"So Long Seventies"
An epitaph on the decade of dullness
By Chet Flippo
The epitaph on the Seventies, you may be eager to learn, was actually
written in 1972. George Sanders, the acerbic movie villain, took a massive
overdose of Nembutal in his hotel room in Spain and left behind a short
note: "Dear World: I am leaving because I am bored.... I am leaving you with
your worries in this sweet cesspool -- good luck."
George always had a way with words, but more importantly, he could see what
was ahead and decided to gracefully bail out before he had to while away the
twilight days of his career in episodes of Love Boat. If George thought he
was bored in 1972, just imagine how distressed he'd be at encountering Studio
54 and Bianca, not to mention Gloria Vanderbilt in her clipped Newport voice
introducing a bunch of swaying, cinched-up, packed-in, life-size, taut-deni
buttocks being thrust into his face in glowing Trinitron color. Tedium, like
crabgrass, has spread to the four corners and seems ineradicable.
As one example, consider this letter that arrived recently at Rolling Stone
This is a desperate letter. Desperate because I need to know that
the Seventies aren't just a lifeless waste of time, musically or
otherwise. I value the journalistic talents that make Rolling
Stone what it is. The question is, why do I feel so useless and
boring after I've read it?
The answer, dear reader, is that you are useless and boring and there's
not a damned thing you can do about it. It's not even your fault. Events
have conspired against you. The West has declined, as Spengler has predicted
in that boring book of his. America has entered a state of terminal boredom --
-- a "frozen zone," as the New York cops say -- and you're doomed to ride out
the wave of Happy Six O'Clock News, yogurt cults, $200 jogging suits,
celebrity gossip, semiliterate athletes who make $2 million a year,
lobotomized politicians, bankers cornering the cocaine market, essays in
Time magazine, Tom Snyder, Barry Manilow and all the other products,
personages and events that are waiting every day to turn your central
nervous system into jello.
Ten years ago, you could go out and throw rocks at the enemy. Today, there
is no enemy, no Boredom Central; there's just a shadowy, shifting network of
boredom generators. Many people are erroneously blaming former President
Carter for the onrush of boredom. Mr. Carter may have perfected the art of
tedium, but he certainly did not invent it. Other presidents, such as Mr.
Coolidge, were equally adept at inducing a national snooze. Mr. Carter is
just another victim, as are we all. And what can we do about it? Perhaps
nothing, perhaps guerrilla warfare against the legacies of the Seventies.
Next time someone advises you to "Have a Nice Day," tell him, her or it that
you're "Sorry, but I've made other plans."
The supreme commander of World Headquarters has just protruded himself into
my life to ask what the hell I'm doing to earn my salary. "I'm into
boredom," I say. "It's very big on the Coast now. I see it as a major,
major motion picture. And certainly a novelization. If I were a rich man -
- like some people around here -- I would put my money in boredom.
"Did you mention it to Irving?"
"Whaddya crazy? Did Ed Teller tell the Russkis about the Big A? Is the pope
a bear in the woods? Gimme a break."
"Okay, okay. Just don't tell Irving till I make the deal. Boredom, eh?" He
paces awhile. "Say, why don't you go out and interview Bianca Jagger and see
if she is boring or bored?"
"Well, why don't you --"
"Okay, you wanna drag Bianca into this? Might as well get a sledgehammer to
kill a mosquito. But you want Bianca Jagger, you get Bianca Jagger." I can
still draw upon my so-called objective journalism training to relate the
encounter I had with Bianca. I warn you that I may show a so-called bias,
since Bianca has abandoned my close personal friend, Mick Jagger.
ME: So, how are ya?
ME: What's happenin' here tonight?
ME: Well, I'm havin' a good time. How 'bout you?
ME: Ha, ha. Ya' wanna go watch transvestites?
ME: Heh, heh, okay, all right. See ya around. Say hi to Truman.
And say a George Sanders Memorial Farewell to these agents of boredom:
Brando and Trudeau, Steve Rubell and Howard Cosell, Chuck Colson and Mrs.
Olson, Jesse Jackson and Peter Frampton, jogging and flogging, Mr. Whipple
and Farrah's nipple, laetrile and Stephen Stills, Kirshner and Kissinger,
Helen Reddy and Ready for Teddy, SALT and the bull from Schlitz Malt,
scholarly marijuana tests and those jokes about Dolly's breasts, the
Jordache look and Nixon's book, the gas crunch and "Let's have lunch," T&A
and CIA, pina coladas and Eric Estrada, Idi Amin and the disco scene, Mr.
Bill and George F. Will, the leisure suit and Joe Namath's Brut, acupuncture
needles and reunions of the Beatles, cowboy books and Haley's Roots, Bakke
and sake, Club Med and the Grateful Dead, singles' bars and Chrysler cars,
Werner's est and dressing West, Kris and Rita and Keith and Anita, sci-fi
flicks and Stevie Nicks, the Ayatollah and Soave Bolla, DC-10s and Halston's
friends, Ed McMahon and the shah of Iran, Bruce Jenner and George
Steinbrenner, Dick Cavett and Rona Barrett, punk rock and Future Shock,
clones and the Reverend Jim Jones, Chuck Barris and Andrew Sarris, Erica
Jong and Cheech and Chong, Woodstock IIs and "paying dues," Saturday Night
Live and that ain't no jive.
Also, avoid cliches like the plague and ignore bad rhymes and essays about
- Rolling Stone, 12/27/79.
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