Sat 13 Mar 99 09:47

I agree entirely with your first paragraph.

Teenage Nervous Breakdown will surprize you if this is what you're
saying to me without reading it. I've been thinking about it for years
and I just had to get it all down---now I dojn't have to bother my
friends about it anymore and I can move on---as if one can ever move

The Grateful Dead:

Here's a facytoid for all of you: the first person I ever met in rock
and roll was Jerry Garcia. See, I was working for a publishing house
and wanted to get into the recording business. Apostolic Studios was on
10th Street in NYC and I went up there one afternoon to beg, borrow,
or steal a job even if it meant sweepijng up the floors so that I could
learn how to be an recording engineer. I walked into ?Studio B and
there was Jerry Garcia mixing down Axomaxia. I used to see the Grateful
Dead lots at the Fillmore East, I remember being told by Kip Cohen who
was the manager when Bill Graham wasn't in town that when the dead
were in residence he had to warn people not to pick up erant cokes
because for the most part they were all dosed---many people took
unwitting trips because of the Dead. Me, I thought they were a little
like the little girl with the girl, as "when she was good she was very,
very good but when she was bad, she was awful". I know that's heresy
but after a few hours I got tired.

I've been asked this question before about the political activism of
the Sixties and the culture of the Grateful Dead. Let me say thyis
about that: and this goes back to Woodstock: I was never much for mass
movements like Woodstock because I knew that if I could explain myself
to another person, then I didn't need a mass movement of people all
together doing the same thing. I'm suspicious of uniforms of any sort,
I further believe in the notion of being a secret agent, disguises.
Believe it or not there are a lot of agents in place from the "boomer
generation" out there. Here's an example in my town, Wiliamstown, MA.
there's a fat little guy who happens to be the building inspector. I
found out that in the late Sixties, he was the head of the SDS at
Northeastern University in Boston, MA. One of the local poolice
sergeants used to have a rock and roll band and smoked lots of dope in
his time. I think that the cult of the Grateful Dead is just fine. It's
nice that we can all share our music and meet in a common place
(and maybe even hit The Big Note at the same time, you know "peak"

Teenage Nervous Breakdown can be explained like this ( p. 10) "TNB...
examine(s) how a state of mind that originated in fifties high school
culture and peer group morals has been culturally and commercially
exploited, and in what ways our lives and our world (including the
nature of American democracy) has been altered in the process. While
this secular teenage religion promises to keep us young(in mind and
spirit if not in body---HI CYNTHIA!!), it is simultaneously exacxting a
terrible price. Though the songs of youth ( present and past) inform
our lives and promote a sense of shared time and history, I've wondered
whether it is even real or a collectively homogenized compilation of
electronic media nostalgia that has been developed, perfected and
refined over trhe past 40 years of incresingly wired-in life in this
global society. I've been thinking, in short, about time, time and
those waves---cultural historians among others are fond of doing that."

a little bit before, I write this, and this goes to the heart of what
TNB tried to explore in the ten essays which comprise the book:
"We all know that being a teenager and having to endure high school
sucks, and the sooner it's over the better. If this is true, I"m
puzzled why we as a nation 'willingly' continue to haunt the corridors
of rock and roll high school, but now as hostages to a system (and
state of mind) that encourages our adolescent selves, needs, desires,
fears and tastes rather than getting on with our lives in the pre4sent
tense.( I mean)...who really made the dance steps it seems we all have
to learn? Even our national poilitical campaigns resemble high school
student body politics, some not even as clever. What for newer New Age
journalists is that "ultimate" litmus test of charactrer? HOw the
candidates were in high school, especially for elections in trhis
Post-Elvis Age, post 1978."

