The return of the 60s

‘It’s déjà vu all over again.’ You’ve got to hand it to Yogi Berra—the sage of the New York Yankees. He knew what he knew and knew what he’d seen before. I recently fell under that Yogi spell. It wasn’t only because I was visiting the stately New York Public Library on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street—for about the thousandth time! It was because of the surprise within.

NYPL lion Patience (or Fortitude, I always mix them up).

As with many cultural public institutions, the NYPL is a bit financially down on its luck. They used to have big banners fluttering in the breeze to announce the occasional oddball, but always interesting free exhibit that awaited the curious and open-minded visitor. Not anymore. These days, you take your chances. As a chance-taker, that works for me.

Exhibit entrance

On this particular visit, I was unexpectedly greeted by…Psychedelia. While the way of life of the counterculture of the 1960s has gone the way of, well, the 1960s, it was shocking how much remains the same. Let’s see, there are fights over rights for sexuality and gender, demands for social justice and civil rights, a recognition that capitalism is killing our environment, concern over an interminable state of war and a whole lot of free love. See any parallels? Ok, maybe not that last one. It seems that millennials are having a whole lot less sex than their parents.

Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from those crazy kids from the 60s. They were darn good organizers. And what does any good organizing effort need to get it started and keep it going? That’s right: a memorable slogan. Think about slogans in our recent past. Lock her up. Yes we can. What do we want? (fill in the blank) When do we want it? Now. No justice, no peace. (That’s one of the exceptions.)  Compare that with Make love not war. Black is beautiful. Flower power. Now I ask you, which set of slogans is more evocative? More inviting? More unifying?

Poster for Woodstock

Head on over to the NYPL exhibit You say you want a revolution: Remembering the 60s, which is on through September 1, 2018. You never know, you just might learn something.

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