August 4, 1968
Rain outside. Gray and warm. Soft nostalgic scent of wet grass and damp bark.
The Democratic Convention is scheduled for later this month. I wouldn’t care except that sometime during the event Ted Kennedy will be there and he’ll say some words. Just a few words. I remember the Democratic Convention in 1964. Bobby was there, and he said a few words:
“We’re sheep without a shepherd
When the snow shuts out the sky.
Why did you leave us, Owen?
Why did you die?” (from “Lament for the Death of Eoghan Ruadh O’Neill” by Thomas Davis)
“When he shall die
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.” (from Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet; Act 3, Scene 2)
Just a few words like that…
August 10, 1968
I am struck by a line from a sci fi book I’m reading: I wondered if this was the way you became old, nothing excited you anymore.” I can hardly get out of bed in the morning. Maybe I’m depressed?
August 19, 1968
Got a letter from my dear friend Susan [former roommate at University of California]. She writes quite beautifully in funny small bursts like a buttercup that opens to the sun and closes and fades away too soon…
Also, on last Friday, Steven W. came by to show us his new motorcycle—a nice H.D. He offered me a ride and before I thought I agreed. It was a perfect night for a ride, so groovy! The world felt at an extreme, the hollows were almost cold and smelled of moss and wet leaves; then up the hill into a web of soft warmth. I shut my eyes and floated. I felt completely calm even when we hit a patch of gravel and spun off into a ditch and bounced across a grassy pasture. Steven and I laughed like crazy fools.
August 20, 1968
Reading Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, written just about a century ago. [The Idiot was published in 1869]. Dostoyevsky says the chief idea of the novel is “to portray the positively good man,” and then essentially appears to prove that impossible. The story reminds me of Don Quixote in a way, a kind of comic innocent who causes untold damage because of his innocence. Dostoyevsky remarked: “The good is an ideal, but this idea, both ours and that of civilized Europe, is still far from having been worked out.” Seems prophetic for sure.
August 22, 1968
A series of odd “signs” converge. Czechoslovakia has been invaded by the USSR in response to a series of liberal reforms, so the Soviets are in Prague. I had hoped to think better of the Russians than that, but it seems they are following the path of every “super power,” super-corruption. Curious to see how the invasion effects the anti-war faction at the Demo convention. It feels like the majority of people in this country are uncertain and so fall back on the same old “answers” that have never worked and never will. Perhaps we’ll see this noble experiment end in a whimper of cumulative nonsense. Imagine if instead we were to throw our resources and ingenuity into finding real solutions? We could eliminate poverty, pollution, disease, and set forth on the great adventure into space. Instead we lapse into suicidal conservativism, xenophobia, and racism. I don’t think we’ll ever learn.
August 30, 1968
Just as I feared, the Demo Convention was a total joke. It was all pre-arranged for old Hubert to get the nod. McCarthy’s kids were beaten black and blue by the Chicago pigs. I don’t feel connected to anything anymore!
And in the larger world…
August 8, 1968
At their Party convention in Miami Beach the Republicans nominate Nixon will appoint Spiro Agnew of Maryland as his running mate. Nixon has been challenged in his campaign by Nelson Rockefeller of New York, and Ronald Reagan of California.
August 20, 1968
The Soviet Union invades Czechoslovakia with over 200,000 Warsaw pact troops, putting an end to the “Prague Spring,” and beginning a period of enforced and oppressive “normalization.”
August 26, 1968
Mayor Richard Daley opens the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. While the convention moves haltingly toward nominating Hubert Humphrey for president, the city’s police attempt to enforce an 11 o’clock curfew.
And in Vietnam, it looked like this:
Photos courtesy of the La Sierra Vietnam Veterans