America’s Stolen Sisters

by Mark Harvey

Three years ago while filling my truck with gas in western New Mexico on a cold fall evening, a young woman, barefoot and wearing nothing but a sundress, came up to me and asked if she could get a ride into the town of Gallup. Her bare feet and summer clothing in the biting air made me suspicious so I asked her a few questions. She told me she was traveling home to Taos after spending some time in the Pacific Northwest and that she had no money and had been hitchhiking for days. She was a little disheveled, startlingly beautiful, and her story didn’t make much sense. But she looked cold so I agreed to take her to Gallup, thinking I might be of some small help.

We got in my truck and started down the highway when she said, “Do you mind if we go back and get my boots?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“My boots, I left them on the road a little before the gas station.”

So we turned around and drove back a few hundred yards and sure enough, there was a pair of pink cowboy boots neatly placed on the side of the road. At that point—as if the signs weren’t strong enough already–I realized the woman might be suffering some psychological trauma and that her thinking was foggy. I asked her if she had some family to call in Taos, but she said she couldn’t get in touch with them.

I had just been shopping for groceries and the woman asked if she could have something to eat.  I told her to eat anything she wanted from the bag. She devoured a bag of almonds and a couple of apples as if she hadn’t eaten for days. As we approached Gallup, I asked her again if there was someone she could call for help. She said there was no one and that she would be fine. Read more »

Burning My Confederate Flag

by Akim Reinhardt

1967 Summer of Love WardrobeTo be born in America in 1967 is, to some degree, to fall through the cracks.

The Baby Boom was most certainly over by then, its most senior elements old enough to vote and drink. But the Millennials, now the focus of every drooling advertising executive and marketing guru, were naught but twinkles in the eyes of their Boomer sires and dames.

Bookmarked between bigger generations, being born in the late 1960s and early 1970s meant you were conceived and suckled amid the tumult of the Civil Rights and Vietnam protests; in (cloth) diapers when the moon landing occurred; discovering kindergarten as President Richard Nixon’s Plumbers were bumbling the Watergate break-in; and learning to read when the final U.S. helicopters evacuated Saigon.

To be born in 1967 means that when the late 1960s and early 1970s were becoming iconic, you were there, but you weren't. You didn't get to partake in the Summer of Love. You're what it spit out.

Thus, when coming of age, many important things were very familiar to you, but their meanings were muddled. Cultural symbols like bell bottom jeans and rubber Richard Nixon masks were still common enough to be lodged in your consciousness, but deeper insights were lacking. By the time you were waking up in the late 1970s, they seemed to be little more than goofs, unmoored from the bloody anti-war protests that divided a nation, or the collapse of a presidency that shook Americans' faith in their government.

Sure, we understood our own moment well enough. Late Cold War and early computers. AIDS and acid rain. Crack cocaine and homelessness. But the gravitas that had conceived us was by then little more than parody and catharsis. Black Power surrendered to Blacksploitation. Protest songs gave way to disco and synth pop. Vietnam was reduced to Rambo.

And if the late 1970s began glossing over so much of what had immediately preceded it, then the 1980s buffed it into a smooth, porcelain sheen. In pop culture representations of the 1960s and early 19790s, substance had been overtaken by style. Symbols, absent their meaning, were rendered fashion accessories and punch lines. A case in point was the Confederate flag.

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