Victoria College, University of Toronto, the Northrop Frye Centre, the University of Toronto Press and Pages Unbound present -
A multimedia presentation & B.W. Powe in conversation with Journalist and McLuhan Biographer Philip Marchand
Wednesday, October 15, 5 – 8 PM
Alumni Hall, Victoria College
University of Toronto
73 Queen’s Park Crescent East
Click below to view UofT’s poster for this event:
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Peter Zhang, Grand Valley State University
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Russian futurologist and writer Andrey Miroshnichenko illustrates the value of Marshall McLuhan’s media concepts of extension, amputation and Narcissus Narcosis, when applied to today’s digital media, in this case, the photographic capabilities of smartphones. This excerpt is taken from his book Man as Media: The Emancipation of Authorship, published in Moscow this year, which I highly recommend……..AlexK
Correction, Sept. 22, 2014: Andrey, the author, has informed me that this essay is NOT from his book Man as Media; it is one essay from his ongoing blog focused on media located at http://human-as-media.com/2014/06/15/the-sequence-of-singularities/ . However, my recommendation for reading the book stands; it has some original ideas to contribute and deserves to be better known.
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Harold Innis goes to war
By MEL WATKINS – September 16, 2014
The great Canadian scholar Harold Innis fought and was wounded in the trenches in the First World War. The experience changed his life forever. So argues A. John Watson in his brilliant biography, Marginal Man: The Dark Vision of Harold Innis, on which this blog draws.
The title and the sub-title tell it all. Fighting under British command, Innis, coming from the margin — albeit privileged — of the British Empire, was compelled to encounter Canada’s colonial status. The experience was the genesis of Innis’s resolve to create Indigenous scholarship from his hinterland status. These are the roots of today’s Canadian Political Economy and Canadian Studies, and later of the Toronto School of Communications and the study of media. The war was also to make Innis suspicious of authority and give his scholarship a sharpness that was rare at the time.
Fighting in the trenches also subverted Innis’s Christian faith. When he went to war he had been seriously considering entering the Baptist ministry. In Europe, however, he saw the barbarism, and how each antagonist claimed God’s backing, and how the Germans looked no different from him close up. Rather than the clergy, he returned to do graduate work in economics at the University of Chicago and then to teaching at the University of Toronto, and the rest is history.
It has become a key part of the official narrative of the war that from it emerged Canadian nationalism — though not in Quebec — and the demand, not for independence (that would be so unCanadian) but for increased autonomy within the Empire. Read the rest at http://tinyurl.com/klan6rf .
See also Harold Innis: An Intellectual at the Edge of Empire by Mel Watkins: http://canadiandimension.com/articles/1842 .
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Marshall McLuhan was fascinated by advertising in all its forms, though his opinion of it was ambiguous at best; likewise advertisers and marketers were fascinated by McLuhan from the start of his prominence. San Francisco’s Howard Gossage had a strong influence in making McLuhan’s ideas known during the 60s (see earlier posting on this blog http://tinyurl.com/pdsh8jc ). The following article is a reappraisal of McLuhan’s work and influence by a public relations professional.
Photo by Henri Dauman / The Estate of Marshall McLuhan/Life Magazine
Marshall McLuhan was born 101 years ago on 21 July 1911 and he’s been greatly missed since 1980. This piece dedicated to his memory was first published last year [in 2011]. It was the opener here in a series of profiles probing the legacy of important figures in the PR realm: Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud, Walter Lippmann and Daniel Boorstin and more. So to first-timers and old-timers reading this sketch, enjoy the ride.
There’s a lot to be admired about the “prophet of the electronic age” who said “if it works it’s obsolete.” Marshall McLuhan coined the term the “Global Village.” He also produced classic phrases such as “the medium is the message,” “the medium is the massage”, and the “Age of Anxiety.” And he’s credited with conjuring “turn on, tune in, drop out,” over lunch with the 1960s advocate of LSD trips, Timothy Leary [which is dismissed by those who knew him best.]
McLuhan was the archetypal-media studies guru. Not only was he an icon of the 1960s counterculture, he also went on to become the “patron saint” of the newly launched Wired Magazine in 1996. They identified with McLuhan’s vision of decentralized, personal, and liberating electronic technological development that transcends time and space. They warmed to his vision of how electronic media would wipe away contemporary society’s traditional values, attitudes and institutions.
