In a nation awash in the turbulence of continual change, some things simply reshape themselves rather than changing. For instance, what Little Rock police today call caravanning we knew as cruising back in the 1960s.
Summer and weekend nights 60 years ago for a lot of hormonally charged teens meant several friends piling into a friend's car and roaming the streets between drive-in eateries with names like Fisher's Hi-Boy and Vip's Big Boy.
The object at 16 years old was obvious. We males were out into the night, cars washed and gleaming, reeking of Vitalis, English Leather and Old Spice to see and be seen.
And maybe, if the stars aligned, we'd meet up with a carload of the opposite gender.
Rock 'n' roll music played by Dick Biondi at 50,000-watt WLS Radio in Chicago or Wolfman Jack down in Del Rio Texas, only added to the enchantment and anticipation of those warm nights.
Drive-in restaurants beside highways would be bumper-to-bumper as we waved, shouted, squealed tires and revved engines. (Some intentionally poked nail holes in mufflers to enhance the throaty roar of eight cylinders.)
Every now and then, a pair of drivers would head off to a seldom-traveled straight stretch of two-lane asphalt to see whose vehicle was faster. Some often followed to watch.
Cruising was not only popular among teens with access to vehicles, the ritual had become a rite of passage into early adulthood, along with the opportunity to meet a boy or girlfriend who wasn't already going steady.
Even the parents, having been teenagers themselves, seemed understanding of their kids' need for social interaction and a way to release all that pent- up energy.
The curiosity and passions of teenagers haven't really changed in six decades. But police in Little Rock today refer to a similar ritual as caravanning, which can be considerably more rowdy and troublesome, as well as flagrantly disrespectful toward others on the streets.
Seems we have an epidemic of disrespect for each other ravaging the country today, doesn't it?
In a recent news account, Police Chief Keith Humphrey called caravanning "a fashion show on four wheels." But that was by no means an endorsement of the frequently disruptive, potentially dangerous gatherings.
Little Rock streets have seen caravans that disrupt traffic flow and fray lots of citizens' nerves in the process.
One problem is just trying to keep up with this Little Rock caravanning, especially considering not just youths from central Arkansas, but from elsewhere in the state, are taking part in them.
It seems police arrive at one scene only to learn, much like a Whack-A-Mole game, that all the loud and flashy cars have already departed for another part of the city to do even more doughnuts and leave rubber behind in the process (wonder how many parents also are buying all the new tires).
It's enough to make me wonder how this youthful evening practice will further evolve in years to come. Perhaps devolve is a better word.
Alinsky's rules at work
With all the rioting and anarchy causing damage to many Democrat-controlled cities today, it's become apparent to me and others there's obvious planning and design behind it all, not to mention the unnamed (and unreported) person or persons behind paying the bills for transportation, food, cell phones and lodging for these "protesters" who travel to perform for a national media.
It recently struck me that all of this pre-election turmoil parallels the heavily publicized "Rules for Radicals," penned by late Chicago reprobate and rabble-rouser Saul Alinsky in the 1970s.
Alinsky's nasty tactics at dividing society have been formally taught for years by community organizers, providing a map for personal harm and uncivilized disruption by resorting to practically any means to gain power over others.
This seems a good time to review Alinsky's rules so each of us might have a clearer understanding of why, to me, many things are unfolding as they are today and offer a clue as to the radical elements behind the name-calling, turmoil and violence. It also helps explain what's transpiring politically in specific cities that doesn't seem to make any sense.
The Rules for Radicals (with my interpretations at no additional charge):
"Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have." [Like making 1,000 professional anarchists appear like a million.]
"Never go outside the experience of your people." [Like sign-holding, screaming, arson, looting, heaving frozen water bottles, weaponizing fireworks, murder and assault?]
"Whenever possible go outside the experience of the enemy." [Enemy in most cases here being innocent local store owners, law-and-order officials and otherwise law-abiding citizens.]
"Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules." [Meaning they must follow the law while the anarchists ignore them?]
"Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage." [Sounds like plain ol' evil. Helps in any ridicule attack to have a complicit media to echo the ridicule, smears and defamation.]
"A good tactic is one that your people enjoy." [Clearly Alinsky's tactics involve shouting, stealing, destroying, burning, assaulting and otherwise hurting innocent people or their property.]
"A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag." [That's for sure, couldn't agree more. Thinking adult Americans today certainly more than feel the drag.]
"Keep the pressure on." [Well, for as long as someone can organize, compensate and plan for all the hate and wanton destruction.]
"The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself." [Unless innocent people are injured or murdered, or their livelihoods destroyed.]
"The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition." [Obviously months of destruction on the streets of Portland and elsewhere count.]
"If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside; this is based on the principle that every positive has its negative." [Most American adults have had their fill of constantly pushing the negative, for sure. Only the radicals would find positive in anarchy.]
"The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative." [I don't know what the heck this feeble attempt at rationale even means.]
"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. " [Also see ridiculing others. They certainly have no trouble adhering to this evil approach to co-existence, from ball caps they don't like to Supreme Court nominees and even a president. Wonder how these anarchists would enjoy being personally demonized in this way?]
So there you have it, valued readers, one long-deceased Chicago man who cited Lucifer as the "first radical" in the dedication for his book. Fifty tears later Alinsky's message in praise of division and negativity unquestionably continues to wreak havoc across society.
Now go out into the world and (in direct opposition to Alinsky's schemes) treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at email@example.com.