Day-Glo Sticker

Posted by on September 19th, 2010 at 9:35 AM

J. D. Salinger and the peace sign. Ten years ago, J. D. Salinger’s daughter told the story of her life in a book called Dreamcatcher. Below she remembers 1967, the fateful year when the counterculture and newism began to get the hell marketed out of them. Peggy Salinger was 11 and crazy about Day-Glo daisy stickers and weird stockings and orange-on-yellow miniskirts. She remembers how her dad fumed — “My wearing mod stockings made him nuts.”

She continues:

He wouldn’t say it to me directly, but when he’d pick me up from school as he did on occasion, he’d survey my schoolmates waiting for buses or rides and decry the “joiners, followers, and sheep” all wearing “the uniform of fashionable conformity.” One afternoon he lost it completely. I had drawn a small peace symbol on my leg with a pen in study hall. “Oh my God!” he cried out, and put his hands over his eyes as if he had seen something so awful he couldn’t bear to look. … “What … the hell … is that?” he said slowly, spitting out the words with contempt.

To me, it would be better if he hated the peace symbol simply for its trendiness. But he was a hawk and gung-ho for the Vietnam War. His thoughts as conveyed by his daughter: “Do you have any idea what would happen if we pulled out of Vietnam? A bloodbath … the Communists would come in and there’d be a bloodbath. You don’t know them, you don’t know what they’re capable of.” True, but only part of the story. Of course, this was during the Johnson administration. Salinger might have decided that Nixon’s approach to the war (basically, keep bombing and leave it at that) was nothing he wanted to support.

Jacqueline Susann. Was she any good? Probably not, but on thinking about it I realize I know nothing. Maybe she wrote decent enough page-turners with characters you could tell apart, or maybe she was better than that, or maybe her stuff fits in with the sludge produced for beach readers back then. (Bestsellers are much better-engineered these days, from what I’ve seen. In Susann’s day, critics marveled that people could drag themselves thru books that were so turgid. Whereas nobody marvels if you can get thru a John Grisham; they’re more likely to think you’re a bit lazy.)

Looking at The Love Machine, published in 1969, I find an inept bit about TV programming. A network executive discusses the medium:

Oh, it creates a love for certain people. The whole world loves Lucy, Ed Sullivan and Bob Hope. At the moment. But they’re fickle — remember how they loved Uncle Miltie? Tell me, newsgirl, whom do you love on television?

I include that last line for the “Tell me,” the “newsgirl” and the inhumanly correct use of “whom.” The line just before it is remarkable for being entirely wrong. This guy knows about TV? Lucy, Bob Hope and Ed Sullivan (and Red Skelton and Jackie Gleason and Gunsmoke and The Beverly Hillbillies) didn’t stop being loved. The public didn’t give up on them, the network did. CBS decided that the fans weren’t paying enough attention to the ads. Older people tend to keep buying the same products they’ve always bought, as opposed to taking suggestions from TV commercials. Older people also die off, but the main problem was just that the commercials weren’t getting enough bang for the buck. So during the early ’70s CBS canceled some very popular or quite popular programs that featured stars who had been around a long time.

Also, the fellow above should have noticed that Uncle Miltie (meaning Milton Berle) was big for a half decade and then fizzled. Whereas Bob Hope, for Christ’s sake, had been a star since the early ’40s. Lucy and the rest also notched big-time careers of two decades or more, but Hope really puts the lie to the Berle comparison.

I mean, for fuck’s sake. From Wikipedia:

Hope’s 1970 and 1971 Christmas specials for NBC—filmed in Vietnam in front of military audiences at the height of the war—are on the list of the Top 30 U.S. Network Primetime Telecasts of All Time. Both were seen by more than 60% of the U.S. households watching television.

Poem to an aggrieved manga fan. I wrote this because, in my experience, angry manga fans on the Internet go in for fancy writing and a high-horse tone:

Oh dear,
The thunder rolls
Her cankles are loose
And they’re pounding prose.

One must imagine her pounding away at the keyboard with her legs instead of her hands. Easy enough to believe, in some cases.

Glibly awful. A made-up line from a made-up 1950s tv play: “It’s a world of tizzy and chaos.”

Daily proverb. Do quick, do well, do complete. Lie down, then do again!

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.