It's exactly 12:24pm, precisely 50 years have passed.
A lotta folks hold this moment as the beginning of the fall of America, and a calcification of the divisions that have only deepened in the ensuing five decades.
I don't. Because I don't believe there's such thing as America, or that there ever was beyond a shared simulacra: a toxic, falsely propagated and comfortable myth for which there is plenty of advertising, but no discernible product whose true worth anyone can agree on or sublimate their ego for which to fight.
On May 4th, 1984, the mother of the boy who's there dead in the street with the girl screaming over him in the iconic photograph came to our high school.
See, he was a graduate of the same high school, only 15 years earlier in 1969. His name was Jeffrey Miller.
Once the entire school was assembled in the Large Group Instruction auditorium, she gave a daylong presentation on what happened 50 years ago today on the campus of Kent State in northeast Ohio.
Intense films of the events, and photographs detailing the nightmare, were unspooled.
Afterwards, I got to meet and talk to her. The entire day was a life-changing event for me and I'd suspect I wasn't the only one.
If you ask me, nothing's been the same since. Of course, this country's power possessors had long since proven, before 5/4/1970, that they'd exterminate their own citizens. But something about this is different, final; condemning in a way other, previous events were not.
I guess it proved that the kids on the campuses were no different to the pigs than the kids in the rice paddies: available to be killed for Daddy's Death Program of colonization and coercion for profit, just like now.
And it's been all downhill since that day, too.
In the immediate aftermath, two rock stars -- then, through no fault of their own, delusionally considered by their audience the only real voices of truth in the world -- were sitting around their friend's place in northern California and thumbing through the famous Life magazine with the photo spread about the massacre.
According to the legend, the one who wasn't technically American got up, grabbed a guitar, and stalked off into the woods around the property.
When he returned an hour later, it was time to rock-star-jet down to LA to meet up with the other two, and cut the incendiary result of his time in the forest.
In a then-unprecedented feat of pre-internet instantaneous timeliness, the single was rushed out and racing up the charts within weeks.
It peaked at #14 on the Hot 100, just as the four rock stars hit the Fillmore in NYC a month after the carnage to put a week's worth of wild, legendary concerts on the faithful.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
New York City, NY USA
acoustic set, 6.4.1970:
01 Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
02 On the Way Home
03 Teach Your Children
04 Tell Me Why
07 Simple Man
08 Man In the Mirror
09 The Loner/Cinnamon Girl/Down By the River*
10 Only Love Can Break Your Heart
11 Black Queen
12 49 Bye-Byes
13 America's Children
14 Love the One You're With
electric set, 6.5.1970:
01 Pre-Road Downs
02 Long Time Gone
03 Helplessly Hoping
05 As I Come of Age
06 Southern Man
07 Carry On
09 Find the Cost of Freedom
Total time: 2:17:43
*Track 09 in the acoustic set is from 6.6.1970
David Crosby - guitar, percussion & vocals
Stephen Stills - guitar, keyboards & vocals
Graham Nash - guitar, piano & vocals
Neil Young - guitar & vocals
Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuels — bass
Johnny Barbata — drums
master mono soundboard reels, recorded by Bill Halverson and remastered by Ron Schmitt
further remastering on "Guinnevere," electric set volume optimization, and track markers corrected with editing for dead air throughout by EN, May 2020
553 MB FLAC/May 2020 archive link
Side note: sorry, I don't fuck with Star Wars nonsense, much more of a Close Encounters kid. May the Fourth is about one thing to me and one thing only, and some anthropomorphic Space Opera entertainment fodder that supplies energy to the infantile fantasy world people occupy isn't it.
Anyway, this is a hard thing to write about and that's all I will say. Whatever you believe, it's a good idea not to ever forget this day and what happened. Lest it be one of your children laying there face down in the parking lot someday, put to bed by Pharoah's deadening lead, seen? --J.
7.4.1776 - 5.4.1970