i think it's an idea that had sprung from mostly good intentions (the ideas of peace and brotherhood during a time of war and civil (ethnic gender) rights protests and expanding beyond the confines of a complacency that was stifling our personal expression), but was misrepresented, co-opted by the mainstream, and turned into a giant frat party on parade. or something like that. you love em, you hate em, you wonder if being vegan means you can't eat cheese.


This is what an older black man told me when I was in jail with a bunch of other hippies during the era of "protest the war," "protest the government," "protest the treatment of the blacks in Amerika," etc.

He leaned over in that small cell and looked at me with his milky eyes and said, "Boy, all you gots to do is cut yo' hair 'den you gonna be out of trouble."

A term coined in San Francisco in the mid-sixties, neatly taking the place of beatnic, or beat in the popular imagination and speech.

There are two possibilities suggested for its origin.

First, that it somehow derived from the Haight Independant Press Service, an early underground newspaper. As in, have you read the news, yet--are you "hip."

Or just, maybe, "are you hip?" without any reference to any newspaper. After all, hippies were experimenting with new ways of thinking, seeing, and knowing:

"Turn on, tune in, drop out"

Life and Art and Nature and Escape

The notion that many of the ways of civilization are in fact not beneficent but injurious had been expressed in one way or another in many of the Axial religions and philosophies, and had taken the form of a yearning for a more elemental mode of life---a return to the village, the bamboo grove, the desert, seeking detachment from the compulsions and harsh regimentations demanded by the megamachine as the price of wealth, 'peace,' and victory in war.

....That part of the environment which came under the influence of Rousseau and his followers was, in so far as it sought primitive environments and simpler modes of getting a living, a return to a deliberately archaic existence: it was in effect an attempt to begin all over again at that point in paleo- and neolithic cultures before the new institutions of civilization had conquered and overwhelmed the small scattered farming communities.

For a brief period, almost a century, it looked as if this latter effort might partly succeed; and even when it succumbed to the new forces of industrialism, it left traces on American life that have not yet entirely disappeared--though they are now happily sublimated in the conservation movement, and in efforts to preserve residually some portion of the near primeval wilderness.1


In reacting against the uncontrolled subjectivism of earlier world pictures our Western culture has gone to the opposite extreme. Once upon a time people gave far too much authority to their uncorrected and incorrigable fantasies, and they ignored the fact that men cannot by exclusive concentration upon their inner life survive and reproduce except by the charity and grace of others who do not suffer from such delusions: a truth that the Hippies will in time find out. The failure to create a coherent transcendental world picture that did sufficient justice to the existential and subjectively unalterable facts of human experience that has been the weakness of all religions. 2

Aquarian Children of the 60's

Hippies were also known as Flower Children, when they were not called other disparaging names worse than 'longhair.' like: dirt-bag, bums, tramps, hobos, and the lot. They did not mind calling themselves 'freaks' or 'heads', however. Heck, even the above-quoted Lewis Mumford, who seemed to be observing how human beings throughout history liked to break from their present stagnancy criticized them. He saw self-centeredness (many became yuppies and delved into some commercialization.) I can see that too, but was that the movement's fault? What was wrong with their cottage industries? Incense-making, sandal-making, uh, and paraphernalia for the 'head shops.' Notice how "Love" is an all-important part of being a hippie. They wanted to bring the world back to its "Good Vibrations." They did not want to hassle you, and wanted Golden Rule reciprocity.

I'd like to show along with some other observations--- what I feel it is really, and what good there was. And, what was negative as it evolved to something different from its innocent or naive beginning. Since this writer was involved in this movement, he will try to add experiential knowledge to this subject. If I seem rambling, it very likely is a direct result of it all. I was there, Charlie!

In the early sixties, The Orlons sang "Where do all the hippies meet?: South Street, South Street", as a matter of fact, on US History.org's website they write:

South Street is Philadelphia's hip strip and trendy melting pot. Here you'll find a many-splendored promenade alive with way-kewl boutiques, eccentric shops, singular restaurants, bars, night clubs and cafes — and where the people-watching is as fun as the window-shopping. Aging hippies, the fashionably unfashionable, tongue-piercers, spike-haired skateboarders, and even nuclear families commingle comfortably on this eclectic and electric swath. If you feel a bit self-conscious because you're old enough to remember the above lyric from the 1963 hit rock-'n'-roll tune, just relax — like the song says, "it's the hippest street in town."

Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose

Hippies were (I guess, still are) of an alternative lifestyle, also called part of the counter-culture. Their predecessors were actually Renaissance artisans and thinkers, colonists, pioneers, the Bohemians and the Beatniks. Out of the public houses, inns, coffee houses, and, or, wherever thinkers and rebels would meet was the nesting and birthplace. "Wooden Ships" as sung by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and the Airplane hinted at that emigration connection and sailing to freedom. The Beatles name even gave honor to the Beat Generation. (Other groups jumped on the groovy name bandwagon, like, the Byrds the Turtles (Both did Dylan covers), Cyrkle and the Animals. The hippies differed by the adding of a great deal of color and new designer mind-alterants, in other words, they had the mid-20th century to shape them. The Lovin' Spoonful wanted to know "Do You Believe in Magic." The Young Rascals were "Groovin." Hippies also pushed the envelope of "let it all hang out" with public nudity.

Our favorite hang-out was down at either Washington, D.C.'s P-Street "Beach," Dupont Circle, or Georgetown. The latter having that Georgian aesthetic somehow preserved, well, make that re-created, for the very rich living and shopping there. They really did not like the loiterers like me, as I remember. I definitely "freaked out" in the super fluorescent lighted People's drugstore there one night, but that's another bummer trip story that probably is relevant, but.... At P St., or Dupont Circle, street musicians with guitars, bongo or congo drums would be jamming. We craved the neat, the cool, the far out, and whatever would blow your mind.

Don McLean's "American Pie" served up a ballad that traced rock and roll tragedy from Buddy Holly's plane crash in '59, down through Bob Dylan's motorcycle wreck in '66, with Elvis, the Byrds' busted, Jagger and Janis and Jimi and, and....leaves us with much speculation about how much music died and when.

Flights of Fantasy

I thought and still think Hendrix was the best artistic guardian of this underground country. "Purple Haze" --which made "lately things don't seem the same: acting funny and I don't know why. Scuze me while I kiss the sky." This relaying of a Purple Double Dome experience put him on the map. Look how he makes one answer his question as if one was being challenged by an army sentry for one wanting to enter this other world "Are You Experienced?"

If you can just get your
.....mind together
then come on across to me
We'll hold hands an' then we'll watch the sun rise
.....from the bottom of the sea
But first

Are You Experienced?
Uh! Have you ever been experienced?
Well, I have...

I know, I know
you'll probably scream and cry,
That your little world won't let go!
But who in your measly little world are trying to prove that
You're made out of gold and - can't be sold.

So-uh, Are You Experienced?
Uh! Have you ever been experienced?
Well, I have...

Uh, let me prove it to you..........

Trumpets and violins like up here in the distance:
I think they're calling our names...
Maybe now you can't hear them, but you will...
if you just take hold of my hand.

Oh! But Are You Experienced?
Have you ever been experienced?
Not necessarily stoned ----but beautiful.

The Unwashed, Unclean

Like any other subset group, the inevitable stereotypes linger, obfuscating the reality. Which is an irony, because quite a lot of energy was spent voiding reality. While some took to the embracing of a more natural lifestyle, sometimes stated as rejection of a "plastic people" even to the extreme point of rarely bathing -- not all were that zealous. Many, and even to this day, avoid commercial chemicals, a.k.a. perfumed and synthetic soap. Hey, they can be seen bathing: skinny-dipping documented in many pictures, especially at Woodstock, (to be mentioned later).

Cultural commentator, Mumford tries to tie hippies in with the Cult of Anti-Life, and Anti-Art, an irreverence like the Dadaists proposed. Well, of course this was the time when existentialism met art, and Warhol made famous a movie of someone sleeping for 8 hours, and made more of a portrait than a still life of Campbell Soup cans. But he blasts the hypocrisy....they did not meet the criteria for his hoped-for perfect society. One of his predictions in the following quote we know did not come true, in spite of (The National Organization for the Repeal of Marijuana Laws, (NORML):

