Peace & love from Monterey

I thought this post was appropriate for this weekend, 1) because a lot of people I know are at Coachella right now, 2) I just bought my tickets to Outside Lands (TOM PETTY, YOU GUYS), and 3) I’m writing this from the garden of a bed & breakfast in Monterey, CA.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about Monterey Pop since…well, the beginning of this blog. It is, in my opinion, the greatest music festival in history. A big part of that was the timing: the festival took place at the start of the Summer of Love, not far from San Francisco where the counterculture movement was in full swing. It basically represents all that was good about the 60s, before things started getting messy and disillusioned (see: Woodstock). It was also the major American debut of The Who, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix, which is kind of a big deal.
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Basically, if I could travel back in time to any time/place in history, it would be the Monterey Pop Festival. All of my favorite 60s artists were either performers or spectatorswith the exception of the Beatles, but they did send along a personal message; see belowand everything went on without a hitch. No drug problems (drugs, mind you, but no problems), no violence, no arrests. I think the most violent part of the weekend was probably The Who and Jimi Hendrix destroying their instruments, haha.
A weird thing I noticed while watching my Monterey Pop DVD recently: I’m starting to look at these old performances and think, “Wow, everyone looks super young!” And then I realize that’s because they’re younger in these videos than I am now, which is rather startling. I mean, Pete Townshend was 22!
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Bebe Pete!!
Michelle Phillips was 23…Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were 24…Simon & Garfunkel were 25, same age as me. I’ve idolized these people since I was about 13, and now it’s weird to watch them in their prime and realize that they were younger then than I am now. In short, it makes me feel old.
Anyway, at this very moment I’m listening to sea gulls and ocean waves and feeling grateful that we decided to take a spontaneous trip down along the coast. We already visited a record store in Pacific Grove and got some goodies: 3 Prince albums, Lou Reed, The Byrds, and some kind of radio special about Graceland. Tomorrow we’re going to the Aquarium and then of course, the Monterey Fairgrounds where history happened in 1967.
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Hynkel, Garbitsch, and Herring

This past weekend I bought the Criterion Collection version of The Great Dictator, which, if you have not seen, I HIGHLY recommend. I think it might have just bumped out City Lights and become my favorite Charlie Chaplin movie.

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The Great Dictator is hilarious, thoughtful, clever, but above all, it’s a brave film. To make a comedy/satire of WWII as it’s happening is one thing, but to take a stand and speak out against one of the most fearsome men in history takes balls. The film was released in 1940, in the height of Hitler’s power. Hitler reportedly watched it, twice. I wonder what he thought of the ending speech (excerpt below):

“…The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die liberty will never perish…

Soldiers – don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you – who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.

Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate – only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers – don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty.

In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written ” the kingdom of God is within man ” – not one man, nor a group of men – but in all men – in you, the people.

You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfill that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers – in the name of democracy, let us all unite!”

(Side note: while watching it, I always get distracted by Charlie’s ability to not blink for like 5 minutes.)  That speech is so universal and powerful, I can’t help but get chills whenever I hear it. Obviously a movie made in 1940 can seem dated in some ways, but so much of The Great Dictator is timeless. I love that about Charlie’s movies: beneath all the slapstick and humor, he always cuts to the core of humanity.

Give a silent film actor a voice and you might be surprised at what you hear….

What’s your Golden Age?

I recently watched Midnight in Paris for a second time and decided that it was definitely one of my favorite Woody Allen movies to date. Besides the amusement of Owen Wilson basically channeling Woody Allen’s rambly and neurotic behavior, this movie pretty much speaks directly to my own obsessions. In the movie, Gil is obsessed with the Paris of the ’20s, always going on about how everything was so much more vibrant and alive in that era than in modern day. And when he magically gets transported into that time, he meets a girl who says the same thing about Paris at the turn of the century. The idea being: everyone has their own “Golden Age,” and what one person considers utterly boring and unexciting could someday be another person’s dream come true.

It made me realize that I have several distinct “Golden Ages,” periods and places that I would give anything to have lived through, but instead have to experience vicariously through movies and books. :P This includes:

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Los Angeles in the 20s. I don’t really care for Hollywood nowadays, but to have seen it in its heyday back when movies were still a novel idea – that would be awesome. I definitely think that was the greatest era in LA’s history: people getting dressed up to go to the movies, the original studios, stars like Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson defining celebrity. I think the only times that I miss LA are when I watch an old film and start to get all nostalgic about how exciting those times must’ve been. Luckily I lived there when I first went through my silent film obsession, so I could visit the Chaplin Studios, Grauman’s Theater, and old celebrity mansions while I had the chance.

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San Francisco in the 60s. It goes without saying: the music, the people, the Summer of Love…I am SO ENVIOUS of anyone who got to live through this time. I don’t care if it’s super idealistic (I mean, I know that things weren’t all peace and love and flowers), but, you gotta admit that there was nothing quite like SF in the 1960s. Oh, and people say Woodstock was the height of 60s music…just for the record, Monterey Pop was WAYYYY better (want/need this).

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New York in the 70s. Like I’ve said before, I have this sort of metropolitan obsession, which I think is epitomized by NYC in the 1970s. There are tons of movies/shows/etc. that feed this obsession, including Taxi, Paul Simon’s first solo albums, the first seasons of SNL, and most Woody Allen films. I’m also fascinated with 1950s Greenwich Village (beat scene, anyone?)…but 70s NYC is always what I think of when I imagine city life.

I’m sure there are more random, obscure ones I can think of (Mozart’s era circa 1780s Vienna FTW!), but these are my obvious favorites. And if you haven’t already seen Midnight in Paris, I highly recommend it!

Old LA pics

Been looking at this website…lots of great old pics from campus! This one is dated May 19, 1970:


LISTENING TO THE MUSIC OF PEACE–Throng of UCLA students in Royce Hall Quad as Los Angeles Philharmonic director Zubin Mehta, on podium at the lower right, conducts university’s music department in performance of peace music from Handel’s “Messiah.” About 5,000 students, faculty members were on hand.

Why doesn’t this kind of stuff happen anymore?? Here are some more:


AT WESTWOOD — President Robert Gordon Sproul of the University of California is shown addressing U.C.L.A. students yesterday at which time he warned that Communist propaganda is invading local college campuses. 1947.


WOE IS ME!-The parking problem at UCLA is illustrated by Mary Ann Harmon’s frustration, above. The Pasadena girl, a business major, is looking for her car in one of UCLA’s packed parking lots. 1961. [psh, they thought it was bad THEN…]


NEW LOCATION–Youthful salesmen who wave frantically at passing motorists to spur sales of maps showing the homes of movie stars have been forced to get out of Los Angeles. But they have located just outside city limits on Sunset Blvd. 1973. [Star maps are still abundant in the outskirts of Hollywood along Sunset Blvd, though now it’s sketchy looking men who are selling them – maybe it’s just the same kids grown up, hahah.]


Cityscape of pedestrians, car traffic and buildings on fifth street, downtown Los Angeles, Calif. circa 1920.

You can disregard whatever I said a year ago about living in the midwest. I like it out there and all, but I LOVE THE CITY. There’s just so much to do…so much excitement. I think a lot of this has to do with finally being able to fully explore LA this summer. I had so much fun going to places like the Hollywood Bowl, Venice Beach, the mountains in Malibu, cruising down Sunset and Wilshire and stopping at random places ranging from cemeteries to art galleries. There are endless possibilities here in LA, and though it’s going to be a bit more of a challenge without a car, I’m going to continue my city adventures while I still can!