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The Loft

       1974 was a bad year for me. It was a bad year for Richard Nixon too. It was a good year for the "peace nicks" and the "hippies".

       They got a President of the United States removed from office, even if they were not directly responsible for the circumstances of his resignation. They wanted him removed from office and they got what they wanted.

       It's ironic, because although the counter-cultural revolution going on at the time, was characterized by sentiments about love and sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, and "self-discovery, and mind-expansion", the truth I think is that at the heart of the revolution was a marked anti-war sentiment.

       They were against the war in Vietnam, and I think that was the catalyst that brought them to "Come Together" to borrow some famous words from John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

       If it weren't for the war in Vietnam; oh excuse me, the Vietnam Conflict, since Congress never actually did make a formal declaration of war; but these are arguments in semantics. If it weren't for this bloody stupid military campaign by the U.S. in South-East Asia, and the increasingly bad publicity and bad politics involved, a strong anti-war movement would never have evolved, and it was this strong anti-war attitude held particularly by college students and college-age kids, the "hippie" movement would never have coalesced into the phenomenon that it did.

       I say its ironic that the President of the United States voluntarily stepped down from his high office, thus pleasing millions of counter-culturists, but "Tricky Dick", though so hated by so many "peace-nicks" was the man who actually ended The Vietnam War and brought the troops home, the very thing that the anti-war demonstrators and folk hero's of the day fought so hard to accomplish, and it was their most hated nemesis Richard Nixon who made that happen.

       The irony continues, because without the war, there was no war to demonstrate against, and with the withdrawal of The President from Oval Office, the whole counter-revolution just kind of faded away.

       It was the summer of '74; the hippie movement lost its momentum and converted into nothing more than a fashion statement; a bad one at that. With The American flag being worn on the backs of denim jackets, and denim jeans made by Levi Strauss, and "bell-bottom" jeans, and turtle neck sweaters. The "hippies" won their cause, and in so doing, lost their identity, and their fashion sense.

       Us of the middle prepubescent generation at the time hadn't lost our fashion sense though. we knew exactly how to look cool. Ocean Pacific corduroy shorts with the "Op" proudly displayed on the leg cuff along with an "O.P." or "Hang-Ten" shirt was the perfect formula to look cool, that and a good head of hair; not as long as the hippies; God no, but short hair was out, corduroy was in, and "bell-bottoms" and "turtle-necks" were definitely out. 

       The teen-agers had lost their minds. Levi's might have been cool in the 50's, but among 9-14 year olds they would definitely make you stick out.
       I was a nine year old boy at the time. I had just completed the fourth grade, at LaTijera Elementary School, in Inglewood, California.

       I grew up in L.A., although not originally from California, but my dad was raised in L.A. and brought me and my mother here when I was only three. We lived on Inglewood Blvd, for awhile, then moved to Lennox, and then eventually to Ladera Heights; an unincorporated area of the County of Los Angeles, not too far from LAX; the second largest international airport in the U.S. and characterized by its familiar arch-restaurant, and a block away from Inglewood.

       I went to summer school that summer to continue my violin lessons, and while walking to and from school, carrying my violin case, I looked like a nine year old Chicago Mobster either that or just a "dork".

       It wasn't my fault though, I had good fashion sense, it was my parents that were retarded when it came to styles. And since it was their Master-Charge or Band-Americard that bought my clothes, my attire consisted of J.C. Penney jeans, and Sears "Toughskins" and a very short "bowl-cut" hairdo.

       I hated it; my entire ensemble, except for the high-tops. Those my dad bought me; Coverse High-Tops, and they were cool, and it was a known fact that they could make you run faster. I have to give my dad the credit for that. So if you only looked at my feet, I was cool, but everything else was a cosmetic nightmare. 

       As a result, I wasn't that good at making friends with the "cool" kids-- the kids who had the right styles. I usually hooked up with other boys who displayed similar wardrobe malfunctions. I'm not complaining. They turned out to be good friends. I thought it would be nice though if I had just one cool friend.
       The Summer classes ended after a few weeks, and I found myself wandering around on the campus of LaTijera elementary school, closed for the summer, but the only thing between me and the playing field, was a six foot high fence, easy enough for an agile nine year old to climb over.

       I was at the time spending time by myself. My best friend Nina and I had a parting of the ways, as you might say; Nina was a tom-boy and I loved her to death. She had been my best friend for over a year, but something complicated happened, something that split us up as friends. Something I will talk about later, but at this point, is not particularly relevant. We fixed up our differences about a year later and became best friends again, that is until she moved away when I was fourteen.

       But at this particular time, I didn't have a friend to play with and so was just wandering the abandoned elementary school campus.

       And that is where I met Scott. Scott and I became instant best friends right from that very first day.

       And I never understood why.

       Scott was wearing the latest styles and had the kind of long hair that was typical of boys in the seventies, and it looked good on him, not freakish, like on so many others. He had very fair hair; almost white it was so blond.

       Scott was cool; there was no doubt about it, and wearing clothes like that, he could be as popular as he wanted to be.

       Scott said to me, "Your cool! You want to be my friend?"

       I had no idea what he was referring to. I was a "dork"; minus the glasses. He was the one who was cool, and it seemed a miracle that a kid like that would think I was cool, and would ask to be my friend.

       I said, "Yes, " of course, and asked no further questions.

       I do have to admit though, I had to think about it for a minute before I responded. I was skeptical.  "Was this a set-up?" I asked myself. "Is he going to get me somewhere alone and beat me up?" 

       But Scott smiled and it was genuine. "No, your cool dude, and your super smart!"

       I had been burning leaves with a magnifying glass, when he approached me there on this little bridge that was built to connect the pathway over nothing much more than a mini-gully. He was standing on the bridge when he first spoke and got my attention.

      "Wow!" He said. 

      I looked up and that's when I first saw him. I was sitting below him in the gully burning leaves. I don't know how long he had been standing there watching me.

       Maybe, I guess that's what he was referring to, as far as me being smart. Maybe he had no idea you could burn things with a magnifying glass. You know, we were only nine! Maybe that's why he thought I was cool too, 'cause I was starting fires. well, at least smoke.

       I just graciously accepted his offer of friendship because Scott was a cool kid. Everything about him was cool. I had no idea why he wanted to be my friend but he did, and who was I to question that? Maybe God had smiled down on me.



-- Edited by The Phantom on Tuesday 6th of July 2010 02:10:58 PM


"Sometimes when you open your mind to the impossible,
  you discover the truth." Walter from Fringe.

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