I’ve been thinking of the 1970’s lately, not exactly sure why. Although I was born in the 60’s (albeit in the final 3 weeks), the 1970’s was my first real decade. I was a youngster, too young for much of the fun and frenzy but not too young to miss its new vibe. This was the decade in which I became aware of the world: the music, the television, the politics, the people, the fads, the crises, the cultural tensions. The chaos of the sixties spilled into this decade: Watergate, ‘Nam, gas shortages, ERA, nuclear weapons proliferation, airplane hijackings and conflict in the Middle East… tumultuous times indeed.
But as a kid what I remember the most was the popular culture: America’s glittering face and glowing body during these years, those soaring sounds on the radio, bold fabrics scratching our skin, heavy cars in the streets, extravagant colors ablaze on toys, television and t-shirts, a powerful exhale for equality (now voiced by women and gays), the unsettling and seductive sexual revolution, a new concern for protecting our environment, our patriotism on display at the nation’s bicentennial birthday bash.
There was a collective energy and emotion during these years that I find myself yearning for lately. Yes, the 1970’s were in many ways hard years and there was a lot of silliness too. But despite the insecurity and disruption, America was beaming.
Today I see none of that express enthusiasm, America is bitterly divided and the toxic politics of “No We Can’t” rule the day.
Maybe that’s why the 1970’s are on my mind; I want that smile to return.