The River's Badge

Saturday, April 21, 2018

1971 ~ A Year No One Ever Commemorates

(No one dressed like this.)

 Apparently the biggest news of 1971 is that cigarette ads were banned from TV (too late!)

I was fifteen-going-on-sixteen and in the tenth grade, which is a lowly teenage status. Not quite as lowly as a freshman, but at least freshmen had a distinct identity (losers). Sophomores were only semi-losers, but definitely not cool. Zit-afflicted; hair that only looked good on lucky days, we didn't walk the school halls as cowed as we did as freshmen, but we shrunk from making eye contact with anyone in the cool grades, for fear of contemptuous glances. Being overlooked was a much preferable state. 

I carried a fat geometry textbook that I never once cracked open. Perpendicular lines and isosceles triangles only mattered if they were incorporated into something I was doodling in class. Math in general was useless, but I was forced to take a couple of math classes in my quest to graduate with a "college prep" diploma. In English class, we were reading Julius Caesar, which was minimally more interesting than geometry. World History was perpetually boring. We learned about places like Constantinople and other European cities that no longer existed, so who cared? I never quite grasped what started World War I until I saw a documentary on AHC many decades later.

Since the FCC banned cigarette commercials, catch-phrases dwindled.

"It's not nice to fool Mother Nature" was cool because it was spoken in such a malevolent tone.


"My wife; I think I'll keep her" is apparently offensive, because irony is a lost art.


Who can forget the spicy meatball?



In pop music, George Harrison got a bum rap for supposedly plagiarizing "He's So Fine". The truth is, if anyone ever creates a melody that's never been heard before, it will be cacophonous crap that shreds one's ear canals. Everyone borrows from someone, and when it happens, trust me, it's subconscious.





We went to the movies and saw The Exorcist, which was "stupid", rather than "scary". 

George Carlin was subversive and we loved him for it.


If George Carlin was alive today, he could kiss his career goodbye. I bought his albums, AM and FM, and Class Clown, and hid them between Merle and Connie Smith.

We watched Marcus Welby, MD and especially Mannix on TV. 

The hottest inventions of 1971 were the Intel 4004, which was supposedly something called a "microprocessor". I have no idea what possible future that sad conception could hold. Sorry, Intel; better luck next time. Keep trying! Some quirky coffee shop named "Starbucks" opened in Seattle, Washington, but no one cared. Folgers (or in my case, Coca-Cola) was everyone's intravenous caffeine delivery device.

A plug-in cooker dubbed "The Beanery" wasn't exactly a commercial success until Rival changed the name to "Crock Pot". I hope the person who came up with the moniker, "Crock Pot" got a huge bonus, but I bet they didn't. I'm guessing the CEO of Rival thought "The Beanery" would be a fab name, because that's why, after all, he earned the big bucks. Some lowly clerk hunkered in a walled cubicle thought up "Crock Pot" and got to keep her job until the next round of layoffs.

In the newly-found freedom of my brand-spankin'-new bedroom, I read paperbacks like "Love Story", which was a putrid book and a complete waste of my free time; and "Airport", which was at least somewhat captivating; albeit brain candy. But that's how paperbacks were. Reading books written by the likes of Jacqueline Susann left one with a desperate need to scrub their skin raw when they finished them. They were late-night reads. If I was to add up all the time I've spent in my life reading worthless books and watching worthless TV shows, I'd be able to tack on, at a minimum, one year to my life. All these complete wastes of time are important life lessons, though. One has to learn what is valuable and what is crap, and be able to discern the difference.

The hit songs of 1971 may have, at the time, seemed like revelations. Now they sound like hackneyed dead weights.

Like this one:



At least this song had a melody:


And, FYI, I wasn't down and troubled and I didn't need a helping hand. Okay, I was down and troubled, but James Taylor wasn't about to fix that. And I was insulted that he even thought he could.



Sorry, Jimmy. A little ditty was not about to solve all my existential problems. Besides, this song is maudlin.

If you want to make me happy, sing this one:



1971 saw the rise of "cuteness" in music; artists who tried hard to be hip, but their dimples gave them away -- The Osmonds, The Jackson Five, The Partridge Family. These were my little sister's artists. This is what pop music had become. I ignored all of that. I was frankly into country music by then anyway, although I couldn't escape pop culture any more than I could overlook this:



This song is famous for the most repetitions of the phrase, "I know". Weird thing to be remembered for, but there it is.



The reason no one commemorates 1971 is that music basically sucked. 

"What were the top songs of 1971, Dad?"

"Well, son, someone sang a song about his dog that he gave a really stupid name to."

"He sang about his dog?"

"We had very little to sustain ourselves with back then, son. If we wanted to take our music somewhere, we had to find a crate and stuff our LP's in it and load them in the trunk of the car."

"What's an 'LP'?"

"It's not important now. Just listen to Lobo on this here eight-track cartridge I fished out of our neighbor's garbage can."



The primary reason I've never discussed 1971 is that, aside from the fluff posted here, I barely remember it. I can conjure up snippets of memories, but it was a lonely time. I did my best to fill my days and nights; nevertheless, every day was a day to slog through. It was paper I crumpled in my hand. 

I hadn't yet figured out who I was or who I wanted to be. I thought that once '73 arrived, purple butterflies would flutter and alight on my outstretched hand.  And the secret of life would unfold.

I'm still waiting.






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