69 was a word we used to guffaw over whenever any schoolboy uttered it in 1969. After all, we were pimply juveniles with hormones going berserk and zero sex. So what the hell did anyone expect from us anyway?
We’d laugh over jokes like:
What’s 6.9? Good sex interrupted by a period!
How are 69 and Add Maths related? I don’t get either one!
What’s the square root of 69? Ate something!
But what do you really remember about 1969?
“One small step for me, one giant step for mankind” and the moon landing by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin? If it happened today, we’d say “That’s awesome!!!!” But if you were anti-American and anti-Semitic like a (in)famous recalcitrant ex-Prime Minister, you might say:
“It was all filmed in Universal or MGM Studios, after all Avatar tells you 9/11 was a CIA/Mossad conspiracy, I mean the towers collapsed like a planned explosion and it wasn’t American Airlines 77 that hit the Pentagon but missiles from a Global Hawk remote controlled CIA silent stealth aircraft...”
If you buy these conspiracy hypotheses, that is, like a slim Elvis was seen last week at KFC in Bkt Bintang wolfing down chicken skin by the tub and man, (finally) the aliens (thank God) kidnapped my mother-in-law, but (as usual) I only have these fuzzy photos and video taken with my latest super duper digital supermulticoated lens Sony handycam which has 50x zoom function....
But ’69 was an eventful year. It was the year of Woodstock and that electrifying 2 hour finale of ‘Purple Haze,’ ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and others by Hendrix! It was also a year of shame for the USA with the exposing of the ‘My Lai Massacre’ and escalation of the Vietnam War by President Lyndon Baines Johnson who was taunted by peace protesters with "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”
We were shocked at the cult killing of American actress Sharon Tate by Charles Manson who was accused of conducting satanic rituals. Sharon, who had been 81/2 months pregnant when she was murdered in her home, was married to movie producer Roman Polanski of satanic theme movie ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. Polanski fled USA in 1977 after admitting to having unlawful sex with a minor, but was arrested in 2009 by Swiss police at the request of U.S. authorities when he travelled to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival. The US formally requested his extradition.
The Beatles released their ‘Abbey Road’ album with that famous cover of the mop tops at a zebra crossing. That album included ‘Something’ and ‘Come Together’ which was so apt for ’69!! Charles Manson, the loony bin Tate killer, was apparently inspired by apocalyptic messages contained in the Beatles 1968 ‘White Album’ song ‘Helter Skelter.’ Obaldi Oblada hell!! Oh of course, Manson was equally energized by that other Beatles album, the Holy Bible and its End of Days predictions!!
These were the formative years of the pioneers of heavy metal and hard rock. If you can’t recall Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham - Led Zeppelin – belting out ‘Stairway to Murugasu’s Office?’ you must have been dead back then! Or of Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Gillan causing riots with “Smoke from Water On The School Pants While Going Back Down The Staircase from Muru’s Office?’ Deep Purple? No? Ozzy Osbourne of bat head biting fame, Black Sabbath and ‘Paranoid To Go To School.’ Surely, but surely, you could not have forgotten Carlos Santana and ‘Black Bayi Woman, Got a Black Bayi Woman?’ Oh, there were the Rolling Stones, Bee Gees and Grand Funk. Elvis struck No.1 with 'Suspicious Minds’ and Stevie Wonder with ‘My Cherie Amour.’
As far as movies went, we had a spate of them where one or more of the ‘heroes’ died!! It happened in Easy Rider (Peter Fonda), Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (Paul Newman/Robert Redford), True Grit (Glen Campbell), They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (Michael Sarrazin/Jane Fonda) and Midnight Cowboy (Dustin Hoffman). Easy Rider spawned the genre of chopper motorbikes and leather jackets donning counterculture (hippie/drug abuse) rebellious youth all over the world.
Homosexuality and male prostitution (that was a new one for me!) reared its head in Midnight Cowboy, made famous by Harry Nilsson’s haunting theme song ‘Everybody’s Talking At Me” while the cheerful ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin On my Head’ accompanied Butch Cassidy and partner to their graves. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? was a depressing movie about the Depression era and the depressing story of two depressing no-hopers!
