I started this little investigation into gutter trashery with Joe Biden for Joe is pre-Baby Boomer, so comes from a generation who should have known the value of keeping little private weaknesses out of the public eye. So, just in terms of the era he was born in (called the Silent Generation if you’re interested), he was twice the failure as Bill Clinton, since there weren’t a million daily assaults by Madison Avenue and the Pop Culture in his day that were aimed at Bill’s.
Joe Biden is the same age as my sister, 3 years older than me. And in rock and roll years that is a lifetime in terms, unless one had been morally grounded as a child. I’ve mentioned this often. It was my sister’s generation that were the last of the starry-eyed dreamers. Like Joe, she was born early in the war while my Dad was on a troop ship to North Africa. He hit the beach 30 days after she was born, and would never see her until he came home in Spring, 1945. I’ve read all the V-Mail and seen all the photos, though.
Then, nine months to the day, or so he bragged (while Mother blushed) on more than one occasion, I was born…still in 1945, so technically not a Baby Boomer.
Only I was. That was a Madison Avenue-coined term anyway, although Wikipedia doesn’t acknowledge their contribution. But by the mid-1950’s Saturday mornings had been turned over to kids, mainly at the behest of cereal companies selling pre-sweetened cereal. My dentist was happy with his increase in “decay-sales”. (I still snack on Kellogg’s Sugar Corn Pops, although the word “sugar” is nowhere to be found on the box anymore.) I have fonder memories of the old Hollywood B-Westerns reruns, when local TV stations didn’t have much to fill in weekend morning programming, except the Farm Report. Roy Rogers, with a sidekick who drove a Jeep (1951), Sky King (1951), Rin Tin Tin (1954), Fury (1955) and Flicka (1955), all came on the scene just a couple of years before Elvis became a household name in 1956 after his first viewing on Ed Sullivan’s Show.
They were all gone by 1960. It was as if the networks and ad-men of Madison Avenue were tracking us like Google does now, constantly taking us through a new door.
A fellow named Vance Packard coined the term “hidden persuaders” in 1957…Nineteen-fifty-damned-seven…when Ike was still president, the president who didn’t say “Beware of the Network Television-Madison Avenue Complex” in his farewell address in 1961. I first read Hidden Persuaders in high school, and twice since. Get a copy, for you will be much wiser in trying to understand both the machinations and ambitions of Facebook, Google, algorithms, AI, Stanford Business School, Silicon Valley in general as well as China’s economic and foreign policy, just by taking a few hours of your time to understand what a man 60 years ago was trying to tell us about enterprises whose sole purpose was to find new ways to persuade people to take a bite of the bait they cast out virtually every day, hoping they could hook more people.
They were all selling a “product”, only it wasn’t corn flakes or rock n’ roll. They could determine what would light up your life, what you would let into your life, and in the end, what you would have to expel from your life in order to make room for those new things.
By the time we were teenagers, and sleeping til noon on Saturday, instead of watching Sky King and Penny, and my kid brother was tuning into pre-sweetened Saturday AM over his bowl of Lucky Charms, both my sister and I had been promoted to after-school entertainment with Dick Clark and American Bandstand. I can’t even remember what they were selling other than Danny and the Juniors, but my sister had gained an obsession for 45 RPM records. Then hurried off to college.
My big sister, like Joe Biden, never saw the early 60s as I did. In April, here I wrote a piece about how the music died, but also how our music generations were very much different than what demographers had declared to be Baby Boomers. Music generations changed every 3 or 4 years, only we wouldn’t know anything about “#memes” or “#trending” for another fifty years. When I saw the Beatles on their first US tour on black-and-white TV in 1964, and those screaming girls on the rope line, I had no idea there were little strings attached to their shoulders and jaws. I certainly had no idea there were puppeteers. I saw the Fab 4 live on Ed Sullivan’s stage that week, the same stage I had seen Elvis in 1956, at age 10. On both occasions my Dad had been exiled to the kitchen, the first time at my sister’s insistence, and in 1964, at mine, since I was a noted folk singer in the area and he’d seen our group perform. (I played banjo and sang bass.)
Because I was swinging on the gate between my sister’s generation and my own about music I preferred much of the music that was originally aimed at her generation, especially folk music, (explained above) which was dying by the time the Beatles came to America.
What I didn’t know then that I know now was that why everything changed so quickly was because of the need to sell stuff to kids, who, if you stop to think about it, had no money…except maybe in Manhattan. I was cutting grass by the time I was 14, but still never had more than a dollar or two in my pocket, and had to hitchhike (“thumb a ride” as we called it) four miles just to find a vending machine where I could buy a pack of Winstons for 35-cents without being made as Paul Bushmills’ kid.
