1970


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It’s 1970.

Really.

At my parents for Thanksgiving, this year, I looked around in the early morning and the only thing telling me it was 2015, not 1970, was the family cell phones and iPads charging, laying about the living room and kitchen.

That’s it.

There were trees. Cars sitting in the driveway of my parents’ Yankee Barn house, made quaint and beautiful by my dad’s woodworking, my mom’s Julia Child cooking, their Depression-era, no-nonsense good taste, their Puritan work ethic.

The newspaper delivered to the top of my parents’ driveway sat on the table: the headline? A Russian fighter plane had been shot down in Turkey. So…Russia versus NATO. Also: Race tensions. Remember the cold war? The race riots in 1970?

2015 isn’t any different.

In 1969 man walked on the moon. And what have we done since then?

Are there any new major metropolitan centers in the United States?

No. Some are better. Some are worse.

Nice neighborhoods, bad neighborhoods in ratio and location pretty much the same.

In 1970, there was a little music from 1925, but not much. There was a lot of music from 1870 (Brahms was pretty big) and 1670 (Bach was everywhere).

But in 2015, nearly all popular music, from Bruno Mars to Adelle, derives from 1970.

My point is: why has time stopped? What’s going on? We hear about the tumultuous, technological rush of “the new” every day.

But if 2015 is essentially 1970, where is this rush of “the new?”

It doesn’t exist.

Is the United States population smarter or more interesting now?

Nah.

In 1970,  poetry and art were modern and ugly and moneyed and hip and we longed for the beautiful and the old.

In 2015, poetry and art is smart and modern and ugly and moneyed and…

Yup. It’s the same thing.

And does the whole world still look to America and strive to keep up?

Internationally, the truth of this is the same.

Significant change came to a halt in 1970.

1925 music in 1970 felt absolutely dated.

“Let It Be” or “American Woman,” released today, however, in 2015, would be welcomed as exciting and trendy.

In 1970, we had “Earth Day,” and environmental destruction/mass starvation was a huge issue. American imperialism was massively discussed and documented by elites and the poor, alike. The “I Have A Dream” speech was famous. Every political issue on the table today was on the radar in 1970.

Discussed. And discussed.

But what has changed?

Nothing.

The New World Order still calls the shots, no matter how many stories we see in the papers, or on TV, or the internet.

That’s right. Liberals, conservatives, radicals, activists, progressives, evangelicals, libertarians, conspiracy nuts: as it was in 1970, so it is in 2015.

The same straightjacket templates, created from above, still exist.

In 1970, there were spiritual preachers of various stripes calling for change on the inside. Political activists of various stripes calling for pragmatic change on the outside. In the very same ratio, with all the same ideas. Exactly the same as 2015.

What is on our computers and cell phones? The exact same stuff one would find in 1970. Unless we are talking about jokes—about how everyone is on their cell phones.

1970 would have a good laugh at that.

Since it was Thanksgiving, I was able to test my ideas on my young, whip-smart and connected nephews; I asked them if there were a car today better than the greatest car made in 1970. The progress cited, even by the one who had owned, and taken Porsches apart and put them back together, was: the electric car.

But are electric cars on the road today?

Not much, they admitted. But it’s coming!

Then, I happened to be watching a little TV that afternoon, after swimming at a fitness center—which I hear people did, every now and then, in 1970—and the televised program calmly informed me that in 1909, electric cars were on the road, and as popular as gas cars.

When does progress go backwards?

Here it was again: the pride of the now—crushed by the reality of the past.

To be educated in today is not even to be educated.

What have we earned with today’s massive debt?

Ignorance.

We flex our “new” muscles.

Above the yawning grave.

And still more information flowed out of the TV screen: During our great-grand parents’ day, when electric cars were being manufactured and sold, the following was true:

Guys liked gas cars, for the noise, the smell, and the speed.

Women preferred the clean and quiet electric cars.

I fell down a hole today, as 2015 cried, It’s 1970!

Then I fell into another hole.

We are always falling.

Some things never change.

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21 Comments

  1. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 29, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    Generally speaking though your essays are always elegant and fascinating to read, they remind me of that carnival ride – I think it’s called the Tilt A Whirl where you’re standing up belted in but you find yourself as the ride gathers speed with the untenable sensation of having one half of you on one side of the wheel and the other flung to the other side and yet, you are still you. So as I read on unable to stop reading due to the fascination of the alternating colours and music I take one position, then another, then neither and at the end, I don’t really know exactly what side I am on overall so I have to rethink everything I have ever thought and believed on whatever subject is being discussed or bouquet of subjects which is actually a very good thing for a person to do. Then I have to find my center of gravity again which has not exactly shifted and yet I am aware it is not exactly in the same plae it was before. It sharpens the mind and soul to read your essays. I think so, anyway.

