Wednesday, April 04, 2007

My Grandpa Snorts Dead People

When I was growing up the image of "grandparent" was this sweet little old person who smelled like lavender and served you tea in fragile and lovely cups if they were female, or if they were male, were always immaculately dressed, polite, and extremely Republican with perfect lawns. But I always suspected they had pasts that were far more interesting than our parents let on. After all, most people don't want their parents to compete with them for wild and crazy behavior and hooliganism moments, and our own parents were under that same pressure to conform to the Ward and June Cleaver role models provided for them as their parents.

But there were always cracks in that perfect TV world. My parents fought like wild beasts and separated multiple times. I came of age in a time when divorce became more common than long term marriages. The price for trying to maintain that picture perfect ideal was often alcoholism, drug addiction, and cheap, sleazy affairs that were more about relieving boredom than they were about love or need or friendship. Divorce saved lives because in many cases they ended the hypocrisy.

As I grew older I began to find out more about my grandparents and parents and little bits and pieces of wildness that slipped into the stories told late at night after a few bottles of wine and conversation. But there was always an underlying sense of normality to it all. They were the WW2 and Great Depression generation and that made them serious people. Sure, they laughed, but underneath that laughter was the pain of loss, the hunger of deprivation, and the appreciation of simple things like a home and a good job and money to take an occasional vacation somewhere.

I'm not naive and I have lived enough to know they did have lives that were anything but normal under the surface, but they spent a lot of time trying to convince everyone that those moments were reserved for the crazy degenerates which they most certainly were not. They embraced normality as a goal. They wanted to blend in because they grew up in a world where those who didn't ended up dead. They wanted the boring jobs that were the same day after day because stability was a dream after the turmoil they went through as they grew up and the country went to war. They wanted us to believe the myth for as long as possible because it was a way of sheltering us from the truth they knew far too well.

In return they raised children who would rebel against anything that was stable or normal. Instead of tranquilizers to make us accept our desperate lives, our generation took drugs that opened up all the crevices and re-arranged the thought processes. We refused to accept the ordinary jobs at the "company" and instead created a revolution of digital worlds our parents and grandparents looked at in awe, wonder and mostly lack of understanding. We protested against war, bigotry, hate and anything we perceived as an injustice. We became groupies to degenerate musicians and followed them around the country and the world in what our parents saw as hobo camps and we saw as communities. We joked that when we grew old all the RV parks would be taken over by painted hippie buses and dope-smoking degenerates.

Then we went to sleep. The Reagan years took our spare change and good jobs. We became wage slaves. We got married, started having children and forgot we were once free as the wind and wild as any animal in the jungle. We raised our children and struggled to stay together in the face of shattered illusions and partners who turned out to be ordinary. Just like our parents. And we got the punishment we deserved for this hypocrisy as many of our children became little corporate Republican fascists.

But every generation must be different than their parents and that is what is saving us now. Those creepy little robots our beautiful innocent children became gave birth to a generation of children who are what we dreamed to be and they share our values far more than we share our parents' values. This new generation cares about the planet, about human rights, about peace, about making a difference. And they are not ever going to be satisfied as Corporate Clones. They'll work for themselves in direct competition to those companies before it ever comes to that.

So what it comes down to is that I am who I am not because of my parents, but because of my grandparents and the children of my peers. My grandparents who spent most of the prohibition years drunk and dancing, no matter what they tried to claim afterwards, share that sense of rebellion with the current generation. That is a very good thing because we have enough little corporate fascists trying to take over the world and we are getting too old to fight them alone anymore.

And we are also more visible in our rebellion against normality. No one is ever going to accuse my generation of being normal. It's our children who disappointed us. Their children give us hope. Our children had the horrors of Disco and Reagan to shape their consciousness. We had rock and roll. And Keith Richards. No matter how many of my generation and those that came afterward like to pretend normality is good, we will always have Keith Richards to shake things up and remind us that inside us all lives one crazy-ass maniac. So for that reminder, that bit of laughter that comes from having such a crazy old man be the symbol of our grandpa years, I made this design. It's the least I could do to show my appreciation. Thank you Grandpa Keith. The world is far more interesting place with you in it.

Changing minds one t-shirt at a time. Visit Ursine Logic for more designs.


QuantumFog said...

My question is, what happened to all the free wheeling, weed puffing, musically inclined, long haired political upstarts of the 60's? America needs 'em to step out there again.

In fact, the world needs them.

Some Crazy Bear said...

We have to get together with the grandchildren because they are the ones whose values match those of the 60's.

Also, don't underestimate the effects of that time. Without those hippie upstarts of the 60's we'd still be eating unhealthy food without knowing alternatives such as organic and vegetarian diets existed and are now practically mainstream. We'd be laughing at racist jokes without feeling the pain of those who are laughed at. Gays would still be in the closet. We'd still be looking down on women as not quite good enough as men and thereby losing 50 perfect of the power we need to succeed on this planet as human beings. We'd be chain smoking without knowing it was killing us, and accepting without question the crap thrown at us from the media without turning to the internet for alternative views on the spin. We'd also still be in Vietnam.

There's so much more that was begun during that time that is still changing the world. But the rightwing spin machine has taken most of the good accomplished and made it seem bad, such as Peace because it threatens their agenda.

How can Peace be bad? Common sense says it's good. And yet, look at how it has been portrayed as something bad. This is what the Bushco Fascists do with everything that is an accomplishment, anything that can take power from them and turn it back to the people where it belongs.

It is why I write in this blog and post on others. I got tired of hearing Peace was bad, a weakness, unpatriotic. I got tired of hearing the lie that everyone was a Republican bloodthirsty warmongering religious fanatic in America or they were traitors. Yes, at some point you have to fight back against the evil spin. But most important you have to also take credit for what you have accomplished as a generation because you can't beat down a strong person who is confident in what he or she has accomplished.

I am confident this current generation has enough lovely rebels that they will force changes in Global Warming, focus people's hearts and minds on wrongs such as Darfur, and elect Presidents that are not all privileged white men. As a whole, they are the least bigoted and the most accepting of differences in people. And they will get us out of Iraq.

From their emails to me, their myspace pages, their blogs, I get an immense sense of hope. They're smart and strong and willing to step up and do what's right. They remind me of myself when I was their age. And look what my generation did accomplish when you strip away the right wing spin. It's a lot of good.