"Love, peace, trippy, and far out." I spent a lot of time with these words. During my teens, they became dictionary definitions for how I felt about everything. Life was far out and trippy, and if it wasn't, it was either a "bummer", or a "rip off". For me, The 70's were a party, full of exploration without explanation. They were all about discovery, and an awareness of myself that nobody but me could understand. The 70's were colorful and innovative. The world stood at its most creative precipice of all. Colors and design exploded; television was cool and getting cooler, fashions...well, unfortunately they were what they were, but everything else in general was just plain "Far out."
I must have started this page a hundred times trying to decide how to write about my life in the 70's. These pages are contained in a cookie jar of why, when, where, and how I remember the decade. And yes, I do remember it. The 70's weren't quite the blur they're reputed to be. In fact, they were quite the opposite. This isn't a timeline of literal 70's history, but instead a series of memoirs from a person who has lived them.
The 70's were big. Everything was big. From tower-sized stereo speakers to leviathan console television sets, America's credo seemed to be: "if it's bigger, it's got to be better." Even the clothes were big--and loud! Among the typical 70's wardrobe were hard plaids, weird vertical stripes, gargantuan bell bottoms, huge collars, big belts, bigger buckles, and clunky shoes.
Big hair was where it was at. Men went for the "helmet hair" look, or male afros, both with long and often hideous sideburns. The "Farrah Mane" was hot, and adorned almost every female head in America. Collars were big enough to land a small plane on, and the dreaded "leisure suits" were in step for both guys and gals.
Girls and Guitars
Girls and guitars occupied a great portion of my time and energy. I wasn't sure what was more hot: girls, or guitars, for both were beautiful, exciting and sleek. Guitars were temperamental; so were girls. They could go out of tune easily; so could girls. Guitars needed to be learned; so did girls. In the 70's I learned valuable lessons in the care and maintenance of both girls and guitars, and both filled my life with joy and excitement, and a passion for learning that is to this day, never-ending.
(Photo retouching by Photo Variations.)
In the 70's, my life was all about experimentation. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll were also a part of my 70's journey. With this, I hope to divide the curtain between the innocent 60's and the outrageous 70's. One day I was a kid playing with army toys. The next day I was a draft age teenager contemplating the probability of stomping though jungles with the real things.
My Life in the 70's
First of all, the 70's decade was very educational for me. It was a maturing period, yet in no way was I mature. I was fourteen when they arrived, and twenty-four when they left. In their own special way, the years were fun and colorful even though the color was a bit tainted with the realization of just how serious and deliberate the world could be. So, with that, we get a bit more serious now.
The 70's offered a lot of good things. We had a new and different awareness. Things, people, thoughts and ideas were coming out of the closet. Music, film and television probably reached their finest hours, and art exploded with newer colors and more vibrant canvases. America told of a nation comprised of young people waiting to step up to bat; We bloomed like flowers, and we grew like sideburns. Women saw more empowerment and became more expressive than they had even during the 60's. Conservative types became just a twinge more liberal, and a more thinking country was beginning to emerge.
Changes in the World, Changes in Me
The decade of the 70's erupted with a catalytic fury brought about by 60's change and the ever-present search for truth and identity. 1970 began a sparkling new decade that seemed to belong to the young. The great hippie movement of the latter 60's was now seeing its offspring coming into their formative years. The majority of us Baby Boomers were now teenagers full of ideas and ideals. Although the peace marches and demonstrations were intended to be good and positive events, they often erupted in, and ultimately ended in violence. Such was the case the Kent State University riot that left 4 students dead and numerous injured.
(Photo retouching by Photo Variations.)
These years were vivid, intense, almost as if the world I was seeing was viewed through surreal lenses. But there was nothing surreal about the 70's; as I grew older, so did my awareness of life and the world around me. The shameful treatment of the returning Vietnam Veterans was appalling. To me they had done nothing but serve their country. In the 70's, upon their return home, there were no brass bands and confetti to greet them. Instead, our country's vets were spit upon--literally--and called names like "baby killer."
Something in the peace and love outlet blew a fuse. People--my generation--seemed to claim ignorance of the atrocities of war. What could have gone wrong? Where were the "beautiful people"? Where were the freaks, the ones who'd stand up for you no matter what? The nirvana of "peace" was often perpetuated through violence. We saw it in the movies, on TV, and in everyday life. Perhaps America preferred this blind eye to the world around her; perhaps she'd focused her ire not only the true perpetrators of evil, but the helpless few. I saw it all as a lie; a great hypocrisy and ignorance; I saw it as the end of the beautiful era that the 60's had fathered.
The great rainbow of hippiedom slowly began to vanish behind the clouds. The world had gone south almost overnight. What I was seeing painted an entirely different picture than what I'd seen in the 60's. Where promise and hope once flourished like weeds in a lawn, the 70's brought about violence and negative vibes like any I'd ever seen. They created in our society, divided camps of the young "heads" and the "straight" idealists.
