To kick off this evening’s festivities, I have the pleasure of introducing our resident polymathic pedagogue, that unreconstructed defender of the Magnolia State, that most cynical of innocents and most innocent of cynics, that sharp-tongued, smooth-talking provocateur and scourge of imams everywhere — yeah, you know who I mean:
“Not every year is a Julian calendar year. It was the year that I became a man, in all senses of the word, when biological urges from the dawn of the species met and merged with religious traditions dating back millennia, family traditions who knows when and where they began, and when I would come to personally understand what “one generation passeth and another taketh its place” meant in metaphysical and human terms, all this to mark passage into a world which would be turned upside down before the first year of manhood would be over.
Before that year was over I would have had my first real sexual experience, have been taken to the Madame, gone to San Francisco for the Summer of Love, have left behind the country comforts of home, hearth and knowing everyone I met to go to prep school in the big city, my brother would leave for Vietnam, and Granddaddy would die.
These personal and private milestones played out against a backdrop of events which, too, marked my nation’s and my world’s loss of innocence and gave us even a sometimes optimistic glimpse of things to come: the Six Day War, race riots all across America, Thurgood Marshall appointed, the Chinese H-Bomb, Muhammad Ali convicted for draft evasion, Biafra, New Orleans Saints won their first pre-season game and lose their first season game, convictions handed down in the case of the Philadelphia, Miss. murder of civil rights activists, Surveyor 5 landed on the moon, Pentagon protest, first human heart transplants, “Laugh In,” “Magical Mystery Tour,” Khe San, USS Pueblo, Tet Offensive, My Lai, Prague Spring, LBJ announced he would not run, MLK assassinated, London Bridge is sold, Mart Crowley’s “Boys in the Band” and “Hair” premiered in NYC, worldwide student protests, Poor People’s March, RFK assassinated, and that day the innocence ended once and for all….
And the music, never before and never since was there such a time. For each memory there is a song. But one always seems to bring it all back to me as if it were just yesterday. There are many videos for it, but this is my favorite since it is in real time as was the disjoint between the pop culture as seen on TV and the world about which it was commenting.”
– Jay Bookman