Monday, May 05, 2008

You don't need a weatherman

Highly recommended
I was 16 and had a subscription to TIME and the satirical MAD magazine in its heyday, and was rather addicted to my parents' Sydney Morning Herald, so I remember much news and current affairs from the second half of 1969 -- and who could forget them?

Between June and December, 1969: The Stonewall riots in New York City; 'Give Peace a Chance' was recorded during John and Yoko's bed-in; The Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne collided with the US destroyer Frank E. Evans (74 killed); Brian Jones drowned; Edward Kennedy sank at Chappaquiddick; Armstrong walked on the moon; new US president Nixon announced 'Vietnamization'; six days after the Manson family rampage, and two days after border clashes between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, and one day after British troops were deployed in Northern Ireland, there was Woodstock.

While Woodstock hippies chanted 'NO RAIN!', Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi coast, killing 248. Instead of going to Woodstock, Bob Dylan played (along with The Who, The Band, Joe Cocker, Richie Havens, and The Moody Blues) at Britain's Woodstock, the Isle of Wight Festival; then there was Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, who came to power in Libya; the My Lai Massacre shocked the world; the 'Chicago Eight' trial began; hundreds of thousands of people took part in National Moratorium and, later, March Against Death antiwar demonstrations across the United States; Native Americans seized Alcatraz Island and held it for 19 months; SALT I negotiations began; Black Panther Party members Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were shot dead in their sleep; the Boeing 747 jumbo jet made its debut; and in December, the killing during the Rolling Stones set at the Altamont concert signalled the end of the sixties. Oh -- and the Jackson 5 debuted on Ed Sullivan.

It was one helluva ride. Then there was the foundation of Weatherman and the beginning of that organization's wave of bombings across America, only ending after the defeat of the USA in Vietnam six years later. They bombed The Capitol in Washington, and The Pentagon. They took their name from a line in Dylan's 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' ("You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows") -- at the same time that Dylan had dropped politics and gone country, recording Nashville Skyline with Johnny Cash.

The Weather Underground is an excellent, balanced, 90-minute documentary film, free at Google Video. It doesn't preach for or against them, leaving you free to draw your own conclusions. It features interviews with Weather people then and now, including their notorious leader, Bernadine Dohrn.

Here's a ten-minute clip:

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