    But in this essay there was no tilt a whirl. I completely agree with every word of this essay even though I felt I was in the Twilight Zone while I was reading it. Every now and then I’ve had a flash of intuition about this, especially in regard to the activism of the younger generation today which so exactly resembles in so many ways the activism of the 1970s.

    But I’m still dizzy from the ride so to speak because isn’t it an amazing and confounding thing to realize that time really has stood still despite all the rhetoric and propaganda to the contrary. How mysterious. And now I’m starting to veer off into that unbelievably mysterious subject I find even more mysterious as I grow older, what the heck is Time, anyway?

  2. Gary B. Fitzgerald said,

    November 30, 2015 at 1:35 am

    Time

    So time, old friend,
    such times we’ve had…
    fast and slow,
    good and bad. I remember
    that time in school
    when I thought the day
    would never end. I remember
    my first date
    when you just flew away.

    So many songs and poems
    written about you.
    Your famous! But we,
    we were close and personal,
    you and I. Remember?
    You aided me.
    You wounded me.
    You were my saviour…
    as often my betrayer.
    We’ve been through a lot,
    you and I.

    So time, old friend,
    I never thought I’d see the day
    when, after all that we’ve been through,
    you would actually sit down and tally,
    look up at me and say
    it’s time to pay.

    Copyright 2008 – Hardwood: 77 Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

    • noochinator said,

      November 30, 2015 at 7:49 am

      Yes — like a loan shark showing up at one’s front door and inviting himself in — sitting at one’s kitchen table explaining the collection situation — nothing personal, of course, just business…

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 30, 2015 at 1:44 pm

        Time as a polite “loan shark.”

        Brilliant.

        No doubt inspired by Gary B.

        • noochinator said,

          November 30, 2015 at 6:10 pm

          Absolutement!

    • noochinator said,

      November 30, 2015 at 11:42 am

      Good “time is almost up” music….

  3. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 30, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Really beautiful interpretation of Brahms. (and Time).

    • noochinator said,

      November 30, 2015 at 6:12 pm

      The Brahms 4th ballade is another one that is so elegiac, a farewell to everything, with the final section (from 6:38 to the end) an amazing depiction of a life slipping into eternity:

  4. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 30, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. Time slipping into eternity is more and more my happiest, preferred way to think of Time at all. Time slipping into eternity gives me hope to do whatever I can do (no matter how much “time” I have left, to have something worth carrying into Eternity and the notion of Eternity itself at least in my view as the lost being found is expressed no where more perfectly than in music such as this. Brahms is one of my favorite composers but there is much of his music I haven’t heard and these recordings especially are remarkable. Again, thanks.

  5. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 30, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    P.S. I like very much Gary B. Fitzgerald’s sequence (sequenced) poems on birds posted by Scarriet for a New Years Day past. Hurray for the Scarriet archives, too, very fun to browse in. Very real feeling of the quality of birds themselves in these poems of the person who is the poet actually seeing the birds, deeply watching them completely opposite to the birds of artifice as in Wallace Stevens (who I do sometimes like) umpteen ways of looking at a blackbird. What comes to mind (in thinking of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, “The Nightingale”) is the true nightingale vs. the phony, jeweled one much praised, that breaks down in the end. A good metaphor among many for some of what is wrong with modern poetry and what is right about the poems of Gary B. Hope this makes up for the “Joyce” grade school disappointment, among others. Though I confess I do love Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees”, after I heard Bulwinkle e the Moose on the Rocky and Bulwinkle show recite it, it was kind of ruined for me.

  6. Gary B. Fitzgerald said,

    December 1, 2015 at 1:27 am

    Mary: Thank you for your kind comments about my bird poems.
    Here is one for you:

    Young & Old

    I’ve been both. Most will.
    Sparrow on the windowsill.
    Owl in the tree.
    One benefits the other
    as nectar feeds the bee.

    The immediate of being young:
    each event a focused instant.
    Like many tiny multi-colored tiles.
    The expedient of being old:
    the focusing of all these small mosaics
    to eventually form a picture
    of the losses and the miles.

    To be young is to be, to be old is to see.

    Copyright 2010 – Ponds and Lawns: New and Corrected Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

  7. Gary B. Fitzgerald said,

    December 1, 2015 at 1:28 am

    Nooch: Here’s a poem for you:

    Broke Even

    I live a break-even life.
    For every dime I ever had, I lost one.
    Every time I needed twenty bucks
    it always came my way,
    but for every extra twenty found
    there was twenty owed to pay.
    I’ve worked hard and made some money,
    but always lived from day to day.
    If I subtract my savings from what’s borrowed,
    my debts from what I own, then I’m
    always back at zero, and for every
    hundred bucks left over, an electric bill
    or a broken car ensured it went away.
    Born naked and so die, they say,
    dust to dust.
    At the end we basically all break even.

