The Young Bug tells the story of a miraculous phenomenon that reverses the ageing process and makes its "victims" young again. The Human Rejuvenation Syndrome or HURS makes people more youthful in physical appearance and in their social and sexual behaviour. The lame are now able to walk again and love blossoms with all the romantic fervour of youth.
Many of the happy hitchhikers, along with hippies, flower people and others infected with the thrill of everlasting youth had taken over not only New York City but New York State. Some imagined, not without some justification, that they were about
to take over the entire country. All those great issues of love, youth and joy were not just a matter of banner-waving and street dancing. They were about to be given practical expression in
the dignified halls of the United Nations as well as rapturously outside it in the city streets and much further afield.
They would be given expression not only in lush green pastures like those of Woodstock in 1969; but right across the land, in the prairies and the deserts, in the mountains and the
plains from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Because of the Woodstock memory and now a new Woodstock expectation, everyone was intensely interested in this particular UN Assembly. Everyone wanted in some manner to participate in it. Although UNGA’s agenda was global in its embrace of issues,
It was on HURS that UNGA would inevitably focus.
Blake had worked hard at a variety of conferences and working groups throughout the year. So it was natural that Scuttle wanted to use what was now his virtually unique experience of HURS in debates both Scuttle and Blake knew would dominate the Assembly.
So, dispatched to New York as a fully-representative member of the Australian Delegation, Blake booked in at the Hotel San Marino in 45th Street, about a hundred meters from UN Headquarters.
An elderly member of the delegation, with memories grown still greener because of a recent HURS infection, recalled that he’d been staying there as a youngster in 1963. One morning late
“What’s the matter? What’s happened?” he asked.
“The President’s been shot...”
After that, he said he always stayed at the hotel whenever he was in New York because the hotel and he shared memories of a common tragedy. They grieved over what might have been.
Although the hotel had been jazzed up in recent years, some thought it was still down-market, scruffy and dirty; but it was said by members of Australian Delegations to be “friendly to the lower classes.”
“That includes me,” Joe Kafforoni insisted.
He would never have minded how scruffy it was. He had come along for the ride, however rough it might be.
“Not so much for the ride as for the laughs really,” he claimed.
“This Assembly’s going to give us a lot more reasons to sing, dance and laugh with joy than it has ever managed before. That covers all the decades since it emerged from the tragic days of World War Two.”
“We could still lose a President,” the self-appointed keeper of the Kennedy memoir reminded him. “Even the present incumbent is not immune.”
“That’s right. You know, mate, it’s a heartbreaking thought; but the odds are that if Kennedy had not been assassinated,
it was the discussion of HURS that fired the enthusiasms and the imagination of virtually everyone everywhere.in November, he’d come down from his room on the sixth floor into a chaos at the reception desk.he could have become younger now than when he took office.
We’re re-writing many things. Perhaps too if Jackie had lived and if John-John were still with us....”
Joe stopped, deep in reverie. Chronologically, he was too young to have known Jack Kennedy; but he’d read his history.
He knew the tales of Camelot.
“If they had lived on, Camelot might never have died. The vision might have inspired us forever. Now, if we’re to know anything about it, we must re-create it. That is cause for sadness at so much time lost; but, at least, a return now to the images of youth - to the fairy-tale dreams we might now make real - gives us a chance to redeem the lost years and start again where we left off.”
“Perhaps now we’ll enter an even greater era than that of the old Camelot,” the veteran suggested. “Maybe we’ll travel not just to the Moon but way beyond to the distant stars. Maybe we’ll begin to ask again, as JFK did, not just ‘Why?’ but ‘Why not?’”
“It’s already looking like a flashback to the late 1960s,” Joe said, “with all the new street people, the flower children,
The crowds had already started building up for a week before the scheduled opening of the Session. A multitude of groups in the United States and many more from places as far away as Japan and China, Australia and Chile, New Zealand and Peru, Togo and Thailand came to celebrate “Everlasting Youth” and the “New Immortality.”
The Young Bug
On the morning of the opening of UNGA, flower children
Street people sang and danced. They waved banners –
“We’re Young Forever!”
“Mr Death is Dead!”