There is after all, as Andrew Keen has pointed out, much in common between the wired generation’s utopianism and the communal ideals of the hippies. As McLuhan told Playboy Magazine in 1968:
“The computer thus holds out the promise of a technologically engendered state of universal understanding and unity, a state of absorption in the logos that could knit mankind into one family and create a perpetuity of collective harmony and peace.”
McLuhan: still Wired
Still, for some good reasons, McLuhan remains an inspirational thinker to a new generation of youth. He appeals to those who want to break free from looking at the present in the rear-view mirror. He appeals to those who wish to create something completely different to what’s gone before and to those, including corporations and politicians, who wish to appear “in touch” and “cool.” In McLuhan’s words:
“These kids are fed up with jobs and goals [traditional ones, anyway], and are determined to forget their own roles and involvement in society. They want nothing to do with our fragmented and specialist consumer society. Living in the transitional identity vacuum between two great antithetical cultures, they are desperately trying to discover themselves and fashion a mode of existence attuned to their new values; thus the stress on developing an “alternate life style.”
In Wired‘s launch issue interview with a virtual McLuhan, whose consciousness they said had been preserved in a programmed bot, he says that the real message of media today is ubiquity. It is not something that we do. Rather it is something we are part of from the outside that excites all our senses. It is, he said through Wired‘s medium, as if we have amputated not our ears or our eyes, but ourselves, and then established a total prosthesis – an automaton – in our place. He (ok, his cyber-ghost) adds:
“Postindustrial man has a network identity, or a net-ID. The role is now a temporary shift of state produced by a combination of environmental factors, like in a neural network. This possibility has always been latent in the concept of role, but in the machine age this was perceived as a danger, while today it is simply a game – we no longer see shifting roles as dangerous and taboo and therefore theatrically compelling. Rather, we follow these shifts as if we were doing a puzzle or kibitzing a chess game. Yes, the medium is the message, but this does not mean and never meant that the content of the medium is a conscious reflection on itself. The medium is the message because it creates the audience most suited to it. Electronic media create an audience whose shifting moods are as impersonal as the weather.”
So, regardless that McLuhan’s name is no longer household fare (unlike, say, Warhol’s), his influence remains as significant among cyber-nerds as it was among beatniks. In fact his thinking is arguably more significant today, given the amount of hype that surrounds the cyberspace, Web 2.0 world.
So what was he really about? (Read the rest at http://tinyurl.com/odxf9ef )
Marshall McLuhan on Advertising:-
“Advertising is a vast military operation, intended, openly and brashly to conquer the human spirit. The critics of advertising miss the bus entirely by complaining about false claims. Nothing could be less important than the false claims of advertising. It is the total icon-making activity that matters, and in the degree that these men are icon-makers, they, certainly, these agency men, they certainly have the right to call themselves creative artists; whether they perform a good, benign social function is open to question, but as creators of tremendous effects, they are artists. Remember an artist is primarily concerned with getting your attention; whether he is a poet or a musician, his first wish and hope is to trap your attention. This is the first hope and wish of every advertiser. He is an artist certainly to that extent. He wants to shape your attention, to shape your sensibilities, to create an effect upon you. Whether you believe a word he says couldn’t matter less to him; he is interested only in effects, and not in changing your opinions or thoughts about anything. And this is also true of a poet; couldn’t care less about what you thought or felt about him or anything, as long as he gets his effect across.” - Marshall McLuhan, CBC Radio Broadcast “Ideas”, 1960s
“The objective of advertising men is the manipulation, exploitation, and control of the individual” (McLuhan, The Mechanical bride, 1951, p. 21)
“Advertising is the greatest art form of the 20th century.” – Marshall McLuhan
“The modern Little Red Riding Hood, reared on singing commercials, has no objection to being eaten by the wolf.” – Marshall McLuhan
“Historians and archaeologists will one day discover that the ads of our time are the richest and most faithful reflections that any society ever made of its entire range of activities.” –Marshall McLuhan
“Madison Avenue is a very powerful aggression against private consciousness. A demand that you yield your private consciousness to public manipulation.” – Marshall McLuhan (1964, Understanding Media, p. 232)
“The historians and archeologists will one day discover that the ads of our time are the richest and most faithful daily reflections that any society ever made of its entire range of activities.”
