Over the last few years I’ve found myself going back to my 1960s and 70s roots.
I didn’t get my hair cut during the second half of the Bush regime, letting it get down to my ass even though it was getting to be a pain to deal with by the end.
Apparently I’m not alone, although I was an oddity among the older w0men where I worked. I stopped coloring my hair some six years ago too. I like going gray, actually seeing my own hair color and being less of a slave to the corporations. I have a general rule when it comes to who I go to for hair cuts. I want some one with visible multiple tats, multiple piercings and idiosyncratic hair colors or styles.
We get the New York Times, a real luxury here in Texas but it is one of the few reasonably reliable newspapers in the country. Two weeks ago the Sunday Style section had an article about older women who wore their hair long and gray. Why Can’t Middle-Aged Women Have Long Hair?
My mother has a lot to say about my looks: Where did you find that shirt? Did you forget your makeup? She recently suggested, fluttering her hands in the vicinity of her ears, that I get just a very little trim. As if she thought she could still trick me into the barber’s chair to re-enact one of the central traumas of my childhood, when I was marched into a hair salon (so that’s where mothers went?) with hair to my waist and came out an outraged, stunned, ravaged 7-year-old with a stylish, hateful pageboy.
My mother’s favorite expression to me is “Make an Effort.” What she doesn’t understand, of course, is that just because things don’t turn out the way she thinks they should doesn’t mean an effort wasn’t made. It is incredible how parents and children never let go of old habits of relating. My mother still makes me feel like a 15-year-old. However, that no longer feels like a bad thing, if you see what I mean.
While we are at it. What the hell is wrong with saying, “I’m old or older”? Most of my friends from my youth are dead, I’m in my 60s and I don’t want to pretend I’m still in my 40s. Unless you die young you get old.
When I was a hippie in the Haight, Imogen Cunningham , the photographer lived up the hill. She was literally the little old lady in tennis shoes with the camera.
When I went to demonstrations against the war there were always the old people there among the hippies and young people and they always looked different from their peers. Maybe they were union, maybe socialists, pacifists or reds but they were different. More vital and less conforming.
Then there was Malvina Reynolds, the grandmother of topical songs like “Little Boxes”.
Amid all the political and topical books I read for back ground information for this blog I have found myself rereading some old favorites along with some by those authors I hadn’t read previously.
I got reacquainted with Doc Starvis, Bonnie Abbzug and the rest of Edward Abbey’s “Monkey Wrench Gang”. Some 30 years later they still seem relevant. “Hayduke Lives” is every bit as bodacious.
Earth First! and “Stand for what you stand on!” still seem like good slogans.
Last night we were watching a Smithsonian show about the last of the Tsars. Now I always thought royals of any stripe sucked and the Tsars were among the worst of the worst. I thought the Bolsheviks did a good deed when they killed off Nicholas II and the rest of his family. Sort of the same way I felt about the French beheading the royals during their revolution. Basically I consider royalty to be worthless parasites.
So I wasn’t the least bit surprised to learn the Russian Orthodox Church ordained them as saints. Denis Diderot was right: “Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”
I bought an acoustic guitar in 2006. I hadn’t played in a long time. Tina and I gave each other matching silver peace symbols for the winter gift giving holiday. We went to the Media Reform Conference in Memphis in January.
More and more I moved back to being the left wing hippie I was so long ago. Being older means having the freedom to not care so much about anyone’s standards because we are no longer visible, at least in the media. No one expects us to be chic or fashionable and so we get to be comfortable.
And it finally seems as though some hippie values are resurfacing. California is in the forefront of the “Legalize Pot” just as it was years ago when I first went there.
I’m reading “Ecotopia Rising” by Ernest Callenbach. It was published nearly 30 years ago at the dawn of the rise of the ultra right wing era of Corporate Fascism. He talks about global warming even then and all the things we need to do. He also writes about how the “Conservatives” managed to deregulate and destroy both the environment and the manufacturing base by off-shoring all the jobs.
