Art as Commentary : A Well Thought Out Scream by James Riordan
They say that the older you get, the more fond you become of ears gone past. Maybe that’s true. I know I have been thinking a lot lately about the 60s especially in regard to the art of the era having a strong influence on the young people of the time. First, you need to understand that when most people refer to the 60’s they are not talking about the years between 1960 and 1969. Most of the time they are referring to the culture of the 60s a decade which really went from 1963 to 1972. It began with the assassination of JFK in November of 1963 and then leaped in full gear with the emergence of the Beatles in 1964, peaked with Woodstock in 1969 and then dwindled out slowly until culture of the 70’s began
The influence that art had on popular culture was greater than perhaps any other era. The music had a message and the prophets that carried that message to the people were Bob Dylan, John Lennon and scores of other musical artists. Everyone had something to say and young people everywhere were open to hearing it. But it wasn’t just music. Films like Easy Rider, books like Catch 22, plays like Hair. It was all about standing up for what you believed in. And commitment. It was almost like people were just waiting for a cause to get behind.
According to JoFreeman.com, on October 20, 1967 several hundred people marched to the Justice Department in Washington D.C. to turn in a thousand draft cards. They were solemnly handed to an Assistant Attorney General who initially refused to accept them. Left on a table by the delegation, eventually they were sent to local draft boards “for reappraisal.” Blacks were more numerous among the rally speakers than listeners because most of the latter went to a separate rally staged near Howard University a few miles away. Rally speakers (and march organizers) were noticeably older than those in the audience. After the speeches, about 50,000 people set off for the Pentagon. It took them about an hour and a half to walk two miles across the Memorial Bridge and down a service road to the north parking lot where a second rally was scheduled. At the other end a group of hippies was trying to exorcize the Pentagon. The brainchild of Abbie Hoffman, the plan was for people to sing and chant until it levitated and turned orange, driving out the evil spirits and ending the war in Viet Nam. The Pentagon didn’t move.
Fifty thousand people came together to try to levitate the Pentagon! Now days you can’t even get five people together to move a piano. They were different times to be sure.