I can’t tell you how excited I was to find this sitting on a shelf at my local Safeway:
In that instant I was transported back to the summer of 1965. I was a grad student living in Berkeley, and just the year before, 10,000 of us had spontaneously surrounded a police car which had driven on to campus to arrest political activist Jack Weinberg. I kicked a cop in the shin, was arrested, detained, but in the end, we prevailed.
The Free Speech movement was born, civil rights were in the air, and I was making the political very personal by dating Odessa, a gorgeous young black activist whose older sister had taken part in the Freedom Rides of 1961 (Odessa’s sense of style, by the way, made Betty Draper look like a frumpy housewife).
One beautiful October afternoon we took a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset in my 1964 Comet to listen to a British band play in a sleepy Sausalito night club.
I don’t remember the name of the club, but I’ll never forget the name of the band: The Kinks. They moment they tore into “You Really Got Me,” electricity shot through to my very fingertips…
… Odessa unzipped her go go boots, and we danced until 6 am. The sex that morning was f-f-f-f-f-fantastic.
There was only one glitch to that perfect night:
It never happened.
I wasn’t born yet. In fact, it would be years before I came into existence.
Have you ever felt nostalgic for a time you yourself never experienced?
(and btw, I swear on my sainted grandmother’s grave that I wrote a draft of this before seeing Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.” Damn you, Woody!)
And if it couldn’t have been the bay area in 1965, I would’ve settled for Berlin in 1927.
Where to begin: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari had taken abstract expressionism from the canvas to the silver screen, Fritz Lang prefigured the Art Deco movement with Metropolis, Freud was introducing the world to penis envy, Thomas Mann had recently published The Magic Mountain, gender-bending cabaret acts were flooding the Kurferstendamm, the Bauhaus was producing some of the most interesting architecture, furniture and domestic design in the world, socialism and worker’s rights were being taken seriously, and, on the downside, a loaf of bread cost 12,000 marks, still less than what it cost to get into the travelling Duchamp exhibit I had just seen.
I’m not an expert on reincarnation, but if it does happen to exist, I’d like to put in my request now that I be reincarnated back in time. Can that be arranged? I’d pay extra for it.
‘course my own actual life has some historical electricity to it, too: I also found this sitting on a shelf at Safeway.
Once in a while, as a kid, just for yucks, I would follow the instructions and actually cut the box open on top, pour the milk in, and eat from this self-contained wonder. It always leaked, but it was always fun.
And I would do it while watching Charles Nelson Reilly chew up the surreal scenery in Lidsville. Charles may not have been Toshiro Mifune…
but – in his own way – you have to admit, he had a little bit of IT, too.
And speaking of IT, don’t get me started on who was hanging out in New York in 1977….