When I plod along Sunday afternoons lying on my back on the mattress on the floor watching the National Football League I have noticed the new Chili's commercials (though I didn't see any yesterday).
The ad campaign is called "The Hamburger Hippies." It celebrates the founding of the restaurant chain by bohemians from the Age of Aquarius. The counterculture is invoked with classic rock'n'roll songs -- Foghat's "Slow Ride" (1975), Faces' "Ooh La La" (1973) and ZZ Top's "Tush" (1975). I thought I heard Free's "All Right Now" (1970) too, but I can't verify that.
The ad campaign is effective because it reminds the viewer of a time when our culture seemed roomy and affordable enough that we could drink, get stoned and laid; then wake up the next day, yawn, and not feel paranoid about the rent going up or being late for work or feeling the need to check email or Facebook. In other words, society provided enough time and space -- freedom! -- for the working class to do what it likes, which is fornicate and alter the everyday mundane pensiveness of sober-minded consciousness.
We know though from the irregular -- the last one was in July -- "Hippies vs. Punks" posts that 1975 is in fact the end of the line for the Hippies. In 1976 there is an efflorescence of California lite rock with Hippie hues -- Fleetwood Mac, Steve Miller Band, Eagles, Peter Frampton -- that signals an accommodation with the workaday world. No longer are the Hippies rocking out with cries of "Kick Out the Jams, Motherfucker!" Rather, it is a shift on the assembly line before stopping off for a meal at a Hippie-run eatery (probably what Chili's was at its founding; what Geppetto's was in my hometown) before returning home to smoke a joint and watch Baretta on ABC.
The Hippies made the transition back to The Man, exchanging their aspirations for another world, whether psychedelic or political, for a steady job, cheap rent, and free time filled with recreational drugs and looser sexual mores.
Sounds pretty good, but something mostly alien in our present digital age. We still long for such a society though. When Foghat's "Slow Ride" or Free's "All Right Now" fill the air we remember what it was like.
The GOP came to power in the late 1960s thanks to two Californians, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. They perfected the politics of white working-class resentment. The scapegoats were Blacks and Hippies, the Watts Rebellion in Los Angeles and the Freedom of Speech Movement at U.C. Berkeley.
Now with marijuana set for a legalization breakthrough and Black Lives Matter here to stay as a cultural force, the foundation of reactionary politics is cracked. Hippies and Blacks are saintly once again. Trump is the last gasp of White Flight, like the Iraqi Baath Party hiding out in Nineveh bankrolled by Saudi royals waiting to pop up reborn as the Islamic State.
Hillary will win, but the war will rage on.