Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Ride My See-Saw" (1968)

My parents entertained a lot when I was growing up. Families would arrive at the house, and the kids would be sent to the basement while the adults ran amok above. Occasionally one of us would venture upstairs, then return with a report. We were not impressed.

As we grew into our teens, the situation reversed.

Among the occasional visitors we received was a father who worked in broadcasting. I can still recall his entrance into the cigarette haze of our shaggy, wood-panelled rec room, waving his hand in front of his face, as if to say, Too smokey! even though he was known for his three-pack-a-day habit.

"What the hell are you listening to!" he demanded.

"Stones," said his daughter, not looking up.

"The Rolling Fucking Stones! I met those cocksuckers when they were here in '65. They're midgets, you know. Same with the Beatles. None of them are over five-foot-eight, ninety-seven pounds."

And he went on like this, calling down these bands as if their worth is based not on what can be imagined, but on their height and weight.

Because we knew everything about the musicians who serenaded us during our teenage years, we knew not only the years they were born, but also the days. Something that occurred to me years later is that most of the British musicians we listened to were born during the Second World War (1939-1945), conceived under stress and weened on mother's milk derived from bad diets.

Of course something similar could be said of the man who descended on us that day, who often boasted that whatever success he achieved in life was based on what he learned growing up (rich) during the Great Depression -- an economic situation that not only preceded the Second World War, but in many ways brought it into being.

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