I can't exactly say that I’d like to go back and relive the era of the 60’s. Then again, right now I’m experiencing a different era of the 60’s. Between the two I’ll take the first one --- cannabis-stained knuckles, fingers, andhands, hands-down!
It seems incredible that’s it’s been over 40 years since those days of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll, and for me, well, two out of three wasn’t bad. Much has changed in our culture since then, including our language. Many of the old phrases are still around, but the meanings aren't quite the same.
Ready, Baby Boomers?
Far Out!--- Once an exclamation of excitement, wonderment, and radical possibilities. Now for many Boomers, a belt size.
Roach Clip--- Once a tweezers-like holder for marijuana cigarette remnants. Now the realization that your exterminator has overcharged the hell out of you.
Right On! --- Once a cry of solidarity and brotherhood. Now a shout out that your chip shot on the 11th has managed to trickle on up to the green.
Establishment --- Once the power, the Man, the established order you had to fight. Now the hot corner bistro you can’t afford.
Oh Wow! --- Once an exclamation of joy and exhilaration. Now an apt response when you open your cable bill.
Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope.--- Once a phrase that made indisputable sense when you were 22 years old, short of cash, and stoned out of your mind. Now, a phrase that makes indisputable sense when you are 62 years old, short of cash, and stoned out of your mind.
The Man --- Once the government, authority, the one calling the shots. Now either the bride or groom in a New York state wedding.
Dope --- Once as in “This is really good shit, man.” Now as in “This man really doesn’t know shit!”
No. 9--- Once an enigmatic phrase in a John Lennon authored recording by the Beatles. Now the second and generally one of the lousier jokes in a Letterman Top Ten List. Power to the People! --- Once a cry for freedom, justice, and equality. Now the option to select your electricity supplier.
Getting Off Now --- Once the pleasured sensation that a drug experience was about to begin. Now an exhausted goodbye to your co-worker as you exit the 6:15 out of Center City.
Heavy--- Once a heart-felt designation of relevance and truth. Now just about anything we Baby Boomers try to lift.
In thinking back to the Sixties, much of the language we spoke was indeed self-indulgent and pretentious. But a bit of it was more like Yiddish; that is, able to express thoughts and feelings in a word or phrase that couldn’t be expressed any other way… for which there was and is no equivalent in English.
Or anywhere else.
And with it all, there was and is no equivalent --- and never will be --- for the 1960’s.