Post by Old Toby Post by The Old Timer
If "The Pill" is not allowed because of social conservative values, and drugs
generally remain the province of the lower social classes (Robert Mitchum
notwithstanding), you ~might~ get an extension of the 1950s conservativism. But
that might butterfly Hippies out of existance, not Vietnam.
There are a number of problems with that idea, but lets start with the
fact that that that "1950s conservativism", well, wasn't.
Sure, social attitudes in the 1950s were more conservative
than today, but the idea that because they were more conservative,
people in the 1950s must have been conservatives (or, to be more
clear, we should perhaps say conservativists) is a mistake.
The fact is, if you look at the popular culture, the leading
intellectuals, the overall social trends, the cutting edge
new ideas, and even the overall population, you find them
all staunchly progressive. The fact that many of these
progressives still held views we now regard as conservative
only shows that, though progressive, they hadn't yet
progressed. It doesn't show that they were against progress,
or that didn't like the progress that was happening to them,
let alone that they were successfull in halting progress.
Or to put that as facts on the ground: The 1950s saw the
dissolution of old religious and ethnic prejudices, increasing
(though quite incomplete) acceptance of racial minorities,
expansion of women in the professions, increasing freedom
accorded to youth, liberalization of sexual values, religious
ecumenism, rising secularism, declining social formality,
increasing standards for civil liberties, rising interest
in foreign art, music, and cuisine, and a general attitude
that American conditions had not reached some perfect state
that must be saved from decay, but rather were improving,
and would continue to do so.
Conservative voices were marginalized and stigmatized as
ignorant and backward. And, while few were genuinely
radical, most politicians had a generally progressive
outlook. It was not conservatives that '60s radicals
assailed, conservatives were an obscure and marginal
possition, although resistance to the Civil Rights
Movement had brought some of them back. Rather, the
radicals attacked the "liberals" and "gradualists"
who were actually in power.
As for drugs? When were they ever really just "lower
class"? Sure, the poor dominate social stereotypes
of drug users, as they are less able to afford the
habit, more likely to resort to desperate means to
get drugs, and make a more pathetic picture for
"reformers" to point to as a demonstration of the
evils of drugs. But drugs have always had middle
and upper class appeal.
Marijuana may have had genuine lower class roots, and
heroin was associated with jazz and the black underclass,
entering beat circles through that route, but most other
drugs weren't really lower class at all. Cocaine and
"pills" were big in Hollywood. Amphetamines and barbituates
were abused perscription drugs, and had mainly middle class
roots, bored housewives being stereotyped abusers. LSD
started in universities, and had the endorsement of Harvard
professors, most other holucinogens were LSD replacements,
and often inspired by ethno-botanical research...
As far as the pill goes, it's impact is far overstated.
Sexual values had been loosening up since at least the
turn of the century and by the end of the 1950s the
sexual barriers were more about refusing to say what
was going on than major restraints on behavior. Already
Playboy had begun advocating a casual, commitment free,
sexual attitude and "dirty novels" with explicit sex
were widely available. It was now widely accepted that
a young, unmarried woman could live on her own. And
women in movies could have pre-marital sex and get
away with it. The image of the '50s as a time of
rigorously traditional sexuality is quite false, things
hadn't yet gone as far as today, but they were going
Despite peanut gallery comments I am going to leave your post intact.
Two things to remember about the late 1950s and the early 1960s as
times of change: The Beats and the stand-up comedians. The beats were
offering a tune-out drop out mentality for years before the LSD and
other acids became popular.
Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, City Lights, Neal Cassiday, guest star
Henry Miller, and host of others.
The comedians like Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Redd Foxx, Cheech and
Chong, Woody Allen and the forgotten ones at the Purple Onion, hungry
i and in the streets. For those who lived or visited SF in those days:
Carol Doda. In June of 1964, Carol Doda launched her 44 attack,
wearing a topless bathing suit designed by the legendary Rudi
Genreich, and danced her way into infamy. A part of Carol's act called
for her to gyrate while descending to the dance floor atop a piano
that was powered by hydraulics. The girl in the Goldfish Bowl at
Bimbo's 365 Club was also a part of the tour.
[Footnote: One night after closing, one of the bouncers of the Condor
Club, along with one of the clubs dancers, decided to make beautiful
music together while lying atop the hydraulic piano. At some point
during this symphony, the switch was hit and the piano began its slow
rise to the ceiling. In time, the bouncer and the dancer were pinned
to the ceiling, the dancer cushioned protectively by the bouncer who
lay atop her, both of them squeezed between the ceiling and the piano
like a bartender squeezing a lemon. The dancer was discovered alive in
the morning by a janitor. As for the bouncer, it was the last concert
performance of his career! ]
Finnochio's as a break-out point for the gay community, which became a
cultural center for all the cross-dressers and right out fag acts. If
you want a DBWI sometime try the the act where the closing line is:
"You ever see tits like these on a faggot?"
The focal points were San Francisco and New York's Greenwich Village,
if the Vietnam War hadn't taken the steam away from this groundswell
it could have reached out to other cities. Chicago's Second City dates
from this time. Washington DC had the Shadows with Bill Cosby cracking
jokes about women going to the ladies room in pairs, the jock jokes,
and his revelation at one point or another (starling in 1962) that he
was a black African American and not some white guy in makeup.