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If You Believe

IF YOU BELIEVE

If you believed they put a man on the moon
Man on the moon
If you believe there’s nothing up his sleeve
Then nothing is cool
REM – Man on the Moon

The REM song Man on the Moon, released in 1992, is a haunting melancholy tune, with Andy Kaufmann and his life and death as the focal point. For me, the lyrics always bring me back to the simpler time of my youth, when our antenna TV could get about eight channels, we had one rotary phone, one old used station wagon, lived in a row home, and a family of five could be raised on a truck driver’s income, with a stay-at-home mom.

It’s the references to the Game of Life, Risk, Monopoly, Twister, checkers, and chess, which invoke what we did for fun when we weren’t out riding bikes, playing stick-ball, roller hockey, or touch football in the streets. Were bad things going on in the world? Sure. The Vietnam War, Watergate, gasoline shortages and rationing, stagflation, and a myriad of other damaging challenges confronted the country, just as they always have throughout history.

One of the supposed historic moments in human history was the moon landing in July 1969, when I was six years old. I remember sitting on the floor in front of the TV and thinking how cool it was and how cool that I was allowed up at 11:00 pm to watch it. Another 600 million people were also watching. At the time, no one questioned what they were watching live on their TVs. It was the penultimate human achievement, with the goal set by JFK during Camelot before he was murdered by his own government, proving our technological superiority to the evil Soviets. To fail in this mission would have been too embarrassing to the leaders of our empire, only two decades into its infancy….

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