(the apostle of a hedonistic revolution)

Hugh Heffner quietly passed away last week. He was 91.

Like many of us he was born between the “Lost Generation” from WWI and the “Greatest Generation” of WWII, thus missing out on the wild roarings of the ‘20s and the heroics of the ‘40s. Which probably explains why we were all ready for a romp when the era of sex, drugs, and rock and roll arrived in the ‘60s.

Hugh Heffner became the apostle of that hedonistic revolution by which all the hypocrisies and taboos previously held about such things were shredded and tossed overboard, to let it all…hang out…even though in some respects, many of its excesses resembled those of the “Cultural Revolution” which happened later in China.

As a self-proclaimed playboy of the Western World, he was also shrewd enough to surf such rip-tides of cultural transition, by combining his plush-porn magazine enterprise with a franchised chain of Playboy Clubs, all staffed by well-endowed cotton-tailed “bunnies”, launching great currents of sybaritic fantasies all over the world…while becoming a multi-billionaire in the process…as yet another grand example of what the American entrepreneurial spirit could accomplish.

Many, however, looked upon its impacts with great disfavor (many still doing so to this day), considering it the root cause of all the societal chaos and conflict which has followed ever since. That is, the loss of so-called “family values” and “social cohesion and good order”, by promoting sex as a recreational sport, drug use as an acceptable commonplace, and mindless violence as a costly collateral by-product of that upon our daily lives. In short, a cultural revolution of the most negative kind.

We don’t quite subscribe to such a perspective, but rather, view it instead as just another episode among many in the continuum of our society’s evolution. As we see it, from the moment we first landed on these shores, ours has always been a “frontier” society of one kind or another, and because of that, throughout its history, constantly in a state of transition from one cultural matrix and condition to the next. It’s who we’ve been and who we are as a nation and society. Fortunately, however, our founders apparently had the foresight to understand that by designing and creating an adaptive and flexible framework which could hold everything together for us no matter what our conditions of the moment might be.

Well, although our national escutcheon may have accrued some very dark and unsavory blotches upon it, it has nevertheless always been able to still maintain and display a reasonably bright and heartening sheen despite all of that; so, perhaps, the best way to explain it all is the way a lead song from a great Broadway show put it…American life, my friends, is just…a cabaret…and Hugh Heffner…was once a big act in it.