Thursday, May 01, 2014

Living in the Seventies

I feel a little crazy
I feel a little strange
Like I'm in a pay phone
Without any change - Skyhooks, "Living in the Seventies", 1974

Starry-eyed an' laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an' we watched with one last look
Spellbound an' swallowed ’til the tolling ended - Dylan, "Chimes of Freedom", 1964
Earth Day at Earth Fest, Battery Park, New York 2014

There's something about the seventies - they just won't go away.

I gave birth to my children in the seventies, and spent most of that decade in rural Australia. Back then Manhattan seemed a century away, as did "Swinging London" which I had recently left.

Days of macramé housewives, potteries, Fowler'sjars, and a fear of anything petrochemical. Needless to say we all drove 8 cylinder cars, but our hearts yearned for horse-drawn buggies. Memories of Gladydale, Victoria, Australia, The World, The Universe.

Where a friend of mine tried to grow rice on the side of a mountain top, in sandy soil with no irrigation or regular rainfall. My mind jolted back to the days of vinyl when children had names like Sunday, Zero and Chaos. When men sprouted sideburns and babies wore cloth diapers. When James Taylor was beautiful. Well, all of us were.

 Forty years on.

The bottom tip of Manhattan NY. Battery Park. Earth Fest 2014. Time warp.

Sunflower Seeds and Clay, Earth Day, Battery Park
A scattering stalls that may or may not have been selling something. It was hard to tell. Laid back and organic, with almost cult-like starry-eyed optimism, the vendors were all into customer participation.

A red-headed bearded man was showing me a few grains of rice, explaining that he had grown them on an island on the East River. I can't remember its name. Millrock perhaps? "Does anyone live there?" I asked and he told me no. I wondered how he got there everyday to tend a few clumps of rice. Perhaps he had a raft.

A band way playing songs I'd never heard of. Downbeat. I later discovered it was "Bluegrass" and performed by either "Gotham City Pickers" or "Five Mile String Band". Scorning advertising there was no sign. Actually I shouldn't be mean. It was all very pleasant. Laid-back and un-commercial. There was even a farm, based on strip-farming - the open-field system that was the prevalent agricultural system in much of Europe during the Middle Ages.

Kids rolled sunflower seeds into clay balls under the supervision of eager teenagers from one of the local schools. A communal bucket half-full of muddy children juice was available to clean tiny toddler hands.

But I am being mean again. I just can't help myself. I blame it on a guy called Bill de Blasio - New York City's new mayor. But that's another Letter ...


Anonymous said...

I hope Seth did not wash his hands in that sluice!

Anonymous said...

No,it wasn't sandy soil,it was irrigated and it was a 30" rainfall. Does this make it less mad?

Anonymous said...

Was it a simpler time? Is it still? We are old in the world, and its simplicity evades us. We know too much of ups and downs. We've been there and tried this 'n that. Growing old too soon. Too late?

Anonymous said...

Wha' happened? Posted a comment and it disappeared. Kate?

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