Fred Vogel

Posted on July 24, 2017

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Peace, Love & Misunderstanding

On December 31, 1999, “The Pflevens Hour” presented a roundtable discussion on NPR, with its host and moderator, Phill Pflevens. The topic was “The Best Decade” and it brought together four experts to discuss the merits of the past four decades, the ’60s, the ’70s, the ’80s, and the ’90s, to debate which decade, if any, was superior.

The panelists were:

Dorn Breeding – founding member of the bands, Jed Clamp It and swizLstix

Ms. Sheila Lovejoy – Professor of Modern Culture at Northwestern University

Rhy Werst – bon vivant and publisher, Open Style magazine

Barry Lincoln – author, From Love to Hate (My Struggles with Reality)

Phill Pflevens: The best decade. Alright panel, have at it.

Dorn Breeding: I would have to say the ’80s. It was my time to shine.

Barry Lincoln: The ’60s. Peace and love. And, of course, The Beatles.

Rhy Werst: I’m on board with the ’70s, without question.

Sheila Lovejoy: I guess that leaves me with the ’90s. Which will be a hell of a lot easier to discuss than the dreaded 1980s.

Phill Pflevens: The first salvo has been fired and it’s directed to you, Mr. Breeding. Would you care to comment on Ms. Lovejoy’s obvious disdain for the ’80s?

Dorn Breeding: Well, Ms. Lovejoy has every right to her opinion, but the ’80s were a decade of groundbreaking music and positive world events. The collapse of the Berlin Wall is just one example of the decade’s importance.

Sheila Lovejoy: Name another.

Dorn Breeding: Reagan getting shot.

Phill Pflevens: You consider that a positive event, Mr. Breeding?

Dorn Breeding: Sorry, my mind went blank.

Sheila Lovejoy: Like I said. A virtual wasteland.

Dorn Breeding: I don’t appreciate the name-calling, Ms. Lovejoy.

Sheila Lovejoy: Not you, Dorn. I was referencing the ’80s.

Dorn Breeding: Apology accepted.

Barry Lincoln: If I may I make my case for the ’60s. It was Woodstock. The first man on the moon. The Civil Rights movement. And no decade can match the music – besides The Beatles, you had The Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Motown, on and on. Great, great music.

Sheila Lovejoy: One word, Mr. Lincoln – Vietnam.

Barry Lincoln: I’m sorry, Ms. Lovejoy, but I find that a bit short-sighted. While the war was a disaster, it also united us in a way we had never been united before or after. People from all walks of life, every color, religion, background, came together in the name of peace. One more thought, Ms. Lovejoy – if not for the ’60s, you’d still be referred to as Miss Lovejoy. And if you were married to, say, Mr. Breeding, here, you’d be referred to as Mrs. Dorn Breeding, losing all sense of your own identity.

Dorn Breeding: Mrs. Dorn Breeding. I like the sound of that.

Sheila Lovejoy (giving Dorn a playful nudge): Dream on, you old rocker.

Dorn Breeding: An old rocker with a rocket launcher in his pocket aimed directly at you, my lovely.

Phill Pflevens: Getting back to the topic at hand. Rhy Werst, we have yet to hear from you. Please state your case for the ’70s, which I admit, was a personal favorite of mine as well.

Rhy Werst: Thank you, Phill. The ’70s was an incredible era. Star Wars

Sheila Lovejoy: Star Wars?

Rhy Werst: If I may continue. Star Wars premiered. There was Roe v. Wade. Nixon resigning. And the music: Bowie, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd. My god, I could go on and on.

Sheila Lovejoy: Well, so can I. Are you forgetting Kent State and Attica, Mr. Werst? How about the Kool-Aid kids in Jonestown, does that ring a bell? But if I may go back to Mr. Breeding’s love affair with the ’80s for a moment, what exactly was so great about that decade? It was a disaster. Add to that the advent of Electronic music, which is more like a pounding headache, if you ask me, and should be considered a crime against humanity.