NO I don't prescribe blowing up the tv set as much as talking back to
it, "...when your kids are around and you see something that's just too
bogus and you explain them why. Things will change when people
wilfully opt to be informed and question the values of the consumer
world, when people prefer not to be anesticized by thoser values and
the goods they seem to represent (and know the difference between the
two states), because knowledge is power. I'd say thqat all of this
requires a revolution in our thinking, but "revolution" is too overused
a term these days, applying just as readily to dish-washing liquid or
24-hour lipstick as social upheaval. PUtting the Evolution back into
Revolution is moe to my point, because evolution starts with
individuals, not consumer affinity groups or target audiences. In its
purest form as a cultural statement, that's what I thought the sixties
were all about. Evolution had to do with discovering a series of truths
that had always been there waiting for me and my generation to
rediscover: naievely we hadhoped future generations would also uncover
the same ones as part of their growth, too. That's what happoens when
one leaves high school behind forever. Boil that down to this: Each
generation has a duty to inform the next that the rules of the road
have nothing to do with music TV ort the sonsumer world it birthed."
(TNB pp. 213-44)

Cynthia, my darling!!
If Boomers have to reinvent everything, they will never havce time to
learn anything. More to the point, they just must learn how to read
history and appl;y its lessons, for the problem is that people think
history is boring when it's only historians who can be boring. "We"
don't have to reinvent aging, we just have to accept it and do a little
reading and add to what was with what we are knowing in the present.
There's nothing wrong with getting older, no great crime, and hey, if
we all live forever, the world's going to get mighty crowded. No, for
me getting older means getting a handle on enlightenment as much as can
be gained in this particular incarnation. Enlighenment and expansion
and growth that's whatr I look forward to. I wouldn't want to be in my
twenties for anything in the world (a mayube a few things, nudge,
nudge, wink, wink) but for the most part, no thanks, it's just starting
to get interesting for me now.

I'm delighted that S&S is working hard for youy, they must have given
you a reasonable enough advance so they're trying to make their money
back. I haven't been as lucky with my publishers though my Zappa book
has been in print since 1972. I'd really love to be a fly on the wall
when you and Katha and Any Bloom get into it---varieties of "bimbo"
feminism at work I suppose. Sorry not to be able to see that, but when
I pick up a new issue of the NY Observer, I'm sure they'll have one of
their fresh-brained things covering it and sneering, and of course the
Village Voice will have someting to say. Oh for the literary life!!

I stay out of questions of aesthetics since I"m no longer a rock and
roll critic. I do think that certain music of "our" time has "legs",
Jimi Henrdrix, the Beatles, the Doors, etc. are still out there and
fresh. Hendrix not only is still out there, he's still traveling beyond
itme and space. We were lucky, that's for sure, and even my teenage
daughter is beginning ask quesitons about "how it was" and soon she'll
be ready to listen to some of my old lp's. I think that blues music is
essential: as is Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday, Robert
Johnson, Michael Bloomfield, John Lee Hooker---Coltrane,
Bird---essential timeless. I mean how can a generation love their music
when as soon as it's played, it's either dated or becomes a piece of
commerce to sell hamburgers?


As I told you on your radio show. Sure I liked the Dead, the early
stuff, but I was never a fan a DeadHead, and as far as their
"lifestyle" I never thought it was necessary for me. Jerry's my
generation, we've all read the same books, speak a common language,
he's a contemporary, anyway I believe in camoflage (sp?), my long hair
is inside my brain if you get my meaning. I don't need to posess the
artifacts. As for that peculiar form of Grateful Dead capitalism, I do
know that the way the Dead's business organization is set up is amodel
which is studied at the Harvard Business School. I mean if you're going
to be a freak it's best taht you are better than everyone else at what
it is you do. Like back in the old days, if one was going to be a
"long hair" one had to be smarter, faster, more insightful than the
straights, right?

