Tag Archives: sixties

Cornell’s Steve Ludsin: “The Graduate” and the end of youthful optimism

Last week,  the New York Times ran an opinion piece entitled “Why the Graduate is a Vietnam Movie. ”

In the piece, author Beverly Gray explains that  “in June 1967, while the film was still in production, President Lyndon Johnson signed a revamped Military Selective Service Act, signaling that within the year deferments for most graduate students would come to an end,” making them  “draft fodder. ”

“On its surface, ”  Gray writes,  “The Graduate  seemed to be an escapist film about love, sex and the potential for happily-ever-after.
“Its story, of how a new college graduate is seduced by the wife of his father’s partner and then runs off with …her pretty daughter, makes no claim to profundity. Still, it spoke loudly to a demographic that found itself embroiled in a war mandated by a previous generation.”

Many found the film a  ” perfect illustration of a young man struggling to cope with a social landscape over which he had no control…”  Clergymen, politicians,  pundits and military brass found it “subversive.”  Soldiers “embraced it as a comic howl against a status quo they were risking their lives to preserve.”

For my  classmate Steve  Ludsin (ILR 1970) of East Hampton,  New York, who saw the film as a Cornell undergrad, the film  provided  a new perspective on the era–opening his  eyes to the complacency of his upbringing and to the contrast of values once he entered college.

As he writes:

I was traveling on a winter break in Florida with upperclassmen and fraternity brothers from Cornell when I saw the film.

There were rumblings on campus about Vietnam along with our fears about the war and when we might be drafted. Nevertheless I did not perceive the movie to be about Vietnam. It was about being something other than the generation that raised us.

We didn’t know what that other was but we knew we were searching. Just hearing the soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel still brings deep nostalgic feelings.

Perhaps the movie was the end of youthful optimism that was part of the baby boomer outlook.

We managed to get front row seats at the Supremes’ nightclub act during that trip.The picture of our smiles and clean cut Ivy League look is a time piece. Vietnam was on our minds but there was something bigger than that: an admission that our lives were not going to conform to the previous script. We didn’t know what the plot was but we knew we were going to Scarborough Fair. 

I also saw the film when it first came out and understood  it as a  commentary on a shallow,  materialistic society….but would never have imagined that people would still be talking about it 50 years later!

Anita M. Harris

“Ithaca Diaries” Cornell Memoir Now on Amazon

Book Cover-Cambridge Common Press is pleased to announce that an advance edition of Ithaca Diaries ,by Anita M. Harris, is now available for purchase in paperback and kindle formats via Amazon.com.

Ithaca Diaries, is a coming of age memoir set at Cornell University in the tumultuous 1960s. The story is told in first person from the point of view of a smart, sassy, funny, scared, sophisticated yet naïve college student who can laugh at herself while she and the world around her are having a nervous breakdown. Based on the author’s diaries and letters, interviews and other primary and secondary accounts of the time, Ithaca Diaries describes collegiate life as protests, politics, and violence increasingly engulf the student, her campus, and her nation. Her irreverent observations serve as a prism for understanding what it was like to live through those tumultuous times.

An official launch is slated for mid-January, 2015.

Millennials Support Ithaca Diaries Kickstarter

Kickstarter campaignfor Ithaca Diaries is going well–just $400 from goal, at this writing!  I want to thank my twenty-something friends for their support–

Alex Tomasi, a 2014 Boston University communications grad (and race car driver!)  has offered this beautiful, whimsical poster as a new reward.  (c. Alex Tomasi)

Copyright 2014

You can meet Alex and other 20-something supporters– Erin Euler, Eric Morris (Cornell 2012),  Grant Randall  and Ben Whiting  via their brief You Tube videos…

Any and all contributions welcome–including $1 and $5.  Every little bit helps–and also raises projects in the kickstarter rankings and attracts more views. It would also be great if you’d’ share this email and the kickstarter link on social media.

Here’s the kickstarter link:

It does look like we’ll reach the goal soon…which means that Ithaca  Diaries will be available for holiday gift giving. Additional $$ will allow a Kirkus review to let bookstores and libraries know it’s available–and still more will go toward an interactive Web site.

Many many thanks,
Anita M. Harris

Ithaca Diaries featured as “staff pick” on Kickstarter

Book Cover 6x9 9-13-14 - CopyI’m excited to report that shortly after Ithaca Diaries opened for business on kickstarter, I received an email saying that someone on the staff “loved” the project and had chosen it for highlighting on the kickstarter site!
I’m hoping to raise $3500 to bring the book to life.  The writing and editing are done, but it still needs an index and some publishing tweaks. I’m secretly hoping that people will contribute more money so that I can add interactivity to the Ithaca Diaries site…and you can tell YOUR story.  Any and all contributions would be appreciate. Here’s a link to the kickstarter site. Many thanks–Anita

Anita M. Harris is a communications consultant, blogger and author based in Cambridge, MA. She is managing director of the award-winning Harris Communications Group, blogs at New Cambridge Observer, and the author of Broken Patterns, Professional Women and the Quest for a New Feminine Identity.