Monday, January 30, 2017

The Simple Seventies

Most of us received the news of Mary Tyler Moore's death, this past week, with a mixture of sadness and reminiscence.  Since the show was originally released in 1970, when I wasn't even born yet, and it ended in 1977, when I was just five, I don't have many memories of the show itself.  I was definitely more of a fan of the Electric Company and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood at that age. The obituaries have all been talking about how the show highlighted gender equality, feminine strength and the sexual-revolution.  But, forgive me, I don't think that's why we will all miss Mary Tyler Moore!

 There is one image from that show which indelibly sticks in my mind, and which I even remember taking note of as a four and five year old child.  That is, of course, the picture of Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat in the air as the credits were rolling at the beginning of every episode.  The picture is enclosed above in case you forgot it.  And why does that image stick in all of our minds (including actors, directors, producers and commentators like Carl Reiner, Ted Knight, Terry Gross)?  It is because that one simple act, throwing a hat in the air, is emblematic in a way of the entire decade of the 1970's.  That time period was:

The Simple Seventies
Across the board, from fashion (bell bottoms, bowl cuts, denim) to music (The Carpenters, Simon and Garfunkel, Billy Joel, Elton John), to television (The Rockford Files, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Eight Is Enough), there was a beautiful simpleness about the 1970's.  And perhaps it is because I was living in Boise, Idaho at the time, and things really were simple, but technology was simpler then too.  In the seventies cassette tapes and record players were still in use.  Remote controls for televisions didn't exist.  People still rolled down their car windows with their hands.  The perfect photograph for any budding photographer was capturing a young woman wearing bell bottom pants sitting on a flowery, mountainy, hill, with the sun behind her, blowing dandelion parachutes into the air.  And so, when Mary Tyler Moore died this past week, I think part of all of us also felt that a part of simplicity also died along with her.

The Simple Seventies were of course followed up by the:

Excessive Eighties
The eighties were about excess.  And excess is never beautiful.  In fact, there was something sort of disgusting about the eighties.  I look at pictures of myself, in elementary school and Jr. High wearing power ties and blue blazers (I was only 12), trying to imitate that stock broking tycoons I saw on TV.  I remember my Jr. High folder cover that had Michael Jackson wearing a white be-sequined glove, and the ever present eighties perm.  Whatever can be said of the eighties, they were certainly not simple.

The Excessive Eighties were, not to belabor the point, followed then by the:

Self-Absorbed Nineties
I was living in Scotland and Denmark for part of this decade, and I can still remember the general disdain that Europeans felt for Americans then (and perhaps even more-so now), at our apparent self-ease and self-perception that we could do anything.  I will never forget watching Whitney Houston singing the National Anthem before a huge sporting event in the early nineties, just as our planes were about to drop bombs on Saddam Husain and the country of Iraq.  We thought we could do it all!  Save the world.  Stop all the dictators.  The nineties were not simple either.

It is too early to say what to make of the 2000's (or the naughts as they are called by some).  Perhaps they will actually be so non-descript as to not even have a singular image by which to understand the decade.  But, I miss simplicity.  I miss hats being thrown into the air on a cold winter afternoon.  I miss clunky old gas guzzling steel-doored cars.  I miss bell-bottoms and actual Kodak photographs printed on real yellow photo paper.  I miss shag-green carpets and naugahyde furniture.  The only NET I had as a kid was the one that I caught tad poles in behind the house in the creek that we would play in from morning until night.  I miss:

The Simple Seventies!

What about you?

All For Now,


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