Ah, Gentle Readers, as time passes it seems that I bemoan the fact more and more each day that we have lost the future, the tipping point has been reached, the cup has been inverted. We have enough water for ten more years, experts say – the world as we know it is most likely a future fatality. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it and those with no culture are doomed all around. There is no sense of inquisivity or interest in much else besides who said what to who on the celly, these days.
People are not curious anymore. There is the outside fringe, the people who live on the edge, who do not accept or buy into the crapola sold by the great American Merchandising Machine – but they are not your friends.
Case in point. This year, I went to a ‘Global Marijuana March’ in Philadelphia. I had never been to one and it was something to do. A crowd filled South Street and moved along the storefronts, chanting, ‘I like pot and I like it a lot’. Current laws in the state are hoping to achieve legalization of pot for medical use. Not only was the chant just plain stupid, it really said nothing to the issue facing the state. I didn’t care so much about the issues at the time, I just hated hearing that idiot chant.
Which brings us to David Peel. Here is an ageless man who has been chanting for us for a long time and it was a cultural defeat to anybody who has been smoking since the 70s to have to hear pap being chanted when much more amusing, intelligent, crafty and artful chants have been out there waiting since Peel first put them on vinyl in 1968.
When I was marching in the ‘smoke-in’ (and as a 52 year old was the only one who was passing anything around), all I could think of was how much I would love to hear the song, ‘I Like Marijuana,’ and how perfect it would have been to hear the old
and how easy it would have been for the leaders to teach the marchers those six syllables. Instead, I marched and smoked but did not sing the idiot chant. I am sure it took a fine mind to figure that one out. Dullness knows no limits.
Upon further investigation, I discovered that most young heads today have never heard a David Peel song and most of them never heard of David Peel. All that seems to remain from the entire era is Pink Floyd. I asked a number of young people and the only ones who knew of Peel were those who learned from parents, or maybe an errant uncle.
At one time, it was required listening, a bona fide Rite Of Passage. If you didn’t know all the lyrics from the Have A Marijuana LP, you were likely to get smacked in the head. We did that back then. There was no such thing as bullies, we just hit each other a lot.
If somebody said to you, “Up against the wall,” and you did not appropriately respond with “Mutha-Fuck-Kah!”, then you were met by derision if you were lucky and maybe a punch in the stomach, if you weren’t. The non-violent hippies has come and gone with Manson. We grew up as ‘heads’ and sometimes we did rough stuff.
“I Do My Bawling In The Bathroom,” “Here Come’s A Cop,” “Happy Mothers Day,” “Show Me The Way To Get Stoned,” and “I’ve Got Some Grass” were anthems; ritualistic, shamanistic songs that celebrated what we were doing and made us laugh, too.
I don’t miss David Peel because I can see him on Facebook or on Youtube. I still have the vinyl and eight-tracks, Have A Marijuana, American Revolution and The Pope Smokes Dope. I am fortunate. There are decades of potsmoking kids who never got a chance. I feel sorry for them.
Peel’s lasting influence has been more of a fashion thang, it seems. John Lennon copped the wardrobe and patented shades, only to have the whole look co-opted by Howard Stern, years later. Stern is still dressing like Lennon, like Peel, down to the hairstyle.
We need David Peel more now than ever. He is working on new material and I am glad for that but I wish he would make his old catalogue available to the youth of today. It may not make a difference. Nobody reads Hesse or Sartre or Camus anymore. They are playing digital games on Facebook while waiting for an enlightening message to hit their queue.
This is all generalization, mind you, Gentle Ones, there are some kids who are interested in things beyond the periphery of what is being forcefed to them. There are some older people who were just as braindead back in the 70s and now live in fat and toothless obscurity and try to figure out what the TV news means…
Culture requires work. You want to talk smart? Read some books. Want to type about yourself into the ethernet all day? Have a few real life experiences to share and it will be much more interesting. Go to a museum. See an exhibit. Travel to someplace you never saw before, just for the sake of it. Live!!!
At 53, I think a lot about living and not much about dying. I saw all the death I can stand for awhile, so I avert my eyes. I keep looking…for what, who knows? There are no real answers until we are dead. Jesus and Santa will tell you when you get there, or maybe they won’t even be there. All else is speculation until then. Until then, fill your head. Feed your head. Get real, for a change.
It doesn’t get much more real than a skiffle band playing on the cold, mean streets of NYC and that is where you can usually find David Peel. You can also find him online, staying current and using that wonderfully, twisted brain of his.
Please find David Peel wherever you can - Youtube, Amazon, used vinyl stores, and while you are at it…Do Something!!!!