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THE LAST DAYS OF THE SIXTIES

February 6, 2017

There are two locks on my front door. One is impossible to open from outside, the other has a key. One sign of aging is that I don’t lock the impermeable one, when home alone, and I make sure the key is pulled partway out on the other, so that someone could get in and find me, were I to be incapacitated in one way or another. I figure I might as well not handicap my chances.

These are the last days of my sixties, and not surprisingly, I am nostalgifying some.

The last days of my sixties bring forth, among other memories, the last days of the ‘60’s. December, ’69, I was among 300,000 at the Altamont Festival, booked to be “Woodstock West.” It turned out to be one of counter-culture’s worst days, with the Hell’s Angels, assigned “security” for the festival, going nuts and killing Meredith Hunter.

During the late ‘69’s I was tear gassed many times, beaten by police and jailed briefly, smoked a lot of pot and dropped acid a bunch of times. Was blessed to participate in numerous mass demonstrations, where THE STREETS BELONG TO THE PEOPLE! was actually true for a few hours. Threw rocks at police and got to see one of my rocks strike a cop in the leg. Lived in a commune in Berkeley where we grappled with sex-role issues and communal values, went out at 2 in the morning to spray-paint slogans against the war in Vietnam and sexism, and gleefully shattered the plate glass window of the local Safeway to support the grape boycott. Helped organize some actions and played political rock‘nroll in a group called Contraband.

My friend Bill documented the co-opting of the 60’s youth rebellion by the interests of media and big money. Big business helped destroy the spirit and political potential of the hippies and yippies and the resistance to the Vietnam war. As “the ME generation” of the ‘70’s replaced the activism of the ‘60’s, and more people were doing speed instead of pot, and there was a desperate understanding that the revolution was slipping out of our hands. As Bob Dylan moaned, “He not busy being born is busy dying.” I abandoned ship, leaving in ’72 and discovering in Israel that the revolution will never be over.

Once again, now, we have an opportunity. This time, Trump is providing the impetus for baby boomers to come out of hibernation and see if there are still any trout in the stream. And here, Netanyahu, embodiment of darkness, calling us forth to resist the hatred he spawns, with our love for each other and our determination to make the world flourish for our grandchildren.

We drink from whatever well that nourishes us. For me, it is the experience of the ‘60’s, as I bid my sixties farewell. What’s evident is that our taking action is incumbent upon us, in this world we inhabit. We knew in the ‘60’s that it is true that if you pick up the paper in the morning, glance at the headlines, and you don’t like the news…..you can CHANGE IT. In this little country, the size of New Jersey, when you do something that makes a difference, you will likely see that on TV in the evening. And when the days come when we finally bring the message of freedom and justice to bear, on our society here in Israel, TV news will look mighty good to us.

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. Let us take from the dead their inspiration, and move on. 2017 will be our year. We will reclaim the fervor for joyous, wholesome living. Like Jerusalem forest, where everything is now moist and green, where pink and purple cyclamen sprout everywhere in the shade of the pines, where granite boulders’ gentle grey folds under the deep green surging moss, so we too will now join hands and come to life. 

                                                                           Yoav Peck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Comment
  1. Shoshana London Sappir permalink

    Amen and Happy Birthday too.

    Shosh

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