I can't resist a good old-fashioned, black & white drug education film. Here's one called "LSD Tested on British Troops."
Vintage drug & sex education of all kinds are like catnip to me. They're hilarious, but also so insightful about the hysterias of their era.
George Putnam was a celebrity anchorman in Los Angeles in the '60s-'70s, the Rush Limbaugh of his day. He was known for his distinctive voice, fantatical right-wing politics and unapologetic Hollywood theatrics.
In 1974, he came across a copy of The Red Tide, an underground high school newspaper published by a bunch of LA high school radicals, including me. One of our regular features was advice on how to get birth control without your parents getting in your business, what to do if you got pregnant by accident, etc.
I'm writing a novel about The Red Tide now, that describes the day George made us famous:
We got on the news. --Not just any news, either, but the George Putnam KRLA newshour, the guy who tried to stop Tom Bradley from becoming mayor of Los Angeles, because he said that it would "start a black revolution from which white citizens would never recover."
Putnam had this way of articulating the exact nightmare of his own paranoid tribe that was every radical's dream come true.
I wanted everything he prophesied to come to pass: "We shall be overrun by Communists! Pot heads! Homosexuals!" But his visions were unfullfilled. I was so disappointed.
George was known for his voice, but he was a great silent star. You could turn down the volume on his singsong cadence, and still understand everything from his melodramatic expressions. He had the grief of Lillian Gish, the grim sorrow of William S. Hart, the eye-bugging intensity of Valentino-- everything but the humor of Chaplin, because the man did not have one intentional funny bone in his body.
We heard through the grapevine that George had gotten a hold of a copy of the Red Tide, and that he was panting to expose us on the air, Friday night.
We scrutinized our latest issue to see which story he might get the most hysterical about. The cover story was about a handful of teachers at University High who were running EST-trainings in their classes where they would pose questions like, "How can you swear that this photo of a Vietcong soldier is showing his death? How do you know, he's not sleeping?"
But we didn't think that story would be George's favorite. He might go for the piece about undercover narcs, where we had taken photos of supposed "high school seniors" who looked like perfectly groomed Beach Boys, trying to score.
Jesse's lengthy article on the history of the Black Panthers would probably strain George's reading level, and he would face the same problem with our exposé on sexism in the high school Driver's Education classes. (That was my favorite because we found a graphic from the Drivers' Ed. manual that showed a woman who couldn't figure out how to get the key into the ignition).
What would George pick? At 6 PM, we got together at Andy's house, and Barry twisted the antenna fifty different ways to make Georgie appear without floating horizontal lines.
George held up a copy of the latest Red Tide in front of the camera, so you could see our cover and back page on half the screen. "I have here, before me," he said, his eyebrows and hair moving with great feeling, "a picture of the most DISGUSTING thing I have ever seen."
We all looked at each other, bewildered.
"I cannot," he warned, "show this obscenity on television." He paused, and the suspense was unbearable.
"It is an illustration--" he dropped into his deepest baritone, "of a woman's-- private-- parts."
I grabbed the issue out of Sharon's hands and ripped it open to the last pages. "Oh my god, it's the IUD story!" The picture he was referring to was a Gray's Anatomy-style cross-section of a woman's vagina.
"Why?" George raised his eyes to the heavens for an answer, "Why are our children subjected to this kind of filth, this kind of promiscuity, in the classroom?"
"Oh man, Gomez in going to have a fit," Marcy predicted, and it was true, because Georgie was making it look like our principal was funding our birth control campaign.
"This rag-- if you can call it that, " George said, finally lowering the paper, "claims to be the work of high school students-- yet we know this PORNOGRAPHY is the work of a cynical group of so-called adults who fund and exploit their communistic, atheist, ideologies on our precious children."
"Why isn't he saying 'FEMINIST'?" Sharon demanded.
"Because he doesn't know that word," Marcy said.
"Where's our fucking cynics to fund us, that's what I want to know," Robin said, then shushed everyone else.
"Our daughters," George continued, "our daughters cannot defend virtue when godless putridity is flaunted in their face!"
"Okay, I've got the hed," Sharon interrupted: "George Putnam Says Woman's Vagina Is the Most Disgusting Thing He's Ever Seen."
"It's the only one he's ever seen!" Terry grunted. I looked at a couple other faces in the room, and I wondered if that described a few of our members as well. I knew George Putnam was not a virgin, but some of us were.