I'm a Baby Boomer... a native of Oakland, CA. I grew up there in the glory days of the 50s and early 60s. A time when kids could be kids. It was a time when imagination ruled every aspect of our daily lives. Remember pretend? Few do. Make believe was a part of socialization, not like today where children are glued to their electronic games, physicaly isolated from one another. Did you ever play Cowboys and Indians...with six shooters that fired caps and bows that shot rubber tipped arrows? Did you ever build a fort in the woods or canyons? Did you ever play Army or Tarzan? I did.
Back then, television was 4 channels plus PBS... all black and white. Radio was rock and roll on AM. FM Stereo was for the wealthy and mostly classical music. We played records; 78s and later 45s and eventually 33s. Saturday afternoon was movie time at the Piedmont Theater (or sometimes the Fox, the Paramount, the Roxie or the Grand Lake); a double feature, cartoons and a serial like Flash Gordon... 4 hours of entertainment for 35 cents. At intermission, there was a drawing so save your ticket stub. Grand prize, a three speed bicycle. I won once. I could now traverse the steep Oakland hills in half the time, allowing me to handle two Oakland Tribune newspaper delivery routes. Each paid 75 cents a day.
Life was good. It was a good time to be a kid. We didn't have acquaintances, we had friends...best friends... inseparable friends, exactly like the boys in Rob Reiner's wonderful film, Stand By Me. We grew up together. We were inseparable. For us, high school was a lot like American Graffiti, including a Mel's Drive-in, but without the hot girls. Let's be honest here; high school girls in the early 60s looked like girls, NOT women.
We had incredible and memorable rock 'n' roll, Studebakers, Packards, and step-side Pickup Trucks... we rode in the back and no one cared. We repaired our own cars. Because of the twisty winding roads of the Oakland hills, our version of street drag racing was sports car rallyes... mostly without the sports cars. We surfed in Santa Cruz. We shot off real fireworks on the 4th of July. We played with BB guns. Life was good. I wanted to be a carpenter, like my grandfather. I love the smell of sawdust in the morning. But graduation offered two choices; go to college or Viet Nam. I chose college. Engineering at San Francisco State. What a confluence of cultures that was.
The counter-culture movement was evolving. Haight-Ashbury, Bill Graham and his concerts at The Filmore, pot, communes, free love, free speech, LSD and of course, my curriculum; Maxwell's Equations, Ohm's Law and Thevenin's Theorem.
I graduated, and in 1970 began a technology based career in Silicon Valley that continues today. Along the way, I was fortunate to have acquired hundreds of friends, many of whom remain close today; some of whom I've lost to terrorist acts that took down airplanes, AIDS, disease and one to murder; a childhood friend, Oakland Police Officer, David Branhan, gunned down on a school yard in 1974. Life just keeps getting more and more difficult doesn't it?
For all but 4 of the past 30+ years I've lived in Mountain View, CA. From its humble beginnings in the late 19th century as a stagecoach stop on the route between San Francisco and San Jose, Mountain View became the birthplace of the Integrated Circuit when William Shockley, a co-inventor of the first transistor at Bell Labs, moved here to establish Shockley Labs in 1956. Every Semiconductor company in the world can trace its roots to Shockley Labs and Mountain View. Most of the chip business is gone. Our city is best known now as the home to Google.
I love technology. Not just for the advances it has brought to humanity, but also for the fear it can strike when misapplied. We read about it nearly every day. I have begun to incorporate some of my insider technology knowledge it into my writing. My feature screenplay, Tags, takes a new slant on human tracking...Tags that can be unknowingly implanted during routine annual physical exams...tags that have the capability kill on command. The question is...who's in command?