It’s just as well, that when people of LA’s Watts community (1965) and UCSB’s Isla Vista (1970) fumed, and buildings and vehicles burned, the Internet probably wasn’t even a glimmer on Al Gore’s drafting table.
I have no idea why I keep checking online news updates and videos pertaining to the riots in Missouri. (We don’t have a TV.) However many times I’ve travelled across the country—many—I’ve managed to miss St. Louis. I retain an anthropological-historical interest in urban riots. I probably check the news frequently just because I can.
Perhaps I am simply reassuring myself that history does have its constants, even though constancy constantly becomes News. Even my nickname for Coolidge, our inordinately constant cat, is The News. I don’t remember when or why I started calling him that—it probably had something to do with his frequent and proficient portrayals of a yowling herald.
I watched the Watts riots on TV from my north San Diego beach-town home. I studied them in high school. I was at UCSB during the Isla Vista riots; my one actual encounter was being stopped by the curfew police on my way home from my Latin final. After holding my driver’s license for five minutes waiting for it to clear, the edgy officer returned it and let me go home. “Straight home.” I had already heard the announcement of martial law. It was issued through a helicopter megaphone during the final.
I got an A in Latin. The Sixties had just ended. I was used to distraction. We all were. Nothing has changed; distraction is a constant.
Too bad these things don’t inspire good songs anymore. I miss Buffalo Springfield.