Kool & The Gang's monster hit has been everpresent to the point where most people now think of it not as a song but as background noise that doesn't register the kind of attention we usually pay to music. However, at the moment I am spiritually aligned so that this song is my anthem and my call to rejoice.
This is a very important time and an especially exciting time to be young and energetic. I'm almost wearing out its initial luster, but this past Tuesday was a monumental moment in American history and I am glad to have taken my miniscule part in it. The election of Barack Obama registers to some as fairly important but nothing that calls for all night partying. Many (particularly African Americans) have treated it like the coming of a messiah. Though I am not black and do not have the shared history of oppression which has seemingly taken its first major stumble since the civil rights act, I recognize the importance of this event. For quite awhile now, the spiritual energy of society has been immersed in a dark recession marked by cynicism and apathy. Since the fall of optimism in the late '60s, young people seem to have lost the righteous energy that guided them to do irrational if not romantic things to define themselves. Their dreams were shattered when the police started breaking out the riot gear and breaking heads. Since then, that idealism has been tainted as merely wishful thinking with no real bearing on reality.
There is an element of truth to that. You can only have so much fun burning your draft card before some guardsman who doesn't care about your "statement" shoots you for no good reason other than it's his job. However, abandoning positivity entirely is like walking away from a thousand dollars just because you were expecting ten thousand. You only make things worse for yourself and eventually that sort of negativity spreads like wildfire. This fire burnt all the life out of young people and eventually anger and depression became chic as bell bottoms in the '70s. This was especially big in the '90s when grunge hit its stride and it became a ridiculous but sad parody in the past decade or so when society's crumble seemed to grow louder than ever. People like to talk about "the good old days" when they see young girls embracing fashion trends stemming from the trashy culture we've created. The internet boom has created a whole new way for people to become assholes.
I'm not going to say that Obama's election triggered a change in attitude and a change in times. I think that change was already bound to come. His election was a symbol and a manifestation of that. Nothing lasts and the darkness that has plagued us for long was bound to fade. People are tired of destroying themselves and the world around them. One man didn't change anything but he served as a catalyst and the first tangible sign that a new generation is about to step into the spotlight, one with a truly charismatic and compassionate leader at the helm. While Obama and I are more than twenty years apart, his grasp on modern issues and manipulation of modern tools places us in the same boat. The way he's connected to young people throughout his campaign speaks for itself. We're living in a progressive age that is moving a mile a minute and we need to keep up to speed if we're to survive. That's why his opponent was defeated. The kind of people that went to McCain/Palin rallies are people I've known for awhile. They mean well and they may be unaware that they are afraid of progress. They might not be outright bigots, but choosing someone as radical as Obama might be unorthodox for them so they'd rather stick with a "safe" choice that they can trust. It's all an issue of sticking to the past. That's great and all, but when time moves you gotta move with it!
I can feel this new attitude when I walk across campus and see student protestors. I can see it in the interracial couple I saw in the quad embracing to James Brown's "Try Me". I can feel it when random people suddenly start smiling at me and friendliness seems to have permeated the air again. I can still see reluctance and people struggling to free the shackles of the Cobain generation, but I do think we're heading in a good direction spiritually. We just have to sustain this positive energy and apply ourselves however we can. Obama is a politician. Some people are journalists. Others are nurses working hard at a hospital. I play guitar.
I especially felt that universally positive energy becoming a personal thing this past Friday when I decided to hang out with my bandmates Anthony "Tonez" Trinh and Mike "Waldo" Willis. We started out very shakily. Waldo has a tendency to jerk us around and he did until we finally hooked up shortly before 8:00 PM, an hour before the Santa Anita Mall closes. The Mall has become a place for us to hang out around the weekends and Tonez and I have joked that eventually if we hung out there long enough, we'd start making connections. Apparently we have. Several months ago, we passed some unnamed lingerie store where I saw a sexy stylish chick dancing to Stevie Wonder's "If You Really Love Me". Today, we decided to walk into that store for the first time for the hell of it and we saw her working there again. We struck up a little convo and made a deal that the band could hang out in the store without actually buying anything. The guys marveled at how attractive she was but I know from past experience that building hype kills whatever might grow so I tried to downplay the experience (ironic since I am blogging about it now).
Then we thought we'd end the night by grabbing some to-go at Johnny Rockets (Waldo's choice). What we did not expect was "Staying Alive" to be playing. I started dancing shamelessly and one of the waiters started to bust a move with me. Then a few minutes later someone played that song on the jukebox again (I suspect they did it to get us dancing again) and suddenly a line of waiters and waitresses come out to start dancing. They even manipulated the restaurant lights so that they imitated a disco. Suddenly there we are, three crazy bandmates and a bunch of waiters turning a hokey family restaurant into an innocent Studio 54. Before we left, a woman who had been sitting there watching us smiled at me approvingly and I felt like we'd lit a spark under what I hope to be a bonfire of good times.
This ain't over yet. Christmas season is coming up and positivity is on its way. Jasper L. Yangchareon's going to make sure of that with a little help from his friends. Just pray for us and wish us the best. You're going to get it back in return, I promise you.