Monday, July 20, 2009

i am a passenger.

I've been recently obsessed with all that is Laurel Canyon in the 1960s and 70s. Namely, all that is british invasion/rock-and-roll/folk/pop-ish of those decades. But not just the music; that is only 10 percent of this time's appeal. For its all about the personalities.

Being a slightly obsessive people watcher/listener/student, I am naturally drawn to this era of womens lib, not for feminist reasons but rather for behavioral reasons. Reading about the "groupies" of the time, reminiscent of the Penny Lane character in Almost Famous, which is arguably based upon girl-about-town (groupie) Pamela des Barres, I have become not only fascinated, but impressed by their drive.

The term "groupie" tends to have a negative connotation, at least in my mind, describing those women who are desperately driven to flirt with rock stars who may or may not remember their name the next day. Being a self proclaimed groupie at times (several occasions come to mind a la mystery jets, klaxons and shout out louds, among others) I understand the appeal of getting to know these untouchable rockstars for a night. Maybe it spills into more nights, facebook messages, chance meetings in downtown speakeasies, or nothing at all, but its certainly an exhilarating experience! We admire these men and women from afar, digesting and chewing and spitting out their music and lyrics; getting to know them brings it to a new level. In my experience, these musicians can be everything you think and more. Sharing late nights and acoustic performances in hotel rooms complete with the requisite booze and drugs, I've gotten the opportunity to meet some amazing people. Some of the most amazing people out there! Taking risks in order to do what they love!

But I've gotten off on a cheese-oid tangent now.

After spending the past week among those who would skip an adventure any day for the security of love and marriage, I began to wonder, what makes me different from them. Why would I, hands down, no question choose a fleeting night of amazing conversation, of possible let down or hazy thoughtfulness in lieu of security. Pamela des Barres, head groupie of the 60s and 70s, and paramour to the top men of the era (yes, I'm talking the likes of Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, members of the Byrds, and probably any notable musician of the time), sought this kind of security in a seemingly backward way.

She is quoted saying "The other factor was that I was growing up in the Sixties. I had watched my Mom be the Fifties Mom, the slave Mom...this was the era of free love and women's lib. I wanted to be the Fifties Mom, the slave Mom. I wanted to really fall in love one day. But I believed it would be liberating and pleasurable in the meantime to have sex and to fall 1/2in love one have sex whenever I wanted it - like men."

She eventually married one of these untouchables, had a child with him, and is now separated from him. She's an extreme case, and it seems she has yet to become this head-over-heels-in-love, ring-on-your-finger-forever, slave-mom she described, but maybe she never wanted it for herself. I'm assuming a lot here, but I wonder if we have to choose an extreme. A life of crazy one night stands, or a life of stability and dinner on the table.

I think we are missing out by choosing one over the other. By choosing one, we become passenger seat drivers. We dwell upon what we are gaining or missing out on, therefore losing control of the wheel, giving up the drivers seat, and drifting towards the middle of nowhere.

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