    Copyright 2008 – HARDWOOD: 77 Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

    • noochinator said,

      December 1, 2015 at 11:15 am

      Reminds me of Mr Micawber’s famous, and oft-quoted, recipe for happiness:

      “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

      A little bit above zero ain’t a bad place to be!

  8. maryangeladouglas said,

    December 1, 2015 at 1:46 am

    Gary, I liked the poem very much as I’m partial to both sparrows and mosaics. I had a friend who loved watching beavers. He filmed them. The films were different than the PBS Nature series films and things like that. When you watched the films you could tell the beaver was simpatico with my friend and was doing extra things the beaver wouldn’t normally do for people like swimming around in the river in the pouring rain and pausing every so often as if to help in the filming. I get the feeling when you watch the birds there is probably a similar energy. Cheers.

    • noochinator said,

      December 1, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      Here’s French composer Olivier Messiaen on some of the bird sounds that inspired him:

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        December 1, 2015 at 3:25 pm

        This conversational thread is more illuminated than illuminated manuscripts. I have only one piece by Messiaen played by Vladimir Feltsman that sounds like Cathedrals melting although dissonantly. This is fantastic. Many thanks.

  9. maryangeladouglas said,

    December 1, 2015 at 2:06 am

    This is a poem I wrote for my sister when I found out recently she had a stroke and was recovering from it. Please if anyone has any extra prayers left pray for her; her name is Sharon and she plays the piano like an angel. It has birds in it (dream birds) and reading Gary’s poems and also thinking about Thomas G.’s essay on Time standing still and of Brahms, I thought, maybe this poem (prayer) fits here. with gardenias from our childhood yard.

    WHEN WE SET SAIL HOW LILTING WERE THE NOTES

    [to my sister, Sharon F. Douglas]

    when we set sail how lilting were the notes
    of dream birds on the rim of Time
    and now the cup of dreaming deepens

    and now, is it almost tipped over?
    how will we catch the kaleidoscope’s
    flaring like a rose, inset with emerald leaves

    when our hands are so small?
    or wave the wand where bubbles reach the sun
    before they pop

    or wobble over the backyard where the red ants
    mark their highways up the bark of
    the trees who loved us?

    long summers have passed.

    it’s the seesaw moments I recall the best
    when I was in the clouds
    and you in your winter hood laughing

    on the ground.
    I thought I would never get down.
    now I would send you ladders of stars

    and linen winds of coolness

    if I thought they would reach you
    where you are;
    or roomfuls of gardenias

    just to soothe you.

    there. like a rest in the music.
    in the pale green evenings,
    still.

    mary angela douglas 9 may 2015

  10. Gary B. Fitzgerald said,

    December 1, 2015 at 2:35 am

    Mary: Here is my prayer for your sister:

    Faith

    Put your faith in Nature,
    in the sea and stars and the magic
    of the mind.
    Put your faith in being,
    in particles and thunderstorms
    and time.
    Put your faith in living
    and how you always seem to
    somehow stumble through.
    Put your faith in you.
    God did.

    Copyright 2010 – Ponds and Lawns: New and Corrected Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

  11. maryangeladouglas said,

    December 1, 2015 at 3:41 am

    Thank you this is so wonderful. Everything good is in it like a kind of poem-ark. Thank you! I know it is good poem because it made me feel a whole lot better.

  12. Gary B. Fitzgerald said,

    December 1, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Mary: You mentioned a kaleidoscope in your poem, above. I thought you might enjoy this one:

    Kaleidoscope

    So suddenly turn things, in the instant change,
    unexpected and immediate, rearrange,
    shift the patterns of our lives.
    The kaleidoscope is twisted once again.
    No plan of ours, this spontaneous jolt
    from long-familiar view, no choice but move
    from soft and comfortable structure
    to the frightening and new.

    The tiny colored pieces of our lives,
    juggled and scattered, our jobs and homes,
    children and wives, ourselves,
    the things we thought we knew
    in the instant change and shock us
    a brand new picture.
    These fragmented little parts that together
    make the image and the plan,
    give sense and shape to our world, now
    once more jiggled and scattered and rearranged.

    The wave has curled.
    The divine bell rings.
    The kaleidoscope turns.
    An angel sings.
    And we begin again.
    Again.

    Copyright 2008 – HARDWOOD: 77 Poems
    Copyright 2010 – Ponds and Lawns: New and Corrected Poems
    Gary B. Fitzgerald

  13. maryangeladouglas said,

    December 1, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Beautiful. One of my favorite kaleidoscopes it just became. Thank you.


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