But you got full entertainment value from The Italian Job (the original with Michael Caine and the literally cliffhanger ending), Topaz (Hitchcock spy movie), OHMS (George Lazenby as James Bond), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Anne of The Thousand Days where Richard Burton (‘The Voice’) gave a riveting performance with his gravelly orations!
Barbara Streisand, who made ugly beautiful sang her way through Hello, Dolly! to stardom and international fame. But Streisand could not hold a candle to Louis Armstrong’s (another gravelly voice) rendition of the title song. She claims, or others claim it for her, that Warren Beatty, Barry Gibbs, Andre Agassi, Robert Redford, Prince Charles, Dodi Fayed, Richard Gere, Omar Sharif, Kris Kristofferson, Jon Voight and many others were her lovers. I think Dr.M should investigate this. After 9/11 and Avatar, anything can be manufactured, right?
Goodbye, Mr.Chips was about the life of an other worldly English teacher with whom we connected instantly in the same way Dr.M did with Bush, Blair and Israel. Peter O’Toole as Chips made it a life-long career playing other worldly roles such as in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and yet for all his brilliant acting, never once won an Oscar! But that’s a crying shame, because he really deserved one.
In books we had the brilliant ‘Godfather’ by Mario Puzo which spawned ‘sleeps with the fish’ and ‘make him an offer I can’t refuse’ while Michael Crichton, scifi author (Jurassic Park) who also wrote under under his nom deplume John Lange emerged, with ‘The Andromeda Strain’ about ET virus that invade earth. Kurt Vonnegut Jr produced his brilliant anti-war ‘Slaughterhouse 5’ about the 1945 3-days bombing of Dresden. In recent months Dr.M has hinted that perhaps Churchill and the Allies should have been charged with War Crimes in Nuremburg for the ‘collateral damage’ at Dresden estimated at some 30,000 German lives!!
Award winning Phillip Roth’s (American Jew) ‘Portnoy’s Complaint’ strangely also about a young Jewish man’s obsession with sex and masturbation was of course a subject most F4 boys in VI were unfamiliar with since they were told to ”always tackle the problem with both hands!!” I recall this book vividly because our major domo bibliophile, R. Pathmanathan, made it a point to graphically describe all the salacious paragraphs, though it could not quite match the juicy bits in DH Lawrence’s ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ such as "Tha mun f..k!!??" There was also YCK who used to say in a serious tone that God intended us to masturbate since retaining it inside might cause a condition known as ‘Blue Balls!’ I couldn’t quite get my hand or mind around that one!
As stated in an earlier post, for English Literature, we had to wade through Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice,’ Camara Laye’s ‘The African Child’ and Gerald Durrel’s hilarious and poignant ‘My Family and Other Animals’ about his childhood adventures on the island of Corfu in Greece.
But 1969 was also the most momentous year in M’sia’s post-Independence political history and we were smack bang right in the middle of it!
MAY 13th, 1969 !!
Daya Singh, School Prefect and Hockey Captain in 1969, has written in saying how on that morning he persuaded HM Murugasu to cancel all afternoon school activities and order all students to go home. Daya who lived near Indian Settlement and the adjoining Malay Settlement in Kg Pandan at the back of RSCG (Royal Selangor Golf Club) serviced by Toong Foong buses 117 and 118 had heard rumours of ‘restless natives’ and ‘agent provocateurs’ and correctly warned the HM of impending danger and mayhem.
I recall hurrying to Foch Avenue past Rex Theatre to the Central Market to catch the Sri Jaya bus for home in Jalan Pelandok, Pasar Road after school was closed at 1 p.m. My brothers, sister, father, grandfather and I all made it home before the riots began.
But what about the boys and girls at the School Hostel? And Cikgu Othman, HM Murugasu, the school jaga, mandors, swimming pool attendant and their families who lived within the school compound in Government quarters and bungalows?
- to be continued