In all its modes, then, from sculptured junk to junkie fantasies, from the ear-shattering thump of rock music to the cagey emptiness of accidental noise trapped in a concert hall, from the studious vacancy of blank canvases to the confusion of drug-clouded minds, anti-art draw its financial and its technological resources from the very agencies it professedly defies. The means used by those who seek to 'drop out' from megatehnics demonstrate this close affiliation: heroin, lysergic acid, stroposcopic lights, electronic amplifiers, 'speed' in both its chemical and mechanical forms, are all tied to scientific discovery and profit motivation. The chronic use of marijuana have already prepared the ground for the extension of the cigarette industry into 'pot' manufacture, with even greater financial profits: according to the report, the seductive wrappers and advertising slogans are already prepared. What seems like a withdrawal is only another form of active participation and submergence in the Power System. Ironically even Hippie costumes have offered a new market for mass production. 3

The Spaced Age

Their drug involvement was less for hedonism's sake, than for transcendental quests. Oh course, 'getting high' did mean feeling good, sometimes just f--ked up. Aldous Huxley in the thirties was ahead of his time as he touted going through The Doors to Perception. He and Timothy Leary ("Tune in, Turn on, Drop Out") were preceded a hundred years earlier by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey ("Confessions of an Opium Eater"), and Victor Hugo. They were mental journey experimenters who also liked to have their hash with strong "Arab coffee". Note Steppenwolf's "The Pusher Man" where the seller of heroin is condemned, but not the dealer of pot.

Acid, which was not eaten, or drank, but 'dropped,' in the beginning was on sugar cubes. Sandoz had synthesized LSD-25 in 1938 derived from the chemical lysergic acid in rye mold or ergot, but did not know it was so psychoactive until 1942. Timothy Leary became familiar with it as part of CIA investigations, and then turn into its main proponent. His famous "Celebration" sessions at Millbrook with Peter Walker providing droning raga music for it became almost out of control.

Then a chemistry student named Owsley had the best private lab putting out such specialties as the Purple Double-Domes, and Orange Sunshine. He's the one who at the Acid Test parties turned on author Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, and most of the rest of the Bay area folk-rock music bunch which besides the others mentioned included the longest running hippie band, the Grateful Dead. And, there were the blotters, they looked like cartoon transfers. Probably Jim Morrison's the Doors and their Crystal Ship, where they wanted one to "Light My Fire" were influenced by Huxley, and the need for speed, too.

Psilocibyn mushrooms (now called 'shrooms), and peyote cactus, (or mescaline synthesized from it), were less potent, but did not last as long, or as freaky, and thus were also highly desired important hallucinatory accelerants. Even today, online, there are 'Shaman' sites that sell the lysergic acid carrying Hawaiin Rosewood seeds, or Morning Glory families, Datura (poisonous Jimson Weed!), all kinds of mushrooms, varieties of sage that are not your Mother's kind, and other plants too numerous to name here (See E2 herbalist.) (Update: In December of 2010 Miley Cyrus, the Hannah Montana girl, was on the news smoking Salvia {heavy sage brush, huh} in a bong. Not sure if she's a hippie.)  The Doobie Brothers took their name for a nick for hemp cigarettes or joints. Who can forget another song from the Easy Rider, "Don't Bogart That Joint My Friend," by The Fraternity of Man. Humphrey Bogart, the 40's actor would've never guessed how his chain-smoking would channel into slang for hogging a 'roach', (a short smoked down version). "Roll another one Just like the other one. This one's burnt to the end. You've been hanging on to it, and I sure would like a hit."  There was even a name for rolled up un-smoked roaches, a Ming.  If you then rolled up those remnants, they then would be Ming 2's.....ad infinitum, ad nauseum.....heh.

Have You Been An Un-American?

Bowie makes reference to some other drugs, like 'Ludes, (from quaaludes, a hypnotic sleep aid) in "Rebel, Rebel." The Grateful Dead asks in "Truckin'" 'Whatever happened to Sweet Jane? High on reds, vitamin C, and cocaine'. The lyrics of Jefferson Airplane's , are a time capsule into this mindset as well. Most of the time, though, these kind of drug users were more intellectual descendents of those mentioned previously, look at this Jefferson Airplane song from Surrealistic Pillow that referenced Lewis Carroll:

One pill makes you larger,
And one pill makes you small.
And the ones that mother gives you,
Don't do anything at all.
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall.

And if you go chasing rabbits,
And you know you're going to fall.
Tell'em a hookah smoking caterpillar,
Has given you the call.
Call Alice,
When she was just small.