“A World of Youth is a Universe of Joy”
“Love youth, not war”
“Give Youth Its BIG Chance!”
There were even some banners that read -
“Our Thanks to the Koori”
Others said more brazenly –
“Fucking can’t kill you now, so love your young life away”
Groups of people - chronologically young and many who had, until recently, been very old - gathered at a thousand points in the city and marched with their banners to the United Nations.
They laughed and danced. They played music and sang songs some composed just this morning, much of the rest remembered from decades ago. One of the old ones was becoming a theme song. They called it, “The Young Bug” –
gathered on the sidewalks and entrances to the United Nations.
The Young Bug’ll bite you
If you don’t watch out,
And if he ever bites you
Then you’ll sing and shout.
You’ll go la-de-da-de-da-de-da
That’s what young is all about!!
It was childish, it was immature, it was crazy; but it was a wonderful world that had suddenly opened up, not just for a small group of crazy kids but for every chimpanzee now standing up and walking on his own two feet.
“Everyone’s a crazy kid now, mate,” Joe was heard to say as he listened to the songs being sung outside United Nations Headquarters.
On the opening day of UNGA, First Avenue and the streets leading into it were crowded from early morning. Groups arriving
later never reached the UN Building at all; but they filled Second and Third Avenues, Broadway and the streets leading into them.
By midday, the whole of Manhattan was filled with singing,
dancing, happy people.
Traffic was stopped - and no one cared.
The crazy taxi-drivers, all of them now looking as though they were teenage dropouts, abandoned their taxis in the streets and joined the happy throngs.
For a while, the police tried to control the crowds; then they gave up and joined in the singing, dancing and celebrating too.
While the city was being overwhelmed by the Young-Bug celebrants, others in buses and cars, on Harley Davidsons and bicycles or just on their own two feet were heading for the new Woodstock.
An urban Woodstock.
The site of a grand new promise for the human community.
A promise that the youth and freedom that Woodstock had prematurely worshipped half a century ago, was now, in the era
of everlasting youth, going to be comprehensively fulfilled.
Like a milling crowd of children seduced by a sorcerer, thousands, hundreds of thousands, even half a million and more gathered on the urban pastures of the new Woodstock and, with music and dance, celebrated the love they felt for their God - whoever He may be - their planet and each other.
They sang songs reminiscent of the first Woodstock. Songs
There were still many who had not, except in spirit, been infected by the Youth Bug. So at the new Woodstock, some of the happy hitchhikers set up tents, with signs that said –
“Get your bug shot here! FREE!”
“Clean needles,” they proclaimed, “or bring your own.”
A “Bug Shot Centre” was manned at 42nd Street, another in Bryant’s Park and the biggest of all in Central Park.
Just in case the injections didn’t work, there were volunteers from among the “blessed” on duty to shake hands with or embrace those who sought their “blessing.”
Sometimes they hugged one another.
Often they kissed.
It was their “Open Sesame” to becoming young.
Business was brisk.
like “Give Peace a Chance,” now sung not only in the original but also in its modern variation of “Give Youth a Chance.”
The Young Bug
Angela flew to New York with Blake for the opening. She
Within hours - or “minutes” according to Joe - she was swept up by the intensity of the celebrations, the fervour of the people.
“And you started it, Sweetie,” Joe told her.
She blushed. She was proud of her part in the miracle of youth and she was tempted, in her heart, to take credit for it; but it had all become so overwhelming, such a total transformation of human life that she could only feel humble.
In the midst of the city’s carnival of joy, she couldn’t resist it: she wrote a piece back to Ed Thackeray, in which she recalled that –
arrived a few days early “to get into the spirit of the thing,” she told Joe. She was staying with the rest of the delegation in the San Marino.
