Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Sweet Life of Prozac and Codeine

I don't know if Rupert Murdoch is pushing Peggy Noonan out of the pages of The Wall Street Journal as part of a crap-cutting measure, but it seems Elizbeth Wurtzel is auditioning for Nooner's job. It's all there in Wurtzel's piece: the narcissism with a capital I, the incoherence, the author speaking in the voice of a united America which only exists in her intoxicant-addled brain.

Wurtzel's column is ostensibly pro-Obama, if you make it to the last paragraph, but the whole thing is such a mess it's unlikely you'll bother. Mostly, it's a bunch of 60s bashing.

Today, of course, I know what LSD really stands for: let the Sixties die. If only the last terrorist act of the Weathermen had been to forever destroy hippie nostalgia. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about Bernardine Dohrn. But her name has come up again.


There are a few other possibilities. One seems unlikely: That America has forgiven the '60s. It seems we will never quite get over the assorted shocks to the system and cumulative mayhem of an entire generation having a collective tantrum. It's the one decade that keeps coming up in every presidential election. Always, we have to know what the candidates were up to back then – the drafts, the deferments, the dodges, the drugs. Since Mr. Obama is too young to have a '60s story to tell, the Weatherman connection becomes his syndrome by proxy.

We can accept the '60s as necessary, but can't quite forgive the disarray. More likely, we never want another mess of that magnitude visited upon us again. And we all feel the pull right now. Between the war, the economy and some horrible x-element that can only be ruled a Carteresque malaise, we are all afraid of yet another turbulent time.

This next presidential election, we all know, is serious business. Time to pick a leader who will ensure that the kids are all right – and the grown-ups too. It's the reckoning, if not the rapture. And none of us wants to get bogged down with the same kind of stupid scandals that have dogged all our recent elections.

I don't recall much from the 60s beyond the perimeter of my back yard, and I doubt Wurtzel does either. To hear her tell it, from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1969, the population consisted of 200 million David Horowitzes who plotted to overthrow the government and refused to bathe. Civil rights, voting rights, the empowerment of women and efforts to address great injustices and economic disparity -- never happened. Anyway, those hippies should've devoted their youth to something more productive, liking cutting themselves and writing half-assed music reviews.

Or half-assed editorials. I'm not even going to bother with the last two paragraphs of Wurtzel's piece, because they make absolutely no sense.

It does seem, though, there's one bit of the 60s that Wurtzel -- or her friends at the Journal -- are nostalgic for:

Miss Wurtzel, a recent graduate of Yale Law School, is the author of "Prozac Nation" (Houghton Mifflin, 1994).

Related reading: Albert Hoffman, 1906-2008, R.I.P.

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