Sixties Speak Then and Now

HippliesI can’t exactly say that I’d like to go back and relive the era of the 60’s.

Then again, right now I’m experiencing a different kind of 60’s, the one with Medicare in the middle, and between the two I’ll take the first one — cannabis-stained knuckles, fingers, and hands — hands-down!

It seems incredible that it’s been over 40 years since those days of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll, and for me, well, two out of three wasn’t bad.  Much has changed in our culture since then, including our language.  Many of the old phrases are still around, but the meanings aren’t quite the same.

Ready, Baby Boomers?

Far Out! — Once an exclamation of excitement, wonderment, and radical possibilities.  Now for many Boomers, a belt size.

Roach Clip — Once a tweezers-like holder for marijuana cigarette remnants. Now the realization that your exterminator has overcharged the hell out of you.

Right On! — Once a cry of solidarity and brotherhood. Now a shout out that your chip shot on the 11th has managed to trickle up to the green.

Establishment — Once the power, the Man, the established order you had to fight. Now the hot corner bistro you can’t afford.

Oh Wow! — Once an exclamation of joy and exhilaration. Now an apt response when you open your cable bill.

Freak Flag — Once a proud spiritual badge that proclaimed you were a long-haired member of the counter-culture.  Now a United States flag with 49 stars.

The Man — Once the government, the authority, the one calling the shots.  Now the bride in the wedding you attended last week.

No. 9 — Once an enigmatic phrase in a John Lennon authored recording by the Beatles. Now the second and generally one of the weakest jokes in a David Letterman Top Ten List.

Power to the People! — Once a cry for freedom, justice, and equality.  Now the option to select your electricity supplier.

Getting Off Now — Once the pleasured sensation that a drug experience was about to begin. Now an exhausted goodbye to your co-worker as you exit the 6:15 out of Center City.

Heavy — Once a heart-felt designation of relevance and truth. Now just about anything we Baby Boomers try to lift.

In thinking back to the Sixties, much of the language we spoke was indeed self-indulgent and pretentious.  But a bit of it was more like Yiddish; that is, able to express thoughts and feelings in a word or phrase that couldn’t be expressed effectively any other way, for which there was and is no equivalent in formal English.

Or anywhere else.

And with all its faults and foibles, there was and is no equivalent — and never will be —for the 1960’s.

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13 thoughts on “Sixties Speak Then and Now”

  1. I can definitely relate, man. But the wild days may be coming around again for me here in Oregon. I’m retired, my kids are out of the house…and recreational pot is legal. I’ve decided to “go with the flow” (and I don’t mean popping prostrate pills.)

    1. Good luck with those “wild days are here again,” I’m envious. I missed “go with the flow” in the post, so let me fix that now. “Go with the flow – Once a relaxed state of submitting oneself to the flow of events. Now purchasing insurance from Progressive.”

  2. My babysitter used to say things like, “Toon in and turn on and far out man”. My Mom fired her much to my dismay. I really felt like I was preparing myself for a future life in Haight-Ashbury. But alas, The Haight is gentrified and “toon in and turn on and far out” seems to be the Fox News mantras. *sigh
    Very funny.

    1. I think it was “turn on, tune in, turn your eyes around” as articulated by an early but very lame psychedelic group called the Strawberry Alarm Clock. I think we’re both a little bit too late for Haight-Ashbury but at least you became a doctor, and I’m still waiting to meet your babysitter.

  3. Damn! Now you have me doing it — wishing I could turn back time and go back to those days, preferably knowing everything I have learned since then, so that I won’t make the same old dumb mistakes and mess everything up.

    I never smoked anything, including reefers, but at parties it could be fun to sit and watch everyone else turn glassy-eyed.

    By the way, you forgot my favorite old word: groovy. Back in the day, that meant something really fine, like a nice, colorful tie-dyed tee shirt with a matching floppy hat. Now it just means all the wrinkles that have popped up on our faces.

    1. Exactly what I want to do — turn back time and go back to those days so that I won’t make the same old dumb mistakes I made and I will have a hell of a lot more fun than I had, definitely stressing the missing item in “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” way more than I was able to do back then (or now).

      You’ve done a great job with groovy, I can’t improve it.

    1. I’m afraid the only roach clip around these days belongs to my son. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but I was always the one who emptied the ash trays at the end of parties and pocketed all the roaches. Thanks for liking the post but once again it failed to achieve my stated goal which is “desperately trying to turn back the clock through parody, satire, & anything else you want.”

  4. Once again,(two in the same day-WOW!) Perry, this is terrific! This one made me laugh out loud! What a fun stroll down memory lane. You are a joy! This is how I remember it too, and sadly, get the big difference what each means today. Geez, I’m old, huh???

    1. Thanks, Dianne. This is actually an older one (like me) that has been published a few times before. It actually makes me so nostalgic I’ve been listening to Poco while I’m typing, and of course, there’s just a little bit of magic in the country. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to let my freak flag fly, although I’m going to have to borrow some hair to pull it off.

      1. But it’s timeless, Perry. Some things, no matter when it was written, is still relevant. This is one of those that you could publish every year, and still be as funny as when your first wrote it. I am just grateful I can remember the 60’s! I love Poco…I’m in a time warp as far as music goes. I remember every word to every Beatles song, but probably can’t tell you what I did an hour ago. Love my oldies, and of which I guess, no I know, I AM one. I think there is still a little flower child living inside of me with flowers woven in my hair, and part of me hanging out on the corner of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco like when I lived there. Those days seemed simpler, easy, rather care-free. I have discovered a lot of good things come from getting older. I don’t worry about the silly things like I did when I was younger…what a waste of time that was! Finally I have embraced my shortcomings as well as my strengths. Took a lot of years to get here though…but it was so worth it.

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