I was born in 1968. My fascination with the period from 1960 to 1979 is based on a desire to understand the conditions into which I was born. Naturally I am drawn to cyclical theories of history like those of Vico, Kondratiev, and Immanuel Wallerstein. But art is more compelling than history, and some of it comes toward the future in its slippers and bathrobe, unwashed and glistening with the sweat of a feverish, sleepless night. You can smell its scalp, you can hear it breathing, but like the ghost of Odysseus' mother Antikleia, it can't be embraced. That's the strange part: that I can feel these things so deeply without having been on the scene -- in the case of 11-22-63, I hadn't even been conceived -- and that the remains of the day are so rich with impressions yet so utterly gone.
This is a clip from the last performance the Beatles ever did, a surprise concert on a rooftop in the middle of the working day in London. January 30th, 1969. Almost exactly 40 years ago.
There was apparently a sense of things being swollen with impending disaster.
In his brilliant movie about Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens says that most of the US war dead were killed after Nixon was sworn in -- which was, of course, ten days before this concert. However, the only graphic I could find in my bleary spell of post-allnighter research was this one. I'm not sure whether to trust these numbers or not. But it's indisputable, as far as I can see, that Nixon plunged the country into larger troop commitments in Vietnam; secretly bombed Cambodia; allowed CIA to ramp up its heroin traffic to enormous levels; hatched Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld from Satan's ass; conducted broad illegal surveillance of journalists and political opponents; filled the Oval Office with racial slurs and Jew-hating; defaulted on American debt by debasing the dollar, taking it off the gold standard and wrecking the Bretton Woods agreement; and so on. And within a year or two, US domestic oil production (in the Lower 48) peaked and went into permanent decline. Doctor King and Robert Kennedy were dead, murdered by CIA-linked goons who would never pay for the immeasurable violence and loss their crimes inflicted on the country and on Indochina. And the Beatles were about to break up. This great concert was, come to think of it, a bit like what they call "breakup sex."
If you've done the reading, you're probably persuaded as I am that John Lennon, who had eleven years left to live, was done away with by the same people who had done the devil's work in Dallas and Memphis and L.A. Mark Chapman was a deeply disturbed MK-ULTRA patsy with an artificial "legend" papertrail of bullshit about Holden Caulfied and a right-wing Cuban Exile controller who was on the scene in the same role Eugene Thane Caesar was playing when he murdered Robert Kennedy: "Security Guard."
As my friend Marianne said after 9/11, "Everything seems very fragile right now..."