“Lonely are the brave.”
— Dalton Trumbo
Visiting No. 1 Son in the hills last week, I overheard on his radio a young voice saying the Stewart/Colbert event in Washington was going to be “like Woodstock” for his generation. Was surprised that anyone 23 would want an event “like Woodstock.” Note on Woodstock: It was a “shadow” event for the phenomenal Summer of Love which happened just before in San Francisco. It was like if you designed a hippie church and invited a bunch of lawyers, toked them up and asked them to make it “like the Summer of Love” but with Bob Dylan as the New Jesus, and you would get Woodstock. And more on that: At Woodstock, a very legitimate and wise guru appeared between the acts and talked to the crowd. Ask anyone you know who was there, what was the name of the guru? They don’t know? They didn’t notice? Ask them why not.
The Stewart/Colbert laugh-fest will not be “like Woodstock” because Swami Satchidanada is dead, although he claimed that when he died he would always then be with us, so who is to say? But the comedy concert is like Woodstock in that it brings the end of things. A dead halt came exactly nine months later: May 4, 1970, the Kent State massacre. Jerry Rubin, the leader of the ’60s, said after that, “it was impossible to get a girl to type your term paper for you.” And the hippies headed to law school and Wall Street and invented computers to type their term papers on.
So I knew what would happen when No. 1 Son sent a clip of the Jon Stewart show on the first days of the invasion. I recall the comic saying that watching the troops ride into Baghdad, you couldn’t help but feel some pleasure at the liberation, and you couldn’t help feeling some distress at the invasion. Very much in line with the weakling Congress of Easter Peeps, which tried to oppose and support the invasion at the same time. And why again did we ask a stand-up comic?
Here in Vermont I attended the first demonstrations in opposition to the war on Iraq. Most in attendance were old socialists from the anti-war ’60s, even going back to the memories of Scott and Helen Nearing and world socialism. You had to admit: They held to their guns and were not afraid to be challenged, to be arrested, to die. And to oppose government action you have to be willing to die just as soldiers are willing to die; just as the Lincoln Brigade survivors I knew in the Don Draper era were willing to die.
So I was interested in a folksy local favorite here in the newspapers who, like Stewart and Colbert, was not brave when it was important to be brave, and waited for the horde to accompany. He likes living in Vermont because he is “not surrounded by Confederate battle flags, enameled American flag lapel pins” and does “not to have to guard everything coming out of my mouth.” It is worth noting that he is not from here. He moved here. As many do who see America thus.
He, with Stewart/Colbert, will help restore “sanity” — a phrase, a buzz-word, we heard again, again, again and again, in the political dialogue around 1979 when the political culture was about to flip. The “sane” watch Jon Stewart. The “sane” live in Vermont. The insane are everywhere else. It is marginal. It is neurotic and escapist. And it is about to flip the culture again about a week after this concert.
Visit Mr. Quigley's website at http://quigleyblog.blogspot.com.