Ken Levine is a blogger I’ve been following for about five years, and whose observations about the entertainment industry I enjoy a lot. He is “an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer.” So I was interested in a book by a guy who both wrote shows I’ve watched, such as MASH, Cheers and Frasier AND has done play-by-play for Seattle Mariners and other baseball teams.
I put his new book on my Amazon wish list and received it for Christmas. The premise of the book he dedicated a blog post to is that:
“They say if you can remember the’60s you didn’t live through them. But that’s not true. 99.9999% of the largest generation the world has ever known grew up in the ’60s and were not so drugged out that the decade became a mere purple haze. 99.999999% of them didn’t attend Woodstock, move to Haight-Ashbury, protest the war by burning their bras or banks, or form a band that played Woodstock. Most of us went to school, had summer jobs, wrestled with adolescence, and enjoyed being catered to by the media and Madison Avenue because of our sheer size.
“And the world changed dramatically while all of this was going on. But in the background.”
Levine’s early life had a lot to do with growing up Jewish, not particularly coordinated or popular – perhaps one could say nerdy – in Southern California. He didn’t have a rebellion against his parents, though.
Like many boys of his vintage, he was competing with the Beatles for attention of girls. He writes a lot about his success, or more correctly, lack of same in the area of romance. Levine knew actress Ann Jillian, and had an unrequited crush on her.
Levine had some interest in politics; he actually watched political conventions. World and national events both surprised and impacted him, from the assassinations of JFK, MLK, Jr., and RFK, to the 1965 riots in the Watts section of Los Angeles.
What I really liked was how music was a marker for much of that decade for him, as it was for me. He managed to be invited to the first episode of Shindig, an ABC-TV music show, but somehow didn’t quite make it.
I was distracted by some chronological errors. The musical Hair was popular in 1968, but Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In by the Fifth Dimension wasn’t a hit until 1969. George Wallace was a serious contender for President in 1968, not 1964.
Still, it’s enjoyable enough, although if coarse language bothers you, this book will annoy. Non-essential; I suspect that his next volume, when his writing career begins in earnest, will be more to my liking.