Tahoe Pine Nuts: 1969 was the best year of the 20th century
March 25, 2015
As a general thing, I prefer living in the 19th century. But every now and again I take a little walk on the wild side and venture into the 20th century, where I am drawn to the remarkable year of 1969.
Well, look at it, the Jets win the Super Bowl, the Mets win the World Series, and we take a walk on the moon.
Shirley Chisolm becomes the first black woman elected to Congress. With 20 years in education, she asks to be appointed to the Education and Labor Committee but is appointed instead to the Forestry Committee.
She explains to Speaker McCormack, "There are no trees in my district, and I've never seen a forest."
So she is transferred to Veterans' Affairs. Says Shirley, "At least there are more Veterans in my district than trees."
Mrs. Chisolm would later claim, "I was more discriminated against as a woman than as an Afro-American."
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Janis Joplin captures the mood of 1969 with her song, "Get It While You Can," and a 3 a.m. start time in the mud at Woodstock does not discourage Credence Clearwater Revival, or anybody else for that matter, as the beat of 1969 goes on.
In a nice tradeoff, Sesame Street appears on television while advertisements for cigarettes disappear.
Richard Nixon, who by his own admission, "…was not smart enough to play quarterback" at Whittier College, presides as President of the United States, and whenever he says, "Let me make one thing clear," everybody knows he is buying time to crank up the fog machine.
Cannabis is the weed of choice in 1969, even though possession continues to be a felony. In Virginia, Frank Lavarre is convicted of possession and sentenced to 20 years in prison, the same sentence as that for first-degree murder.
Timothy Leary, the Godfather of LSD, announces he will challenge Ronald Reagan for the governorship of California. Asked if he is serious about taking on Reagan, Leary responds, "No, I am not serious. But I am going to win."
Our war in Vietnam is starting to be recognized as a boondoggle, yet it will slog on for another six years.
There is a march on Washington to protest the war, 250,000 strong. Vice President Agnew calls the demonstrators, "an effete corps of impudent snobs."
An oil spill fouls the shores of Santa Barbara, acid rain begins to fall on our plains, and we are told that tanning can kill.
The movie "Easy Rider" characterizes the disposition of 1969, as two young bikers take off across America, coming from nowhere and going no place in particular.
Fashion is mandated mostly by flea markets. And though The Godfather and The Making of a President are exceptional, the best book of that year to my mind is The Peter Principle, which puts forth the theory that every employee rises to the level of his incompetence.
Incredibly, in 1969, a man is walking around with another man's heart in his chest, having been gifted a precious 594 additional days of life.
So thank you, 1969, for a remarkable year, and a priceless picture, as the most profound and treasured gift that comes to us from 1969 is a photograph, a color photograph of our earth from the moon that allows us to see ourselves as we are, one people on a little blue ball.
Learn more about McAvoy Layne at ghostoftwain.com.