I always enjoy reading Hendrick Hertzberg’s articles in the New Yorker magazine, and now he has a blog, Dispatches from the YearlyKos convention with ten individual postings. Here’s an excerpt from one called ACID FLASHBACK:
I admit that I was expecting this crowd to look weirder. Not hippie weirder, though I did expect a bit of that, but nerdy weirder. So I was surprised at how extraordinarily normal everyone looked. The left, if I may use that radioactive word, sure has changed since “my day,” i.e., the nineteen-sixties and early seventies. The equivalent of the liberal blogosphere back then was the “underground press,” the anarchic collection of weekly and irregularly published quasi-newspapers and para-magazines that served as bulletin boards and primal-scream outlets for the counterculture and the various antiwar and “liberation” movements. YearlyKos’s closest equivalent back then would be the ramshackle underground-press convocations that took place from time to time. I attended several of these. What a contrast! The stereotypical look then was rock roadie or medieval wizard for men, groupie or earth mother for women. Those of us who were on the more moderate, “reasonable” side of the left were at pains to point out that even then, most of us, say sixty per cent, were actually fairly normal. This was true, but the eyes of America and America’s cameras were understandably drawn to the forty per cent who were, shall we say, comparatively colorful. On my bathroom wall I have a photograph taken at one of these underground-press convocations. It shows a crowd of a hundred or so undergrounders in a discussion circle. I’m in the middle, in shaggy haircut, Lennonish eyeglasses, and turtleneck, earnestly making some point (probably about the need to avoid alienating the great mass of Americans). And, sure enough, if you make allowances for a certain number of extravagant mustaches and batik prints, the crowd does look kind of normal, most of it. Except that three of the young women listening (somewhat skeptically, I have to admit) are stark naked.
No one naked around here. No chaos at YearlyKos. No “sweet smell of marijuana,” as the straight papers used to refer to it. No demands for revolution. No denunciations of bourgeois democracy. The Democratic National Committee Chairman is listened to respectfully and cheered enthusiastically.
Way to go Hendrick, and way to go YearlyKos! I read all ten of Hendrick’s postings and they’re all great.