Thursday, June 12, 2008


Though it's already being attacked by brainwashed* zombies with little imagination and even littler compassion, CBS' Swingtown -- after two episodes -- seems to me playful, sweet, optimistic and even innocent, certainly a positive take on 1976, the Bicentennial year of freedom and independence in the USA. *(See comments for example).

Which reminds me of my own experiences from around the same time. My family was living in North Carolina, and I remember, before summer break, the careful attention my teachers were paying to the 1976 fall election, the way my peers and my parents were so clearly attuned to what was going on, all of which was inspiring and infectious. The general feel in my circle was that Gerald Ford -- Michigan's only president so far -- was not a bad man, merely out of touch, a man who must lose to Governor Jimmy Carter (the Washington outsider from Georgia) for the sake of a needed switch in party rule, and because he pardoned Richard M. Nixon.

I also specifically remember July 4, 1976, walking to Duke University's football stadium to see the fireworks, and my pal Crafton Keller, a mischievous soul who seemed much older than his years at the time (and even now in 2008), pulling out an M80 to explode some small mammal skull we'd found along the way. Despite a certain feistiness about politics in the midst of an ongoing a cultural revolution, who would have guessed that Crafton would be dead within four years, and that Jimmy Carter and all his ideas about energy conservation would be replaced by Ronald Reagan and AIDS and "Morning in America" again for social conservatives, the utter horror of the 1980s? As for me, I'll remember the Tall Ships and those Independence days and my pal Crafton for as long as I live.

Today's Rune: The Self.


Anonymous said...

Many complaints were prompted by an alert issued by the American Family Association, a non profit [ha!], Tupelo-based group founded by Rev. Donald Wildmon that promotes conservative Christian values. Wildmon is now chairman of the group and his son, Tim, is president.

Randy Sharp, AFA director of special projects, said the alert went out to about 200,000 members of AFA's onemillion and onemillion Web sites.

"It really struck a nerve," said Sharp, who said almost 40 percent of recipients responded.

The activism alert is posted on its primary Web site,, urging people to file complaints with their local CBS station managers asking them to refuse to air future episodes of "Swingtown." It calls the series "one of the most offensive programs ever on broadcast television."

The AFA calls the largest pro-family site in the country with 2.5 million online supporters. The group also operates about 200 r adio stations and an online news service called

-- Barbara Bradley, "'70s Show Too Racy for Some -- Complainers Come Knocking, Say 'Swingtown' Should Quit Rocking," June 12, 2008.

Lana Gramlich said...

1976 may have been the last truly happy year I had in my life until I moved in with Charles. My dad died & life turned upside down the next year.
I was in elementary school & I remember a big deal being made of the whole Bicentennial thing. I was too young to truly understand or question anything at that point.
I remember, too, that Gerald Ford's helicopter had to land in our school's ball field for security reasons. He had to attend a meeting at a country club virtually across the street. A few other kids & I had our pictures taken in front of his 'copter for the newspaper. That was kind of cool.
I have to admit, though...I've never seen or even heard of "Swingtown."

Johnny Yen said...

I remember how sad the Bicentennial celebration seemed; we'd just lost the Vietnam War the year before, and were desperate to feel good about ourselves as a country again.

The affluent Chicago suburb that my family had moved to from the city hired a big bunch of Revolutionary War reenactors-- it was kind of surreal to see a Revolutionary War battle in the big central park in town.

I've read the articles about Swingtown in the New York Times. I'm glad it's offending the people it's offending. I do have advice for them: if they don't like it, change the channel.

Sidney said...

My cousin got married that year around the 4th, so we went to Baton Rouge for the event and stayed in a hotel, where I watched a big celebration. Peter Marshall from Hollywood Squares had a song and dance group around then and they performed as well as Manilow doing "I Write the Songs."

I've forgotten to watch Swingtime. Perhaps it is online.

the walking man said...

Are the naysayers complaining because it may be their own swinging that escapes to the light of day?

'76 was a hell of a year no doubt.

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks all for the comments!

Lana, sorry to hear of the gap, but so glad you're happy again ;->

Johnny, Sidney and Mark/WM, right on!