Thursday, April 1, 2010

VIET NAM, PSYCHEDELIA, AND OTHER THINGS...from "The Journey"...available on

"Hell no, We won't go!" I was safe for four years. I received a nice 2-S deferment from my "dear friends" at the Selective Service System. As long as I maintained a gentleman's "C" average at the educational combine, they couldn't ship me halfway around the world to shoot at innocent little yellow men. All these guys wanted to do was squat in their fields, and grow rice. In essence, they just wanted to be freakin' left alone! That was OK with me!

After a few months at Southern Illinois University, I threw away the "Lou Reed" look for long hair and "John Lennon" glasses. I started inculcating new values, and developed a new world view. S.I.U. was very much a Republican "good old boy" University. It fostered all the ideals of the military-industrial complex, and wasn't ready at all for the "radicalization" of its student body.

I found the atmosphere of the university was "charged with an electric excitement" in the good old 60's. It was a great time to be alive. Everything was moving really fast, and social change and counter culture were becoming more mainstream every day. The "old guard" was paranoid beyond belief! They over-reacted to everything they conceived as being radical. We knew we had 'em by the short hairs! My generation played a lot of "mind games" with authority figures. Since I had a working class mindset, I really didn't want to change the freaking world; I just wanted to learn. After all, I was paying for this education!

I didn't have the luxury of having a rich mommy, and daddy! This dichotomy proved to be problematic for me sometimes. To some extent, I thought mass insanity was taking over our society and mainstream rationality was being left by the wayside. Sides were being drawn. I encountered two diametrically opposed ideologies. Both sides of the culture war had those "glazed eyes" and a "true believer" mentality to match.

My answer was to get into my books during the week and smoke dope and drink on the weekends. I got more and more into social isolation. I stayed by myself a lot now. I studied way too much. I felt I was falling through the cracks of society and that nobody cared. I was an eccentric and I relished my eccentricity. I came home that summer, but it didn't feel like home to me anymore. My identity was changing.

I felt as if I was living in some sort of strange dream. What I thought were solid roots and stable values, evaporated in my mind. A cosmic practical joke was being played on me! I cognized, that all my adolescent realities were really just smoke and mirrors. Huxley was right: This was a "Brave New World!"

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