When the 60's ended on January 27, 1973, the day the U.S. Selective Service announced there would no longer be a military draft; I was a 20-year-old fledgling street photographer. Forty years later I re-examine my work heralding the start of this most curious and seldom documented period of American history: 1973-1984.
The cultural hegemony had claimed an apparent victory: the threat of nuclear war had lessened; the U.S. had won the space race to the moon; women’s rights and racial justice had been addressed; and US military prisoners held in North Vietnam started to trickle home.
Yet beyond these victories a deeper look revealed: latchkey children struggling in homes with two working parents; the domestic economy overwhelmed by oil shortages and double-digit inflation added insult to a profound recession, which further heightened the growing disparity between the classes.
I began to photograph the cultural, educated and political elites who touched down briefly during “the season” to host parties and fundraisers at their mansions on the islands and peninsulas along the coast and the baby boomers as they slipped into the easy no-account life of relativism, enjoying their newly won loosening of restraint and discipline.
If opportunity was no longer a reliable draw, the weather was enough to attract Guatemalan refugees escaping civil war; homeless drifters or the mysterious tribe of “Jesus People” and the “greatest” generation, raised during the great depression and steeled during a world war, who retreated behind the gates of closed retirement communities.
Non-conformity was the new conformity. Protest music gave way to a fledgling punk scene, largely overshadowed by the disco era, which was eclipsed by the "urban cowboy “ movement.
A more informed look, decades hence, at these early negatives reveal more clearly the dichotomy of rich and poor, opportunity and lack, political promises made and broken.