Long after Rita had married a stockbroker named Ted, way after my bell-bottoms were used for patching straight-legged jeans and paint rags‹now in 2001, I'm watching what my subconscious didn't want to see, and know why mom and dad where sadly hugging in the livingroom back in '72.
In September 1972, I was sitting in a suburban high school, in science class, beyond bored and wondering why I couldn't get a girlfriend. So when the news of terrorists at the Olympics was announced by our teacher Mr. "Hairy" Thatcher, I really didn't give it another thought. I had more important things to do. My brother had taken my last pair of super-duper bell-bottoms (an extra strip of psychedelic far-outness stitched by hand) and packed them off in a duffel bag for a weekend with his hippie dudes. I just had to get them back! I was going to wear them to the high school social. I was going to impress some pretty right-on people. I was gonna rap, get deep, maybe cop-a-feel, taste some cherry lipstick, but not without the pants, man, not without the pants!
Yeah—I remember seeing something on the news; remember the hushed voices of famous anchors discussing Germany's inability to handle the situation; remember my parents nervously talking in the TV room while their Virginia Slims and Kools burned away in ashtrays. But I'd skipped this dreaded scene, run up the stairs, hit my bedroom with its orange plastic space chairs, slammed the flower-power daisiy-laced door and instead, wrote poetry to Rita, the blonde-haired chick with the really groovy freckles.
I didn't realize, comprehend, catch the "buzz" that people far, far away were being held against their will, soon to meet their maker. I didn't get the politics. I didn't want to know.... One Day In September, this terrifying documentary by Kevin McDonald now brings it into focus, stuffs the reality of that dark event deep into my brain. Long after Rita had married a stockbroker named Ted, way after my bell-bottoms were used for patching straight-legged jeans or paint rags—now in 2001, I'm watching what my subconscious didn't want to see, and know why mom and dad where sadly hugging in the livingroom back in '72.
Although there are real problems with the bias of this film, the telling somewhat shameful, one thing's very clear: terrorism is the coward's way, and no amount of political righteousness can justify the slaughter of innocents. The whole thing made me nauseous, jittery, and yet I watched it as I would a thriller (much like my parents did) and couldn't stop whispering, "Do something, for godssake—get 'em out of danger." I finally understood that this is what I missed back in the seventies while looking for "free love" and chemical enlightenment: the endless increase in violence, not just at the Munich Olympics but everywhere and all around us. Love and peace and acid trips where getting strange and even damn near evil (Charlie saw to that)... and those TV anchors were warning us, delivering their negative reality while the Partridge Family sang C'mon, Get Happy.
One Day delivers haunting images of the past like wailing ghosts to the children of the present. Now, you can see and hear the terror in a montage (laced with a celebrity voice-over, but who cares), complete with the sole surviving terrorist (who still supports the bloodshed) and wonder where were YOU? Maybe you weren't born yet. Maybe you were like my mom and dad, who wished to forget that Camelot had been riddled with bullets, or the last of the wilting flower children, with bearded faces and beaded hair looking for warmth and acceptance in a day-glow poster world. In the long run, it really doesn't matter because the new technology brings us ALL together. What was just a passing horror is now forever pasted into celluloid and sitting on our grocer's shelf.
Now my own children are running around the house, caught up in the latest trendy thing to buy, while the Oklahoma Bomber's about to get zapped (on prime-time), as I (being a single father) drink my organic carrot juice alone. Things change, things stay the same, but terrorism ain't nobody's friend, and thinking back to my science class that one day in September, I finally realize that Mr. "Hairy" Thatcher was crying when he told us what had happened at the Olympics. My bearded science teacher, stuffing hippism into a polyester suit, was dying just a little, knowing his days of innocence were over and ours was busting loose.