Saturday, September 15, 2012

Blowin' in the Wind

Long, straight blond hair: who doesn’t want it? I spent my senior year in high school growing mine out just past my shoulders, getting ready for college—and now I’m here I think I look at least moderately cool in my madras shirts, wheat jeans and penny loafers, that long, straight, blond hair blowing in the wind. But do I want to be Mary, or that Surfer Girl the Beach Boys sing about with such longing?

“Surfer Girl” better suits the world of fraternity parties I’ve fallen into, even though Bloomington is about as far from an ocean as you can be. But, making my way to the Commons alone, I often peer down the stairs into the Kiva, where the Beatniks hang out, smoking, drinking coffee, reading poetry, and talking about Serious Things. Thin, soulful-looking guys with beards, girls with Mary hair, like mine, perch on bar stools with their guitars and sing woeful, apocalyptic songs: “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “Puff the Magic Dragon,” “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

And a new one that just came out—“Eve of Destruction”—which I love.

Steve thinks it’s stupid and melodramatic.

He thinks the people who hang out at the Kiva are weird. “Baggers,” he and his friends call them, after the green army surplus bags they sling over their shoulder. “Goddamn Commies,” they say.

We almost argue about this, but don’t.

The thing is, I know that my idea of Beatniks—or Baggers—is a ridiculous mix of Maynard G. Krebs, on the “Dobie Gillis Show;” Kookie, the hip parking lot attendant in “77 Sunset Strip;” “Hootenanny,” and sneaking down to Greenwich Village with some friends on a high school trip to New York last year, ecstatic to discover Bleecker Street, where there were real Beatniks and music drifted into the crisp autumn evening from the Bitter End, The Village Gate, the Café au Go Go, places where I knew the grooviest folk singers played.

Nonetheless, part of me daydreams of dressing in black and heading down to the Kiva to listen to bongos and revel in the coming apocalypse. The other part, the girl I became the very first day I got to campus, says, “Are you out of your mind?

I follow the music into the Commons, where the jukebox is always playing the Beatles, the Supremes, the Beach Boys, the Four Tops, the Righteous Brothers, Martha and the Vandellas.

Sonny and Cher, “I Got You, Babe.”

And admit to myself that, at least right now, all I really want to do is dance.


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