Posts Tagged 1960s

Revolution 14

After watching the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to the U.S., I’ve come to the only logical conclusion: we suck.

Today’s pop stars have nothing on Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and the juxtaposition was actually a little painful to watch.

Of course, music is a subjective thing. Some poor lost souls will always think Katy Perry is better than the Fab Four, and they are entitled to their opinion.

However, there is one part of the Beatle legacy that is undeniably missing from today’s cultural scene: revolution.

People celebrate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Beatles in the U.S. because it marked a major shift in American culture. They brought rock n’ roll to the mainstream, and became powerful advocates for political change.

Today’s music is many things, but it’s not revolutionary.

Yet the connection between music and political protest is still viewed as important. After all, shouldn’t there by a ’60s-style mass cultural movement for gay rights, or against the hegemony of the One Percent?

The idea of perpetual revolution has always been an important part of American political philosophy.

Thomas Jefferson believed that a revolution should occur every few decades, if for no other reason than to remind leaders that true power rests with the people.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure,” Jefferson said.

However, I feel that’s been difficult for the generations that came after the Baby Boom, because there’s a pervading sense that all of the revolting has been taken care of.

Younger generations share more values with previous generations than the Boomers did with the “Greatest Generation,” which won World War II, but was also intensely rigid and bigoted.

Like most things in 21st century America, the battle has become hopelessly nuanced in discrete, with no zeitgeist to unite different elements behind a common front.

Epochal cultural shifts like the emergence of rock n’ roll, or the political awakening of the 1960s don’t happen very often, which might explain why looking at today’s crop of artists, it’s hard to spot another Paul McCartney.

Then again, revolutionary ideas wouldn’t be very revolutionary if they arrived punctually. If we want social change, we need to do the best we can to make it happen in whatever way we can.

That way, we can brag to our children about how much better our generation is than theirs.

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Five things that would have made Richard Nixon a great tech entrepreneur

Why Richard Nixon would have been a great tech entrepreneurRichard Milhous Nixon may have been born too early. While our bejoweled and disgraced 37th president might seem like the prototypical curmudgeon, he could have dominated one of today’s hottest industries. Here are five reasons why Nixon would have been a great tech entrepreneur.

Why Richard Nixon would have been a great tech entrepreneur1. He loved invading people’s privacy

Consumers have grown a love-hate relationship with tech companies like Facebook and Google because of the way they collect and mine users’ data. This would have seen second nature for a man who organized a break-in at the Democratic Party’s headquarters. Imagine what he could have done with the Internet.

Why Richard Nixon would have been a great tech entrepreneur2. He was great at playing competitors off against each other

Nixon was a horrible person, but was also a master statesman. One of his most impressive achievement was playing China and the Soviet Union against each other.

Today, just as during the Cold War, we have a few giants slugging it out for world domination. If Nixon was in charge of one of them, you can bet that he would use his rivals’ competitiveness against them.

Why Richard Nixon would have been a great tech entrepreneur3. He was extremely anti-social

Being creepy and unable to relate to other people isn’t a requirement, but Nixon would definitely find kindred spirits in the same industry that spawned Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

Five things that would have made Richard Nixon would have been a great tech entrepreneur4. He loved secrecy

Companies need to keep their trade secrets, well secret. Whether it’s Google Glass or the next iPhone, keeping information out of the public eye can create a competitive advantage. Nixon would have loved that.

Just as corporations feel they don’t have to tell anything to anyone but their shareholders, Nixon felt he had not obligation to tell Congress, the media, or voters what he was actually doing. Who else would send Henry Kissinger on a secret trip to China, or retain a team of “Plumbers” to take care of information leaks?

Why Richard Nixon would have been a great tech entrepreneur5. No matter what he did, people accepted him

Did people stop using Facebook when they found out what the company was doing with their information? Did people stop buying Apple products when Jobs’ abusive nature was revealed? No, which is perfect for Nixon.

Tricky Dick thrived on a similarly understanding public. Never a likable guy, he wormed his way out of a campaign financing scandal with the famous “Checkers Speech,” and despite being a commie-hating conservative, he was able to take advantage of public outrage over the Vietnam War to win the presidency in 1968.

While president, Nixon was able to silence critics by co-opting liberal policies (he created the EPA and Amtrak and supported universal healthcare). Nothing could stop him. Well, almost nothing.

Like today’s tech barons, Nixon didn’t car about being liked, and found ways to make it so that the public didn’t have to like him either.

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Car shows are stuck in the ’50s

A trip to a large car show last weekend reminded me of one of the most puzzling aspects of the show scene: the music. There is music wafting from the loudspeakers at every car show, to create atmosphere, I guess, and it is always from the 1950s. To the show n’ shine crowd, Elvis is still king.

To clarify, this was a vintage car show, as are most of the popular public events held throughout the summer in the U.S. I wasn’t expecting the DJ to blast Lady Gaga, but the organizers should have been more conscious of the variety of eras the assembled cars represented.

Yes, there were many 1955-57 Thunderbirds, Buick Roadmasters, and Cadillacs with pedestrian-impaling tail fins. But the cutoff date was 1971, so there were many cars from the 1960s, from Buick Rivieras to Camaros and Chargers. There was even an E-Type Jaguar.

At car shows, music is supposed to create a nostalgic ambiance, but don’t the people reminiscing about their youth in the Kennedy/Johnson years want some era-appropriate songs?

It’s not like there is a lack of choice. In 1967, Chevy brought out the Camaro, and the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. If you bought a Hemi Charger in 1968, Jimi Hendrix’s cover of All Along the Watchtower would be one of the newest songs on the radio.

If going to a vintage car show is all about reliving the “glory days,” people should not be subjected to music that was out of style when the now-45-year-old muscle cars were new.

In fact, music choice should work the other way, too: if a Model T shows up, play some ragtime, or crank some big band tunes for the military enthusiasts in their WWII Jeeps.

Cars are a major part of American popular culture, and that connection is not confined to the 1950s. You can only listen to the “Golden Oldies” so many times.

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