A reader named "Not THAT Ross Cameron"* writes from Australia: "I saw a window-sized poster for Kylie Minogue (onetime Australian soap actress who then made her fame and fortune as a pop/dance singer) selling her latest range of fashion glasses. I had to chuckle at myself, as I didn't look at her or her glasses, but instead wondered to myself "what is the camera she’s posing with?" Can anyone on TOP slake my curiosity?"
...And speaking of old, it occurred to me this morning that it's been 50 years since 1968, one of the most vivid years in recent history in the western world. Fifty years ago this month, among other things, there were riots in Paris, a little car brand called "Subaru" came to North America, and the Beatles were at Abbey Road Studios recording John Lennon's sneering "Revolution" that the left saw as a betrayal (he was right, though—revolution was in the air** but not in the cards). "The Sixties" have been neutered and romanticized ever since; it's necessary for the reigning worldview to do that with subversive realities. In real life, it was a violent, angry, distressing time. One could argue that politics in America since 1980 has been a reaction to it.
There's a curious little book from back then called Toward the Year 2018: A Dozen Eminent Leaders in Science and Technology Look 50 Years Into the Future. As with most such attempts, in that book the future was mostly only understood in terms of those days—for example, one prediction listed on the jacket is, "The United Nations holds a debate on outlawing the laser disintegrating ray." (Ray guns were big in 1968—I was 11, and up on cartoons, so I can attest to that.) On the other hand, they accurately predicted cellphones ("citizens' pocket computers" with "portable databases"), and texting and photo sharing.
Nowadays, our predictions of the future are a little more dire, and glum: There's a fad right now for "end of democracy" books. Ya hate that. Things looked pretty dire in 1968 too, though. The one I want to read is Jon Meacham's The Soul of America—anybody read that one yet?
UPDATE: Later this month, on the 28th, Kylie Minogue, pictured at the top of the post, will turn 50. She was born in 1968. I didn't know that when I wrote this post.
Thanks to Ray Kinnane for this!
*I had to look up "that" Ross Cameron who our reader is not: Aussie politician. In case you're wondering.
**Okay, that was '69.
Original contents copyright 2018 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Joe: "Fifty-six years ago yesterday, Marilyn Monroe sang Happy Birthday to JFK, accompanied by pianist Hank Jones, at Madison Square Garden, as part of a Democratic party fundraiser. Jackie was not present."
Mike replies: Hank is one of my two favorite musicians, and I never knew he was the pianist that night!
Bob Johnston [same ilk, no relation —Ed.]: "You were looking at the camera and not Kylie Minogue? I think you might be getting old Mike! It's a Russian Zenit E. They were probably the cheapest SLR you could buy at the time and so many young European photographers started with one. The lens is the M42 screw-fit 58mm ƒ/2 Helios which was reckoned to be quite good. The camera was a heavy lump of metal that you could probably use to knock nails in, but the build quality was somewhat lacking. If I recall correctly the lens diaphragm was not automatic. As you can see there was a selenium light meter but it wasn't coupled in any way. There was a match needle arrangement in a window on the top plate. Kylie has the rewind knob pulled out."
Michael Matthews: "My wife and I paused on the sidewalk to watch Malcolm Bricklin unload his first truckfull of Subaru 360s into a former retail storefront next to Van Sciver Furniture in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Our appraisal of the cartoonish little cars—as ton after ton of befinned Detroit iron soared by on Philadelphia's City Line Avenue—was 'not a chance.' Hmmm."
David Boyce: "Mark Kurlansky is a very good and engaging writer. I have read a few of his books. Cod: A Biography of a Fish that Changed the World and Salt: A World History are very interesting and well worth a read, as is The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation. Paper: Paging Through History is on my list of want-to-reads."
Dave Van de Mark: 1968 is certainly a special year for me. As a young photographer and activist, I attempted to portray the awesome beauty of the redwoods—not only as incredibly special trees but, more importantly, as a grand forest environment—as part of efforts to establish a Redwood National Park. But probably a more urgent task was to portray what was happening to the last large remaining block of virgin redwoods, namely the brutal clearcutting operations and their devastating impacts on the environment.
"Shooting mostly in B&W with a Hasselblad 500C camera, these efforts began in 1965. My photos appeared in major newspapers across the country and in conservationist publications. Fortunately, the Redwood National Park was established in 1968 and its 50th birthday is being celebrated this year. Unfortunately, Congress did not create a park with great ecological integrity, and I continued to photograph destructive logging practices occurring right up to the original boundary. These efforts, along with so many others, finally led to the park's expansion 10 years later.
"I donated about 5,000 images to the Park Service in 1988. It is not a common occurrence that a significant photographic history regarding establishment of a park is donated by a living photographer. Now 75, I am in discussions with Redwood National Park to take some pictures of what it looks like now, 50 years later. I certainly hope this will be successful!"