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This longish critical essay by Drew Reed is about both TV & the Internet. The author is right. McLuhan said that obsolesced media are re-purposed and become art forms, as for example TV obsolesced movies and legitimized them as art, and movies did the same to theatre. Now the Internet is doing that to TV, which by happenstance is experiencing a new “golden age”, while the Internet has become the medium of choice for stupidity. This is a short excerpt from the article that prominently mentions Marshall McLuhan and castigates the stupidization of the Internet, partly attributing it to the removal of gatekeepers like editors, directors and producers. Anyone can publish or upload anything to the Internet and the content that ends up there is mostly crap; finding the good stuff is a necessary skill and constitutes a part of information literacy. I have added my comments to the excerpt below in square backets [ ].
Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch) in the movie Network (1976)
Waiting for the Internet’s ‘Mad as Hell’ Moment
Now that TV is the place for serious people with long attention spans, we’re really in trouble – by Drew Reed
[Marshall McLuhan] was a professor from Canada who was famous for his landmark 1964 book, Understanding Media, about TV and other media. In the title of the first chapter of the book, which has become probably the most famous chapter title ever, he stated that “the medium is the message” — in other words, technology shapes human life. He also distinguished between “hot” and “cool” media: hot media exclude participation, cool media prompt higher levels of participation.
After devising this intriguing and potentially very useful system of media classification, he then uses it to analyze television in a perplexing, Freakonomics-y way: he calls it a “cool” medium. Why, Marshall, why? His case is a bit shaky. For instance, in relation to film (a hot medium, of course) the television image is lower quality. Therefore, TV is a cool medium. Huh? What happens when we invent the UHDTV 48 years later? His response is that the higher quality would make it a different medium. There you have it, folks. The TV you’re watching today isn’t really TV. [No - you said it yourself; it's UHDTV, arguably a different medium created by different technologies. "The medium is the message!"]
McLuhan felt that television and “the electric age” brought people together, unlike writing — as well as earlier electronic media — which isolated and divided, and were therefore hot. TV, a cool medium, would foster greater participation (apparently the ability to channel surf counts as “greater participation”) [No Web 2.0 applications, especially social media, create greater participation.] and turn us all into one big happy global village. [No, "the global village makes maximum disagreement and creative dialog inevitable". - McLuhan in the Playboy interview, 1969] Okay, so he wasn’t that sappy about it, but that was the basic idea.
But if “the medium is the message”, and technology controls our collective fate, would television really steer us toward greater participation in the societal decision making process? Or would it merely deliver bread and circuses, or at least just circuses, to our households at light speed? [How about both?]
Then, in the 1976 movie Network, Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch) issued the line that’s been stuck in your head since you looked at the opening photo of this article: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Why was he mad? Because he was “a human being, goddammit!” And he wanted everyone watching his show to shout out their windows that they were “mad as hell” too. If you don’t get the references, just click through the link above to watch the original clip.
Now, to be fair, the counter-cultural-ness of this was called into question somewhat by the fact that it was released by a major movie studio. But nonetheless, it struck a chord. A good chunk of the American people realized that by that point, the purpose of TV in practice was not to educate so much as to stupefy.
We’ve come full circle — or should I say say, full circus. The internet, the biggest revolution in written text since Gutenberg’s printing press, has perhaps undone much of the progress the printing press has made. There’s a universe of information at our fingertips, yet we seem nearly as susceptible to “bread and circuses” as we were in Roman times, when most people couldn’t even read.
Is the medium really the message? Are we masters of our fates, or is our course predetermined by our technological milieu? The answer is, as it has been throughout this essay, a little bit of both. Perhaps Rome would not have been taken over by Augustus if there had been a hashtag #EtTuBruti. Or perhaps people would be too busy tweeting about gladiator matches to care.
Or maybe technology is bad. Maybe today, without the mind-melting combination of TV and the internet, we’d be less distracted, and able to come up with more effective solutions to climate change and the fact that our society is founded on the physical impossibility of perpetual growth. Maybe we need just the right kind of technology; after all, no one complained about the printing press killing attention spans, but everyone complains about TV and the internet doing so. Or it could be that, no matter what kind of media we use, we’re subject to the same greed and ambition that eventually brought down the Roman Empire. All the technology in the world — or none of it — will never change the fact that we’re human, all too human.
Nevertheless, I still have a few shreds of hope left. Despite the TV/internet death cycle and absurdities like #catfish, humanity can get better, we can confront its long term issues, and technology has a role to play. But the internet needs a “mad as hell” moment. People need to be shaken out of their hashtags and convinced to pay attention to the things that matter.
