The Like Peace People Experience


I put on Monterrey Pop while Daniel was finishing up dessert.  It’s a documentary film of the 1967 Monterrey International Pop Festival and features a number of classic musical acts like The Who and the Mamas and the Papas.  It was broadcast in high definition and I was looking forward to being able to see the individual broken blood vessels in Jimi Hendrix’s eyes.  I sat on the couch to watch the opening moments with young women wearing colorful clothes getting their faces painted with words like “LOVE”.

From behind me I heard, “It’s the Like Peace People!”

I had to ask.

Daniel explained to me that back in the 1970’s (close enough; he was born in 1999 after all) there were a lot of people who wore funny clothes, they walked around with their eyes half closed and their fingers in “V” signs and said “Like, Peace, Man”.  His impression was dead on.  He sounded just like a Cheech and Chong album played at the wrong speed.  I asked him what he thought ‘peace’ meant.

Daniel thought a moment.  “I think they wanted to stop the angry mobs,” he said.  What angry mobs?  “They didn’t want black people to vote,” he explained.  Simon and Garfunkel were playing at Monterrey and Daniel asked me if they were the Beatles.  He sat down on the couch next to me and we had a little talk about Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement.  I was happy to hear he knew about some of it.  Daniel knew who Dr. Martin Luther King was and he told me about how black people could only ride on the back of the bus and there were different drinking fountains for white people and colored people.  He just didn’t get that.

“What if you got a tan?” he asked.  “What drinking fountain would you use?”  Good point; it probably took a kid to point out just how stupid segregation was.  We got to the highlight of the movie.  Jimi Hendrix was introduced and ran his guitar through five minutes of sonic feedback.

Daniel laughed, “He makes it sound like a car!”  Akane – our rental parrot – didn’t seem to care much for the Experience.  She fluffed up and mimicked the microwave.  We turned the sound up.  “I think he’s going to smash his guitar,” shouted Daniel over the ululating squeals of “Wild Thing”.  “That’s what the rock stars do on Sponge Bob.”  I don’t want to ruin the ending for anyone who isn’t familiar with Jimi Hendrix, but – yes – he does smash his guitar.  However, Daniel wasn’t impressed.

“I liked the singing,” said Daniel, “but then he turned it into entertainment.”  I asked if he would have liked it better if Jimi Hendrix hadn’t set the guitar on fire.  Daniel looked at me as if I were nuts.

“Well, yeah,” he said, “guitars cost 300 dollars!”  He added, “They don’t grow on trees, you know.”

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