I would have loved to join the Establishment. They did not want me.
At a certain point in my life, I had begun to follow the advice of a close and very successful friend, and instead of taking swings at the world, I attempted to swing in coordination with the world.
I relegated the guitar and engineer boots to a closet. I did look good in tweed jackets, blue button-down shirts, regimental striped ties, and khaki slacks. Despite learning about good single malt Scotch, brandy, and wine, something was missing. A professor, meaning well, took me aside and explained that anthropology was a gentleman’s profession. And my peers did not consider me a gentleman. He advised that I just be myself.
Just myself, huh? Out came the guitar, and in an evening, I wrote a satirical piece called the High Society Rag about the situation.
“Well, I met myself the prettiest gal, lord I had ever seen. And she took me to meet her folks in the country club scene. Well, they liked me at very first sight and loved the way I sang. But they took violent exception to the class from which I came.”
“I wasn’t white, liberal, or middle class – spelled WASP.
White liberal and middle class spelled WASP.
My Club affiliations were not the best -I wasn’t in the Rittenhouse, and if that were not enough for the upper crust – I wasn’t even middle class.”
In an impromptu fashion, my rag unwound the entire club hierarchy, DAR, class hierarchy, my peers, and my professors. I did my best to remind everyone that wasps were insects. The composition itself certainly wasn’t much. In my Greenwich Village days: you weren’t considered capable unless you could punch out a satire, protest song, or ballad a day. All three were best. Our pieces didn’t have to be fine art – just pungent.
In no time, I mapped out an entire anthropology folk opera. Three additional songs were written rapidly, including the overture. I would trundle out the guitar on request and perform the magnum opus at parties.
I no longer wanted to be part of the Establishment; I was having too much fun lampooning it. The reaction among the snobs was gratifying. I had learned how to tie knots in the devil’s tail.