Something happened in 1975 that continues to radically change the world. Do you know what it is? The answer is in the podcast.
In 1975, the Vietnam War ended. Even though by the end of 1973 almost all U.S. military personnel had left South Vietnam and there had been a peace agreement, it wasn’t until the city of Saigon was surrendered on April 30 that all remaining Americans were evacuated, ending the Vietnam War.
For entertainment in 1975, Saturday Night Live premiered on NBC. George Carlin was the host of the first show, and still today, when I watch a video of George Carlin, I am captivated by how he combined humor with political and social insights. The big movie that year was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, winning the top Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress. In music, the number one song was “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille, scoring number two was “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell, and Elton John held the number three spot with “Philadelphia Freedom.” It really was a pretty crappy year for music, blending country, pop schlock, and disco on the Billboard Hot 100, but a good song running up the charts that year was Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” a song that will always bring mixed memories and a melancholy tear to my eye.
I had been living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with my first wife, a woman I had met during my underground days, a woman who was 15 years my senior and had three children when I met her (actually, I met and adored the children first). A descendant traced her lineage to one of the oldest aristocratic families in New York and to the first superintendent of West Point. Sometimes when I write these things and look back on my life I have this urge to say, really? And then the answer comes booming back at me. Yes, really!
I left this woman when we were joined by her boyfriend, some “miss-guided” soul she had met while I was in prison whose sudden appearance I’ll never forget. I wish I could say it was a graceful departure. If a quick punch to his face and a broken nose, his nose, was graceful (yes, I did that. Me. Mr. Non-violent), then I guess it was. After that, I spent the next three nights sleeping on the sands of Myrtle Beach or on a pew in a nearby Episcopal church (in those days they left the doors unlocked, and I figured after all I was a seminarian dropout, or more like a seminarian runaway, so the church wouldn’t mind).
After a few days on the beach and the church pews, I decided I wanted to go back to Washington, D.C, a place I had become familiar with in the mid-1960’s, and to a community that had been started by Mitch Snyder. Mitch was one of the band of brothers in Danbury Federal Prison when I was there, and he had begun a sister community in D.C. to the one started by Phil Berrigan in Baltimore. Being without a car, the only way I could get there was by what I use to call “By-Air,” which was standing on the side of the road putting my thumb in the air, asking “Air-you-going-my-way?”
I got lucky. A car pulled over, driven by a very attractive young woman, and as I got in, the radio was blasting “Born to Run.” And being tramps like us we drank wine and played “Born to Run” all the way to Washington, D.C.
In light of current events, I’m not sure what will be in the podcast, but there will be some rock and roll trivia on the shores of Rambling Harbor. I hope you’ll join me there.