I'm your boogie man that's what I am
I'm here to do whatever I can
Be it early mornin' late afternoon
Or at midnight it's never too soon
—KC & Sunshine Band
"I'm Your Boogieman" was the 11th top hit of 1977, a year that saw massive tumult in America, especially in New York City, which experienced daily fears of violence, the Son of Sam, and the Blackout. There was a time when boogieman was the dark monster that lived under your bed or in your closet, but in the disco era, it became the guy that put that pep in your step and made life fun. For all the talk that the current period in America is worse than any since the Great Depression, I submit the 1970s, when misery was a million times greater. That said whenever there was a chance to get something for nothing most people did so.
I've told the story many times, but I have to mention it again because it points to notions of entitlement, greed, and mob behavior. The blackout in the summer of 1977 saw mass looting all over New York, and no neighborhood in Manhattan was hit harder than mine. Walking to the corner moments after the lights went out, I witnessed a group of guys tugging at a metal gate that covered a jewelry store. The cry went out, "everybody pull … everybody get something" and so there was a mass effort that did dislodge the gate. The store was given the bum's rush, and within minutes everything was gone.
Fast forward to the summer of 2012 and there is a cry going out that says "everybody pull the lever and everybody will get something." Instead of the corner jewelry store, the new targets are people earning more than one million dollars a year. In my neighborhood, people were poor, so taking from a "rich" jeweler didn't feel wrong on any level. Of course growing up poor and only hearing how all rich people got there through inheritance and theft, it just felt right to take things that fell off a truck or in this case from a broken storefront window. But, you grow up and you learn better. You grow up and learn to respect how 80% of millionaires are self-made in this nation. You want to preserve that for future generations including your own children.
By the way, my mother wouldn't let me join my friends in what was Christmas in July. I watched people getting things like watches and boom boxes from a window. I didn't see it as looting, just a great opportunity. I didn't see victims, just rich businesses that had so much money it didn't matter anyway. I didn't see those people that opened those gates before most people on the block got up in the morning and worked so late while most were going to bed at night. I didn't see where it would do any harm. Thank goodness my mother did.
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