Sucking In the 70’s

Dear Editor:

The 70’s was a decade of extremes. We witnessed the beginnings of ecological thinking. But, we also experienced the growth of nuclear energy, climaxed by the “Three Mile Island” melt down. We endured gas rationing, high inflation, and double-digit interest rates. The nation also experienced economic prosperity, urban gentrification, and the “Yuppie Explosion.”

The slaughters of students at Kent State University, Israeli athletes in Munich during the 1972 Olympics, and U.S. soldiers and Korean Service Corps workers along the 38th Parallel shocked the world. Patty Hearst, a wealthy heiress to a publishing empire, joined a revolutionary group. The Iranian Hostage Crisis brought the nation to its knees.

The 70’s was a decade to forget the turbulence of the 60’s. Americans took a nostalgic look at the 50’s in films like “The Lords of Flatbush” and “American Graffiti,” and T.V. shows like “Happy Days.” In the theaters, “The Godfather,” “Star Wars,” and “The Exorcist” changed the way we looked at movies forever. “The Sting” had us humming to Scott Joplin’s ragtime music.

Music changed in the 70’s. Marvin Gaye asked “What’s Going On.” Cat Stevens sang about the Peace Train. John Lennon imagined a world living in peace while he sang about “Rockefeller pulling the trigger” at Attica State. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young lamented about “Four dead in Ohio” (Kent State).

The 70’s gave birth to Disco. The generation of love beads, flower power, and incense gave way to “The Hustle,” gold chains, ruffled shirts, and high-platform shoes. Glitter Rock and Funk also had their time to shine in the 70’s; spear headed by such notable acts as David Bowie, Elton John, Kiss, and George Clinton. Toward the end of the 70’s, Patti Smith and the Ramones introduced the “New Wave” to the American music seen.

In the 70’s, we bid a fond farewell to Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Cass Elliot, Jim Croce, and Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. The Ed Sullivan Show, the program that first introduced American audiences to The Beatles, closed its curtain for the last time. Chet Huntley and David Brinkley exchanged “Good Nights” for the last time. The “new faces” of network news featured Barbara Walters, Connie Chung, and Jessica Savage.

The American people became more cynical. Watergate-era experiences taught us to question everything. The voices of minorities grew louder. Our space program went from Apollo moon walks to Skylab. The Camp David Accords gave peace a chance in the Middle East.

This was the 70’s in a nutshell.

John Di Genio