Dorn Breeding: Well, my bands did pretty damn good in the ’80s, Ms. Lovejoy. And, for your information, it’s called Techno.

Rhy Werst: And for your information, Dorn, it really is god-awful.

Dorn Breeding: Not all agree with you, Rhy.

Rhy Werst: Well, they certainly should.

Phill Pflevens: Barry Lincoln, for those who have yet to read your book, From Love to Hate (My Struggles with Reality), please tell us how that fine line between love and hate drew itself to you?

Barry Lincoln: Of course. When I first…

Dorn Breeding: Wasn’t that sheep cloned in the ’80s?

Sheila Lovejoy: That was the ’90s, Dorn. Bill Clinton.

Dorn Breeding: That wasn’t its name.

Sheila Lovejoy: I was making a point about a positive event in the ’90s.

Rhy Werst: Tell that to my dear friend, Ms. Lewinsky.

The banal banter continued on and on, with no majority reached as to which decade was most significant. Phill Pflevens thanked his guests and signed off moments before Y2K was to be ushered in.

Barry Lincoln had not been afforded the opportunity to discuss his book, From Love to Hate (My Struggles with Reality), during the interview. Here is his story:

With age, Barry realized his feelings towards life, and people in general, had morphed from love in the ’60s, to tolerance in the ’70s, to dislike in the ’80s, to disdain in the ’90s. He was certain this new millennium would be ushering in complete hatred. He wondered how he had arrived at such a cynical place. Did others of his generation feel the same?

In the ’60s Barry loved everyone and everyone loved Barry. It was what you did. At least it was what those in Barry’s circle did. There was nothing funny about peace and love to them. It was the counterculture’s mantra. And Barry lived and breathed all the good vibes that came with that belief. He thought it possible to change the world, but hadn’t given much thought as to how to go about achieving something so daunting. He left those decisions to others. It was the perfect set-up. He could reap the benefits of the times – the cornucopia of drugs, the sexual freedom – without getting his hands dirty in the revolutionary machine.

Seeing all the injustices that transpired in the 1970s tore deeply into Barry’s peace and love attitude. Along with the conflicts in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, there were the senseless killing of four students at Kent State, the unrest in South Africa, the Jonestown Massacre and the Attica riots, forcing Barry to stop viewing the world through rose-colored glasses.

When John Lennon was gunned down in 1980, Barry and countless others vicariously felt the four bullets that had entered their hero’s body, leaving them scarred and saddened for a lifetime.

Assassination attempts on Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were followed by the killing of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The Tiananmen Square Massacre, that took the lives of hundreds of protesters in 1989, brought full circle the disaster that was the ’80s, to say nothing of the Chernobyl catastrophe, which will continue to affect hundreds of thousands of lives for generations to come.

“What’s the matter with everyone?” was all Barry could come up with. He wanted to hitch a ride on the Star Trek Enterprise and time-travel back to the ’60s where he had felt safe.

While music took a small leap forward in the ’90s, the world continued to travel further down the proverbial drain. Bombings, riots, genocide, Waco, Lorena Bobbitt – the madness was nonstop. Even one of Barry’s football heroes was accused of being a killer.

In the late ’90s, Barry met Mary and they welcomed baby Olivia Rose into their world. They opened a small wine shop and joined the Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club. And for one shining moment, Barry thought he was seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. But when Mary took off, taking Olivia Rose with her, that shining light turned out to be just one more southbound train bearing down on Barry’s brain.

Desperate to feel what he hadn’t felt since the ’60s – real love, Barry visited a therapist who suggested that he write down all of his feelings. And so he began to write. And write. And he didn’t stop writing until From Love to Hate (My Struggles with Reality) had made its way from his disillusioned soul onto bookstore shelves. It was only then that Barry was able to begin the process of discovering peace and love once more. Within himself.

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Fred Vogel‘s words have seen the light of day in Literally Stories, Crack the Spine, Subtle Fiction, Literary Orphans, and elsewhere. He resides in Oregon.

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