Fifty years ago, many people’s hopes were high. Charles Reich wrote of a visionary American consciousness of the late 1960s and early 1970s:
“The extraordinary thing about this new consciousness is that it has
emerged out of the wasteland of the Corporate State, like flowers pushing up through the concrete pavement. Whatever it touches it beautifies and renews: a freeway entrance is festooned with happy hitch-hikers, the sidewalk is decorated with street people, the humourless steps of an official building are given warmth by a group of musicians. And every barrier falls before it. We have been dulled and blinded to the injustice and ugliness of slums, but it sees them as just that - injustice and ugliness - as if they had been there to see all along. We have all been persuaded that giant organizations are necessary, but it sees that they are absurd, as if the absurdity had always been obvious and apparent. We have all been induced to give up our dreams of adventure and romance in favour of the escalator of success, but it says that the escalator is a sham and the dream is real. And these things, buried, hidden and disowned in so many of us, are shouted out loud, believed in, affirmed by a growing multitude of young people who seem too healthy, intelligent and alive to be wholly insane, who appear, in their collective strength, capable of making it happen. For one almost convinced that it was necessary to accept ugliness and evil, that it was necessary to be a miser of dreams, it is an invitation to cry or laugh. For one who thought the world was irretrievably encased in metal and plastic and sterile stone, it seems a veritable greening of America.”
She went on to recount how these hopes had been disappointed in the years that followed:
Several decades later, with the fading of the caring and visionary
Communism was dead but, for most, victorious capitalism was only slightly less gruesome than its defeated rival. We needed a new vision, a new image and a new consciousness of self. We knew we would get it. Our looking-glass fantasy refused to accept that we would not. But we knew too that it had better come quickly - before catastrophe, from the demise of
society, the rise and fall of the junk-bond and casino-finance buccaneers, the slapstick politicians in the Reagan/Thatcher mould, the vision splendid had blurred. The happy hitch-hikers had gone, the greening become a browning. The escalator of success was no less a sham than thirty years earlier; but the young no longer believed that the dreams of adventure and romance could be real. No longer were the flowers pushing up through the concrete pavements; the sidewalks were no longer decorated with street people but cracked and crowded with homeless beggars; injustice and ugliness were again accepted as part of the inevitable human destiny.dreams, beat it to the finish line.
Then she concluded, quite briefly –
Now that new vision has finally arrived. The promise of the sixties
That way, we will ensure the survival of the human species and all those
has returned and new hope is in our hearts. The happy hitchhikers are back, along with the street people and the flower children. The Young Bug has brought us this new vision - this vision that we had to seek if we were to survive. The Young Bug has restored our sense of beauty, just as we believe it will vanquish the demons of injustice and shams. This time, we must not turn back. This time, we must follow the Young Bug’s lead - the Young Bug’s music - the Young Bug’s vision. That way, we will banish hatred, violence and greed from our incomparably lovely planet.other creatures on whom God, however we define Him, has showered His blessings and especially has given us today’s ultimate, miraculous blessing of everlasting youth.
Ed published Angela’s message in another special weekend edition of
The Sydney Morning Australian. He entitled it, “Angela’s Vision.” For the first time in his life, he sent her back a message saying “Thank you!”
The Young Bug
He almost added, “I love you, girl” but he thought that might show that he was “going soft.”
With tears of happiness in his bloodshot eyes, Joe presented
her with a big bunch of flowers.
Because of the Woodstock revelry, the General Assembly could not start as scheduled. The “Distinguished Representatives” could not get into the building; most of them could not get even close to it.
When they realized that youth had taken over the city, they were so swept up in the enthusiasm of the crowds outside that they no longer wanted to bury themselves inside the UN building anyway.
Instead, they joined the young and the old-who-had-become-young-again celebrating in the streets. They themselves - all of the “Distinguished Representatives,” however old - were now young.
They knew and felt themselves to be young, and, involuntarily, they saw that where they belonged was among the street people,
the happy hitchhikers and the flower children...
They were not just a new generation - they were a new species...
Humanity had been reborn.
It was only on the third day after the scheduled opening that
the Assembly finally managed to get down to any semblance of “work” at all.
They managed to gather a sufficient quorum to elect a
They set schedules for the committees and then most of the Distinguished Representatives couldn’t resist the temptation: they went back to the streets to renew their celebrations with the
“Ah, these are wonderful times,” Joe said.
He turned to Angela. “And you brought it to us. It’s your doing - with Blake and of course Toury.”
“I love you, Joe, for saying so yet again, for being so kind, but I did no more than tell you where it all started...”
“And how it happened.”
