R.I.P. Don Cornelius–I Miss the ’70s

Photo by Cottonball 09 from Wikimedia
I was saddened this week when Don Cornelius died.  I hadn’t thought about “Soul Train” in a long time, but immediately the theme song and the animated train popped into my head.  “Soul Train” was “American Bandstand”‘s cooler, funky brother, in every sense of the word.

The crazy clothes, the free-form dancing, talk of brotherhood and tolerance–say what you like, there were a lot of good things about it.  And who didn’t love the Jackson Five?  Who can sit still when you hear those silly songs?

I went off to college with a pair of pinwale corduroy elephant bells and a matching print blouse with four-button cuffs and a collar that went halfway down my chest.  I had a baby-blue knit midi-skirt that I wore with my roommate’s white knee boots, which were embroidered with flowers.  Embroidery and ethnic accessories were big.  I embroidered stuff on a chambray shirt for the guy I dated my sophomore year.  He made me a beaded necklace which was too small to go over my head and didn’t have a fastener (oops).

My black friends were heavy into the SuperFly look.  Even some of the white guys were.  Someone who will remain nameless (to protect the guilty) wore green plaid cuffed bellbottoms with gold-and-green leather platform boots and a brown leather jacket.  Believe me, Elton John looked normal back then.  My friend Ed kept his “Sergeant Peppers” suit well into the ’80s–brown tweed, four buttons, epaulets on the shoulders, and flared pants.  He wore it with a brown leather coat.  He was stylin’, for sure.

And the music had a good beat, you could dance to it.  That’s probably why disco refuses to die out as wedding and party music.  You can’t really dance to the Police, as much as I loved them later on.

Enough nostalgia, already–this is not something I normally indulge in.  To paraphrase Woody Allen, life is like a shark.  You have to move forward or you die.  There are a lot of things about the ’70s I don’t regret leaving behind, like discrimination against women being open and legal.  But just one reminder for us all–the Equal Rights Amendment did not pass, and in this advanced 21st century, we still do not have equal pay for equal work.  Boogie down on that.

The Way We Were

Photo by MaxPride
The other night I watched the PBS special of Barbra Streisand performing to a small audience at the Village Vanguard, “One Night Only,” recorded in 2009.  Never having been a huge Barbra fan, I was surprised at how moving the show was.  Just Barbra and a jazz quintet, with a room of adoring fans (including President Clinton and Sarah Jessica Parker), and her best songs–and a flood of memories.

As a kid, I saw “The Way We Were” and had a good cry.  Whatever happened to romantic tearjerkers, even stupid ones?  Hearing that song transported me to a time when I believed lost love was tragic and hoped it would never happen to me.  Robert Redford in his golden youth–what could be better?

Women and girls back then were struggling to create more opportunities for themselves.  Remember the Equal Rights Amendment?  How about “equal pay for equal work”?  When was the last time you heard that phrase?  And women still make less than men for the same work today.  There was also a great emphasis on equality in relationships between men and women, and what a struggle that was!  But love and/or romance tended to overwhelm any differences, whether in movies or in real life.

My impression is that young women today take all this struggle for granted.  My other impression is that romance in movies is dead unless you’re a vampire or werewolf.  I saw the movie “Friends With Benefits” a few weeks ago, and it was about as romantic (and as comic) as a visit to the drugstore to buy condoms, despite having two very appealing leads, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis.  They sort of learned a lesson about sex and love, but it was distasteful every step of the way.  Is this what love has come to?

So here’s a link to a video from the Village Vanguard concert.  http://bcove.me/9jof67u4

And here’s to a little more romance in the world, between loving equals.