John Mark Reynolds- Contributor
Mark Reynolds is the founder and director of the Torrey
Honors Institute, and Associate Professor of Philosophy,
at Biola University.
Battle for the Soul of the Sixties...
[John Mark Reynolds] 2/27/04
I just returned from a delightful reprise of the play Forever
Plaid at the La Mirada Performing Arts Center. I first saw this
marvelous musical memory ten years ago and loved it then, but
McCoy-Rigby has gotten the show exactly right. The show is essentially
a memorial to the tight harmonies of the male quartets of the
early sixties. Before the British Invasion helped end their reign,
and the need for actual musicality for pop fame, great songs
like Perfidia and Love is a many Splendored Thing dominated American
music. Children and adults actually listened to the same music.
I am too young for Plaid to be nostalgic, but it was a reminder.
My father and mother were young adults in the sixties. They
smoked no dope. They burned no draft cards or underwear. They
voted for Nixon. They mostly thought Woodstock was a bird in
Peanuts. In that, they were like the vast majority of the nation.
They were squares, not fitting into media contrived images
of the sixties. Paid taxes. Obeyed the law. Went to college
to learn and not protest. Folk like my parents were forever
Plaid, while a minority of their generation went mad. This
minority engaged in stupid behavior of all sorts, often harming
themselves and others. While the Plaids paid the bills, these
folk organized parties to congratulate themselves on their
wisdom where they destroyed themselves with bad drugs and worse
sex. Call them Woodstocks.
Woodstocks have long lists of important people in the sixties,
all of whom by no surprise are Woodstocks. Time has not been
kind to famous Woodstocks. Plaids went on doing things while
Woodstocks congratulated themselves on doing things. As a result,
the best Plaids will dominate the history books while the Woodstocks
fade away as the hype dies out.
example? Bill Bright was more important to the nation than
If you consume Woodstock media, you have
heard of Hoffman but not Bright. Bright founded Campus Crusade
for Christ. Millions of adults all over the world were converted
to Christianity. He wrote pamphlets and books. His Four
Spiritual Laws is in scores of languages. He helped
produce a film on Jesus that has been seen by more people than
any other film ever made. Abbey Hoffman did some stuff no one
can quite remember, but most of which was probably bad for
himself and the country. Google both names to see whose legacy
is likely to live on past them.
Plaids were clever enough to make enduring television still
watched by all age groups. Woodstocks are always trying to appeal
the latest generation. Forever up to date, Woodstocks are always
producing junk that is forever dated. The ultimate Plaid Andy
Griffith Show is still watched by millions. Don Knotts is still
funny. The great Woodstock show Laugh In produces no laughs
in the rare moments it is in the lineup.
Nothing shocking in this. The Plaids gave the nation its best
entertainment. Walt Disney managed to entertain for almost
the entire sixties without succumbing to degenerate tastes.
His master film of the decade Mary Poppins gave us Julie Andrews.
Julie Andrews would give the nation Sound of Music. Woodstocks
were too groovy to go to Sound of Music. They went to Hair, a musical now so unwatchable that any revival would have to
be disallowed as cruelty to aging fans.
I would guess more kids went to Awana, a Christian youth organization,
in the sixties than lit up. Awana kids wrestled with memorizing
the King James Bible, language as beautiful as Shakespeare.
Woodstock kids scoffed at such activities as anti-intellectual
and read radical poets. Safe to say, people are still memorizing
the King James Bible while the Woodstock grandparents, those
who made it that far, cannot remember themselves let alone
the names of the poets.
Plaids studied in college and invented computers and the internet.
Woodstocks used it to get cheap porn.
The Plaids had the best sports stars. Forever Plaid Bart Starr
led the Packers of the 1960s. I met Starr at a Super Bowl party
two years ago in San Diego. He still dominated a room, always
the championship quarterback. Starr played with discipline
on and off the field. He was and is square and cool. Hearing
him talk about duty, country, and good values made me cry.
Starr was with his wife Cherry. They were the type of couple
that made you want to grow old together.
Woodstocks had Joe Namath. Joe won a single championship game,
but became famous for his bluster before it. Mostly he was
famous for chasing skirts and booze. Recently the nation watched
this aging Lothario with improbable hair, drunkenly accosting
a reporter young enough to be his grand-daughter. One more
win for the Plaids.
administration began to end the cultural hold of the Woodstocks
on the American imagination. It was all there.
