Modern Man

Quote of the Day:

Can you help me occupy my brain?”     –Black Sabbath, Paranoid, released October, 1970

Contemplating the at once ascendant and yet deteriorating state of the world we live in and TB’s ten-twenty on the celestial spectrum lately…..

I was born in 1970. Coincidentally, perhaps, I view that year as year one of the modern era. There is abundant evidence for the proposition in the changes that came about over the surrounding years.

In 1969, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon (said none of these things by the way, sadly), and by 1970 Bewitched, Andy Griffith and I Dream of Jeannie were all airing in the full glory of Technicolor. Beverly Hillbillies too. But these shows, that all started as black and whites and depicted American life in an idyllic, delightful and zany light were in their last days, being overcome by a new type of sitcom–All In The Family, The Brady Bunch, and MASH–still funny, still zany, but with hippies and mixed families and people who hated the Army. We began to acknowledge and laugh at American dysfunctionality. The transition from the ancient world to the modern in entertainment was distinct.

The turbulent sixties (a federal law was passed in 1978 requiring use of “turbulent” in any publication discussing that decade in any way) featured civil rights battles in the streets and the passage of Medicare, changing American politics forever; and Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays retired in 1969 and 1973, respectively (though many baseball fans refuse to acknowledge Mays’ two years with the Mets beginning in ’72.) Their departures symbolized a changing of the guard in the pastime. In 1970 Curt Flood challenged baseball’s reserve clause and set in motion the concept of free agency as it is now practiced in all professional sports. The seventies would begin the era of mortality for our sporting heroes–Reggie Jackson, Steve Garvey, Pete Rose–little different than their often belligerent, hard-drinkin’, womanizin’ and gamblin’ predecessors, but publicized now. Even the Presidency was de-pedestalized in the new age with the exposure and fall of Nixon.

The first mideast oil crisis was in 1973. Resulting gas lines were a deceptively gruesome foreshadowing of America’s future. Monday Night Football debuted in 1970 too, and the New York Jets set football on its modern course when they won Super Bowl III in 1969. The Beatles split up in 1970. Black Sabbath debuted. The first Earth Day was proclaimed in San Francisco, asbestos insulation was banned, and eighteen year olds were given the right to vote. Astroturf. Old Elvis. Hurricane Camille.

Am I right? When did the modern era begin? With America’s victory in World War II? With the explosion of the PC and the Internet Age? Sometime else?

I still say around 1970.

“What difference does it make?”, you might ask, or possibly “how does one punctuate a question within a sentence?”

I don’t know. Probably none. Just something I was thinkin’ about.

About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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7 Responses to Modern Man

  1. I think it’s universal to think your childhood/early life was the best of times. However, this must have been hard to do in, say, the year 1184. You’re a serf. You’re digging in the dirt 15 hours a day to make 7 potatoes grow, and then your taxes to the feudal lord are 12 potatoes. In that situation, how do you look nostalgically at your life? Considering the average life expectancy was only about 22, perhaps they had no time to get nostalgic.

    On the other hand, adults are always complaining that the younger generations don’t know how good they have it. “These kids don’t know how good they got it.” It’s paradoxical to wax poetically about how great your childhood times were and then bitch about “these kids today with all their contraptions and easy livin’.”

    Ultimately, we adults declare without a hint of contradiction, “Everything was better when I was a kid. Except living. When it comes to living, you kids got it made.”

  2. Jessie Lou says:

    As I sat and read that entry I was reminded of just how old I am becoming since I remember most of those things actually happening. You mananged to give a historical reflection on the period of my life in less than a page. Very succinct but nonetheless entertaining. Even if your question goes unanswered.

  3. sweet says:

    The 70’s didn’t appear modern, judging from the clothes I was made to wear

  4. Jessie Lou says:

    After a little more thought I would say you are 10 years off – I will hazard to say the modern age began closer to 1980. A decade where clothes may have been slightly better but hairstyles were horrible. When I mention mullet I am not talking fish!

  5. Smilyj says:

    Modern times was when we got our first remote for the TV. Till then I had a pallet and a pillow where I was to watch. This was placed close enough to the TV so as I could simply sit up and turn the channel when my dad ordered me to. He never had to leave his recliner. And I did have to actually turn the dial. All 13 channels worth.

  6. Jessie Lou says:

    Smiley – you were the remote and that picture you just put in my head is funny 🙂

  7. RockStarRambler says:

    I can’t resist:

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