When I was a kid I thought my older brother was the coolest. After all, he played the guitar, knew about all the great bands and had long hair, much to my parent’s chagrin. When I was in junior high school I either borrowed or perhaps more likely lifted a book from his room thinking if he were reading it, well it must be cool. Humorously, I was less interested in actually reading the book than I was in it’s being perceived as my reading material of choice – thus I didn’t actually read it but instead carried it around with me to classes.
It’s been years since I’ve thought about that book and then inexplicably it came back to mind. I could see the title, “The Gap” and the cover with two men; one longhaired young man dressed casual and an older man with considerably less hair in a suit. I did however get the gist, the generation gap, the communication gap, or boiled down to it’s essence, a sixties version of Will Smith’s “Parents just don’t understand”. So for kicks I decided to get it from the library and to finally read it and you know…it wasn’t bad.
In the summer of 1967, with his family away on Fire Island, forty-two year old ad exec Ernie Fladell invited his twenty-one year old nephew Richard Lorber, a student at Columbia to stay with him in the city. Ernest being more open to exploring the passions of the younger generation suggested they both sample aspects of each other’s lives and write about their experiences in an effort to somewhat bridge the gap as it were.
So Ernie tries pot, hangs out with Richie’s anti-establishment friends, which in order to be included requires him to severely edit his conversations or in some cases remain silent – for although Richie’s friends were quite educated, they were it turns out, completely unfocused on their most ardently held beliefs – they were basically against most everything and for very little – save the general peace, love…well, you know the drill. In turn, Richie had agreed to attend pitch meetings and write copy at his uncle’s ad agency.
In the end, it was only Ernest who held up his end of the bargain, mostly out of a quiet need for excitement in his own life but Richard was unwilling to show up at his uncle’s ad agency because he was against, you know, consumerism.
I saw my brother the other day and told him I had finally read it. Turns out he hadn’t read it himself and had only a vague remembrance of the cover – well it was the sixties after all…enough said.