Thursday, November 6, 2008

Damn Hippies

Julie and Ivy are some of the most recent in the American Girl world, a line of dolls that reflect different periods in history. There's an American Revolution doll, an Industrial Revolution doll, a Depression doll...

Julie and Ivy live in 1976. In San Francisco.

My daughter's favorite was the Depression doll, Kit, but now she really wants Julie. We can't afford her, even though Julie is something of a recession doll. Maybe an inflation doll (which must be distinguished from an inflatable one). The depression doll's backstory is that she saves her family by going to work at a newspaper. If I made a doll for today, I'd create a biracial blogger deeply in credit card debt with no dental insurance. Her accessories would include an iPod and a yoga mat.

Julie's accessories include a peasant dress, a hibachi and a bed with a beaded curtain. I'd like to crawl into the catalog and live her life. She needs a pack of tarot cards and a roach clip, though. Ivy comes with a cowl-neck top and chandelier earrings.

It's odd to see your life and your accessories as part of a historical re-enactment. Though in 1976 I was still a virgin, which feels quite like ancient history. I smoked, yes, that too, and drank. I spent a good part of Bicentennial summer on the Mall, sitting in a tent at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as a volunteer in the African Diaspora section. My job was to listen to the blues performers all day long, writing down on a log the names of the songs they performed as an audio tech taped every minute. Some of these guys are still at it. (I know I saw Cephas, but I don't remember if they were performing together at that time. I had little idea of how amazing it was to see what I was seeing, but I liked it all the same.)

The book that best captures much of the feeling of the city at that time is King Suckerman.

I hope my daughter doesn't ask for stories from the old days, though if she does, I will share the good, non-scary parts.


Anonymous said...

suckerman is fantastic, but i am partial to nick's trip. crawl back into the 70s, with gas lines, disco and coke? hmmmm....
regardless, your daughter is one lucky girl. you think, therefore she thinks.
keep writing.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Maria Padhila said...

The comment removed wasn't something bad, just a tech error--a private poem, not for the contest. Write a poem y'all.

liz said...

Debating between quitting
or screwing off so thoroughly
that my boss has no choice
reminiscing about my own
American Girl Dolls.
One, Molly, a family tradition
One, Addy, my own savings
led to my grandmother's dismay
remember when there were only 3?
From 8 stories up
the trees of Takoma do their autumn trick
for my enjoyment and distraction.
memory, dolls, trees and motivation...
something's gotta give!

Amateurzac said...

A Cautionary Tale

The most beautiful tree
I will ever see in my life
Was the mulberry that grew in the backyard
With a thick, powerful trunk;
Broad deep-green leaves for shade
In the 100-degree summers,
Delicious fruit that made
A perfect purple mess in the spring,
Shadows and memories playing year round;
Roots, deep and ancient.
I cried and cried and cried
As it went through the wood-chipper
Screaming with metal and agony
One branch at a time.

Maria Padhila said...

...With one foot sticking out. Way for the games to begin!

Anonymous said...


I think that I shall never see
A chance to fuck under a tree.

A tree whose branches have caressed
A bodice ripped, revealing breast;

A tree that keeps a secret for more than a day,
And shades us from the sun when clothes fall away;

A tree in whose bark we’d carve our names
Who never chooses sides or blames;

Upon whose roots our flesh has lain;
Intimate with soil and pain.

This willow dream made by fools like me,
It’s close to God, to fuck under a tree.

- Backstretch

Maria Padhila said...

I love my life. Keep feeding the beast.

Pam said...

Have you ever been to the Red Victorian Bed and Breakfast on Haight Street? I went there once on a Richard Thompson quest. I had a bad Chinese carryout and became sick, and I spent a morning lying in my bed in the Butterfly Room listening to psych-pop music through my open window. Or maybe it was on the radio. Or in my head. Whatever: It felt like some idealized teenage bedroom where I was getting over a bad trip.

Me in '76: living in a small apartment in Takoma Park with my conservative, eccentric parents. I made a Bicentennial sundress covered with small flags. I listened to Elton John and John Denver. I still listen to Elton.

Maybe the hibachi is for drying the leaves. Or it's a sort of bowdlerized metaphor for Seventies smoke.