When men on the chessboard,
get up and tell you where to go.
And you've just had some kind of mushroom,
And your mind is moving low.
Go ask Alice.
I think she'll know.

When logic and proportion,
Have fallen softly dead;
And the White Knight is talking backwards,
And the Red Queen's off with her head,
Remember what the dormouse said:
"Feed your Head,
Feed your Head!"

The Airplane, which later changed to the Starship were the voice of radicalization, too, with stuff like Volunteers of America.

Warning! Will Robinson (Crusoe)

I wish to insert my strong opinion and warning here, "straight" or non-narcotic methods of helping spiritual yearnings are far superior to mind boggling drugs...Please! learn from the mistakes of one's predecessors! (ME) It is not necessary to risk one's health for enlightenment.) Let's have a moment of reflection on these following artists, cut off too short, some frighteningly close in time to each other, because of dependency problems:

I used to just stick to a coupla beers once a week, but now don't want any substances in my body that kill cells. Still like to leave harsh reality occasionally, but safely and legally. (Update:  I even quit all my prescription meds, {12/2010} don't drink alcohol at all anymore ---still love herbal and regular tea and coffee, though! And, I wear Hawaiian shirts and flip flops all summer.)

The Unfashion

It was the era of tie-dyed shirts, period costuming (best illustrated by the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album), beads, and incense. (The latter to cover the smell of burning cannabis, too.) It featured barefootin', (referenced by a song by Robert Parker with that title}, very long hair (remember the musical?), granny-skirts that would make the Amish smile, torn and worn jeans. The latter are back in style again, albeit for big bucks (100 USD at Neiman Marcus). I remember back then, too, when used holey jeans would go for outrageous prices in Paris. We had a forerunner of punk, and then Grunge. At one point the spirally locked gals would iron their hair straight. Oh, head bands are part of the 'gear.' One decorated with organically lettered and drawn phosphorescent posters made alive with strobe-lights and ultraviolet "black" lights. (Once again, Jimi Hendrix is the best example.) Big now, too was body painting, evolved into tattoos, and "Flowers in her hair, flowers everywhere" as if the Cowsills knew, or did they?: "I love the flower girl, was she reality or just a dream to me?" There also was the more worker's paradise dress of Navy Pea Coats, and jean jackets. This segues me to the time when I had a matching white set which I wore hitch-hiking.

Richard Fox, an officer of S.D.S. (very leftist Students for a Democratic Society), and I thumbed rides from College Park, Maryland to Greenwich Village, New York sometime in '68. I remember parting ways with him, and then went to my grandmother's apartment in Riverdale, (or what became Bronxville, NY.: heh, I think I still recall exactly: 525, West 238th St.) She was distressed at my scraggly long (and curly) hair, and my dirtied from the road white denim. I do not know if it was at this time she had told me of her experience at one of her Poetry Society meetings where she met this horrid man. He had a scruffy beard, and dirty toes on old sandals. His name was Alan Ginsberg. I cannot remember how I got back to the DC area.

The Mamas and the Papas, with the most beautiful male voice of Dennie Doherty, gave prime TV a look at the hippie look with fur-hatted John Phillips and so young and so cute bell-bottomed jean-wearing Michelle. The fact that big, I mean BIG, Mama Cass was accepted in tolerance says oodles about the hippie's prioritizing substance over just shallow 'style.' (And Janis Joplin was not movie star or model pretty, but she was beautiful!) Scott McKenzie recorded John Phillips' tune and fitting theme song:

If you’re going to San Francisco,
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.
If you’re going to San Francisco,
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there.
For those who come to San Francisco,
Summertime will be a love-in there.
In the streets of San Francisco,
Gentle people with flowers in their hair.

All across the nation,
such a strange vibration:
People in motion;
There’s a whole generation,
with a new explanation,
People in motion, people in motion,
For those who come to San Francisco,
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

If you come to San Francisco,
Summertime will be a love-in there.
If you come to San Francisco,
Summertime will be a love-in there.

