Worlds In Turmoil

“…1959 was a very strange time, a bad year for Labour and a good year for wine.”
—Al Stewart, “Post World War Two Blues”

Although I was born in late ’59, I consider myself a child of the 1960s.

So it follows that I was a wooly teenager of the 1970s and newly minted adult in the 1980s.

The ’80s, in retrospect, was a cakewalk. I was employed for most of it (1981–1984 at the print shop, not far from my late parents’ hobby farm; 1985–1992 at a direct mail marketing corporation in Hopkins, Minn., where I then lived in my first apartment).

Although, as you’ll see shortly, by the end of it I’d declared the entire decade “horrible.”

As I’ve mentioned lately, the late ’80s was a creative watershed for me. Once I was independent, I discovered my own way of doing things: using gainful employment as a resource to my creative life and not the other way around. Had I done exactly what I wanted to do, I’m not sure I would’ve had the necessary tension I believe every artist needs to find ideas and do their best work.

All life is negotiation. It never stops being that. I see that now.

But I rebelled when I was 20, as I did when a teenager. I drank and took drugs. I was willfully disobedient and, perhaps worse, cynical. Things got ugly up until 1988.

I can now see that what saved me—the thing I loved the most and clung to in my early years—was Story. Storytelling as well as story-listening. Reading and learning. I was (and still am) a Story Sponge. I can never get enough. So, everyone was certain I’d become a journalist, maybe even major in “Broadcast Journalism,” as it was known back in the day.

In 1986, goaded by Dad to get a college degree, I embarked on a Media Studies major only to give up after a couple of courses. It just didn’t have enough story for me.

So, out went Media Studies, in went English and American Literature.

By 1989, while writing my first screenplay (that lovely, lovely story that would not leave me alone), I took classes toward a bachelor’s degree at Metropolitan State University. The ’rents were ecstatic. And I was happy to be learning new things again.

Rereading the 1989 journal, I discovered a gem of an entry from that summer, when I was deep into Act II of the screenplay draft and working night shift. What stopped me up was how much of it echoes what’s happening in the world right now.

A more complete excerpt of the entry follows, but let me first say this: I’m gobsmacked it took someone like the current holder of the office of President of the United States (he doesn’t deserve mention by name) to talk about “fake news.” Facts can be incorrect, news items can be inaccurately reported, yet marketing lies at the heart of broadcast news…

The Media Needs Your Attention. (Duh.)

So it had my attention on Monday, June 5, 1989, when I wrote this entry about that previous Sunday:

“The horrible Eighties are drawing to a close—not without a shudder—America tries to be blissfully unaware of the changes taking place in the world, and strangely I see changes taking place in my own life. Yesterday it was a beautiful sunny day—but in the news—over 1,000 young people [were] killed in Beijing, China, 800 killed in a railway explosion in the Soviet Union, where the first People’s Congress has been also meeting. The past week—the great evil symbol of the Eighties, the Ayatollah Khomeini is dead at 87 (?)—there was the first free election in over 40 years in Poland yesterday—ABC News had a special last night on all the world events which they pompously titled “WORLDS IN TURMOIL” as if (by indication of the plural) it was something which did not affect us (Americans) directly (otherwise it would have read: OUR WORLD IN TURMOIL—and made us part of it). America’s uncanny Beach Blanket Bingo Isolationism continues. My feeling is that one day soon it will all catch up with us and I’m not sure I want to be here when it does.”

Well, it has.

And I’m still not sure.

“Oh, every time I look at you
I feel so low I don’t know what to do
Well, every day just seems to bring bad news
Leaves me here with the Post World War Two Blues.”
—Al Stewart

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~ by completelyinthedark on September 1, 2017.

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