The real interesting part about hip-hop is that unlike the music of
the Sixties which was profoundly anti-corporate, hip-hop goes out of
its way to celebrate the corporate life, I mean they can't wait to sell

Here's how I put it in "Blaming It on the Sixties" in TNB which I have
a feeling you were leading into:

"At the same time, virtually no one seems to have remarked on how
smoothly and seamlessly hip-hop and rap, the curent generation's stuyle
and fashion, have made a similar transition to the commercial sphere,
their zeitgeist speedily adapted and expro[priated to sell everything
from jheans to kids toys. Perhaps music might not mean the same thing
to this generation or have the same cultgural significance as rock and
roll did in the sixties, or more to the point, unlike those old
soreheads, maybe this generation is just more accepting of the
peculiarly American truism that whatever starts our "on the corner"
will eventually wind up selling comething and cash in on it. Isn't it a
potent testament of the continued p[ower of the American dream that
even the casualities of it" (want) to "buy in"? (p.57)

So the real question on the table if one is willing to contemplate it,
is WHY and HOW this happened. Which is what I attempt to answer in

Whiew! I've got blisters on my fingers!!
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #46 of 351: David Gans (tnf) Sat 13 Mar 99 09:55

>One of the points about TNB is that it seems as if advertising has a major
>role in giving "us" a generational identiy, for an experiment, just watch
>how advertising sells, how it constructs images of "youth" and "middle age",
>how being cyberwise and "cutting edge" is used to sell cars, clothes, life
>insurance, and of course beer. It's a very old game really if you've been
>paying attention. The point I'm getting at is to be able to be a refusenik
>in a sense, to talk back to the tv set, to set up walls, to not believe in
>the magic of advertising or the goodness of goods. One of the little changes
>that have taken place that I've seen over the past twenty five years is that
>for the most part, music is very corporate in its stance, that back "then"
>music was anti-corporate. I mean look at rap and its corporate image, it's a
>little scary to contemplate, don't you think?

But music was always commercial. Even the artists who were "anti-business"
wanted to sell records and concert tickets. There has always been a (kinda
silly) "anti-commercial" attitude among fans -- you know, the ones who scream
"sellout!" as soon as their favorite band -- which theyUve been proselytizing
to anyone who breathes (which process has been insanely accelerated by the
proliferation of cheap recording media, and watch out now that thereUs a CD
burner on every other tape traderUs desktop) -- moves up to a larger venue
and tickets get harder to come by.

Advertising is a reactionary business with an iconoclastic facade, I think.
Sure, you need those creative geniuses who can think up new ways to get at-
tention for the product.  But the real thrust is to find out what people want
and sell it to 'em. Demand can only be created to a certain extent.

I'm about to contradict myself:  What I find really scary about American con-
sumer culture is that there seem to be vast numbers of consumers who don't
really care that much about what it is they're buying, as long as they're
buying something.

You talked about Disney-movie synergy with fast-food joints: that is a scary
thing, because it gets kids in the mindless-consumer habit early.

I remember going to the record store with my older brother to buy my first
45. I picked up the KRLA Top 40 (which was printed up and distributed on
leaflets in record stores) and anounced I was going to buy whatever was on
top of the list. "Stupid!" said my brother. "Buy what you like, you idiot!"
So I did: I bought "Runaround Sue" by Dion, which I loved.

I think I'll call my brother today and thank him for that.
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #47 of 351: Cynthia Heimel (plum) Sat 13 Mar 99 09:58

Oh no, who said that?  BListers I mean.

I am going to let the "bimbo" feminism remark just go.  Because I don't know
what it means!
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #48 of 351: David Walley (dvdgwalley) Sat 13 Mar 99 11:18
bimbo feminism---it's something that is used to the litterati in New
York among the media elite which refers to I think it's a second or
third genration femiist who uses makeup, swears shorts shirts and
actually "uses" her femininity to reach her goals---I was being arch,
myself, I don't like thterm but thought I'd get a rise out of you, I'm
sorry. I find though that the feminist wars are heating up. When i was
working for the East Village Other back in the early Seventies, a group
of the old style feminists lead by Robin Morgan stormed into EVO's
office wanting to take it over (they'd taken over RAT), anyway, they
accused the editor, Jaakov Kohn, who formerly fought for the Irgun in
Isreal, that he was exploiting women," NO, we exploit everyone" he
replied, which shut down the whole rebellion. If you get a chance, you
might like my essay called "Don't Touch Me There, Whatvever Happened to
Foreplay" in TNB which mor4e or less explain my position (such as it
is). I'm thinking that these days there are so many varieties of
feminism, that there is no "party line", butr wshat I realluy think is
that women have always had all the power and only really intelligent
men recognized that. Which is fine with me. I like smart women, but
then again women don't always like smart men because they're not easily
manipulated and can be a severe pain in the ass (well some of them

