Golden Age Syndrome

golden age syndrome

If I could somehow get my hands on a new time machine, that comes in two models, one for the past and one for the future, and I were forced to choose only one, I should absolutely have to pick the one that  visits earlier times. For as far back as I can remember I’ve always been quite smitten with the past. Each individual seems to have some kind of excessive interest in either the past or future, as far as I can tell. Maybe it’s a part of mankind’s curse, to want to retreat to some supposed Garden of Eden of yore, or to some purported eschatological Heaven on earth in the future.  Neither of these viewpoints is the least bit legitimate.  Having always read very many biographies over the years, I have become insatiably curious about what it must have been like to have been alive during the days of Plato, Aristotle and Socrates, Medieval times and the Renaissance, or Jane Austen’s Regency period in England.  Of course, I’ve always been so notoriously MRr_Peabody_canvascurious about the first decade of my own lifetime, the 1960’s. Knowing me I should get quite a kick out of being able to  meet all the key figures or that era, especially the Beatles, during their prime. One of my favorite movies of recent years is Woody Allen’s “Midnight In Paris”.  In it the protagonist gets to visit both the Jazz Age and La Belle Epoque, and to meet key figures from each era. That would be perfect for me. One thing I’ve noticed about this kind of thing is that virtually no one ever seems to want to go back to a bygone era just to see what the past in general was like. Everyone wants it to be quite a profoundly significant experience, during which he can either meet famous people or live through distinctive milestones. Perhaps someday I shall meet Doug Phillips and Tony Newman from “The Time Tunnel” and they could give me some tips about what to expect.


Yeah Yeah Yeah!

The first decade of my lifetime was virtually precisely coeval with the 196o’s.    I was born in 1959 so I’m entirely too young to remember the era of flower power, mods, rockers and hippies.    Somehow,though, at an extremely early age I became smitten with all the people, places, things and circumstances that were prominent then.    That sort of qualifies me as a victim of the Golden Age Syndrome.     By the time I turned thirteen years old, the grooviest decade of all had already been over for about the past two years.    The Beatles, my favorite band, were already broken up since the first half of April, 1970.   The first few years of the 1970’s seemed to have shown great promise.   Singers and bands such as Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and Led Zeppelin were always on the radio.    They were throwbacks to the 1960’s anyway though.   Eventually their successors started coming into prominence.   Disco was especially conspicuous during that time frame, followed by new wave and punk.    I, of course,  still stuck to my obsessive interest in the further adventures of John, Paul, George and Ringo.    Much of the music of the middle and late 1970’s was exceptionally good, but I could never let go of my hippie fantasy.   The fact that all four Beatles were then still living made it at least theoretically possible to believe that somehow their era would make a kind of comeback.   The Grateful Dead, Who, Rolling Stones, and Jefferson Airplane (with a slight name change), among other bands from the 1960’s, were all still together.   Bob Dylan and Joan Baez could still be counted on to show up every once in a while.   beatles6b I gained quite a reputation among all my friends, classmates, teachers and people in general, for being such a fan of both the entire 1960’s as a whole and particularly of the Fab Four.   As far as I’m concerned the Beatles and their world have always provided quite an infinitely fertile ground for someone with a hyperactive imagination and an interest in keeping things colorful.   Unfortunately, as good as the solo Beatles’ music, and that of their contemporaries may have been throughout the course of the 1970’s I, always having been so obsessively infatuated with the 1960’s, could never bring myself to admit that anything since then was as good as it was during that time.    Having set up an entirely intrinsically impossible standard of comparison, I ended up in the seriously weird position of getting the distinct impression that the 1970’s versions of the Beatles and their contemporaries were somehow not as good as their slightly earlier personae simply because of the mere passage of time.   As far as I was concerned the 1960’s were a time of merry go rounds, kaleidoscopes, tangerines and marmalade, and the Beatles, as they then existed, were the ultimate personification of imagination and creativity.   Throughout my entire adolescence I read every book, and newspaper and magazine article, that had ever been written about the Beatles, and their lives and times.   Their speech patterns, quirks and mannerisms became part of my world.    Thanks to my insatiable curiosity about them and their era, I became quite exceptionally knowledgeable about all things pertaining to the Fab Four and the 1960’s.   Besides the songs and albums of their Beatle years I kept track of albums like John Lennon’s “Walls And Bridges”, Paul McCartney’s “Band On the Run”, George Harrison’s “Dark Horse”, and Ringo Starr’s “Ringo”, among all their other solo adventures.   I was quite conversant in all things Beatle and could occasionally be counted on even to go overboard with my interest in them.   Even now that I’m a middle aged man I still consider all the music of the 1960’s, and especially that of the Lads from Liverpool, to be entirely without equal.   Perhaps some of my youthful obsession with it all has been tempered to the point of its being a bit more subtle but it’s still always with me.      In a much more important sense it was quite a nightmarishly ugly poisonous environment, but for a kid with a hyperactive imagination and a flair for the colorful it could never possibly be topped or even matched.