Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My writing style

By 史蒂夫 奥多

In talking to a few friends, I’ve had some complaints about my Memoirs book. Most I believe are from women, but some men as well.

“There’s only so many ways to have sex. It seems redundant after so many times.” That depends how you look at it. Some people enjoy sexual tales more than others. Some books are nothing but sexual adventures. People often ignore the time frame, which is at least more than 10 years. The bottom line is that I wrote about things I found interesting, myself, about the 1970s. When I self published this book, I kept getting asked what my market was intended for this book. Unlike my two other books, War on Drugs, War on People and Can You Pass the Acid Test, which I wrote for people to use as sources of references, I wrote this because I wanted to and the market is anyone who likes it as well as I do.
“Everyone Smoked pot and took acid in the 1970s. So what?” Yes they did, but not everyone in the country shot MDA, PCP or Pentazocine. Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing In Los Vegas, Junkie by William S. Burroughs and Go Ask Alice, are all filled with stories of drug use. And as with them, the idea is to relate those stories to the things going on at the time and around the character. There’s a point to them.

People notice that Hunter S. Thompson hated Nixon and said so regularly. As with him, my book has many comments about politics and perspectives on philosophy. People seem to ignore that in my book. For example I wrote about the day Nixon resigned, which I believe was an important event for people my age:

“The next day we bought a six-pack of Pabst beer and went to party in the garage-like head shop. We were there most of the day. Then something wonderful happened. A tall, long-haired guy came running in the shop.
“Did you hear?” he shouted. “It’s been on the radio all day long!”
“Hear what?” we all asked almost in unison.
“He resigned. Nixon resigned. The man’s out.”
“That’s great,” Stony said. “Except now we have a president named Ford.”
It took a while for it to sink in. One of the worst presidents of my lifetime had been driven from office over a scandal I had paid little attention to at the time. That night, August 8, 1974, there was jubilation all along the street. Young people were celebrating. We couldn’t have been in a better place. I was surrounded by young people who, as I, felt under siege by Nixon. We felt vindicated. The power mad conservative president, representing all that was old and rotten, had fallen. The Watergate Scandal had finally brought him down.
This was the last time Westport looked like a Mecca for freaks and their counter-culture. My future trips there would bear this out. The year of the festival and the year Nixon
resigned seemed to be the highpoint and the beginning of the twilight of the freak era. Soon after, the era of peace and brotherhood came to an end, followed by a new generation of conservative, self-absorbed egotists. But at least for that one night, we had won.
Even though he was later touted as a “foreign policy expert,” by the mainstream press, Nixon may well have presided over more death and destruction than any other president since World War II. What I didn’t realize until years after I left high school was that Nixon’s meddling in Cambodia led to a bloody civil war. Nixon sent to Cambodia 30,000 US troops, and US planes dropped a quarter-of-a-million tons of bombs in the eastern part of the country in 140 days. The CIA, under Nixon, overthrew the nationalistic Norodom Sihanouk regime and replaced it with the corrupt and incompetent right-wing-military leader Lon Nol. By 1974 most of Cambodia’s countryside was under the control of the National United Front of Kampuchea, a coalition that was mostly Norodom Sihanouk, a few of his supporters, and Pol Pot’s Communist Party of Kampuchea. Lon Nol’s Khmer Republic government and its army were quickly losing control of the country and controlled little more than the capitol, Phnom Penh. In addition to Cambodia, there was Nixon’s disastrous handling of the Vietnam War. He slowly pulled out US troops while using military aid to try and prop up the army of South Vietnam. He called it “Vietnamization.” He fought a ruthless war on drugs. He had contempt for civil liberties.
Nixon and Kissinger could hardly hide their joy at seeing Chile’s President Allende overthrown by the murderous Pinochet. I was beginning to see just how bad a leader Nixon was. I could remember back in 1970 when four students were shot at Kent State in Ohio. The governor had called out the national guards to keep order and prevent turbulent protests. The news media suggested that Nixon didn’t seem to care. He almost seemed content that students protesting him got shot. He seemed to brutally oppose anyone whom he thought was in his way. Nixon may have been the worst US president of the entire century. It was a great moment when he fell.”

The basic plot of the book is a coming of age story. A middle class nerdy high school freshman looks to change his image through drugs, begins to take an interest in politics, goes to college and ends up living in the streets among gun toting thugs. As in all these tales, something goes wrong to the point where he realizes he messed up and tries to change. He begins to develop a more mature political outlook, which by the end of the book is not really finished yet. Maybe the book seems to focus too long on the drugs and sex, but I wrote it the way I enjoyed reading it. Others who read it may not enjoy it and think that the story could have been told differently. But I wrote it as I wanted to and I can’t expect everyone to appreciate my style of fiction writing. The market for this book was for those who like my writing. The book is like a part of my past and I don’t regret writing it that way. It is my perspective of that time and there was no other way I could have written it.

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