Faux-idealistic programs like AmeriCorps. Sexual irresponsibility.
Hatred of the military and authority. Confusion of the trappings
of college dorm life, late night gab fests with pizza, with
intellectual activity. On and on it went. Until we were all
sick of it. Sick of a President playing the saxophone and telling
us about his underpants. At least Broadway Joe was drunk. No
wonder the nation turned to a repentant Plaid who had strayed
as a youth, George W. Bush. We can trust his instincts since
his family from George H.W., the youngest fighter pilot in
the Pacific, and his mother, Barbara, who dared to become matronly,
were pure Plaid.
the original sin of this sordid group. Woodstocks never tire
about their courageous opposition to
war. Of course, their courageous opposition left most of them
safe at home opposing the war from Plaid funded college dorms.
The war they were opposing was part of the Cold War in which
the United States defeated an ideology, communism, which killed
more people than any other in the history of mankind. Almost
all Woodstocks had kind words for all Communist leaders and
hated anti-communists. Woodstocks still get more worked up
about film black lists than the Russian slave labor camps.
Sadly, for them, thousands of Vietnamese have fled the slavery
of the genocidal state the Woodstocks helped foist on Vietnam
and live in the United States. They are living proof that the
Woodstocks were appeasers like Neville Chamberlain without
Chamberlain's wit and piety.
revolution is their most lasting accomplishment, though most
of the folk,
who foisted it on us, can no longer
the fruits of their labor having long ago succumbed to the
natural consequences of their libertine life style. Talk to
any pastor about the hours of therapy needed by a culture forced
to bear the burden of the Woodstock's murder of innocence.
About the only thing for which the Woodstocks claim credit that
is a genuine, positive, accomplishment is in improved race
relations. The only difficulty is that the best work in racial
reconciliation was done by the World War II generation in the
period after World War II and in the early sixties. The greatest
generation broke the back of segregation and ended tolerance
for public racism. As usual, the Woodstocks took a promising
situation and fouled it up. They introduced anger, affirmative
action, and re-segregated society into special interest groups.
While the Plaids began to integrate Billy Graham meetings,
the Woodstocks shouted for social welfare policies that would
create a permanent welfare class for both poor whites and blacks.
As usual, Plaids integrated in real life, in the locker rooms
and slowly but surely in personal relationships, while Woodstocks
took the credit.
The Woodstocks resent their exile from political power under
George W. Bush. They somehow infer that it is partly due to
their lack of testosterone. They have taken to screeching,
even their presidential candidates, to compensate. Woodstocks
believe themselves smarter than Plaids, though they are always
dumbing down the educational curriculum for themselves and
everyone else. By avoiding Plaid topics such as analytic logic
and science, Woodstocks can now earn humanities and law degrees
studying themselves and their works! These lightly read intellectuals
believe the right wins because it is angry, so they too have
become angry. Eric Alterman of MSNBC.com is the best example.
He sneers and he lies, he hates and he whines, but he cannot
actually do anything. Like most Woodstocks, he is a parasite
on Plaid culture.
America will pass final judgment on the Woodstocks. John Kerry,
Brahmin veteran turned Maoist fellow traveler,
is the ultimate Woodstock. With his eye on the future, he betrayed
the Plaids of his Vietnam unit and joined the smart set. But
at last, Plaid America has had enough. 1972's debacle
taught Woodstocks nothing. Sneering is so second nature to
them. Woodstocks believe in their own greatness. They have
been writing unreadable academic articles and making unwatchable
movies about themselves for a generation. It will never occur
to them that their children have finally grown up. Many of
them know all too well the folly of their fathers and Plaids
always welcome a good conversion experience. Kerry and his
Woodstock minions are sure to enrage the Plaids again. They
will carry Massachusetts, D.C., and perhaps a bit more.
Plaid America aroused finished off Hitler, Stalin, and Sadaam.
Well intentioned, aging, appeasers will be no problem at all.
Voters shall at last push them out of public life and into
their own private sixties. There they can be left to age gracelessly
as botox and bile fail to hold off the justice of time. Meanwhile,
we can honor the forgotten sixties heroes and remain forever
2004 John Mark Reynolds