A guide for the younger generation: Sick of hearing about Woodstock? Recreate all of its dubious glories at this year's Super Bowl party.
Though the calm and prosperous years since 1975 were quite good for your college mutual funds, the sad fact is this: Until the last of us old codger baby boomers finally die off some time in the middle of this century, you'll have to suffer the increasingly repetitive ramblings of ever more senile moms and dads (and their loudmouth friends) prattling on about how great the Sixties were.
Your doughty mom will look at your old dad -- who can't read a Wendy's menu without his glasses -- and launch again into how they met on the floor of the Cotton Bowl at the Texas Jam. For the 500th time you'll hear about REO Speedwagon, the 140-degree heat, and how "trippy" it was when the Dallas Fire Dept. blasted them with fire hoses, keeping heat-related deaths to a minimum. Following shortly is their first LSD-influenced kiss, to the thumping backbeat of ZZ Top's "LaGrange." Indeed, in retrospect, those were the days. I only regret I didn't know how good things were back then. I would've tried to enjoy them more.
The Good Old Days officially began with the Cuban Missile Crisis, when we all almost died in a nuclear war. The Missile Crisis has been the subject of endless electronic treatments over the years -- in fact, there's a new one out now starring the ultimate baby boomer himself, Kevin Costner.
Next came all the assassinations. JFK, RFK, MLK, John Lennon. True, you can point to the shooting of Tupac Shapur, but as your own Chris Rock points out, you're not likely to see Tupac's picture on your grandmother's mantelpiece.
You've had your moments. The recent tumble of your NASDAQ stocks is a bad thing. And there is the invention of the cell phone. Fine and well. But they lack the je ne sais quoi punch of the Vietnam War and sex, drugs, and love for everyone out in San Francisco. Our great tales sputter out in the mid-Seventies, ending with the impeachment of Richard Nixon. You can, of course, come back with an impeachment story of your own -- but people like me will mock your impeachment as second-rate, maudlin swill.
Even your impeachment story isn't as good as ours. This would piss me off too, and likely explains why you take such delight in annoying us with the shrill whine of those goddamn cell phones.
We've forced you to sit through Woodstock. Even you'd concur that was one ugly traffic jam. Still, you'd be amazed at how many of us were there. If you query ten adults between 49 and 55, you'll find four out of ten of us were there. I myself shared a toke with Joe Cocker -- but this is a sports column.
It's not widely recognized by you lost children, but the Woodstock experience has been re-created for you to enjoy with all the wonder, but none of the mud and bad speed, of the real thing. It's called the Super Bowl, the greatest all-American communal event since the Pilgrims sat down with the Indians and discovered the joys of brown gravy on cornbread.
This year's entertainment features the Baltimore Ravens vs. the New York Giants. True, it's not REO Speedwagon -- but I wouldn't be surprised if they play at halftime, so don't despair. If you're a little new to this thing, accept this elementary primer.
1) Do not read a sports page for the next two weeks. Every writer in North America, Europe, and Asia will be in Tampa, all following the same tedious "stories." For example, an engineering calculator will be necessary to compute all the words written about Ray Lewis. No, not Jerry's son!
2) Jump in and join the fans sitting around the television, and enjoy ignoring the glares from the buffet hogs, who are glaring at you because the TV's too loud.
3) It's simply poor form to be snoring loudly when jarred awake by strangers -- on the couch of people you don't even know -- with hot dog relish staining your shirt -- and the new couch. Avoid the hot dogs until halftime.
4) On the other hand, don't pace yourself: Pound the hard liquor! The game's often over by halftime. Drink free while you can. Worst-case scenario: Instead of an issue with snoring and pickle relish, you'll puke all over yourself and the new couch of the people you don't know. Though your mate will feign disgust and horrible embarrassment, in time all things pass. Then the story of the time you puked all over whatshername's new couch at your first Super Bowl party will be told and embellished for the rest of your life until you can pass it down to your own children.
I hope this is of some help. I'm sorry about Woodstock. Best to make do with what we have. I've heard Sly Stone is now retired and living astride the ninth fairway at Harry Hopman's Golf and Tennis Resort in Tampa.
Perhaps he'll make a halftime appearance, too.