ON POPULAR CULTURE:
the Seventies, the late baby boomers began to come of age like
the earlier baby boomers. This largest group of American babies
ever born were coming of age at the same time that the birth-control
pill and anti-biotics had eliminated pregnancy and venereal
disease as the logical outcome of most kinds of promiscuity.
Given the same chance every generation would have behaved the
same way. In most universities, co-ed dormitories where both
sexes lived together became the normal state of affairs. Many
young Americans were also now living together without getting
married. Many popular books on sex had made the idea of having
sex without marriage more mainstream in American life.
Marijuana was no longer a revolutionary act. It was now a normal
adolescent ritual. Getting " high " was still the
most dominant pre-occupation of the Seventies. In previous decades
most of the best slang and popular songs involved elaborate
code words for talking about sex. With sex so out in the open,
most of the linguistic creativity went into the drug language,
creating an elaborate language that dominated youth culture
for much of the Seventies.
the drug of choice shifted from Marijuana to Cocaine. The drug
culture also like most other cultural developments in the Sixties
became a big business. In the case of " Coke " it
became big and illegal and ultimately one of America's biggest
import businesses. Cocaine would become the cultural link between
the self-absorbed Seventies and the money and status obsessed
Eighties. Instead of sharing pot with hundreds of thousands
of concert goers like in Woodstock during the 1960's. The coke
snorter in the 1970's, usually sat alone on a toilet seat getting
his quick fix during a party, as people wondered where he or
she had gone.
even more changes were underway during the Seventies, as baby
boomers raised on television, sex, drugs, and Rock ' n ' Roll.
Began abandoning organized religion in order to participate
seriously in new forms of Eastern meditation or to just dabble
in a New Age salad bar of fads, cults, and movements. The Seventies
began with a literal explosion of spiritualism, both Eastern
types of Christianity took hold led by charismatic leaders who
were successful at combining religious propaganda and money-making.
Many new kinds of psychotherapy with strange names like EST,
Gestalt, bioenergetics, Rolfing, Silva Mind Control, Arica and
Reichian therapy became popular. Also health foods, acupuncture,
massage, yoga, tai-chi, Transcedental Meditation, and hypnotism
became new ways of discovering more stress-free and healthy
lifestyles. Astrology also became very popular.
beginnings of the New Age or Human Potential movement had started
at the Esalen Institute in the 1960's, but by the 1970's many
new movements and techniques had appeared all over America.
Many of these " spiritual " or " self-improvement
" movements provided weekend retreats for their willing
and paying participants where radical messages of personal self-reliance
and self-absorption quickly dispensed with the niceties of social
compassion and social responsibility.
emphasis was on the individual's personal empowerment which
only a "qualified " teacher could assist in. Guilt
" trips " of social responsibility were thrown out
in favor of new kinds of personalized trips. It was all good
money for many New Age teachers and it reflected the confused
times all Americans were living in.
A very popular book during thise time was Richard Bach's "
Jonathan Livingston Seagull. " It was the inspirational
tale of a seagull who was ostricized from the flock because
of his seemingly independent personality. Jonathan became a
hermit and met a special seagull teacher who taught him the
secrets of perfect flight, whch in turn Jonathan later taught
to the flock. The seagull messiah story became an instatnt best-seller
in the Seventies
The New Age movement pointed towards a collective need for new
kinds of cultural and psychological anchors in a new and confusing
era. Many of the cultural and spiritual experiments that occurred
in the Seventies were worthy of the spirit of the age. Yet many
times tragedies occurred such as the mass suicide in 1978 of
over nine hundred members of the People's Temple in Jonestown,
Guyana. The founder of the People's Temple, the Rev. Jim Jones
of San Francisco had attempted to create the perfect spiritual
organization with his poor and mostly African American followers,
but it was not to be. There were false prophets everywhere during
did the Ritchie family think of this?
" Oh, god. It's just awful what happened in Guyana. "
Mara: " Yeah, that guy really tried to lay a trip on a
lot of people. "
Deborah: " It's just a sign of the times, I guess. "
Mara: " Yeah, I mean people nowadays are really looking
to be saved by somebody. It really just sucks. I think people
need to go inside more for the answers to their problems, but
they have to also be careful who they're their getting advice
from. There are a lot of dangerous weirdos out there. "
Deborah: " How's your new job at the non-profit going?
Mara: " Oh, it's going OK. I think my boss is kind of a
dork. But at least we're doing good things for the environment
like preventing over-logging up in Northern California. We can't
allow all those lumber companies to cut down every single tree.
Then there will be nothing left for future generations. "
Deborah: " Are you still living with Phil? "
Mara: " Yeah, he and I are doing fine. We don't want to
get married though. "
Deborah: " Why not? "
Mara: " Well, look what happened to you and Dad. That doesn't
give me a lot of confidence about getting married. More and
more people are getting divorced now. So I don't think it's
worth the hassle, you know. "
Deborah: What if you want to have a child someday. "
Mara: " I'll worry about that when the time comes. "
I'm not even thirty yet. "
Deborah: " Things were so much simpler when I was your
age. We all knew what we had to do. "
Mara: " Well, maybe we can go back to that time in the
future. When women had no choice at all
" ( laughing)
" It wasn't all bad. At least the schools were safer and
you could walk on the street late at night with no one bothering
Mara: " Yeah, you also were just a prisoner in the house
doing nothing but cooking and cleaning. Get Real, Mom. "
Deborah: " Have you spoken to Harvey, lately? "
Mara: " Yeah, he's just trying to make as much money as
possible. You know he majored in business at college and now
he's working with some big-shot brokerage firm in San Francisco.
You know, he just parties a lot with all those stupid coke heads.
He thinks he's some kind of swinger "
Deborah: " I like my job at the big clothing store in the
shopping center. I might soon get promoted to assistant manager.
Mara: " Wow, that's the way to go, Mom. "
Deborah: " Yes, but sometimes I feel lonely. I even miss
your father sometimes. "
Mara: " Well, why don't you call him.? "
Deborah: " I don't think it's a good idea. He's been living
with another woman who's ten years younger than him. "
Mara: " That is so typical. "
Deborah: " Whatever, I really don't want to bother him.
You know he finally quit his old job at the computer company
and now he's starting his own computer business. He's working
even more than when he was working for someone else. "
Mara: "I think, Dad should chill out and do some meditation.
RING, RING, RING
Deborah: Oh, it's the phone again. "
Mara: " Why don't you just let the answering machine take
care of it? "
Deborah: " What if it's important? "
Mara: " Look, you can just screen the call. I do it all
the time. I mean aren't you glad these answering things just
came on the market? Now you can even decide if you want to answer
back or not. I think that's pretty cool. No more talking to
jerks that bug the hell out of you "