“If you like to believe that - that one of the greatest miracles humanity has ever known came from the Koori Dreamtime - I accept the honour.”
Many did believe and many more wanted to believe.
From the Dreamtime Masses in Melbourne, Toury had come to New York, not really for the Assembly but for the celebrations.
As ever, he loved his music. He loved to see people happy - and to join in that happiness himself. Again, he brought with him, as well as Jamina, two members of his family. They were also his
They wondered whether they would really be able to play any part in what was going on.
“If you can’t, don’t worry,” Toury advised them. “Just enjoy yourselves in being part of it.”
But then, spontaneously, a “Series of Youth and Happiness Presentations” began directly in front of the UN Building. A singer, dancer or musician would give a performance and the audience, in the tradition of the karaoke, would elevate their “highs” even higher by joining in.
President. He was in his seventies but looked like a vibrant young man in his thirties.street people and the flower children, wearing flowers themselves as symbols of peace and love.friends, his fellow tribesmen and his fellow artists. At first, Allamai and Yamba felt overwhelmed by the crowds and the scale of the celebrations.
In the early evening of the first day of the Presentations,
someone recognized Toury and started a cry, “Toury! We want Toury!”
So Toury was suddenly no longer an anonymous figure lost in
The single cry became a chant. “Toury....Toury....Toury....”
Toury waved his arms high in acknowledgement and the crowd cleared a stage. Allamai and Yamba joined him.
Like a talented child he sat down on the sidewalk and prepared to play.
the crowd but a star destined soon to become a superstar of the new, urban Woodstock.
He filled his lungs and the deep, sometimes mournful but
always moving notes of the unique Koori instrument embellished the New York evening.
He played the music of Pacific waves, driven by a cyclone,
crossing the reef and beating on the shore, of rolling bursts of thunder, and gentler music as the storm passed and the waves
The Young Bug
lapped peacefully again on the white beach sands. A rainbow appeared overhead - bright, multi-coloured with all the shades of human happiness.
So his music said.
While he played, Allamai and Yamba mime-danced the coming of the cyclone and the fear people felt. They retreated from the menace of the thunder and crouched from the piercing
flashes of lightning as the storm closed in.
When the calm came after the storm, Yamba changed places with Toury who stretched out sleeping on the beach. From out of the Dreamtime, high in the heavens above the ocean, a God appeared and Allamai transformed himself into the silver-grey wallaby. In harmony with Yamba’s music, he slowly approached Toury and, with a gentle and reverent touch, invested him with the laurel of eternal youth.
The crowd sighed and cheered as Allamai withdrew and the sleeping body of Toury rose, tall and straight, his arms reaching for the heavens.
During the investiture, Yamba had played soft music. Now, as Toury rose, he changed to the vibrant music of youth, like modern pop in its energy, but without violence or sadness. His music was like the shouting and happy laughter of the children whom Blake had seen - it now seemed long ago - playing
The music rose to a crescendo and slowly faded. Yamba fell across his didgeridoo. Toury and Allamai stretched out as though they lay on the beach at Yorkey’s Knob. They were at peace with their world.
As the music died away, the crowd erupted with applause and carried all three - Toury, Allamai and Yamba - shoulder high, singing and shouting their names.
The following morning, the three of them were driven up to the old Woodstock. Many followed them. Not quite “a million others” were there as the media extravagantly proclaimed, but many thousands went to celebrate the miracle of eternal youth on a historic and now, Joe maintained, “a sacred spot.”
That morning at the old Woodstock, Toury looked as though he could not possibly be any more than sixteen. His demeanour was simple and innocent, his smile open and friendly. He
Along with other Distinguished Representatives, the Australian Foreign Minister spoke in the General Debate when
From the podium, he introduced Angela sitting on the Delegation’s bench. He reminded the meeting how she tracked down the origin of the miracle of everlasting youth and revealed to us how from small beginnings, it spread quickly around the world. She was now one of the world’s best-known celebrities and, to a standing ovation, the President invited her to the rostrum to address the Assembly.
