Disco and Cocaine.
Wow! It's as if some Skinnerian marketeer in some high-rise office, somewhere IMPORTANT, said one day, "Let's see how goofy we can make 'em look". And the next thing you know, people start looking real stupid all around you. Mind colonies...mining psychic resources... pushing little buttons.
And the suckers were thorough. A totally absurd mediocrity of an environment was crafted in every detail. If 'hippie' was goofy because of an impossible mythos projected, at least it was largely a home spun effort. This was different.
Big box department stores and their pitchers rushed with the zeal of prophets, using unprecedented apparatus of persuasion to round up the young public big time. Moo... Baah. And before you know it legions of the young and restless have dorky blow dry haircuts sculpted to suggest glans of a penis, preposterous platform shoes, horrid polyester 'leisure suits' and they're sore afflicted with Saturday Night Fever.
And just below the shiny surface sat coke, blow, toot or schnoof the perfect skinnerian drug. Rats'll do it 'til they die. Reward reward REWARD REWARD!!!
Porn movie stars, John Holmes in particular, were as representative of the era's cultural hero's as anyone was. The trouble was, once unleashed, these forces are difficult to manipulate precisely and often develop a life of their own. It was quite an attempt though, harness a most compelling psychic force to the bleak mill wheel of consumption.
But, beneath the polyester surface squelching, squelching lay depths unprecedented.
Disco, from a humble milieu of urban blackwaters, decloseted gays and newly assimilated latinos grew to an expansive market blast reaching the furthest edge of the national mind flock. Mind colonies. New exploitations of meta-resources. Dim suburban white people pathetically sought a life, someone else's.
So hapless. So helpless. Why derive ones worth from a heartless market, an empty mechanism? That Skinner's quite a skinner. Look at all those hides hangin' on a corner without a self to call their own. The nation of green grocers notion stretches past snap point to point to a beckoning big chill.
In the Vietnam War aftermath of imperial deflation, magnanimity, (always a matter of surface anyway), withered and voters stood revealed in their naked potbellied selfishness.
And the layers of exploitation, the patterns of exploitation were amazing in their geodesic intricacy. First, scam the downtrodden for their little hope of a lifestyle. Then puff it up to a level of abject bloated ridiculousness and fill the airwaves and department stores with the results and reel in the anxious idiots seeking a roost. Attention K-mart shoppers!
Curious it was, to see 'the Hustle' displace the square dancing of my childhood as the main form of public school dance instruction in a belated pathetic pursuit of social relevance.
Funny it was, to know that, by the time of its introduction it was nearly as hopelessly anachronistic as the allemandes and dosey-do's it supplanted. Way to go!
And the way gone took quite a few turns toward chop line plies on an infinite array of mirror fragments, credit cards, polished stone slabs, desktops, spoons and whatever other smooth flat surface answered utilities cry.
Okay, the question. The trail of inquiry most obviously begs attention. Could this TV screen, magazine, full page ad, sixty second voiceover, billboard, sky written, flyer dropped blast of contrived anxieties about bad breath, dandruff, potbelly terrors have undermined a sense of self worth for large swaths of the public?
And when coupled with an artificially, needlessly grueling work pace in a shifty work place, could it drive unprecedented ingestion of an overpriced crystalline powder ripped from the erosion trashed guts of the defenseless Andes and their fucked over inhabitants?
Set aside the venal brays of hack politicians belaboring the obvious nuisance of drugs run amok. No one seems to ask how life got so distorted and toxic, that a comparatively dull heart race, tooth chew and bowel churn drag of a drug seems like a good time. These sad bag bearers in charge persist in maintaining that a cumbersome and sloppy police state is a viable alternative to the implosive disruption likely from a serious examination of the mechanisms unsound premises.
The economics of cocaine are ridiculous. The mania maker costs between eleven and twenty cents a gram to make and costs its fans fifty to a hundred dollars a gram to take in order to babble drivel, struggle with paranoia, decorate the heart with a lattice work of scar tissue, irritate mucus membranes, crave sex if a woman, fear sex if a man with a weave of jitters, idiocy and pomposity throughout.
In the 'burbs, coke was there to greet folks as they settled into stasis. In most period piece meat markets where coke held its heyday court, the jukeboxes froze.
In the altiplano, parameters of Latifundio exploitation shifted to new hazards for the locals to add to the parade of toxic routines visited upon them since Pizzarro showed up.
In the cities, tendrils of altiplano and suburb intertwine to channel a blow flow into the anxious nostrils of a burgeoning American dream horde an American dream whored.
Dreams of Big Time, Multiple Orgasm, Perpetual Conquests, Life of Parties Wild and Crazy danced in many heads. If you shell out enough dough, you can at least simulate it with substantially less effort and for no extra cost you get delusions of significance, paranoid psychosis, permanent facial tics and an impressive acceleration of the aging process, maybe even a heart attack or a lung freeze.
And, of course, there is the underlying sense of emptiness nipping at the heels as soon as the transient buzz fades away. The promise dangles briefly to be torn away in a blink. Matrices of stress crisscross and lattice like those heart muscle tissue scars begging for analysis.
Well, there are the impoverished Quechua in economically comatose Bolivia with frail altiplano mid slope soil. Bolivia doesn't even much tin left. All the silver left centuries ago to support profligate Bourbon family debts to English banks. It's been said a bridge of silver could have been built from Rio to Bristol with the guts of Potosi alone.
Conquistador's descendents, scrambling for a new way to disembowel the land had to settle for blow. And, being land locked after a war instigated by the UK in the late nineteenth century. Bolivian coquero's ended up arranging for Colombians and Cuban exiles to help with the shipping.
Colombia has its own sordid legacy of messy civil wars and ham-fisted repression. Years of coffee growing further narrow the base of its economy. The soil grows ever more tired. The streets know intermittent bomb blasts, drive-by shootings, kidnapping and threats. The people war with each other over stupid business with us. How many billions of blow dollars flow? What's a President's price these days, anyway?
Cuban exiles are an evil bunch. They often steal half the shipment while making the buyer happy to walk away alive. Memories of Batista's good old days and Pig Bay betrayal linger yet.
Finally, there are the ridiculous flamboyant gun toters who comprise the blow distribution hierarchy here at home.
New rounds of stress, transposition of conflicts to our alleys and sidewalks, tract homes and apartments with retinues of bimbos, soldiers and flash customers filtering money through laundering schemes. Muscle bound minds tiptoe around fringes of lethal psychosis armed to the toenails.
Work a way to the everyday coffee table with its mirror, its razor blade and straw where everyday customers rise to a creed's epitome. Hyperactive glances clamor for a piece of blather, clitoral and nipple swell, a sinking feeling of tale chasing tireds racing around the emptiness 'til self melts to drivel.
Squalid memories linger. Sara wanted to suck me dry while her dying boyfriend slept in the next room. She wondered if I minded the herpes on her lip and hoped it wouldn't discourage me from feeding her my sperm.
Actually, the dying boyfriend was better goad to impotence and I played dumb and walked home despite her eagerness to 'give me a ride'.
Sara's little sister Marcy was a slender blue eyed blonde elf nymph who would happily drive her splendid long tongue up any slobs marginally clean asshole for a night of endless lines.
Leslie and Andy dragged out a stack of Penthouses in their late night apartment wondering if paper muff and tit images might inspire my participation in a messy little heap. Gaah, I thought, and told them I was tired. Why were we looking at these things anyway?
Skeletal Bev wanted to blow me for a five-dollar shortfall on a pot deal. She's bleak. My goofy thug friend laughs. Her daughter was doing homework down the hall and the life she led with mom turned her away from men forever.