Saturday, August 15, 2009

I ride by night and I travel in fear - that in this darkness I will disappear

It's a 1960s Weekend, 2000s Style

Mad Men season 3 kicks off tomorrow. And it's the Woodstock festival's 40th anniversary this weekend. In a lot of ways they represent two contrasting cultures that, at least for some, bookend the 1960s. And I'm reading Factory Made, which chronicles its gooey center.

A cynic like me views Altamont as the real end, the wicked closer to Woodstock's long reliever. Here, you have it all - great music intermixed with hippies and Hells Angels, and finally death. The Hells Angels shared a hairy, unkempt appearance and love of rock music with their free love counterparts but not much else. Their world view generally ran to the right of Barry Goldwater (generally to the right of Joseph Goebbels).

Even more cynical folks generally point to Charlie Manson as the sinister, inevitable result of naive idealism blended with psychedelics, cult/commune societal isolation and a jailhouse con man suffering delusions of grandeur. And Charlie, like the Angels, tended (and tends) to view things from an oxymoronic commingling of anarchy, self-righteousness, grifter instincts, xenophobia, fascism and madness.

But all that's being true to the calendar, not to the sentiment and general feel of the era called "The 60s".

Mad Men predates that, at least so far, and it's really 1973 that bid it farewell for good.

It was 1973 that saw the end of our active involvement in the Vietnam war (it took us another two years to get the fuck out) and the rising storm of the

Watergate scandal as a nationwide obsession, giving birth to "The Me Decade" of the 70s: coke, disco, Pulling Your Own Strings, I'm OK, You're Fucked (yeah, it was published in '69 but not big until early 70s angst required its assistance), etc.

But what will bookmark the "00s" - this first decade of the new millennium?

The decade without a name.

Surely, it started with the bursting of the .com bubble.

Then Gore v. Bush, 9/11, Iraq, the Patriot Act, Waterboarding, Katrina.

Lately, the crash of the financial industry and subsequent New Depression

And now the age of Obama, the first black US president (other than that 24 guy and Morgan Freeman). Also apparently the first Kenyan born, Socialist, Muslim chief executive, to hear tell from the great unwashed (perhaps the great unsmart is more apt, were that a word).

But that's all business and politics and doesn't say much about the culture of our new century.

We're certainly a culture that is tethered to our technology, addicted to life on the online social networks as we leave the "00"s. The web is ubiquitous, broadband connections the norm and, unlike in 2000, the net is now very much a participatory vehicle for the masses. iPods, texting, tweeting, iPhones, social commerce, and so forth. Not sure there is any sort of musical or cinematic focus to this decade - maybe I'm too old and out of it to tell.

I don't know why I'm obsessing over this kind of "We didn't start the fire" mumbo jumbo. I mean, I love Billy Joel's 70s and early 80s stuff but can't stand that particular song and don't want to emulate its theme here.

Meanwhile, the Eighties Still Happened and are Happening Still

While dug down in this nostalgic minutia, I didn't even realize that Stallone had released yet another Rambo movie last year, but here it is on Showtime tonight.

Now, to be clear, I couldn't stand the 2nd and 3rd installments of this jingoistic franchise, certainly not as straight action flickatude.

But they are filled with unintentional laughs.

Sort of like 'Red Dawn', though not nearly as good in cheesy badness as that one ('Wolverines!!').

And First Blood, the original, was even mildly entertaining as a straight B-movie, based on a decent book, itself a parable of the treatment of returning Vietnam vets. Sly, though, was definitely miscast (John Rambo was average, even slight, in appearance in the novel where Stallone pumped himself up to characture level).

Rambo as renegade senior citizen might be good for a hoot. 'Rambo: First Nap'? 'Rambo: First Dentures'? 'Rambo: Incontinence'? This one's just called plain 'Rambo', no doubt trying to capture the old glory in the same way 'Rocky Balboa' kinda did a couple years ago.

I'll record and watch it 'Mystery Science Theater' style during the coming week.

Guilty Feet have got no Rhythm

George Michael had a brush with the law again. You remember George, right? Everyone's favorite 80's popster and the turn of the century's frequent men's room attendant & valet? He claims that he was 'stone cold sober' and the cops finally let him go after holding him overnight on suspicion of 'driving under the influence of drink or drugs' (does he get to choose which one?).

I wonder how wrecked one can be and still land within George's definition of 'stone cold sober'? Focus in one eye? Can count to 1 forward and backward? Are aware enough to look for a tree or men's room to duck behind when the urge to jack off in public comes over you?

Inquiring minds ... well, really don't want to know.