Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘Stills’

My Freak Flag

In Life, Memoir, Popular Culture on March 11, 2013 at 5:00 am

I haven’t cut my hair in a year and a half. I’ve had a couple of trims, like before my daughter’s wedding, but not a cut as in, “I got a haircut today.”

At fifty-seven this might appear immature and I admit to taking satisfaction in that. I take satisfaction in being a somewhat respectable pillar of the community and looking less respectable each day. It’s a good way to jigger with people’s expectations and that’s, frankly, fun, particularly if you’ve got nothing to lose. I was neat and orderly and filled the general conception of respectability long enough. I subscribe to the great American tradition of re-inventing yourself. Not cutting your hair, though so very superficial, is as easy a reinvention as a guy could hope for.

A few weeks ago I visited the business my wife and I founded twenty years ago and one of the company officers, a guy who’d not seen me in a long time, declared that I was, indeed, letting my freak flag fly. If you’re too young to appreciate the reference, you might want to check out Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

I missed Woodstock and the culture it ushered in by just a few years. The midwest, where I was raised, is slow on the uptake, which is probably not a bad thing, unless you’re a kid in Indiana assuming all the cool kids on the coasts are having a lot more fun than you are. But that seems a general state of adolescence no matter the geography. Regardless, I still long for that state of self-righteousness over a cause that I observed being exercised in the sixties and early seventies. God, what enthusiasm they had! Despite there being amble opportunity for cause–financial malfeasance, government malfeasance, Wall Street malfeasance, fill-in-the-blank malfeasance–despite everywhere you look, there seems little indignation. I am as guilty of lack in this department as the next person–a general malaise of indifference. But you expect that of a 57 year-old–we count on our kids to blaze the path of self-righteousness. That’s a poor excuse, now that I think on it. Maybe it is resignation, not just resignation of the mid-lifers, but abject and complete societal resignation. We have mostly rolled over.

Regardless of the cause, or lack thereof, I’m letting my freak flag fly high. Peace. Love. Hippie Beads forever.

Crosby, Stills, and Nash:

Four Dead in Ohio

In Memoir, Music, Thinkers on February 19, 2010 at 9:57 am
Peace, Love, 7 Hippie Beads

Peace, Love, 7 Hippie Beads

We had breakfast with friends Mike and Wendy this week. Like a bunch of aged once-upstarts we were bemoaning the lack in today’s youth, vis-a-vis the activism of the sixties and seventies. Mike is slightly older than me and remembers better that period. He recalled passionately the atmosphere in Washington DC, where he lived. What I recall of that time was the energized sense that something important was going on. It was in the air like a down-wind scent. So, there we were, middle-aged and comfortable, digging into our omelets and shaking our heads, reciting the list: Iraq, financial melt-down, torture, global warming, corporate malfeasance and so on. Pick a subject. There are lots of them. Any one, one would think, should do job, should trigger youthful activism. But nothing seems to energize or move the youth to the streets or the campus halls or the temples of governance. Why, we wondered.

Five days later: the kitchen, making bread (walnut raisin whole-wheat, thank you very much), listening to streaming Pandora. My station consists largely of new music, alternative stuff, but occasionally an oldie will slip in, as it did this morning. Crosby Stills Nash and Neil Young, Ohio, live version. And it hit me. Music. There is no music connecting youth to a movement, like there was in the sixties. “Four dead in Ohio…” I know this is not an orginial thought.  Music today is more about marketability, image and style, I think, than message. Music a la American Idol. I know there are exceptions to this. Lots of them. But generally speaking, larger interests, corporations specifically, have usurped the individual interest–in most avenues of modern life, not just music.

Remember Plato’s Republic? Remember where Plato says that one of the first things that must happen in his idyllic kingdom is outlaw and banish the flute players? They have a corrupting influence on the youth, he posited. They gotta go. A flute player here, a flute player there and then next thing you know, there are people in the streets and the Agora is shut down. This always struck me as humorous, true, but funny. Plato recognized the power of music on the youth. And he knew it had the capacity to elevate discourse, as well as emotion. The problem today is, we have no flute players. It didn’t happen like he thought it would, but the result is the same, nonetheless.

CSN&Y, Live: