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ran away to be a cowboy
10:37 PM on 08/19/2009
I love it, the discussion below renders mr franks instant indictment of a media defined "generation" as boring and unrelated to the actual facts on the ground which it is. how frikken many of the people born between 1946 and 196whatever ever frikken HEARD of marcuse or houllebecq? How many of the guys just went to junior college and got a job, paid a mortgage and bought a couple of cars over the years DID serve in the military whether by compulsion or voluntarily, and were just glad to be able to have a couple of cold beers. How many of the women DID wear bras and found out they had to go to work to to just live at a decent standard, and then had to take care of the house and kids too. THATS what the "boomers" are ultimately about.
alien researcher with a notepad
08:03 AM on 08/20/2009
the "boomer" generation has been misdefined by woodstock for 40 years. "hippies" represented a very small fraction (albeit vocal and flashy) of the demographic. more boomers were like george bush than jerry garcia.
after woodstock, it became popular to be a "weekend hippie", as tom brokaw once referred to himself. the hippies were ultimately neutralized and absorbed.
10:02 PM on 08/19/2009
I wholeheartedly concur with your criticism of trend suppling yuppies, if that is any part of your critique. Frankly, I suspect that more than just a few people would take umbrage at this piece you've put together, inferring their blanket inclusion in the superficial nature of opposition or their ability to be co opted commercially so that they continue to feed the machine to which they are directly opposed on a deeply felt theological or philosophical level.

So this question of nonconformity you think you've answered seems to miss the point of what it was to which many folks seemed to not want to conform. It would be my contention that this had a great deal to do with the anti-war movement. Would it not?

So yes, the revolution is always advertised, or has been since we could read or write. Most importantly, however, is that the basic message of not buying the crap will continue to fester - not just in the bitter collective psyche of those who were mocked for wanting to live traditionally (waging war and whatnot) - but also within the community being continually asked to be grateful for Jeff, because Mutt in is the other room just waiting his turn.

So maybe enlightened cool set is shopping at Whole Foods, driving hybrids. But there are also those insightful enough to know when they're being punked. Thanks for rubbing it in.
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09:28 PM on 08/19/2009
Thomas, as your X-generation is now filling out the Mainstream, the Boomers did so 20 years ago. The snapshot of the 60's is one of any youth culture, which always tends to outrage and press the status quo. The Boomers wrote the book on commodification in the information era and, as every generation does, furnished the social environment with images and metaphors that we are comfortable with.
While this is a wave that traces back through the generations, what is interesting is how it has evolved. Hippie sensibilities notwithstanding, the degree to which Americanism is now synonymous with transaction, consumption, and acquisition is stunning. Contemporary youth culture identifies completely with branding and marketing as being the impulse and goal of any activity; MySpace for example, where one presents one's self as a product. Success now demands nothing less than stardom and global exposure.

A long strange trip indeed.
10:02 PM on 08/19/2009
Fabulous post!
I accidentally cross-dressed today.
04:41 AM on 08/20/2009
Great points. As I understand it, the sixties were all about authenticity: being true to oneself, rather than to society with its outmoded hypocritical values. The problem is that authenticity, properly defined, is something you are, not something you have. Erich Fromm, an old Frankfurt School psychologist, wrote it in To Have or to Be.

But then again, capitalism tells us that EVERYTHING can be bought and sold. Even authenticity. If you can't figure out how to be authentic, isn't it great that you can just buy it? The problem is that you have to repeat the transaction again and again to maintain the illusion.
08:47 AM on 08/20/2009
No, the 60s was about fitting in with the cool kids, same as all the others. A ripe environment for selling, always is.
07:00 PM on 08/19/2009
This was all perfectly explained by the 60's intellectual icon Herbert Marcuse in his essay "Repressive Tolerance" which nailed exactly how Capitalism turns every new idea or social change movement into a "commodity", an endless supply of new fuel for the machine of industrial civilization. The Obama phenomenon is practically prophesized as well in his essay. One Party Rule in America - the party of the wealthy Corporate Elites, with two wings - the "centrist" wing of the Democratic Party and the extreme right wing, the Republicans. There is no genuine left-wing or progressive party, that cannot be permitted by the powers that be. But their music, ideas, slogans, fashion - that all can be co-opted, marginalized and sanitized in the service of the Corporations.

Obama ran as the progressive "Change" candidate - presumably "Change" meant the polar opposite of the extreme right wing policies of Cheney-Bush regime but is now ruling as the Establishment president. Cheney-Bush lite is how it seems he intends to actually govern. Folks - we have been "had".
07:43 PM on 08/19/2009
I was just going to start on Marcuse when I read yours. I hadn't intended to take on Obama but am glad you did. The shoe fits.

And Marcuse himself said later in his book about this, that he was surprised at the swiftness pac-man capitalism swallowed his book whole ranting against it.

And have you read Houellebecq? If not go to it!
10:07 PM on 08/19/2009
Frank has been heavily influenced by Frankfurt School Marxism and the tradition of Critical Theory. So your Marcuse reference is spot on, as would, I suspect, references to Adorno and Horkheimer and Eric Fromm.

This essay seems like it was written to use the Woodstock anniversary - and what, frankly, is more conformist than this sort of nostalgia - as an opportune moment to remind people of his own argument in "The Conquest of Cool," which is an excellent account of the transition of the '60s generation's non-conformism and self-empowerment into the hyper-individualism of our own era.

And the other good news coming down the pike is that Mr. Frank is planning to start publishing "The Baffler" again, which was hands down the best source for cultural criticism in the 1990s.
I accidentally cross-dressed today.
04:49 AM on 08/20/2009
I saw they offer some great Woodstock anniversary CD and DVD packages. With lots of previously unreleased stuff. Awesome!