Just Above Sunset
September 25, 2005 - Is it "The Eternal Recurrence" with a new war and different dates?

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World's Laziest Journalist

September 25, 2005

By Bob Patterson


We were about to start writing this week's column and had the "just like 1968" clichés at the ready.  Suddenly, we questioned the applicability of the columnists' trendy new crutch.  Are things very different, or is 2005 just a case of changing the names and dates, but essentially a replay of 1968?


It would take some research.  We throw material, which we think we might need later, in a pile on the floor to the left of our workstation.  So now we had to dig through the mess and see what relevant reference material might be lurking there.  In less than a minute, we found the Time magazine that featured the assassination of Robert Kennedy as the cover story.  (See, we knew we would refer back to it sooner or later.)

June 14, 1968 issue of Time magazine

Have things changed much since then?


One of the first things in the June 14, 1968 issue of Time magazine to catch our attention was a Porsche ad that advised, "Some day, all convertibles will have a roll bar."  Automobile safety is a big issue.


Time played fortuneteller by predicting that, "This summer the U. S. will fairly explode with the sound of music—from jazz to Bach fugues and Verdi opera."  Is it possible to think of the Summer of 1968 without thinking of the music?  However, as it turned out, the upstarts in Rock'n'Roll outsold the classical guys, didn't they?


A few pages later Stenorette was touting: "Free.  Instructions on how to become a Great Dictator."  Dictaphone's ad (a few pages later) showed a bottle of Johnnie Walker and advised: "If you want something lighter, talk to our mike."  How long until an executive can dictate a letter directly to a computer?


The June 14, 1968 issue of Time magazine also contained one of those classic VW ads.  That particular issue's ad showed a bug driving through a mud puddle and advised - "Every new one comes slightly used."  The car would be subjected to 16,000 different inspections. 


There were several pages of news about the shooting of Robert Kennedy.


Other news for that week included stories about James Earl Ray being arrested at Heathrow Airport.  General William C. Westmoreland was named the Chief of Staff of the Army.  Andy Warhol was (allegedly) shot by Val Solanas, the founder of the Society for Cutting Up Men (SCUM).  [Actress Ultra Violet was quoted as saying:  "Violence is everywhere in the air today."]  Time's article on the Middle East said:  " … throughout the Arab world last week, alternate cries of vengeance and mourning echoed from a million transistor radios."  France was recovering from a nasty patch of violence.  [It inspired the song Street Fighting Man.]  Hemis-Fair '68 was attracting visitors. 


New Orleans-born pianist Louis Moreau Gottschalk was profiled (in the journalism sense of the word) by Time magazine that week.


Not to worry.  Tareyton smokers (back then) would rather fight than switch.  Honeywell was fighting for brand recognition by informing Time's readers that they were "The Other Computer Company."


Those folks who read books (there were some back then) had pushed Couples, Airport, Myra Breckinridge, and Topaz to the top of the Best Sellers list.  Book fans could also read a review of Enderby by Anthony Burgess.  That summer movie goers were choosing 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Odd Couple, and (if you were adventuresome) Belle de Jour.  There were reviews for Petula and What's So Bad About Feeling Good?  Time's readers were warned about a bad flick about "gringos and greasers" ("as the script tastefully refers to Texans and Mexicans") called Blue.


Admittedly, in 2005, one has to ask:  What happened to hitchhiking, water beds, go-go dancers, black lights, lava lamps, flower power, student fares on airlines, the Universal Life Church, topless dancers, V-dubs, Corvairs, and the Postermat personality posters


In the fall of 1968 the TV audience was getting ready for The Ugliest Girl in Town - in 2005, it's My Name Is Earl.


Santa Monica College's FM radio station KCRW (College Radio Workshop) started broadcasting in 1945.  In 2005, they've added Nick Madigan's Minding The Media to line-up.  The former reporter for the Santa Monica Outlook is now the media reporter for the Baltimore Sun.   Madigan's weekly radio commentary is also available from KCRW's website as an I-pod download.


Marshall McLuhan said: "Today the tyrant rules not by club or fist, but, disguised as a market researcher, he shepherds his flocks in ways of utility and comfort."  (And perhaps fear of gay marriage?)


Have we forgotten that at the start of 1968, in Australia, Sadie, The Cleaning Lady (by Johnny Farnham) was a big hit?  Let's get nostalgic and have the disk jockey play that song while we sweep out of here for this week.  What will next week's column say?  Will it make you say: "Faaaaaaar out!"?  Tune in and see.  Meanwhile, have a groovy week.


In the pages of Just Above Sunset online magazine, 1968 has been a popular topic.  Here and here are two of the relevant links.




Copyright © 2005 – Robert Patterson

Email the author at worldslaziestjournalist@yahoo.com




Editor's Note:


Bob Patterson snapped this shot of RFK back in those days.  His fatal visit to Los Angeles.

Robert Kennedy - Los Angeles 1968.


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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