It never dawned on me that our entire “need’ to own a product like a 45-rpm pop record was being driven by a bunch of rich kids in major American cities who never even had to do household chores to earn their allowance. In fact, I don’t recall ever having bought a single 45. I did inherit quite a few from my sister, who obviously had no special memories for them, but the irony never settled in over me that while my sister was writing checks for 49-cents to college record stores (drove my dad batty…”Why can’t she write if for $5 and pocket the change?”…those checks cost a nickel apiece)…I was cutting grass for $2 and doing odd jobs so I could buy a product Madison Avenue was trying to sell to my dad; you know, the one with the cowboy (Marlboro) or “Show me your Lark”, which I tried once only.
My sister entered college the same week I entered high school in 1960, and graduated from college the same month I graduated from high school in 1964. And she worshipped John F Kennedy, both as President and as a saint.
So did I….for nearly 10 years. But guys my age liked JFK because we thought he was a stud, much like a lot of misinformed men thought about Bill Clinton at a later play-date in Washington. JFK was a war hero, Bill Clinton played a horn in the high school band.
I was at a pep rally in the school auditorium on November 7th, for our state championship football game, when the assistant principal stepped to the podium to say “The president has been shot.” We had to rush home, a five mile bus ride, before we found out the circumstances or that JFK had died. My sister was at a girl’s college 200 mountain miles away, and they held nightly vigils for a week.
By the time I entered law school JFK had lost much of his luster with me because much of his history with babes became more tawdry, and the national media’s cover-up better known. And there was my own personal shame for all the ugly things I’d said about Jackie, calling her a “cold shrew”. It haunted me.
But my sister still loved her saint JFK. We had a quarter century back and forth about her love affair until she finally threw in the towel because the evidence simply became overwhelming. I think it had something to do with that Arkansas scoundrel getting the same media protection as had JFK, and who even she acknowledged was the most classless gutter trash ever to darken the White House doorsteps.
What my sister never knew, and still wouldn’t believe, is that JFK and his brother Bobby were hands-on in a CIA plan to have the duly elected leader of the Republic of South Vietnam, President Ngo Dinh Diem assassinated…just a week before JFK was shot. Diem was resistant to Washington’s plans to be more aggressive in the Republic of Vietnam’s civil war with the Viet Cong, backed by Communist North Vietnam. We’d had several military advisors in country since 1961, a good friend of mine, now 86, was among them. A more favorable military junta replaced Diem and in August, 1964, the “war was on” as they say.
Now if this sounds like Neocon designs for American involvement in the Middle East since Bush, I won’t go there. Our Vietnam experience began with a need to thwart communist (USSR and Chinese) incursions into SE Asia…the domino effect…but as some conservatives of the era noted then, we abdicated that mission when we no longer fought the war to win, which defines our exit from the Middle East only recently.
In 1968 the American people elected a Republican to get us out of a war Democrats had gotten us into, which Richard Nixon in fact accomplished. His mistake was in trying to keep American honor intact, since, from his inauguration in 1969, Vietnam had become a Republican war. Look it up.
About this CIA tidbit above, I know this because one of my very best friends for 30 years had been the wife of the CIA station chief in Saigon, and planning had been set up in his house, over several visits. She was the hostess during those meetings.
For years I offered to help her tell her story…it was worth a lot of money to historians…even more to either political party. But she flatly said no. She and her husband of 40 years died within a year of one another, but we did have one last visit in 2004.
I know, the subject is this International League of Genteel Gutter Trash.
I’m just giving you an overview of forces that playing upon Americans, and have been probably since the advent of radio and television.
And, of course, there has been the countervailing forces of our moral culture which had successfully, until that period between 1960 and 2000, repelled those forces tugging at our souls.
Joe Biden has given those forces a name while quite a few people in and outside the United States have provided the financial incentive to drive toward a new world order. Actually a very ancient one.
That we have a political class in America today almost totally defined by that extended hand, their informal “palms-up” salute, is key to that plan. They are the gate-keepers.
But as long as the American people are still their zoo keepers, still holding the keys to their cages, and the broom closets and shovels to clean those cages, there is a chance that the forces now acting upon us from the top-down can not only be denied, but defeated.
For it is America that the Gentle League of Gutter Trash most covet. In fact they must have control us, or they fail, both as a resurrected ancient design for human management, but as a permanent technological advance.
As scientists once said about nuclear power, “It’s too great a power to be left in the hands of a political class steered by the people” these new powers are too great to remanded into the hands of a vain and arrogant Science and Technology class.