The trick is how to get people NOT to be habituated to advertising.
When we stop selling politicians like hamburgers that might be a start,
when we stop selling foreign policy like we sell Chevy Luminas, that
might also help. But it's not just Americans you know, it's a whole
brave new world out there who has also come under the thrall of
motivational research, polls and the like. Pretty soon there will be no
alternatives---like Orwell's 1984 (which is quite benevolent compared
to what is taking place now not only here in the States, but throughout
the world. If we're all so worried about our sanity and ourselves,
then maybe it's time to unplug, but I don't think people are going to
do that, because everyone just too highly invested in technology to do
so. And that's another area which dealing with computers has NOT
addressed, but I think that'soutside the purview of this discussion at
present. Anyway, Cynthia wants to talk about other matters---and yes,
"I've got blisters on my fingers" was said by Ringo Star somewhere on
The White Album.
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #49 of 351: Carol Brightman (brightman) Sat 13 Mar 99 11:36
(after 47, I think) This is quite a rap--so GROWN-UP, with the rocking
chairs fairly ripping a groove in the back porch.
I happen to be in NY right now at the end of a few days of readings,
which is why I haven't cracked open my computer, and what I would like
to know, Cynthia (it's around 2 p.m. Sat.) is  where is you doing your
thing with Katha etc., and when?  I'm flying back to Maine tomorrow
around 7 pm.
p.s. I'm older than all of you and still captive to that "secular
teenage religion."  (great phrase!)  Somebody I knew from college days
who now chairs the American Studies dept. at Smith told me recently
that he had (GD manager) Danny Rifkin's daughter in class, and I felt
OLD. I'm always having these inappropriate responses, always
identifying with the young--the "OLD FART" button on my bulletin board
notwithstanding.  Huge chunks of my psche are still programmed by those
breakaway years, which for me started with JAMES DEAN and I guess
Elvis, the Elvis of the bedside radio, pre-Ed Sullivan.  And I'm still
kicking ass on on one of my burners, still shaped by the political
confrontations of the 60s in which I was involved.  I'm intellectually
stimulated by this discussion of consumer culture with David, and yet a
bit removed, too removed, probably, because I never did watch
television, cruise shopping malls, or believe for a moment that "The
Man can't bust our music."  sign me, aging teenage mutant...
inkwell.vue.33 : David Walley
permalink #50 of 351: David Walley (dvdgwalley) Sat 13 Mar 99 14:33
Maine, eh? just where exactly, Gail, I have a house up there in York,
on the York River, very nice.

aging teenage mutant eh? join the club I suppose, but then again
what's wrong with having a fairly serious conversation? Look, I never
believed" The Man Can't Bust our Music" I was using that as an example
of how cultural referents are used to co-opt other members of the same
age cohort. I knew it was a shuck when it happened, and I made up a few
of my own when I worked at CBS (though never to such an extent, and
besides the bands liked what I wrote). Maybe how to describe what
happens in a consumerist society: it's like the old indian scout, using
one set of indians to track another set, only the indians are us.
What's that line,"We are the people are parents warned us against?" you
must remember that one, Gail. And you probably are a little older than
I am (I'll be 54 this week, 50 in the year 2000 thousand which I'll
have a good time in my diary with).

Look, I'm not saying that I'm not influenced by the times in which I
grew, but I'm also trying to say that, once one looks at the history of
the thing, the longer version of the short playing record, one feels a
little different. For that matter, I could say (and frequently do)
that I'm a witness, that I've been through this many, many timesd, and
every time I think I'm going to take my rest, I get called back, again
to see another piece of human business. That's why I suppose I am a
historian/cultural and otherwise. But I've always been a witness---it's
gets painful when I see the same mistakes over and over again, but
then again there are some variations. Guess I must be good at what I"m
going or else I wouldn't be back as many times as I've been.

any thoughts on that Gail?


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