Thursday, October 23, 2008

27. Crush That Hippie, Hand Me the Pliers, I Think I'm Bowie

A while ago, during one of the Decades That Didn't Happen, I lived with a guy whose name I won't tell you, because I would have to be a total asshole to reveal that kind of information. Let's just call him Lichen Almighty; he had a real name that he didn't use (except on paychecks) but in normal everyday discourse he wanted you to call him this intensely hippyish name.

Now, Lichen was, in fact, a hippie. An unregenerate hippie. Although he didn't grow up in the 50's and 60's, so he could never be a real hippie. That suited him just fine, because, as a rule, Lichen HATED hippies. He hated the swirling, empty-headed lot of them. He called them 'blissninnies.' It struck me that Lichen was the best kind of hippie, that rarest kind of hippie: the kind that actually THOUGHT about the boilerplate peacenluv before he puked it up by rote.

In between knife hits and the occasional bump of the very worst Central Virginia cocaine (which invariably had been stepped on more often than a Burger King doormat and could always be counted on to bring on a two week sinus infection), Almighty Lichen and I would talk about how the 60's were one of our culture's biggest lies. Then he would whip out his acoustic guitar, but by then I was usually drunk enough to let it pass.

Which brings me to the Firesign Theatre: four hippies who simply were not buying it. Any of it. The wholesale swallowing of a readymade counter-culture. The lack of critical thought. Peace and love as buzzwords. Of course, being hippies in the era of Nixon, they were shooting back at both sides. And in one dense side-long piece, entitled "Le Trente-Huit Cunegonde," they posited an alternate version of the history of the United States that manages to surgically maul both Leary and Kissinger, Me Generation and My Lai. Fuck Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky: this is what your history teacher didn't teach you. Have a knife hit on me and listen with headphones.

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