This week Rick recalls a recent reunion with some old friends. Come to think of it, those are the only kind of friends he has — old.
It can be argued that the so-called Hippie Movement of the late sixties changed the world forever, and the music opened the door to a new universe. All the hoopla surrounding The Beatles' recent 50th anniversary provides ample proof of that.
And so it was I made the trek to Hippiefest to relive the music and bask in the glory that my generation had achieved something important.
It was incredibly hot and humid, and raining intermittently when we arrived. The first thing I noticed was that hundreds of people – mostly men – were wearing ponchos. This was the first hint that maybe my generation wasn't as cool as I once thought.
Here are my Top Five reasons one should never wear a poncho:
5) They are hot
4) They are itchy
3) They have slits instead of sleeves
2) We are not Mexican
1) Ponchos are ugly.
My generation hasn't aged well. Most of the thousands of people were portly, dare I say fat slobs. This all began when we started smoking pot and then going to Carvel:
"Give me a large vanilla with chocolate syrup . . . and M&Ms . . . and could I get some marshmallows on that? . . . and nuts? . . . and a cherry? . . . and also give me a chocolate sundae, umm, with French fries and . . ."
The men have long hair, but most are going bald. This is one of those yin and yangs of life. Fellas, if there is none on top, you can't compensate by growing it long on the sides. Also, beards don't make up for being bald. You put one of these hairballs in a lime green and orange tie-dye shirt and you get what appears to be a humongous hairy fruit.
The women favor long tie-dye dresses that go down to their ankles, big and puffy, like tents. A group of hippie women standing together looks like some crazy Christo installation gone amuck. Their hair flows in gnarly knots down to their waists, and that's just their underarm hair.
Our generation has ruined the next generation by giving them hideously ridiculous names our kids will forever be stricken with.
We ran into a couple old friends and their kids at Hippiefest and it was embarrassing.
"Hey Murf, remember me?"
"Howie! Yo, dude, how ya doin' man?"
"Hey, this is my old lady, Sunshine Daydream, and say hi to my daughter, Moon River Dream, and my son, Psilocybin Mushroom Cloud."
A lot of us got into the Far East craze, and I don't mean Montauk. Once The Beatles embraced the Maharishi and Ravi Shankar all bets were off.
What has transpired since is mind-boggling: Acupuncture, Yoga, Meditation, you name it, we tried it.
When my "Old Lady" first suggested we try meditation, I thought she said medication, and I was all for that, but no, this was Vipassana Meditation. Now maybe it's just me, but I thought people who meditated sat on the floor with their legs crossed in the lotus position and chanted "Ommmmmmm" while shutting out the rest of the world.
I ruled it out immediately, because my legs, stiffened from years of playing sports, are incapable of contorting in that manner. I tried it once and it hurt so badly I swore I'd rather pull my liver behind my right ear than fold my legs underneath my thighs.
I reached the breaking point with yoga a long time ago. Practitioners assume these odd positions – positions most assuredly NOT found in the Kama Sutra – and lecture me about beingness. "I'm learning to slow down the thinking process," my Old Lady told me once. ("It can get even slower?" I wondered silently). She never understood I mastered these techniques years ago. She's in the "Tree" pose concentrating on Krishna, and I'm in the "Comatose on Couch" position concentrating on the television.
We were talking about all that stuff back in the late sixties. The difference was we were on drugs. We finally woke up and realized this was America and the Maharishi and Ravi Shankar had put on their ponchos and caught the last train out of town.
I meditate 10 hours every night, in such a deep trance I can actually hear my own chant, which sounds very much like someone snoring.
Anyway, somehow what has become cool has segued into square. I was playing the Classic Vinyl station on Sirius radio and my daughter said, "What's this 'Oldies' crap?" Now to me, Fats Domino and those guys were oldies. The Rolling Stones could never qualify as such, could they?
Back to Hippiefest. The music was surprisingly good. The Zombies, with the brilliant Rod Argent on organ, were electrifying. Felix Cavaliere from The Rascals is a dynamic performer. Flo and Eddie from The Turtles are always entertaining.
When our revolution began we stood up to a crooked regime in Washington that was killing our peers in a senseless war thousands of miles from here; who were killing our planet by allowing major pollutants to poison the water and air; we were selling our souls to the big oil companies for a quick buck.
One sunny day, almost a million of us marched on the nation's capital, dressed in tie-dyes and those hideous ponchos, and demanded it stop. And it did.
We changed the world. It's just too bad we looked so silly doing it.