It’s something so important that we might need to say it with old media, the way Network used film to comment on television. How about a TV show? After all, TV’s having a “golden age” right now, and the internet most certainly isn’t.
But somehow I have a feeling that the best we can hope for is a GIF file, or maybe a couple of tweets. Oh well. At least it makes for a catchy tagline: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m going to tweet about it!”
Read the full article at medium.com here: http://tinyurl.com/m7npdc4
“Nothing is inevitable provided we are prepared to pay attention.” – Marshall McLuhan
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Invitation to Book Launch: B.W. Powe’s Marshall McLuhan & Northrop Frye: Apocalypse & Alchemy , York University, Toronto
Room 305 (Senior Common Room), Founder’s College, York University, Toronto
(see York U map here http://www.yorku.ca/web/maps/KEELE_Map.pdf )
The Date & Time:
Thursday, September 18, 2014 – 3:00 to 5:00 PM
Everyone welcome! Refreshments will be served.
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Our World – The World’s First Ever Live Satellite TV Broadcast (1967) Included The Beatles & Marshall McLuhan
“Our World” Satellite TV Broadcast, June 25, 1967
25th June 1967 is a monumental date in the history of television, both for Europe and the world. The Eurovision programme “Our World” was the first live international television production, and it was a two-hour broadcast, around the globe, between 9pm and 11pm CET on a warm Sunday evening, 47 years ago.
It was an undertaking of incredible complexity, involving control rooms around the world, three geostationary communication satellites (Intelsat I, Intelsat II and ATS-1), over 1.5 million km of cable and ten thousand technicians and programme staff. The programme concept was to link up the world, to demonstrate that we are all part of “our world” – all brothers and sisters. The ground rules for the show included that everything had to be live, and that no politicians or heads of state must be seen.
Four days before the broadcast, five of the participating countries dropped out. The Eastern block countries were protesting at the West’s response to the “Six day War” in the Middle East. But the show went on, with an offer to do it again with them – if ever the Eastern block countries could agree to take part. (Source: http://tinyurl.com/qffhb4z )
The show began with the Vienna Boys Choir singing its theme song in 22 different languages, then switched to Canada for a live interview with media pundit Marshall McLuhan. The program moved to the U.S. and Glassboro, New Jersey, where American and Soviet leaders were meeting, then back to Canada for a rancher and his cattle, followed by segments from a subway construction project in Tokyo, Japan, and a tram station in Melbourne, Australia.
Then the show returned to London for its final segment: Seated on stools were The Beatles, surrounded by a small orchestra and a group of friends and acquaintances sitting on the floor (including Mick Jagger and The Who’s Keith Moon). They sang All You Need Is Love to a prerecorded instrumental and percussion track. After some studio work thereafter — Lennon was never happy with his voice and re-recorded his verses while Ringo Starr overdubbed drums — the song was released as a single on July 7 and was number one on the UK charts for three weeks. It appeared on the albums Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine. Regular international satellite commercial TV broadcasts would become common in the 1970s. No subsequent special programs were conceived, let alone performed. But for two and a half hours one evening in 1967, it was a big deal. (Source: http://tinyurl.com/p3vx726 )
Rolling Stone has just published a detailed article about The Beatles’ remarkable performance on that first-ever live satellite broadcast:-
The Beatles agreed to perform a new song as the representatives of the United Kingdom. “It was the first worldwide satellite broadcast ever,” Ringo Starr said years later. “It’s a standard thing that people do now, but then, when we did it, it was a first. That was exciting – we were doing a lot of firsts.
“Engineer Geoff Emerick remembered, “I don’t know if they had prepared any ideas, but they left it very late to write the song. John said, ‘Oh God, is it that close? I suppose we’d better write something.'” Paul McCartney proposed his composition Hello, Goodbye, which got released as a single five months later, but the group opted instead for John Lennon’s All You Need Is Love. They started recording the song on June 14th, with Lennon on harpsichord, McCartney on double bass with a bow, George Harrison on violin (for the first time in his life!) and Starr on drums.
