My 70’s


Needless to say, my hair was long, my pants were bell-bottom and my shirt shiny.

I spent half of that decade in Vietnam, the other half in America.

But the youth culture helped bridge the cultural gap: we had already listened to James Talor, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Elton John before I jumped on to Year of the Cat and If by Bread (in the US).

In between the two worlds, I got stranded one whole summer in Wake Island,

listening to armed force radio station (Loving you, Theme from Mahogany, Band on the Run).  “Where are you going to, do you know?”

Towards the end of the decade, we watched a bunch of movies whose statures haven’t been surpassed since: Midnight Cowboys, Taxi, Deer Hunter.

The disco craze was well underway, with John Travolta and the Abba.

Dancing Queen.

American couldn’t stand the look of anything that reminded them of Vietnam (negative pair-association).

Cat Stevens was still OK then. George Harrison still had some staying power with “Here comes the sun”.

I was into media (post-Watergate hip major).

Journalism was cool, while computer science was a new field (my friend Al T. was quite nerdy and he belonged more to Bill Gates clan ).

America came across as weak after Watergate, Vietnam and the Iranian hostage crisis. Reagan landslide election was the reincarnation of John Wayne‘s shoot from the hip style (he himself got assasinated by Hinckley in 1981, but reemerged stronger for the line “tear down that wall”).

As of this edit, people are still protesting about sectioning it to build upscale high rises in E Berlin.

Meanwhile, Vietnam in the early 70’s lived life on the fast lane with the last PX supplies, napalm. Plenty of Agent Orange.

A large percentage of US enlisted men was into drugs (facts on file).

A repeated theme from “Last Men Out” was “how can this be”.

But this was how. We breathed our last breaths. Band on the Run.

Celebrating my last Tet (1975) here, I knew we were on oxygen mask. I shaved my head, trying to hit the books instead of  the night clubs. But still, the rumor and rumble or war had gotten near.

It’s like the Angel of Death was breathing down our necks.

You could feel your back hair stand up.

That’s how tense life was in my early 70’s.  Even today, many people are still living in denial, albeit with flashbacks. I forgot to mention  the Carpenters somehow managed to sneak into our consciousness even though by all measures, they look like a bunch of Mormons (unlike the Mamas and the Papas).

But we knew then that “We’ve only just begun”. Their cut of “SuperStar” still engages me today (but it’s just the radio….)

When you had a bunch of young people wearing tight jeans and tight shirts, on campus,

and all they wanted was to wait for Saturday Night to come (Fever), you know it’s peace time. The disco ball was our cross, and the DJ, our priest.

Today’s version of nightclub is version 3.0, with synthesized techno music, and a few easy refrains (suicidal…). In the 70’s you sat and watched the “Soul Train” with black folks doing the dancing, and the Huxtables doing the laughing.

Welcome to America. Now could you help push the car (Oil crisis).

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