Now, in July, an event took place that was scarcely noticed in the rush of shocks: At Prudhoe Bay, in the northernmost reaches of Alaska, two drillings seven miles apart sipped down to lakes of oil. And also during the year, the Glomar Challenger, in the Gulf of Mexico, struck oil for the first time in the deep ocean. Second thought after jubilation: Were greed and uncontrolled population to cause us to despoil our planet Earth until it would be just a cinder in the galaxy?

The territorial imperative was causing alarming new kinds of litter. Early in the year a B-52 crashed on Greenland ice while carrying four nuclear weapons. In May the nuclear submarine Scorpion was lost in the shower that lasted an hour and a half, and brushed his teeth with toothpaste and papaya powder; ate pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, honey, and wheat germ; and kept saying, "God bless my dearest dear parents." He adored the Dodgers. The attraction of Tiny Tim was his absolute purity. No put-on. No hypocrisy. "I really believe I'm 19," he said. He was not only clean, he was gentle, he was indeed grotesquely beautiful, through and through.

Here they were, two incoherent Americas in the year of massacre and assassination: macho and unisex, realistic and idealistic, cynical and innocent, brutal and tender, crafty and guileless, powerful and powerless, slug and moth. Which would last longer in the light of day?

Music from the Big Pink, by The Band, a hit of the year, enters the LP chart . . . The President announces it is now safe for the Bikinians to return to their atoll, from which they were exiled 32 years ago to make way for a score of nuclear tests . . . More than 1,000 drown in floods of the of Gujarat: What does that number mean, and where in hell is Gujarat? . . .