The Beatles did 33 takes on June 14th, picked take 10 as the best, and in the following days, overdubbed vocals, piano (played by producer George Martin) and banjo (Lennon), plus guitar and some orchestral passages. Only on June 24th, the day before the broadcast, did they decide that they would release “All You Need Is Love” as a single – meaning that the world would be watching them cut their next record. Read the entire article here: http://tinyurl.com/mzb59tc . Here are The Beatles performing All You Need is Love for the first time ever on that historic occasion:-
See over 1.5 hours of the full Our World program here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0H9IhSJ6ZjA
Here is Part 1 of Marshall McLuhan being interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), giving his take on the significance of this historic TV transmission, prior to the event:-
And here is Part 2 of that CBC interview:-
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Tags: communication, culture, events, global village, media, technology, TV
A recent online article provides a short history of metaphors for the Internet ( http://tinyurl.com/pnofxro ) and offers an incomplete list of Net metaphors, which includes: information superhighway, infobahn, cyberspace, web, cloud and yes – global village. Metaphors are figures of speech that are especially useful to help us understand new phenomena, especially new technologies, but their usefulness often wanes over time, as familiarity either confirms or disproves their applicability. The Internet is not at all like a superhighway, and so that metaphor has lost its usefulness.
In The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962) Marshall McLuhan provided this definition of global village: “The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village” (p. 31). And Marshall McLuhan’s “global village” metaphor has been used with increasing frequency since the arrival of the Internet and especially its social media like virtual communities, Facebook and Twitter. Indeed, arguably the phrase global village has transcended its metaphoric status and has become a meme, which, as applied to the Internet, the OED defines as “an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations” ( http://tinyurl.com/ndthm2x ).
The following article by Dr. Adam Earnheardt is republished here by permission:-
Realizing the global village
Published Sun, August 24, 2014
It’s difficult for me to imagine life without the Internet and social media. While it’s not the same as looking someone in the eye and having a conversation, in a broader way, I feel more connected to people from all over the world.
After all, we live in a global village.
At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard or used that phrase “global village.” You may have heard it used in reference to the Internet.
The first email you sent must have been exciting. You didn’t have to wait days for someone to get a letter in the mail. And more importantly, the response was usually a lot quicker.
More recently, you may hear “global village” used at the launch of a new social-media app, or in reference to being able to have real-time video chats with people in different countries.
What might surprise you, however, is that the person who is credited with coining “global village” did so in the 1960s — decades before the Internet and social media.
How could he have possibly known about a global village in the 1960s?
Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher who became a bit of a social icon in the mid-20th century (he had a cameo in the movie “Annie Hall”), predicted this brave new world of email, websites and social media long before the first computers were linked.
OK, I know this sounds like something some old, boring, stodgy professor-type would say. But underneath all of this is a prediction. In a sense, he predicted the Internet and, more specifically, social media.
The thought was that all the different technologies and mediums we use to connect with others and learn about the world would eventually exist in one place. He saw the telephone, television, radio, books, newspapers, and primitive versions of the computer as the heart of the global village.
McLuhan knew what was coming next. We’re used to hearing predictions of doom and gloom (see Nostradamus), but McLuhan’s predictions were (and are), for the most part, hopeful and exciting.
For example, he once said, “The next medium … will transform television into an art form.”
Now think about the way television has evolved in the past five years. Think of the volumes of videos we now access on Facebook, Twitter, Vine and other social-media apps that serve entertain and educate us.
Think of binge-watching and streaming TV shows that features rich characters and complex stories. This is yet another of his predictions in the process of being realized through the creation of new technologies.
Of course, we’re still witnessing McLuhan’s predictions. And although he died in 1980, I wish he were here to tell us what was next.
Maybe he has.
If you’re brave enough and have the time to wade through his dense yet artful prose — it took me five weeks to read McLuhan’s “Understanding Media” — maybe you’ll find the next great prediction. And maybe that prediction will lead you to create the next great invention, and create stronger connections for the global village.
Dr. Adam Earnheardt is chairman of the department of communication at Youngstown State University. (Source: http://tinyurl.com/q8ar3dj )
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Beatles, ‘Life’ magazine, August 1964.
1964 was the year that Marshall McLuhan’s most important book – Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man – was published. After that, his best work lay behind him and he was increasingly met with growing criticism, misunderstanding and hostility. It might be useful to recall what else was happening in the world in 1964 to provide the context or ground out of which Understanding Media emerged. Marshall McLuhan and Understanding Media are very much part of the warp and woof of that revolutionary decade of social and political change.