Frisky in Ole Frisco

The hippie Mecca was Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. So many descended on that city in a few short months, then years, they became a homeless nation with the additional drug-induced situation added to other health problems. They did stage love-ins. They had the charitable Hog Farm with Wavy Gravy. Sounds on the college and progressive radio stations hummed with "Fresh Garbage" by Spirit, and others by Quicksilver and the Messenger Service. Country Joe (MacDonald) and the Fish sang anti-war anthems, and Arthur Lee for the group Love wrote in his (Bacharach's) "Little Red Book", "Hey Joe." (This latter tune, made most popularly known by Hendrix supposedly was written by someone {who wrote "Let's Get Together" too) named Dino Valenti, aka, Chester Powers or Jesse Oris Farrow, although William Roberts of the group "The Leaves" copyrighted this song "Hey Joe, Where Are You Going" in 1962.) Jesse Youngblood sang that other Valenti lyric, "Come on people, smile on your brother, everybody get together and try to love one another right now," ("Let's Get Together" was also covered by the Airplane). The Strawberry Alarm Clock had one smelling of "Incense and Peppermints;" and the R and B Chambers Brothers told us their soul had been psychedelicized in "Time." (Time, tick tock tick tock......TIME.........!) Texan, and Besse Smith fan, Janis Joplin kept hanging around musicians in that city, and trying out; and finally Big Brother and the Holding Company put her up front, and the rest is history with that Southern Comfort sluggin' shoutin' the blues gal.  One of her early recordings is the famous typewriter one.  It's a home recording of her singing with just a guitar accompaniment, and someone's in the background doing their homework, or maybe their writing lyrics...I have to follow up...don't you?

Bob Dylan re-found his blues and rock footing, and moved on from his purist folk-roots to taking the Ferlinghetti et al imagery into a loud electric prophetic scream while mirroring the contemporary confusion. He wound up "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" when in trouble for pursuing his hippie dream. He was a special genius, he had 165 original tunes to just 24 covers on a whopping 36 albums. His "Like a Rolling Stone" is the epic poem of hubris, highs, and final lows of the wannabe hippie. 'You used to go to the finest schools, but you only used to get juiced in it,' evolved to and from just being amused at 'Napoleon in rags,' but having to 'go to him, you can't refuse.' I remember trying to live independently of Mommy and Daddy, I was asked, and asked the question, "How does it feel, to be on your own, with no direction home?" Donovan, however, was probably more a hippie than Bobby, he pulled everyone in the "Season of the Witch"'s leg with "Mellow Yellow." I can attest to the lack of euphoria from smoked dried banana peels.

The Who's "magic bus" reminds me of all those VW buses painted up with not just flowers, but abstract arabesque patterns, the fave style that echoed Art Nouveau. The Electric Prunes instead of drink had "Too Much to Dream Last Night." Lava lamps, sold as 'retro,' are just some of the more familiar trappings still around. (Later a GOP rep) Sonny and Cher (who later married Greg Allman of the southern style blues hippie rockers, Allman Brothers), also became the Pop King and Queen of hippiedom, what the hey, if the Byrds could do a cover of a Dylan (It Ain't Me) song], then so could they. Hmm, the Byrds insisted that "Eight Miles High" was not about drugs, but flying on a Jetliner. Arlo Guthrie hoped in music that Customs wouldn't touch his (contraband filled) baggage flying in to LAX. Let's remember The Seeds, The 13th Floor Elevators, and Blue Cheer. That last group sounded like they were named after the laundry powder, but in fact was a 'brand' of LSD. The Monterey Pop Festival, shown in theaters, gave others a seductive invite to what could come, with Janis and Jimi. Eric Burdon of the Animals sung a tribute to it.

For literature besides Tom Wolfe, and his The Electric Kool-aid-Acid Test, there were the underground "Zap comics" of R. Crumb which made a household phrase out of, "Keep on Truckin'". Another cartoon of that genre was Gilbert Shelton's "Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers".

Spirit in the Sky Inside Everything

The influence of Ravi Shankar and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi were highlighted especially when the Beatles went, with Rosemary's Baby Mia Farrow (a one-time Sinatra bride) to India to see the head guru of TM. George Harrison stayed with Hinduism until his death recently. Since the existing religious institutions, read: mainline denominations, seemed to fail to provide the real spirituality, hippies embraced the other Eastern religions, Buddhism, and all its varieties, Hinduism, many schools of that, too, and Sufism. Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf (--John Kay's inspiration) and Siddhartha, which my first college love loaned to me, were texts passed on word of mouth. The New Age movement survives its big boost from this time. It was lauded as the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius.  (Up, up, and away....)  Many mainline churches opened their doors, and I attended a thing one called Celebration.

