Sunday, June 26, 2011

Back To The Fifties

There remains a lingering fascination with the crazy decade called to fifties in modern society. Hollywood still cranks out the odd period piece once in a while. To Rockabillies, this fascination has gone through metamorphosis and has become an actual lifestyle. To others who barely acknowledge the historical relevance of this decade, it has become an amalgam of a few trite cliches. Judging by the amount of retro furniture stores that have popped up in recent years, many people have acquired a taste for mid century modern furniture and decor.

Whatever reason one may have for liking this decade and the culture it has spawned, it is hard to deny its relevance even today. Not being a Luddite by any means, I myself have fully embraced the convenience of modern technology and communication. ( I ain't writin' this on a manual typewriter, that's for damn  sure). Without indulging in nostalgia or pining for "the good ol' days", ponder for a second how our overly permissive society, laced with excessive amounts of political correctness, would be like if we applied societal rules from the fifties.

It might result in a little more order, civility and cooler music. Then again it might be as exciting as post war communist Russia. You be the judge.

If you wanted to call somebody, you went in the kitchen and dialed a long string of numbers on a rotary phone. Gal's not answering? No date for you. You'll have to spend Saturday night fiddling with rabbit ears and drinking beer that cost 2 bucks for a twelve pack. If there was a knock at the door and someone was delivering a telegram, somebody was dead.

If that was too boring you could always cruise around downtown in a car, any car, cuz hell, in the  fifities, even your grandpa's car was cool.

Plenty of fish was something you had after a weekend of sitting in boat with your pals and drinking your face off. People hooked up the old fashioned way : drunk and in a bar.

Craigslist was something that you may come across on the sidewalk after some dude called Craig dropped it. 5lbs of potatoes, whisky, cigarettes, a can of motor oil, etc etc.

Ebay was some shithole beach somewhere.The concept of selling used crap that nobody wanted hadn't been invented yet. If you needed parts you went to an auto parts store. If you needed a hat, you went to a haberdasher's. Shit was already cool and nobody wanted vintage stuff. That was called garbage, and it wasn't displayed on people's lawns on Sunday mornings; it was promptly disposed of in a metal garbage can. ( Even garbage men had cool uniforms).

Now let's say you played a bit of guitar. If you got pretty good, you might get a gig at a local honky tonk and play for quarters and beers. If you sucked, you didn't become a "busker" and annoy people on the streets with your lack of talent, chord structures and off-key caterwauling. If you did, you would definitely get beat up or more than likely spend the night in the slammer.

Speaking of music, you bought records. You went a place called a record store and bought these little black discs called 45's or large ones called LP's. They would spin round and round on a device called a turntable and made good music. Downloading occurred when the disc sucked or got scratched and you put it in that same metal garbage can ( or gave it to your little brother). Downloading also occurred if you drank to much cheap booze and had to talk to Ralph on the big white phone). I think an I pod was one of those plastic cups that fit over your eyeball. This was used to soothe your eyes in the morning after you spent all night downloading.        

In the fifties, there were urban legends of reclusive mountain men that had been living in the bush for twenty years. These feral humans were sometimes spotted coming out of a forest. Having not bathed or gotten a haircut in twenty years, they were a frightening sight and this is the only time that you would see dreadlocks.

The only person allowed to have bongos was Desi Arnaz and his orchestra.

If you felt sick, you didn't go to some crazy store displaying all sorts of arcane products. In the fifties those were usually found on the wrong side of tracks and run by strange people who actively practiced voodoo. You went to a doctor. The doctor always wore a white lab coat and smoked cigarettes in his office. Hell, he would even offer you one during your check-up. Remember; 3 out 5 doctors recommend Camels.

Men carried briefcases dammit! A backpack, which might have surprisingly difficult to find, was reserved for that strange breed of men who wanted to climb Mount Everest. Army bags were for toting ammo and carried by Army guys.

Men most definitely did not carry purses, unless it was at the mall as they waited for their wives to finish shopping and shared cigarettes and shots of whisky from a silver-plated flask with the other waiting dudes.

Hemp bags could only be found in remote jungle villages. They were used to carry wild boar dung to be used as fertilizer. The left over hemp was used as a rudimentary form of toilet paper.

People that felt the need to "express themselves, man" could sometimes be found standing on an actual soap box made out of wood. They were usually religious zealots and were quietly ignored. Others might have screamed about politics and were also ignored or maybe had the odd egg thrown at them. The rest were promptly arrested and sent for a little vacation down at the nervous hospital.

Some might have felt the need to rap in public. In those days that convoluted muttering was diagnosed as Tourette's Syndrome and heavy medication was prescribed. Wearing a ball cap sideways was diagnosed as advanced mental retardation and they were sent to join their insane brethren at the lunatic asylum.

The only computer in the world was called Univac. It was housed in a huge warehouse and used 64,00 vacuum tubes. It didn't really serve any purpose, but the army of scientists required to run were able to make it count to ten on occasion. If any one of the 64,000 vaccum tubes blew, it could only count to two.

It didn't really matter, however, because nobody really needed a computer. Folks still knew how to do long division by hand and clerks in stores actually knew how to calculate your proper change. Cars did not require one for diagnosis. Diagnosis was comprised of opening the hood, staring at the engine for a short while and then fixing the problem.

While there certainly were the occasional riot probably related to labor unrest, on average people did not riot for incomprehensible events such as G-20 summits or really stupid events such as a prima donna rock singer walking off stage mid-concert. If someone or something was pissing you off, you would set a time and place and a rumble would take place. Problem solved.

Some random observations; Now I gotta go; I have to text somebody while I download some MP-3's and look at some crazy shit on Youtube.

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