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Quotes / The '60s

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"If you can remember The '60s, you weren't really there."
Unknown / Disputed, frequently attributed to Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Dennis Hopper, George Harrison, Robin Williams and Judy Collins, among others.


Say, remember when male Baby Boomers were young and their parents made fun of them for growing their hair long and otherwise not conforming to stifling 1950s codes of what a man should be or look like? Well, those Boomers all lost their hair and now it’s their turn to police everyone else’s masculinity. Whether you’re treating the the availability of a little cinnamon and nutmeg in your coffee like a full grade crisis because girls like it or you think that guy with a small dog up the street ought to be feeling a lot more shame than he apparently does, you’re certainly making your father happy, wherever he is, probably hell.

Film — Live-action

Dr. Evil: Isn't it ironic, Mr. Powers, that the very things you stand for— swinging, free love, parties, distrust of authority—are all now, in The '90s, considered to be...evil? Maybe we have more in common than you care to admit.
Austin: No, man, what we swingers were rebelling against were uptight squares like you, whose bag was money and world domination. We were innocent, man! If we'd known the consequences of our sexual liberation, we would have done things differently, but the spirit would have remained the same. It's freedom, man, yeah!
Dr. Evil: Your freedom has caused more pain and suffering in the world than any plan I ever dreamed of. Face it, freedom failed.
Austin: No, man, freedom didn't fail! Right now, we've got freedom and responsibility. It's a very groovy time.


Although it is hard to believe, the sixties are not fictional; they actually happened.

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(Which was rather late for me)
Between the end of the
Chatterley ban
And The Beatles' first LP
Philip Larkin, Annus Mirabilis

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda… You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning…
And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave…
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

Live-Action TV

"Another decorator's nightmare! This era had a distinct lack of taste."
Garak grows weary of a spy simulation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ("Our Man Bashir")

"So, Barack Obama, give it up. You're stuck with the sixties' battles. Even you acceptance speech tonight is on the 45th anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, the very movement of the Earth around the Sun is keeping you in the 60s...So, let us keep fighting the culture wars of our grandparents, never mind that 50 percent of today's Americans weren't even born when these arguments mattered. (Less Hanoi Hilton, more Paris Hilton) They are still relevant today! The sixties are a political gift that keeps on giving because they are wounds our country can never heal, as long as we keep picking at it!"
The Colbert Report, "The Word: Acid Flashback", on the 2008 Democratic National Convention

"In pop culture in the late 60s, you had the three Bs: The Beatles, Bond, and Batman."
Adam West, Superheroes: A Never Ending Battle


Come gather 'round people wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'
Bob Dylan, "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

What's that I hear now ringing in my ear
I've heard that sound before
What's that I hear now ringing in my ear
I hear it more and more
It's the sound of freedom calling
Ringing up to the sky
It's the sound of the old ways falling
You can hear it if you try
Phil Ochs, "What's That I Hear"

The Eastern world, it is explodin'
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'
You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'
You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'?
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin'
But you tell me over and over and over again, my friend
You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction
Barry McGuire, "Eve of Destruction"

Politicians don't debate, they transcendental meditate
Stockbrokers aren't in at ten, they're all strung out on heroin
Baseball players aren't so square, they've got beards and stringy hair
Car dealers don't just sell trains, they sometimes also deal cocaine
T-Bone Burnett, "The Sixties"

Chinese people were fighting in the park
We tried to help them fight, no one appreciated that
Martin X was mad when they outlawed bell bottoms
Ten years later they were sharing the same cell
I shouted out, "Free the Expo '67"
Till they stepped on my hair, and they told me I was fat
They Might Be Giants, "Purple Toupee"

We were the girls of the 50's
Stoned rock and rollers in the 60's
And more than our names got changed
As the seventies slipped on by
Now we're 80's ladies
There ain't been much these ladies ain't tried
K.T. Oslin, "80's Ladies"

Stand-Up Comedy

"These people went from 'Do your own thing' to 'Just say no'. They went from 'Love is all you need' to 'Whoever winds up with the most toys wins'. And they went from cocaine to Rogaine. And you know something? They're still counting grams, only now it's fat grams."
George Carlin, "Free-Floating Hostility"

Web Original

Vietnam... well on the bright side, it inspired a lot of pretty good music. (And with the exception of Apocalypse Now and Platoon [Before Charlie Sheen became insane], some pretty mediocre films.)

Chris: These are also some well-dressed crooks. Jackets and ties on all three dudes, and Catwoman in a fur overcoat, black dress and knee-high patent leather boots. The '66 era had this incredible stylishness to it that was a huge part of why it was so successful in a time of mod fashions and pop art.
David: This entire show IS incredibly stylish. It’s remembered far more for its garishness, but… well, garishness was in back then.
—Chris Sims and David Uzumeri on Batman: The Movie

Real Life

After being thrown down a garbage chute by a bully, Screech discovers a previously unseen room at the school. The walls are covered in posters of classic rock bands — Hendrix, the Stones, and “three guys with Paul McCartney...” A calendar lays open on 1968. It's a time capsule of those days of free love and barefoot girls pushing flowers into gun barrels, before Charlie Manson ruined the party for everyone.
Stuart Millard, So Excited, So Scared

After all, 1968 ended the era of General de Gaulle in France, the era of Democratic presidents in the U.S.A., the hopes of liberal communism in communist central Europe...The reason why 1968...was not the revolution, and never looked as though it would or could be, was that students alone, however numerous and mobilizable, could not make one alone. Their political effectiveness rested on their ability to act as signals and detonators for larger but less easily combustible groups.
Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes, 1994

"… we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier—the frontier of the 1960's—a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils— a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats."
John F. Kennedy, Democratic National Convention, 1960

"There is a Chinese curse which says 'May he live in interesting times.' Like it or not, we live in interesting times."
Robert F. Kennedy, Day of Affirmation speech, 1966

"We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children."
Martin Luther King Jr.., "I Have a Dream" speech, 1963

So Jack and Nixon (Congress, class of '47) are now both gone—paladin and goblin, each put back in the theatrical box of discarded puppets and, to a future eye (or puppet-master), interchangeable. Why not a new drama starring Jack Goblin and Dick Paladin? In their political views they were more alike than not if one takes the longest view and regards the national history of their day as simply a classic example of entropy doing its very chilly thing.
Gore Vidal, Palimpsest, 1995

"I'd read enough about it to know they weren't Satanists, they were bullshit artists and they'd found an exotic way they could ball each other and have an orgy. And get stoned. It was fun and games and dungeons & dragons and debauchery and as long as the chick was happy and wasn't really going to get anything sharper than a dildo stuck into her, I wasn't going to walk away from it."

The lessons learnt in the '60s about merchandising stupidity to the American public on a large scale have been used over and over again since that time.
Frank Zappa, "My Pet Theory"


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