All around me I have surrounded myself with the plastic doppelgangers of my childhood. It’s at this moment I realize why: It was a time where we children of the children of the Baby Boom were granted an amazing opportunity to believe in something: The American Dream. From the Michael Jackson and Brooke Shields Dolls to the Super Hero action figures (celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Mego Corporation) to so many other memory triggers that I myself didn’t realize were so ingrained in my subconscious and personality thanks to these flashy totems. Each one for me serve as silent reminders of this for sure and it all came into focus after finishing up Michael Malice’s “The White Pill” audio book.
In this book Malice has weaved together an incredible telling of the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. From it’s shiny birth under Lenin to it’s gritty reality under Stalin, to it’s almost cartoon-ish evolution through Khrushchev and to it’s final demise under Gorbachev, “The White Pill” is one hell of an adventure story so full of tragedy and triumph that it is riveting from start to finish. I can not recommend it nearly enough. And not only for its impressive documentation of the for Soviet Union’s rise and fall but for me the importance of how that former “super power” shaped all of our Gen X lives. While there are plenty of things that happened that were very much sugar and candy coated for us growing up in the 70’s and 80’s and into adulthood in the 90’s, with the conclusion of the book, I can’t say I’ve ever felt as grateful to have been a child of the American Dream as I do now. We really had it incredibly good. Hell, even better than good.
It was in that decade of decadence that the 80’s are so famously recalled, that while there are some of those illusions that did bite us in the ass (hello large portions and diabetes and the belief in a retirement at 65 that would allow for a well earned break into our “golden years”, syke!) there are so many other things that we had and took for granted that the generations following us have been stripped of. Diluted and degraded with each new one. It’s in this that I do feel horrible for the Gen Y’s, Z’s, Millennial’s and whatever classification we’re up to now. From my perspective they really have been robbed. But ten again also tempered to see past a lot of the bullshit that we believed in and many still do. However. Not all of that bullshit was bad and it’s importance should be revered and remembered. I’m speaking now to that belief that while we all had responsibilities and obligations to be a good American (go to school, do your homework, get a job, and “do the right thing”) we were rewarded with some fantastic treats that I fear so many of aforementioned generations missed out on and will never get an opportunity to truly appreciate as we did.
Capitalism appeared to be working then. Not only that but winning. For the most part at least. It was certainly better than the lives lived by the communist counterparts that shared the timeline with us. Listening to Michael’s book did an amazing job of reminding me of that reality. Of course we as children were fed tons of rah rah and propaganda by the news and entertainment industries along with our sugary sweet cereals and Happy Meals which served as bookends between Saturday morning cartoons and trips to the malls, amusement parks, movie theaters, arena rock shows and of course the toy store. We really did have it good and have it all. And to think we weren’t even connected by way of a world wide web but instead prime time television, top 40 radio, movie theaters, video rental stores and “The Weekly World News”. Hell, for the first half of my childhood I didn’t even have cable television. More importantly however is that without that web, we still had a luxury that is most certainly a crime to have taken away from our children and grandchildren; a culture that kept us in real, organic communication and interactions with commonalities to talk about.
*** It’s at this point I am reflecting on how good a book “The White Pill” truly is as it has inspired these reflections and writing. For me that is the sign of a sincerely great piece of literature as it inspires critical thinking, reflection and a strong desire to collect all of those thoughts in a tangible and worthwhile manner. All the while I have a 3D model of a Mego Joker head printing behind me. Talk about taking stock in the blessings we have experienced in a mere 50 years!
Still, the main takeaway I want to emphasize in this write and recommendation, do seriously consider giving “The White Pill” a read or listen. I myself have become a big fan of audio books as they allow me to take it in and do other things since I’ve been programmed to multi task. Can’t say that’s good or bad but it is the way that works for me. Well worth the little over 9 hours time it takes to get a great recap of a truly dark and HORRIBLE system that was heartless, brutal and frankly, evil to those that its dictates and ideology was imposed upon. I will also go so far as to say that regardless of the label you ascribe to in this post pandemic world, know that the promises of socialism and communism that are being wrapped in packages of “equity and inclusion” are eerily and in some instances shockingly direct copies of the ideologies that led to that most horrific of societal systems.
The secondary takeaway is that I know for me the conclusion of that book has led to me rethinking a lot about aspects of my life as an American. While I can reflect on both the good and the bad, with the completion of that book, I can honestly say that I have never been more thankful and grateful to have been born in these 50 states. I hope and pray that you will experience the same or similar reaction and not take even one more moment for granted or be so dyed in the wool to your own perspective that may or may not be entirely your own.
Now, Go Play,