I grew up in a medium-sized suburb thirty-five miles northeast of Atlanta, Georgia. It was the kind of place where I could leave my parents house on my bicycle at daybreak, return at dusk as my mom turned on the house light and everything would be relatively alright. Most of the parents knew each other, hardly anything really bad ever happened, and the worst part of my day was a bloodied knee or nose due to a heated touch football game or an argument over who was better, Van Halen or Motley Crue.
Atlanta-based WTBS, now known for comedy shows and baseball playoff games, was a sense of pride for us Georgians that showed Atlanta Braves baseball, pro rasslin’, The Three Stooges, Andy Griffith Show, and Leave It To Beaver. A lot of what was broadcast on what we natives called “channel 17″ was in black and white. And it was completely unbelievable. No one reasonable took it seriously. If your parents were lucky enough to have stayed together during the turbulent 1970s and greedy 1980s, then they were working so hard you barely saw them or were so exhausted it was better if you were seen and not heard. This makes some of my social media timelines quite laughable. I know that they mean well, but I believe if they took time to really think about what they post, they’d realize that the sanitized world of the 1950s and 1960s broadcast back to us in the 1970s and 1980s never existed.
This isn’t an attack on conservatism by a liberal but more of a mock. What passes for political and cultural commentary on cable news or social media isn’t reality. Divorce, drug abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, alcoholism, and whatever you want to call “the breakdown of the family” started happening before my generation started using Clearasil.
I was fortunate. My parents stayed together and seem to be head over heels in love with each other after 45 years. But they, like most people, were far from perfect. They had a bat-crap crazy son who ended up experiencing divorce, mental illness, and the ups and downs of the internet age.
What aggravates me about the immense cultural divide that exists today is that the side I disagreed with, mostly conservative, doesn’t want to argue from an intellectually honest base. They seem to think we’re all going to hell in hand basket when an athlete screams in a microphone, people of a different sexuality want to marry, marijuana gets decriminalized and recreationally legalized, or a former Disney star twerks on MTV. Richard Sherman is this generation’s Muhammad Ali, same-sex marriage is this generation’s civil right, legal pot is this generation’s contraceptive pill, and Miley Cyrus is this generation’s Madonna.
When cultural walls start crumbling down we should look at it as progress. You know what the reality was behind those black and white television shows we all liked to watch on WTBS? Jim Crow laws terrorized minorities across the nation, mostly in the south where I was raised, alcoholism was greater then than now, especially among housewives, women were not only discouraged from working but sexually harassed when they did, and technology and transportation limited where people could live, work, raise children, and communicate to one another. Not only were things worse in black and white, they were misrepresented on purpose.
I proudly and enthusiastically tri-created a politics and pop culture website with my friend Linda aka @modmomelleroy of www.elleroywashere.com and Natalie aka @singingfool1224 of www.thecatladysings.com three weeks ago called Lefty Pop aka @lefty_pop www.leftypop.com. It’s initial success has startled me into realizing I need to be a different kind of lefty, a unique liberal voice, that is both intellectually honest and less arrogant. Yesterday, there, I wrote about my support for legal marijuana. I may be a joker but I’m not a midnight toker, so I made sure to be considerate and sober in commentary.
We can disagree about how the country should proceed. As a liberal, I need to be more open-minded that not every conservative hates gays/women/minorities/and well, lefties like me. I do ask of people who don’t think like me to stop saying and posting things that are just not true. The black and white television show world you wish for this country to be never actually existed. If all of us, regardless of political persuasion or area of the country we hail from would start from this intellectually honest place, then the walls that are crumbling down could be more understandable and easier to debate.
Let me know what you think. As the author of today’s song would say “I don’t mind being their whipping boy, I’ve had that pleasure for years and years”.
One of the songs I’d run off the school bus in my Atlanta suburb as a 13-year-old in 1983 to watch the video on MTV for is from Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, John Mellencamp. He shares my politics and this is one of my many theme songs. Here’s Crumbling Down.
You know what would make lovely Valentine’s Day gifts? My books.
The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com