In the '60s, we heard things like “turn on, tune, in and drop out,” “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with,” and “don’t trust anyone over 30.”
I didn’t think I’d ever be the kind of person who would drop out, love randomly or stop trusting my parents and I worried that these behaviors were somehow required in order to get through the decade.
Television shows like “Laugh In” and “Love American Style” suggested that if you weren’t having casual sex and trying drugs, there was something wrong with you. By the time I was 12, sexual messages in the media were so pervasive that I believed everybody but me was “doing it.” I hadn’t had my first crush yet, and while I knew what people were talking about, it seemed as if didn’t apply to me. I felt stupid and out of it and uncool and I worried that the careful, cautious girl who was at my core would prevail until I’d managed to make myself a hopeless square for the rest of my life.
, the Chipman School art teacher who had such a good influence on our family with his ability to broaden our sheltered horizons. Joe took us to San Francisco over many weekends during the 1967 “Summer of Love” and encouraged me to listen, pay attention and decide for myself how I would let the confusing, bombarding messages of the media affect me.
So, when Joe and his wife took my mother, sister and me to a Doors concert at the Berkeley Community Theatre in October 1967, I was excited. We’d bought the first Doors album earlier that year and played it over and over until the vinyl was thin and we’d memorized every note of every song. Now we’d get to see the group in person.
The band began to play the familiar organ refrains we knew so well. Jim Morrison came out in leather pants, a leather jacket and no shirt. His long wavy hair was beautiful and the first song he sang was one we knew by heart. It was thrilling. The colored lights pulsated and changed to the beat of the music; sometimes Jim’s leather was blue, then red, then green.
About the time Jim took off his jacket and stood shirtless in his leather pants singing “Light My Fire,” I was hit by a wave – a sudden glimmer of physical attraction that suggested a kernel of the meaning behind that song, and the rest of the overt messaging of the day.
Oh … I think I get it now. Yes, Jim. You can light my fire. It was exhilarating, stimulating and bewildering. If Jim Morrison had stepped off the stage at that moment, walked to my seat in the auditorium and asked me to be his girlfriend, I’d have said yes. As I fantasized about this, I was suddenly embarrassed that my mom was sitting a few seats away from me.
I got through the sixties (and early seventies) clinging to my convictions and was therefore not among the ultra cool kids. But that Doors concert was definitely a turning point. With a slightly better understanding of sex and drugs and rock 'n roll, I came to the realization that I didn’t have to let it all get the better of me.