(The format of this entry is a tribute to the Year-In-Review essays of Dave Barry, whom I have always wanted to be and who, 40 years ago today, invented Al Gore.)
A lot of 40 year anniversaries are popping up this year, causing people to ask me what the heck was going on in 1969. They ask me because I am one of the few people still alive from that year.
1969 was a year of transition. In ’69 some thing were going one way, some things were going the other. We had dichotomy out the yin yang. There are a remarkable number of events from 1969 that I have left out because I lost most of them in the hazy days of Woodstock. Here’s what I remember (after looking at Wikipedia):
January 10 – After 147 years, the last issue of The Saturday Evening Post is published. The Post was no longer relevant. Norman Rockwell’s America was gone because hippie vegetarians refused to eat turkey on Thanksgiving or even wear shoes and a shirt to the dinner table.
January 12 – Super Bowl III: The New York Jets of the American Football League defeat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts of the National Football League, prompting a decade of commercials featuring Joe Namath..
January 13 – Elvis Presley, without the support of his old band, The Crickets, begins a comeback, recording among other songs, "In the Ghetto", which opens with the lyric, “On a cold and gray Chicago morn, a poor little baby child is born, In the ghetto.”
That baby would later become Barack Obama.
January 20 – Richard Milhouse Nixon succeeds Lyndon Baines Johnson as President. LBJ lost largely because he publicly picked his dog up by the ears and also exposed a scar from a gall bladder operation.
January 30 – The Beatles give their last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records. The impromptu concert is broken up by the police. Paul McCartney dies in the melee.
February 4 – In Cairo, Yasser Arafat is elected Palestine Liberation Organization leader. After drinking heavily in celebration, he wraps a table cloth around his head, establishing his trademark fashion statement.
February 24 – Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the First Amendment applies to public schools: something many Americans had long prayed for.
March 17 – Golda Meir becomes the first female prime minister of Israel, and declares that her country “too skinny, like a chicken wing”, and everyone should “have a nosh”.
April 9 – The Harvard University Administration Building is seized by close to 300 students, mostly members of the Students for a Democratic Society.
April 20 A grassroots movement of Berkeley community members seizes an empty lot owned by the University of California to begin the formation of "People's Park."
These events started a college league for student protest which ends with the shootings at Kent State, Ohio in 1970, where Paul McCartney is killed.
June 1 – In Montreal, Canada, Give Peace a Chance (which brought about the end of the Viet Nam War) is recorded during the famous bed-in for peace by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
June 18–22 – The National Convention of the Students for a Democratic Society, held in Chicago, collapses, and the Weatherman faction seizes control of the SDS National Office, saving Chicago police the budgeted funds set aside to disrupt the dissidents.
The Weatherman group became infamous for bombing banks and other symbols of “the establishment” in protest of the war in Viet Nam. Though they failed to end the war, these same young people later became part of “the establishment”. They joined large brokerage firms, where they bombed financial institutions with toxic mortgage-backed securities leading to the collapse of the economy.
One of the Weatherman leaders was William Ayers who, in 1969, befriended little Barack Obama, in the ghetto.
June 28 – The Stonewall riots in New York City mark the start of the modern gay rights movement in the U.S.
July 14 – Football War: After Honduras loses a soccer game against El Salvador, rioting breaks out in Honduras against Salvadoran migrant workers, prompting a brief Salvadoran invasion of Honduras. U.S. sports fans continue to insist that the baseball “World Series” is the biggest sporting event on the planet.
July 16 – Apollo 11 lifts off, headed for the moon.
July 17 – The New York Times publicly takes back the ridicule of the rocket scientist Robert H. Goddard published in 13 Jan 1920 that spaceflight is impossible.
July 18 – Edward M. Kennedy drives off a bridge on his way home from a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. Mary Jo Kopechne, a former campaign aide to his brother who was in the car with him, dies in the incident, along with Paul McCartney. Teddy thus kills his Presidential hopes, saving potential assassins all the trouble.
July 20 – The Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle lands on the lunar surface. The world watches in awe as Neil Armstrong takes his historic first steps on the Moon.
August 9 – Inspired by Armstrong’s moon walk, for the cover of their last album, the Beatles have their photo taken walking across Abbey Road. Paul McCartney is run down and killed by a passing motor car.
August 9 – In response, members of a cult led by Charles Manson murder Sharon Tate and her friends at Roman Polanski's home in Los Angeles.
August 15–18 – The Woodstock Festival is held in upstate New York. This three days of peace and love, sex and drugs failed to end the war but did establish a new marketing demographic: the Woodstock generation. Not coincidentally, the first Gap store opened in San Francisco in 1969.
September 2 – The first automatic teller machine in the United States is installed in Rockville Centre, New York. Thousands of New Yorkers immediately draw out all their savings and go bankrupt just because it is so damned convenient.
September 20 – The very last Warner Bros. cartoon of the original theatrical Looney Tunes series is released: Injun Trouble.
September 26 – The Beatles release their Abbey Road album, receiving critical praise and enormous commercial success. But they break up anyway, prompting a brief invasion of Graceland by Beatlemaniacs.
September 26 – The Brady Bunch premieres on ABC,
And then, for something completely different,
October 5 – Monty Python's Flying Circus first airs on BBC One.
October 16 – In an ironic parallel to the NY Jets defeat of the Baltimore Colts in January, The "miracle" New York Mets win the World Series, beating the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles 4 games to 1, prompting a brief invasion of New York by Baltimore. The Maryland fans are quickly repulsed by Stonewall activists.
October 29 – The first message is sent over ARPANET, the forerunner of the internet. Al Gore claims credit for the idea.
October 31 – Wal-Mart incorporates as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., with the stated intent of global domination.
November 9 - A group of “Amer-indians”, in response to Warner Brothers cartoon, “Injun Trouble”, seizes Alcatraz Island for 19 months.
November 10 – Sesame Street premieres on the National Educational Television (NET) network. Al Gore claims credit.
November 15 – Dave Thomas opens his first restaurant in downtown Columbus, Ohio. He names the chain Wendy's after his 8-year-old daughter, Melinda Lou.
November 19 – Apollo program: Apollo 12 astronauts, whosis and whatshisname, land and walk on the Moon. No one back on Earth really gives a crap about this. Nevertheless, without Apollo 12, there would not be Apollo 13 and several important links to Kevin Bacon would be gone.
December 1 – Vietnam War: The first draft lottery in the United States is held since World War II . Several resisters decide not to play until the pot gets really big.
December 6 – The Altamont Free Concert is held at the Altamont Speedway in northern California. Hosted by the Rolling Stones, it is best known for the uproar of violence that occurred in which Paul McCartney died. According to Wikipedia, Altamont “is viewed by many as the ‘end of the sixties.’”
Duh. It was December 1969