Here's another taste of my growing up in the 60s in LA book. Some friends have said, "Why are you posting this? No one will buy a book if they can read it for free?" Well, I'm not sure anyone will buy this book anyway, but what I'm sharing are just small snippets. There's another 90%. Or at least there will be when I finish writing it. Anyway...
Historians claim 1967 was a year of growing polarization. The Hippies vs. the Establishment. Hawks vs. Doves. Long hair vs. short hair. But every year was a year of polarization. Those merely joined the list of: Jocks vs. Me. Scholars vs. Me. Musicians vs. Me. Goyim vs. Me. Guys Who Could Get Girlfriends vs. Me.
My wardrobe was starting to change. I wore jeans (when I wasn’t at school or at work so four hours a week). I recall having a gold velour long sleeve shirt for some ungodly reason. Did I want to look like Captain Kirk? Add to the list: Me vs. Me.
The very first Superbowl took place in Los Angeles in January. It didn’t have a Roman Numeral because no one was certain there’d be a Superbowl II. Both CBS and NBC carried it.
Except it was blacked out in L.A. The 100,000 seat Coliseum wasn’t close to selling out. The Superbowl is a major event today but back then it was more of a novelty. The established NFL was far superior to the upstart AFL. It was like when John Ratzenberger was invited to compete in DANCING WITH THE STARS. The mighty Vince Lombardi led Green Bay Packers easily defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.
But people in Southern California were pissed that access to the telecast was blocked. There were articles in the paper showing how you could string wire hangers together and create antennas strong enough to receive the signal from San Diego. There were probably more deaths that year in Los Angeles from idiots falling off of roofs than car accidents.
I did get to see the game. We visited my grandfather who was in the Veteran’s Hospital in West Los Angeles and somehow they were provided a feed. So me, my little brother, and fifty of the scariest old men you’ve ever seen in ratty blue bathrobes on crutches toting portable oxygen tanks sat in the dayroom and watched one black-and-white TV. I’m proud to say I attended the first ever Superbowl Party.
I can also say I was the first person at Taft (or anywhere where white people lived in the Valley) to discover Wolfman Jack. One night I was tuning around my radio looking for distant signals and came upon this eerie station from Mexico. The music was all hard R&B and Blues and the disc jockey had this macabre otherworldly voice drenched in echo. He called himself the Wolfman and was broadcasting on the “Big X” – XERB. His only sponsor was something called “Mr. Satisfy”, a bottle of pills you could send away to Tijuana for that was guaranteed to give you guys “staying power” in the sack. This was quite a contrast to Dippity-Do hair gel being hawked on KHJ. What I loved most about the Wolfman was how subversive he was, how utterly non mainstream. A few years later he’s starring in George Lucas movies, trading Muddy Waters songs for Bobby Vee oldies on a syndicated radio show, hosting network dance parties, and emceeing shows at Knott’s Berry Farm.
Add to our list: The deeply committed vs. the sell-outs.
At least in the early part of 1967 the deeply committed were still holding strong though.
For the moment.
Boomers may deny it but who’re we kidding? At some point within the next few years the huge majority of us succumbed in some way or another to our own personal “Knott’s Berry Farm”.