Boomers Can't Let Go of the 1960s

That awful decade is embedded in our national attitudes, manners and mores

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The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in Feb. 1964.

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Thought back then doesn't bear thinking about. Diction was far out. Melody disappeared with the White Album's "Revolution 9." Only in spectacle did the '60s satisfy Aristotle's requirements, and as I mentioned, it rained at Woodstock.

But what the '60s lacked most--what we all continue to wait around for the '60s to produce--was tragic catharsis, the moment when we are frozen between pity and terror and experience a purging of emotions.

The flappers and sheiks of the '20s had a stock-market-crash purge. The Edwardians had purgatorial World War I. We had the '70s, when, if not too coked up to notice, we were frozen between disco and herpes.

The costive emotional bloat of the '60s is with us still in our national attitudes, manners and mores.

That said, Ringo, George, Paul and John performing "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah" on Ed Sullivan is pretty groovy, and, like, you know, man, changed the world forever.

O'Rourke is the author of The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way ... And It Wasn't My Fault ... And I'll Never Do It Again, published by Atlantic Monthly Press

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