Tuesday, May 24, 2005


What's your bag?

I suspect that few people other than the most burnt-out hippie have uttered that expression since 1976. But "What's Your Bag?" has re-emerged, at least this week as the title of a little game masked as a survey on PBS.org

The game was created in conjuction with last night's "American Experience" dealing with Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army. What's Your Bag allows you to step back into the late '60s and early '70s and ask what would you do in a given situation? The player is confronted with several scenarios and has to make life-altering choices. In the end, your destiny is labeled.

Here's how it played out for me:

Cousin Lily has had a transcendental experience and wants to drop out and learn with the Maharishi. What should she do?

Stay in school. I know for a fact that they subsist on basmati rice and bean curd at the ashram. If Lily were to give up her daily Whataburgers and pork steaks, she'd whither up into a little ol' alfalfa sprout.

It's 1967, and I've graduated from high school. My friend Allison has heard tale of far-out happenings in the Haight. They're even wearing flowers in their hair! Should I join her in Frisco or go east to college?

Go east, young man. I've always been partial to green ivy, as opposed to some of that other green stuff I hear those California kids are into.

My friend Ellen invites me to a demonstration on campus in favor of prisoners' rights. She's heard the fuzz might be there, and arrest is imminent. Should I join her or stay home?

Let's compromise. I'll stay home, but I promise to listen to my Johnny Cash albums. I'll even sing loudly along with "Folsom Prison Blues."

Things have gotten really ugly on campus. Guys with really big Afros have stormed Old Main and are occupying it as an armed camp. Ronnie Rayguns has sent in the National Guard, and the protesters are no longer in the mood to stick flowers in the soldiers' rifles. Should I mind my own business and keep workin' that slide rule like a good pupil, or should I transfer to some school where the Man is down with the Youth of America?

Again, a compromise. I'm gettin' the hell outta Dodge, but mainly because I don't think I look good in red, especially when it's pouring out of a gunshot wound. To be honest, I'm a big nerd, so I probably wouldn't have been at such a happening school, anyway. In real 2005 life, I'm a graduate of Texas Tech, basically a party school for apathetic shitkickers and frat boys. Try being a Young Democrat there!

President Nixon's coming to town. I get wind that some unsavory, long-haired types on campus might be about to greet him at the airport, and not with a show of enthusiastic flag-waving. Should I inform the police of this poetential breach of civil order or just let events take their course?

Suddenly, I'm feeling a little feisty. This is Tricky Dick, after all. Not only will I NOT inform the pigs, but I think I'll head out to the airport with a bag of tomatoes to pass out to the unsavory longhairs.

Phew! Somehow, I've managed to graduate from college, in spite of my Bushian academic performance. Like ol' W, I apparently have some connections. I can either cash in and let Daddy get me a sweet job, or I can use those connections to get a job organizing for Nixon's re-election campaign. What should I do?

Go for the money, baby! Besides, I've already made my feelings clear on Nixon.

One day after a three-martini lunch, stumbling from my Oldsmobile back to work at Weisenheimer, Lipschitz, and Finkelberger, I run into an old college buddy. Jacko was pretty darned wild back in our day at the U. Back then he had wild hair, and his beard was so long, it occasionally caught fire from falling ash from that wacky tobacky. But standing on the sidewalk, he's a new man with short hair, cleanshaven face and shiny new Johnny Carson suit. In fact, he says his name is now John, not Jacko. "The '60s are dead, man!" he declares. "It's now the '70s. All that protest stuff is out. Making money is in. We're not going to change the world, so let's just cash in." Do I agree with him or disagree?

I tell him how appalled I am with him. We had such vision in our days at the U, I say. We can't let that die. I urge him not to cash in, but to stay true and keep pounding the pavement, fist raised high, voice shrill. Then I return to my air conditioned office and close another leveraged buyout.

I realize how sad my existence is. Yeah sure, I have a trophy wife, a five-bedroom house with a pool and drive an Olds 98 with power windows and a real stereo that even has FM! Still, I'm empty. So I wasn't exactly out there yelling "Death to the pigs!" or "May the capitalist insect burn!" But I do feel that I owe the world something more. Do I continue grasping up the corporate ladder or do I find something more meaningful to do?

Finally, my conscience wins out and I decide to do something else like become a corporate lawyer who takes on the occasional pro bono case.

So what does the gamemaster conclude I've become as we enter the Reagan era? Well, I'm labeled a "community cornerstone," a Rotarian if you will, but a Babbit who at least gives some of his ill-gotten gain and precious time back to the community. So I can volunteer a few hours a month at the soup kitchen and still drive home in my Oldsmobile with my AC and FM blasting.

Now is there a point to this rambling discourse? Well naturally, and that is to point out that that was then, and this is now. Few liberals are as wackjob as what we saw 35 years ago, and few of us would ever think of doing any of those things we discussed above, except to maybe occasionally whisper, "F--- Nixon."

Indeed, the conservative revolution was a natural and understandable response to the gross excesses of the liberal activists of 1970. If I had not been 2 years old in 1970, I might be feeling pretty conservative.

Unfortunately, all these years later, the right continues to exploit the transgressions of the hippies, Yippies, Black Panthers, women libbers and Weathermen as if 21st-century liberals are out to collectivize all private property, kill all the cops and move everyone onto one stinkin' filthy commune with free love and all. In fact, most of us are as protective of our houses, cars and wives as anyone else. The time has come to quit holding us accountable for alleged guilt by association with the likes of Timothy Leary, Abbe Hoffman and Eldridge Cleaver.

We liberals are pretty harmless. It's those folks on the right you want watch.

Wanna play? Explore your inner bag by clicking the link below:


I'm glad to hear that we have at least 14 reasonable Democrats and Republicans who have figured out how to keep all the other crazies on either side of the aisle from going nuclear. For the sake of non-partisan fairness, let me echo the hope that Democrats don't overuse and wear out the judicial filibuster. Now if we can just figure out some other way of keeping Priscilla Owen on her side of the Red River.


Headline of the day from the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Stadium beer supply is safe, in spite of strike

Man, I love this town!

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