America’s long-standing love affair with all things distracting. Drugs, by the late 1960s were just as much part of American culture as Hot Dogs. Part of it was understandable – if you were anywhere near turning 18 you had the Draft to think about, and the War and the chances of coming home in a body bag were creeping up every day. And protests. And teargas. And nightsticks and buckshot.
There was that.
There was that unmistakeable feeling of alienation, of wondering if this what was it was all about. There was peer pressure – everybody was doing it, so why not you? There was the desire for a life-changing experience. And everything you heard about LSD made you curious and somewhat envious of those who had already taken it.
There were those addictive personalities – the people where one is too much and a hundred are never enough. All the friends who became walking receptacles for any size and kind of pill laying around, and never thought twice about drinking the contents of a cup of something that smelled like alcohol – whether it had a cigarette butt floating around in it or not.
We just wanted to get out of ourselves. And even though we all heard of the dangers, the horror stories, the myths and the legends, the chance of turning reality off for a while seemed infinitely more appealing than facing yet another day of promises and outright lies.
So by the time this documentary/survey of American life was broadcast in 1970, we were pretty well baked. Some of us got out of it. Some of us shook off the space dust and went about our lives. Some of us didn’t want to see the party end, and spent the coming years and decades chasing the one moment of bliss that turned it all into a lifestyle. Some of us overdid it and either succumbed to wretched excess or were left floating in wreckage or stuck in our vomit. Some of us went on to the next phase – and that’s where the 70s came in. The drugs got a little edgier and the love affair included copious amounts of what some of us called “Philadelphia Marching Powder”.
And the next generation would come along and find their own introductions and reasons for the Great American Love Affair, and their own drugs of choice.
Seems to be a right of passage, in a way. Maybe it’s always been like that. Maybe, because we had radio and TV and a curious media, we were made more aware of it than ever before.
As a reminder of just what it was we were having too-much-fun over, here is that 1/2 hour documentary/sound portrait of America in the late 1960’s under the influence.