Saturday, September 5, 2009

the crack in the sixties

the crack in the glass of this framed poster has been there a long, long time: it's opaque for a centimeter or so on either side of the fault line, and what was once masking tape holding it together has lost its glue, and has started to peel and curve off. But it has all the iconic properties: the more-or-less rainbow background, the tripod of the peace sign (the CND, or Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament sign, as I think of it); the faux-art-nouveau lettering of Love; a hand suggesting openness (or for all I know, palmistry); another one - maybe, but not definitively, meant to be African-American, pointing forwards - both of them looking like escapees from Renaissance frescoes; and some stray arrows, linking Peace together (why?), that look to me very like those later adopted as a symbol by the Anti-Nazi League.

I hadn''t realized about the existence of this poster until I unpacked it today - that is, I may have seen it before, but not registered it, stacked up in the sauna, that wonderful LA depository of things that one's never going to throw out, but maybe not use, either - and it seems a peculiarly poignant object, in its state of fragile disrepair. Forty years on (as we keep being reminded) from Woodstock (and so, only ten years from its half-century - one darkly wonders if so many 40-year rock and counter culture milestones are being celebrated because rock lifestyles didn't establish very good foundations for longevity. But what moves me the more is the tenuousness, and yet tenacity of all that idealism and optimism - now most visible here, in Highland Park, in the distilled version that arrives the other side of this front door once a week: the ordered-on-line box of organic fruit and vegetables.

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