Speaking from the heart, she gave credit, she said, where it was due –
“...We have another example of a great gift to the whole of humanity by an indigenous people. I felt then and I continue to feel now that these people - Toury’s people - have a link to the Gods that we lost somewhere in our feckless and often violent struggles for wealth and power. Few of us have the capacity any longer to understand the mystic wonderlands that surround us; but we can learn from those who have not lost that capacity. We should now be able to see that the Dreamtime is not an empty or idle concept but a vision that can bring great blessings to us all.
below the promenade where, the first time, the old lady had seemed to be on the margin of death and then, later, had left her wheel-chair and walked unaided to watch the children at play.symbolized youth and the simple, selfless lifestyle that had always characterized him and his tribal family.finally UNGA got under way. He delivered a message from the Australian people, especially from those original inhabitants of the continent who had now been the fount of what he called “this greatest blessing ever bestowed on mankind.”
“We have come a long way since we first heard Toury’s story. I know we have worked out scientifically - if I may use that masterful but un-magical word - we have worked out scientifically how the crucial genetic change was brought about. We have identified - scientifically - the organic instruments that were sent to effect
this change; but do we know who set up this mission to bless mankind? Was it indeed set up by God - by the Gods - the Gods of the Dreamtime, perhaps - who chose a special people - Toury’s people - to bestow their gift on us all?
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“In the past, we have treated many indigenous people with contempt, cruelty and violence. We have caused them deep distress and treated them with cruel injustice. Now we have an occasion - right here right now - upon which we can express our regret for what we have done and give our thanks to them for bestowing on us, in return for the evil we have shown them, the blessing of everlasting youth.
“I trust we will use this gift - this miracle of youth - in ways that
Every other delegation shared or at least purported to share these views. They were, many of them said, “suffused with the same joy.”
The record suggested that the protestations of many and perhaps most of them could not be relied on; but leaving that aside, the task was not so much to agree on where they wanted to go but how they might devise means of getting there.
will not be selfish, that we will not seek to appropriate the benefits to selected groups, whether through violence or by stealth, or seek meanly or exclusively to profit from it. Let us instead use the gift for the benefit of all - all those, human and other, who share our beautiful planet with us.....”
“The first thing we must do,” one delegate suggested, “is
In 1961, President Kennedy had targeted the Moon; now everyone agreed they must target the stars.
UNGA was scheduled to end its deliberations on 15 December.
Assemblies seldom complete their work on time; but this was the
Violence and bloodshed, murder, massacres and wars had this time given way to a vision of long and happy lives for everyone, to the prospect of peace and peaceful change, to a resolve to love and live in harmony together.
Certainly, the celebrations in the streets delayed the Assembly’s deliberations but the reasons went deeper than that.
The “Distinguished Representatives” had no experience of
identify the target at which we must aim.”first ever to have its schedule derailed by the sheer happiness of the occasion.dealing with a world that was suddenly filled, not with fear and menace, but with joy. The past provided them with no precedents.
They had no words in their vocabularies except those for conflict
One Distinguished Representative went so far as to say, “What are we doing here? What purpose are we serving? We are an
“What should be done now? Let’s not spoil it all by dreaming
In his speech closing the Session, its President shared those sentiments. “If we join together, we can turn the adversities that are the problems of humanity today, into a hope for a brighter and more peaceful future.”
and catastrophe, carnage of the body and the even more deadly and tormenting carnage of the human spirit.institution set up to remedy the torments of societies in conflict; but now we look out on societies suffused with joy. Our job has been done for us - and done better than we ever could have hoped.up, here in these unhallowed halls, more catastrophes to inflict on our people. I suggest that, instead, we leave these halls and go out in the streets to give thanks for our deliverance and celebrate the miracle that has been bestowed on every one of us.”
The Young Bug
The Young Bug tells the story of the strange and exciting manifestation of a phenomenon that makes its beneficiaries – or its "victims" - more youthful in physical appearance and in their romantic and other motivations. How and where has this phenomenon originated and how does it spread? Blake is "infected" and Angela has a crucial clue to its origins. They join forces as the world becomes first fascinated and then obsessed with what most people justifiably see as a miracle offering long and quality life to all.
However, there are problems and complexities of a divine and secular kind. The Young Bug tells the absorbing tale of how the miracle and the dilemmas it creates are resolved and where it all leads.