I find it noble that they wanted individuality and pursued a less materialistic world view. Ideally, folks shouldn't have to work 9 to 5 and dress like Jimi Hendrix's super straight depicted in "If 6 was 9." -- Best cut on the Easy Rider soundtrack:

If the sun refuse to shine,
I don't mind, I don't mind,
If the mountains fell in the sea,
let it be, it ain't me.
Alright, 'cause I got my own world to look through,
And I ain't gonna copy you.

Now if 6 turned out to be 9,
I don't mind, I don't mind,
Alright... if all the hippies,
cut off all their hair,
I don't care, I don't care.
Dig, 'cuz I got my own world to live through...
And I ain't gonna copy you.

White collared conservative flashing down the street,
Pointing their plastic finger at me.
They're hoping soon my kind will drop and die,
But I'm gonna wave my freak flag high, high.
Wave on, wave on....
Fall mountains, just don't fall on me;

Go ahead on Mr. Business man, you can't dress like me.
---Jimi Hendrix, Axis: Bold as Love, "If 6 was 9."

Peace and Prosperity

Yes, the hippies were pacifists, they wanted to be left alone in their neo-aboriginal lifestyle. As Captain America, played by Peter Fonda said in that movie, "They're doing their own thing in their own time." Earlier Fonda did a movie called The Trip about someone given LSD at a party. They were also activists. They marched against war, poverty, and racism. Country Joe sang about the Viet Nam War, "What are we fighting for, yippee, don't give a damn, next stop is Viet Nam". Websites today that are run by old or new hippies stress that still, as well as the organic food and herb(s).

I was radicalized in the late sixties by my own Government wanting to draft youth to fight a war against an enemy that was not a direct threat to us. I was so pissed when the National Guard shot tear gas canisters into the girls' dorm. I saw it from the windows of the Dining Hall where I worked. Even if someone ran into it, they should not have allowed any, none, denada collateral damage be caused on innocent civilians. When I got out to join in, I actually rallied the retreating crowd to turn back and charge the soldiers who had chased them away from the protests that was blocking US Rte 1 in College Park, MD. I tried to sneak in blood drops dripping off the talons of an American Eagle I was commissioned to paint in the Dining Hall, but was canned from that and the editorial job for ther School Food Service newsletter. I made that sucker so weird, not even the regular undergrads knew what it was. I remember working with the babe named Vicki or Tracy who smoked the gummy opium balls, (you could see the poppy seeds) I procured who knows where. Productivity was in dreamland, for sure. The first years of my schooling from '65 to '67, I was a straight arrow. I lived in a rooming house we called Binky's Palace in 'downtown' College Park, until I got thrown out in 1967 or '68 because of my Chianti bottle (camouflaged with candle drippings down the side) water pipe. Funny how I can only remember spotty stuff, but I remember the landlord's name, Morrisette. The guy who gave me two albums and two grams of grass was as regular looking young man you'd want to see. He was an Air Force Reservist who used to sneak his fox, Anita up the fire stairs. The albums: Surrealistic Pillow, and Andy Warhol's banana covered Velvet Underground with Nico, of which the heroin references were questionable to me. There was a Christian Bookstore below us, I wasn't ready for that, yet. I still remember the peace that the black divinity student who shared our flat, used to convey when I used to challenge him in that Bertrand Russell kind of way. What was so dynamite was Woody's down under us on the street. He sold his hand-made sandals, incense and papers. (Not the NY Times {well, maybe High Times}) I have managed to locate one of the denizens (Binky's Palace) of that time who still is an activist in Baltimore, where he hailed, John Huppert. He was an art major, years before I switched to that in my last couple of years of '69 to '70...when I miraculously graduated. {Perhaps you have seen my posting of a pic showing my one surviving psychedelic oil painting.} (One of my teachers is still there as an associate professor, Richard Klank.) I remember how my suburban baby faced self was shocked when John, with his sardonic grin, showed me his bloody, violent sex dreams come to life on his etching plates. Now he's a domesticated Baby Boomer like me.

(I can understand, and I respect, why the 21st Century involvement in Iraq might stir up similar anti-war sentiments....but, I believe it's different.) {Update: we know now the Iranian Intel boys were better'n ours} Actually, everybody should be against combat. The question is, when is the state truly acting in defense of its freely-electing population?