And unlike the 60's which concluded with the positive vibes of Woodstock, the 70's ended not in triumph, but in paranoia. With the hostage taking in Iran and the Three Mile Island catastrophe, America was in fear once again of nuclear holocaust either by missile or meltdown. World conflict had extended far beyond the Vietnam war. The 70's indeed were a decade of change.
Still, the 70's were an interesting era, one of creativity and change, the most of which, was for the better. I've described fear, paranoia, ugliness and contempt, but the decade did not stand for, nor represent any of that. The world hadn't really become that much worse; it was I who had become that much worse. I was getting old enough to understand things I didn't understand as a kid. The play time was over. Life was all around me; it was the book I wasn't supposed to read, the music I shouldn't have heard. Yet, had I not, I would not have grown. The 70's had some serious moments no doubt, but brought us changes that were quite positive. As a kid growing up, going through hormonal Armageddon, and trying to understand song lyrics, this era was a wondrous arena, and I'd love to re-visit the 70's and experience some of the greatest first joys of my life all over again.
In the beginning, there was peace and love.
In the end, there was disco.
And when the smoke cleared, no one was left alive.
Trip out on 70's terminology!
It's amazing how this terminology has hung on to this very day. Words like "rip off," "heavy", "trip", and "flashback" have been born again, and are part of a generation who was never around for their origins.
"Far Out" - really cool.
"Bummer" - this one needs no translation, but originated with bad acid trips, or something bad in one's life. Turned into an expression disappointment.
"Downer" -bad, disappointment. A boring person, depressing.
"Heavy "- Also cool, but deep, on a spacey, intellectual level. "Oh man, that's too heavy for me." Also pertains to great music, a pre-cursor to heavy metal.
"Joint" - Marijuana cigarette.
"Bubble Gum, Bubble Gummers" - teen, and light pop music. Bubble gummers relate to the people that preferred this music.
"Rip Off" - a swindle, cheat, theft. Often used to express major disappointment.
"Space "- To daydream, be lost in thought, or to forget to do something.
"Lid"- a baggie of marijuana, usually cost $10.
"Brick"- a pound of marijuana in block form.
"Tabs"- pills, usually LSD or Acid.
"Head"-Hippies, people who got high, people who were generally cool, deep.
"Freak"-Same as above.
"Freak Out"-Originally, it was to be wild and go crazy about what was passionate to us. It also described panic, a bad acid trip, or just losing one's cool.
"Straight"- The straight-laced type of person.
"The Establishment "-This one hung on for only a few short years. Relates to older, 30-ish people. Adults not within our network.
"Mugwump"- a high up important person. It's origin is in republican party extremist politics, but became slanged as important people in general.
"Farm Out"- a derivative of "far out." A classic example of stupidity.
"Trip"-Being on an LSD trip, or an acid trip. (yes, there is a difference. LSD is pure lysergic Acid Diethylamide, and "Acid" is a mix of LSD and speed.) It also means to be too serious, or to do something strange and unusual, or to panic. "You're trippin' man" could easily be translated as "dream on."
"Trippy"-pertaining to cool things unexplained, visually/aurally stunning, or just a great way to describe something or someone over that was the top. Also relates to really cool things or people that were difficult to explain in any other way.
"Truckin'"-Traveling. Also used for walking, running, or working on a project.
"Split, Jam"- To leave, take off.
"Book"- To leave, take off-mostly in a hurry.
"Burn"-A cheat. To be cheated was to get "burned."
"Booger Jam"- To leave, take off-mostly in a hurry with extreme emphasis. More stupidity at its finest hour.
"Cop"- to get something, buy something, acquire something. Also to get an attitude.
"Fuzz"- Cops, Police.
"Bogart"- to be a hog, selfish. Keep something to yourself, not share.
"Flash Back"- a revelation. An "ah-ha!" moment, to recall something nearly forgotten, or something you wish to forget.
"Munchies"- a universal term used today, but in the 70's, it referred to having the insane hunger symptoms that marijuana creates once the high starts to wear off.
"Kipe"- To steal something. "Hey, who kiped my roach clip?".
"Get Down"-Party, jam out (musically), strut your stuff.
"Stone"- Pure, absolute, virtual. A hot girl was a "stone fox." or "I'm stone in love."
"Old Man/Old Lady"-Quite unlike the 60's where these terms were slang references to parents, "old man and old lady" referred to husband/wife, or boyfriend/girlfriend.
"What it is, what it was"- What's happening.
"Plastic"- Cheap, phony, superficial. "Plastic" people were braggarts, social gainers.
"Right On"-Another time enduring expression. Meaning: yes, cool, I agree, you're right, you better believe it, yeah!
"Power to the People"- This one speaks for itself.
"More Power to Ya"- Good luck.