"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 27 May 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Fit to Be Tie-Dyed


[Ticket to Woodstock]

If there was any doubt the Age of

Aquarius has given way to the

Era of Therapy, just take a trip

back down Memory Lane, recently

reconstructed for your viewing



The past three decades may have

seemed a harsh toke for a

generation that wanted to teach

the world to sing / in perfect

harmony. But the original

tie-dyed generation is hardwired

for redundancy, and they just

can't help themselves from

dosing on nostalgia every time

the word "technopagan" poops out

of their Thinkpads. Their desire

to find the perfect group hug

has, if anything, intensified

since they first dropped that

half-tab back in the Summer of



[Brrrr, I feel a chill]

Alan Gerry, a cable entrepreneur

who was undoubtedly reading

Keynes while his classmates were

protesting Da Nang, recently

bought the farm in upstate New

York where Woodstock 1.0 was

staged. He plans to build a '60s

theme park there, hoping to

convert nostalgia into cold,

hard cash. No doubt he'll be

singing his own distorted

version of the "Star Spangled

Banner" when the fiftysomethings

start arriving in their

Suburbans loaded with options

and grandkids. If Freud's

conceit is true that exploring

the origins of neuroses tends to

cure them, there'll be more

charismatic healing in

Saugerties than a red-blooded

twentysomething can brook

without waxing cynical.


[The Bus.  Magic Bus.]

Indeed, we've been wanting to

institutionalize the whole

bell-bottomed decade ever since

Ben & Jerry requisitioned

Haight & Ashbury. Ken Kesey,

a man who's never been far from

the antiseptic precincts of the

cuckoo's nest, did his part last

month by bequeathing his famous

magic bus to the Rock and Roll

Hall of Fame. And Timothy Leary

wasn't comfortable dying without

committing his ashes to the

heavens, where they're now in a

300-mile-high holding pattern.


The vacuum of museum and outer

space is an apt metaphor,

really. After all, what the

boomers have wanted for most of

their adult lives is to lose

themselves in something big,

important, and universal - in

other words, to get wasted - and

to be better people for it.

Presently, there's a brace of

new-media nincompoops, from Jon

Katz to Howard Rheingold, who

look to cyberspace as the new

Happy Hunting Ground of

self-fulfillment. Well, we can't

help pointing out the fact that

this song remains the same.


Ex-hippies have been taking flak

for years, not so much for

turning on and dropping out as

for showing up and cashing in.

One thing's for sure: They never

lost sight of their charter as

the "Me" generation. It's just

that their aspirations became

somewhat less noble over the

years. But the timeless genius

of '60s counterculture was in

finding a way to turn a social

cause into a private soiree.

"There's a march on the plaza"

was always just a euphemism for

"There's a party in my pants."

And there are therapy couches

across the land supporting the

considerable weight of boomers

still looking for themselves

among the ruins of

self-indulgence. It's not as if

they're the first generation to

suffer a collective nervous

breakdown. But they're the first

with the time, money, and motive

to generate interminable chat

sessions about it.


[Hippies, Dirty Hippies.]

Wired's feature on "The Epic

History of The Well" confirms

our worst suspicions about our

idealistic forebears:

"Community" was just shorthand

for "random group of enablers."

And online networks have kept

the love-in going, long after

the fat man stopped singing.

Thank god for the reservoir of

venom impounded at Usenet, or

the Net would undoubtedly

collapse under the hot and heavy

weight of The Well's profound

love for itself. While the Net

was originally conceived to

serve higher purposes, like

national defense and scientific

research, it's somehow

comforting to know that flower

power insured the technology

would be repurposed for the

fuzzy logic of "I'm OK, you're



Ah, but that's the problem isn't

it? The generation that lived by

the pleasure principle will die

by the Peter Principle. In their

constant battle to feel better

about themselves, they may have

thrown the baby out with the

bong water. And they never did

get the Pentagon off the ground.

But look at how high their souls

have soared. Ugh. To paraphrase

Pete Townshend's celebrated

anthem, I hope I die before I

get dumb.

courtesy of E.L. SKinner

Fish Image
The Fish

[Netscape Inbox Direct]

Barrel Image

The Barrel
[Predictions by Suck]

Gun Image
The Gun

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Other Work By
E.L. Skinner
Fresh Fish