In 1972 the Vietnam War was in full swing. I was approaching draft age. And I was pissed off. In the preceding four years, since I was 13, I’d been seriously affected by the Eugene McCarthy presidential campaign, appalled by the Robert Kennedy and M. L. King murders, and precociously outraged at Nixon and Kissinger’s Strangelovian politics.
I cut school to attend peace marches, I hung out in incense-infused headshops and bought their dayglo druggy posters (while doing no drugs other than the occasional aspirin), and made up for lost time by scarfing up oodles of used LPs of the most esoteric or iconoclastic bands I could find.
I’d also discovered rock and roll and, although still living with my Mozart-obsessed parents, was emulating as best I could the hippies I saw daily in the University District. My hair was long and frizzy (I’d been growing it since the Kent State University shooting of 1970), and my politics were thoroughly Lefty. I did bathe, however.
My outfits were idiosyncratic, as evidenced by this photo taken by my friend Nancy, whom I'd met in Photography class. As you might expect, I was wearing the flag shirt out of disrespect, though I don't know that it was manufactured with that intent nor whether any of my classmates figured that out. Some of them called me Captain America. Captain Anti-Amerika was more like it.
My friends and I frequented the farmers’ markets and summer streetfairs, where I stocked up on homemade belts, leather rings and headbands, scented candles. The revolution was coming any time now.
Today I went to the annual Green Fest in downtown Seattle. The organization my wife has recently co-started, Sustainable Bellevue, was helping man a booth. And down the aisles there they were: the hemp products, the candles and lotions, the handmade clothing from Nepal, the alternative architectural notions, booths promoting alternative fuel or offering to convert your car to electricity, products made from recycled tires or potato sacks or tennis shoes or pop bottles or newspapers or old Bollywood films (seriously). Lots of longhairs, sandals, and wild outfits. It felt like home.
The revolution we were hoping for never exactly came, but maybe there’s still a chance.