Yesterday I posted about an upcoming concert. This harkens back to my youth when some concert became (usually after the fact) the concert of the year. (For example: April 29, 1975, Bonnie Raitt at the Capitol Theatre. Between songs, someone came out on stage and whispered in her ear. She went on to sing one more song and then announced “Saigon has fallen!” The party went on for hours after the concert ended. Or the night in 1970 the Jefferson Airplane played the Field House, then turned up at the Nitty Gritty to play all night.) I expect this week’s concert to become one of those.
The concert is just part of a bigger commemoration of 1968. 1968 was a turning point. We had “Prague Spring“, the rise of the Situationist International in France, LBJ choosing not to run for re-election as president and Gene McCarthy as the front runner for a time. Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert Kennedy were assassinated.
Mexico City was the site of the Olympic Games, boycotted by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the greatest college basketball player in the US. Sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith were at the forefront of statements by US athletes at the games. Judges appeared to give a gold medal to a Russian gymnast to keep a Czech from winning all of the gymnastics gold. Czech gymnast Věra Čáslavská was an outspoken critic of the Soviet invasion and staged her own podium protest, looking down and away when the Soviet anthem was played. Unlike Smith and Carlos, her country did not ban her from the remainder of the games.
Prior to the Games, a Mexican student protest movement was crushed when hundreds were massacred by government troops, in an action that included troops killing other troops in an effort to place the blame on the students.
1968 also saw the Tet offensive, considered by many to be the turning point in the war.
The Yippies (Youth International Party) arrived on the scene in 1968, running Pigasus (an actual pig) for US president. The movie “Wild in the Streets” arrived in 1968, lampooning the youth movement with the slogan “14 or fight”, an effort by the fictional movement to lower the voting age.
The year saw student strikes worldwide and enough actions around the globe to spawn its own Wikipedia page. It saw the maturation of a movement in Madison, Wisconsin that had been sparked by the Dow demonstrations in October of ’67. To many, it looked like a return of the European Revolution of 1848, which I learned about from the great Harvey Goldberg (and to bring cycling into this somewhere, it was at a Harvey Goldberg lecture that I first met Rosebud, my riding partner of the past 45+ years).
The Madison Reunion will also include several panel discussions with a who’s who of local luminaries. If I weren’t riding my bike across the country, I’d be trying to get the week off to go to panels, find old friends, and drink beer on the terrace.