OK, Boomer, So What did You ever Do?
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” John F. Kennedy
I keep coming across articles written by young people, GenX, millenials, and co, blaming the Baby boomers for the state of the World.
Apparently, we boomers screwed everything up. We ruined everything by taking everything that was on offer.
The Blame Game
The whole blame thing is always a cop-out, anyway. You hear a guy shouting blame at a group of people, about her life, or his life, and you know that it’s a rant, anger bubbling up and spewing onto the street, type blame.
Look Back in History
I don’t think people read much history these days. I mean, if you want to blame the Boomers for the way they lived, you’ve got to look at all sides of the Rubrics Cube to get it right.
Boomers complained, too. We didn’t listen to our parents much, everybody was square, and the people running the establishment had it all wrong — they still do.
It seems that younger people love our music. We brought you Rock&Roll, which morphed into Rock, Progressive Rock, to experimental Synthesized “Crazy Horses”, (The Osmonds)type of stuff.
Our parents kept telling us things like “you can’t play a musical instrument if you have long hair — those people on the television are miming it”, a strange logic.
Apparently, rock music was just a phase. It would peter-out and classical and jazz would return as the mainstream music. It didn’t, thank God.
For a short while, we had to put up crap music like, “Long Haired Lover from Liverpool”, just like you have to put up with commercialized versions of music that is all about sales and marketing, and not about taste.
When the Osmond Family dominated the Hit-Parade, Boomers were hoping it was going to end — jazz would be so much nicer.
Social Vibes and a New Revolution of the Soul
At the same time, we also invented social vibes about love and peace. That was during the Sixties social revolution that caused a break out of people who wanted to be nice to each other. They tried all types of things, like sitting together and talking about the Cosmos when really they should have been at to work.
And when some “Boss” type character came along, shouting his head off at everybody for being lazy, incompetent, and selfish about their lives, Boomers would give a peace sign and ask him if he’d like to try and find his buzz on the end of joint, or just pull-up a piece of grass and sit and listen. We were all about communication.
An Established Grip of People’s Minds
We were trying to break the iron fist grip the establishment had on society with peaceful ideas about stopping and looking, thinking about what’s best to do, and not just money, money, all the time.
We did want solutions to real problems. They are always tough to find.
The kitchen Table Solution
We also had a thing called, “The Four Minute Warning”, most people were too busy to worry about it, but it did make for good speculative conversations with questions like, “what will you do if you hear the four minute warning?”. It was always a great question because it was a real thing; it would take four minutes for nuclear missiles to reach Europe and America if the “Ruskies” pushed the button.
We had a way out the whole situation by hiding under the kitchen table. It’s astonishing how those old kitchen tables were nuclear proof. There were drills to test how quickly you could dive under the nearest table. If you got good at it, you would be smart enough to take a bag of sweets with you as a last comfort.
I planned to hide under the table with my last chocolate bar, and think about my first girlfriend, Rona James. A bonnie lass.
We had The Doors, Hendrix, Deep Purple, and many other long forgotten psychedelic bands who kept our minds busy with ideas of deeper perceptions about life.
My older brother had a ticket to go to the now legendary Isle of White Pop Festival in 1969. Organised by Ron and Ray Foulk under the name “Fiery Creations.”
The whole thing turned into a mud fest with British Bobbies chasing hippies around in a wet and rainy field.
But the music was new and fresh, so most people were happy to sit in the cold wet mud and listen to the gliss-riffs of Jimmy Hendrix, the searing virtuoso of Carlos Santana and the nasal tones of Bob Dylan. It was a magical fantasy land where people could go and forget the World and its screwed up ways.
People loved it for the experiment is was. The sound of the music promised an answer to many problems.
The authorities hated it and immediately created a ban on gatherings of more than 5000 people on the Isle of Wight — trying to put a stop to any repeat offence of having fun in the mud.
The same type of scenario played out in the USA with Woodstock in the Summer of Love.
It was then that my older brother introduced me to Hendrix’ music. Radio 1 was giving a decent slot of air-time to this new and weird looking guitar player from the US.
Nobody in England knew about him. But the DJ Tony Blackburn played “Little Wing”, regularly, and Hendrix’ career took off in London Town, and spread through the hearts of every hippy in the land.
Hendrix brought a really great bit of American culture to the foggy streets of England.