Indeed this book could be talking about today.
It sometimes seems the left got lost in all the academic bullshit of multiculturalism and identity politics because it was afraid to discuss actual matters of race, class and misogyny out of fear of having to say harsh words or endanger their cushy positions in what has deteriorated into system of factories churning out human resources for the corporations to utilize for their ability to produce surplus value to enrich the wealthy elite.
So few remember how the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley was about not being treated like clay to be molded into a corporate clone by the University-Industrial Complex.
So much of what supposedly passes for a radical critique emanating from the cultural studies department is little more than bullshit disguised in unintelligible jargon.
What happened to “Question Authority” as an ethos. Instead of buying every single freaking product that subjects you to endless sales pitches.
There are signs that people are slowing their seemingly ceaseless consumption for a wide variety of reasons but mainly because our McJobs do not pay us enough to live and constantly consume. Credit cards like the lie of Republican “Fiscal Conservatism” have left us bankrupt as one cannot go on forever borrowing and spending.
Some of us are questioning the ecological damage we are doing as well, looking at alternatives.
They used to call us “Dirty Hippies” mostly because we wore thrift store clothes and scavenged furniture from the streets.
Then there was the drought in California when water was scarce and prices went through the ceiling. Doing only full loads of laundry, not flushing every time if it was just pee, turning the water off while brushing etc and the slogan “Save Water, shower with a Friend” became popular. An article this last Sunday in the New York Times Style section gave a headline to something that has become unthinkable.
CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS
A DAILY shower is a deeply ingrained American habit. Most people would no sooner disclose they had not showered in days than admit infidelity. But Jenefer Palmer, 55, of Malibu, Calif., cheerfully acknowledged recently that she doesn’t shower or shampoo daily and doesn’t use deodorant. Ever.
No, she does not work from home in pajamas. In fact, Ms. Palmer, the chief executive of Osea, an organic skin-care line, often travels to meet business contacts at the five-star luxury hotels where her line is sold. They might be surprised to read that Ms. Palmer, a petite, put-together brunette, showers “no more than three times a week,” she said, and less if she hasn’t been “working out vigorously.”
She contends that a soapy washcloth under her arms, between her legs and under her feet is all she needs to get “really clean.” On the go, underarm odor is wiped away with a sliced lemon.
Defying a culture of clean that has prevailed at least since the 1940s, a contingent of renegades deliberately forgoes daily bathing and other gold standards of personal hygiene, like frequent shampooing and deodorant use.
To the converted, there are many reasons to cleanse less and smell more like yourself. “We don’t need to wash the way we did when we were farmers,” said Katherine Ashenburg, 65, the author of “The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History.” Since the advent of cars and labor-saving machines, she continued, “we have never needed to wash less, and we have never done it more.”
While this isn’t particularly where I am coming from it is sort of in-tune with where I am regarding a number of products. I almost never wear make-up hence I have little need for serious facial cleansing coupled with expensive lotions to remoisturize skin that wouldn’t be dehydrated were it not for having had to do the deep cleansing in the first place.
I almost never wear perfume and often find some of the most expensive ones make me ill. I find it rather silly to spend so much on a product that costs so little to make.
By the same token I find scented candles and plug in air polluters repulsive.
I wonder how many allergies are caused by the huge number of extraneous chemicals we are spraying, bathing in or otherwise subjecting ourselves to in order to deny our natural scent.
Rather than covering up bad odors perhaps they are a sign it is time for some cleaning.
But all these things are parts of the path which has led me in a circle back to the place where the things that were important to me like social justice, equality and the environment are once again important to me.
I would rather stand for what I believe in than pretend not to see those things that are wrong. Even when that makes me one of those people the right wing calls a dirty commie hippie.
Oh well, I guess I’ll go cook a vegetarian dinner and play a little guitar before dragging the lap top to the living room to live blog the returns.