A May 27, 2014 article in The Atlantic recalls that year in America 50 years ago:-
1964 was an eventful year — a half-century ago, humans were making strides toward space travel beyond the Earth’s orbit, and Tokyo hosted the 18th Summer Olympics. The Beatles took America by storm, as Race Riots gripped big cities — and the the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law. Boxer Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali and the heavyweight champion of the world. Cyprus devolved into civil war between Turks and Greeks, and President Lyndon Johnson escalated U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. (Source: http://tinyurl.com/nqhvzjc )
One is tempted to say, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. This article by Stephen Hume comments on Canada in 1964:-
It was 1964 and Boomers began coming of age
I was among them, part of a generation that changed the world — but at the time we rode the wave without really noticing the depth of the changes
‘When I was 17, it was a very good year,” sang those harmonious, well-groomed, early-’60s coffee house folkies, The Kingston Trio, their lyrics’ fame later amplified by a Frank Sinatra cover. I turned 17 in 1964, one of the teenage multitudes at the leading edge of that Baby Boom we hear so much griping about; the one that my war-weary parents had passionately helped launch in 1946. There were more than 8.5 million Baby Boomers born in Canada. The simple demographics of those pent-up Second World War desires transformed society. The so-called pig moved through the population python, creating demand by demand for bigger houses, bigger suburbs, bigger cars, more schools, more shopping malls, more fast food outlets, and so on.
But 1964 was also the year in which Boomers began to separate from the careful, conformist, Silent Generation that had created its gigantic successor.
That’s what adolescents approaching adulthood do — and have always done. They challenge assumptions and expectations, rebel against social norms, define themselves in the world by emphasizing not their inherited similarities but their invented differences from exasperated parents.
So 1964 marked the beginning of an era of tumultuous change that would transform political, social and cultural institutions for the province, the country and the continent.
Canada would get a new flag, the red maple leaf on a white bar, shedding its colonial ensign and beginning a discussion about patriating the constitution from Britain. In Vancouver, the Indian Centre Society would open on West Broadway to serve its youth, the first in Canada to have an all-First Nations board of directors.
In 1964, the Boomer vanguard was about to leave the family and make its own way in universities and the workforce. For the United States, it meant a whole generation arriving at the age that made it eligible for military conscription into an emerging war that much of that generation rejected.
We were also entering adulthood in a society scarred by social injustices: racial segregation, religious bigotry, class and gender discrimination — and we reacted with the civil rights movement, Black Power, Red Power, Gay Power, Flower Power, Women’s Lib, the development of a counter-culture.
It was the year that Clint Eastwood became a star with the wry, genre-spoofing spaghetti western A Fistful of Dollars but it was also the year of Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady. Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, offered a bitter satirical antidote to Goldfinger, the latest in the James Bond franchise.
In Ontario, the legislature abolished a 114-year-old law permitting segregated schools. In the U.S., the Ku Klux Klan — including a local sheriff and his deputy — greeted President Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Bill by murdering three young men registering black voters. A few months later, the first schools in Mississippi were integrated but there were riots in Harlem, a harbinger of the 1965 riot in Los Angeles that would leave 34 dead and $40 million in damage.
Yet, really, what teenager actually thinks deeply about political portents?
I was playing for a very good small town high school basketball team and writing sports stories not just for the school paper but for the small town weekly, selling the occasional squib for 25-cents-an-inch to a big city daily and so, as the song says, for me, when I was 17, “it was a very good year for small town girls,” too.
Who’d have thought then that the Kingston Trio were among the musical tremors that preceded a pop culture upheaval. Few of us actually noticed in the moment but those tremors would banish pop chart sensations of a few years before to the easy listening lounge. Move over, Old Blue Eyes, here come The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary.
It’s like that with a lot of these immense social trends. We ride the wave but we never really notice until much later how Bobby Vinton, the gold record heartthrob of those girls on the school bus a few years earlier, was suddenly clinging by his fingernails to Billboard’s Top 100 list for 1964 while British Invasion bands like The Beatles and The Dave Clark Five dominated the top 20.
The communications visionary Marshall McLuhan saw what was coming in his book Understanding Media: the extension of man, advising us that “the medium is the message” but it didn’t make my reading list until university.
In 1964, as with many teenage boys, what commanded my attention were sports, cars and girls — and by a kind of self-interested default, the music that interested girls — not necessarily in that order.
Read the rest of this article at http://tinyurl.com/nu4s4ju .
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