When you first listened to Jimmy Hendrix and other music from back then, it blew your mind. It was so new, so scary how it could slide into your mind and take over your whole soul. I haven’t heard music that powerful, since those days.
High Tech Lifestyles of Boomers
Being a Baby Boomer was about being in a new and exciting era of technology that was going to take over our lives — we were told that we wouldn’t need to go to work, computers would do all the work for us.
That sounded like a really good solution.
But it was all just an idea at that time. Computers were still stacked up in military establishments and not yet in the hands of the people.
Okay, in 1972, we got a Casio calculator for Christmas, but that was about all the tech we had in our pockets. It was frowned upon to use one when you already had a brain between your ears. So, most people played games with the LCD display panel and made up silly words with upside-down numbers. “35007” turned upside down showed, “L00SE”, etc. Really exciting stuff.
Baby Boomers were constantly told how lucky they were. “Things are good, just live your life in peace”, said by somebody’s Mum and Dad.
We were born after a World War which not only wiped out large populations, caused mass destruction of property and re-aligned the map a little. But was also a near miss for all of humanity being ruled by a raving lunatic who wasn’t accepted by Bohemian artists as one of the crowd. So, he took revenge on the World, but lost the bet.
We were going into a new world of new stuff.
We still only bought what we needed, didn’t eat much between meals and, despite today’s popular contra-myths, we did have healthy slim bodies without much effort. Overweight was a touch of beer belly that hung over your Death’s Head belt buckle.
We didn’t experience the Second World War, but we heard about it everyday from those who experienced the terrible bombings of The Blitz.
The bombings of London, the stories of running to air-raid shelters in the middle of the night. We were told never to forget it, remember how lucky you are to have missed such horror. We did feel very lucky, and still do. Boomers are very aware of what our parents went through in those dark days.
Polythene Pam and Plastic Sam
Baby Boomers made so many mistakes, but that’s only human. We enjoyed the advancement of medical science and access to the good drugs that kill bacteria and viruses. We could lead healthy lives and go into old age without too many creaking bones and old work wounds.
We didn’t embrace plastic — in fact, most people complained about plastic clothes in cheap shops.
To carry a plastic shopping bag, which came into view during the 1980s, was considered totally, absolutely, uncool. You looked like a scavenger with a grab bag swinging from your bony fingers, not cool.
Okay, Boomers made tons of mistakes. After the Second World War, we all thought life was now sweet. Computers would do the work, hippies could get stoned, musicians keep us entertained, and maybe, the pubs would extend their opening hours for all night parties.
For a lot of people, it sounded like a great way of life all round.
But alas, it was all a dream of love and peace that didn’t quite find its wings.
The Greenham Common Women of the 1980s
The establishment can’t control a nation of happy people, you’ve got to keep a nation in fear, otherwise they will stop listening to the Government.
If that happens, all is lost for that government.
Boomers started to get serious with protest. The 1980s Greenham Common Women who camped out in the Berkshire mud, stood up to Police and their snarling dogs. They were taunted and threatened by British and American soldiers. Yet they stood their ground for the protest of peace.
Now, peace was still in fashion, but in a serious way.
Nuclear missiles were not the solution, and maybe simply saying “Peace and Love, man” wasn’t either.
These women were jailed and beaten. Threatened and intimidated. They were Boomers, they were Margaret Thatcher’s nightmares all rolled up in muddy blankets as they stood their ground at the Front Line of the Nuclear Establishment.
The brave citizenry of these women who had children and homes somewhere, all warm and cosy, went on protesting and living in cold mud. They had made a solid point that they wouldn’t be cowed by a bunch of men in uniforms, they wanted to be seriously listened to.
They heard the voice of the average person, the fears of a four minute nuclear strike, or a nuclear accident that would be devastating for a whole nation.
So they took up the call to show their strength through united protest. Only women were permitted to join the lines.
These Boomer women took the lead to go into the fray against Margaret Thatcher’s brutal Government on behalf of the rest of society. Margaret Thatcher was all about women being men.
The Greenham Common Women were all about women leading by caring about society and its children. Part of the voice was that these women had taken their ability to care for children and family at home, out into the broader society.
Their story is long. The Camp lasted from September 1981 until the year 2000. I think many of the women involved will never forget the Camp, and those times.
Okay Boomer, what have you done?