Another song that reiterated what was examined by Jimi Hendrix, (and the rat race still seem to be the same) was Ray Stevens' "Mister Business Man:"

Itemize the things you covet,
As you squander through your life:
Bigger cars, bigger houses,
Term insurance for your wife.
Tuesday evenings with your harlot,
And on Wednesdays it's your charlatan
analyst, he's high upon your list.

You've got air conditioned sinuses,
And dark disturbing doubts about religion.
And you keep those cards and letters going out,
While your secretary's tempting you.
Your morals are exempting you from guilt and shame,
Heaven knows you're not to blame.

(CHORUS:)
You better, Take care of business Mr. Businessman:
What's your plan?
Get down to business Mr. Businessman if you can,
Before it's too late and you throw your life away.
(1st time)

Did you see your children growing up today?
And did you hear the music of their laughter?
As they set about to play.
Did you catch the fragrance of those roses in your garden?
Did the morning sunlight warm your soul,
Brighten up your day?
Do you qualify to be alive
or is the limit of your senses so as only to survive?
Hey yeah.....

(CHORUS)

While The Beatles Would Love to Tell You, They Would Love to Sell You

The Beatles went from "Within Without You" to "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." When Leonard Bernstein comments favorably about music, which he did on Sgt Pepper, that means something. I ran across another great passage in that Epilogue by that Utopian Mumford that echoes some of my thoughts about all this, and astutely makes the case for the Beatles being the main proselytizers of hippiedom:

...The yearning for a primitive counter-culture, defying the rigidly organized and depersonalized forms of Western civilization, begin to float into the Western mind in the original expressions of Romanticism among the intellectual classes. That desire to return to a more primeval state took a folksy if less articulate form, in the elemental rhythms of jazz, more than a half a century ago. What made this ideal suddenly erupt again, with almost volcanic power, into Western society was its incarnation in the Beatles. It was not just the sudden success of the Beatles' musical records that indicated that a profound change was taking place in the minds of the young: it was their new personality, as expressed in their long, neo-medieval haircut, their unabashed sentimentality, their post-nuclear generation the possibility of an immediate escape from megatechnic society. In the Beatles all their repressions, and all their resentments of repression were released: by hairdo, costume, ritual, and song, all changes depending purely on personal choice, the new counter-ideas that bound the younger generation together were at once clarified and magnified. Impulses that were still too dumbly felt for words, spread like wildfire through incarnation and imitation.4

Perhaps John Lennon went too far in certain ways when he told the semi-truth about them being bigger than Jesus Christ.

Back to the Garden to This is the End, My Friend

Of course, the marketplace finally imposed itself on this naiveity: posters, peace-signs, and ever-increasing and larger venue of rock concerts. Bill Graham being the most famous and innovative promoter of these Super Stars at his Fillmore West, where light shows livened up what used to be stagnant venues. The movement saw its Armageddon with deadly results at the concert at the racetrack in Altamont, California. It prophetically featured the "Sympathy for the Devil" Rolling Stones where they were a "10000 Lightyears from Home." The Stones' attempt to compete with the ultimate psychedelic album, Sgt. Pepper, was the failed His Satanic Majesties. And Mick Jagger became a mere mortal when his Hell's Angel's ushers stabbed someone to death at Altamont. It became an anti-climax to the earlier successful "Three Days of Peace and Music" festival known as Woodstock that was held in New York during August of 1969. It was on 600 acres in Sullivan County, conveniently near the New York Thruway. The company that set it up was named Woodstock Ventures, honoring Dylan's Big Pink house location in NY's Ulster County. . The lineup consisted of so many I've mentioned or will already:

Joni Mitchell wrote a commemoration on it (for CSNY) that they, as Children of God were going back to The Garden at Yasger's farm. It required tickets in the beginning, but the gates were knocked down, and it became a free-concert. (The producers could re-coup their losses from the film that was being made of it.) While Richie Havens sang "Handsome Johnny" to kick it off, Hendrix capped the thing off with a free-form rousing instrumental "Star Spangled Banner." It is disturbing to see what a beating sixties intellectual gives it, though many idealistic visions, did became monetary enterprises. The byebee got thrown out with the Calgon bathwater? Two people died and two were born there. They acted pretty peaceful considering the horrific conditions. (And I don't buy the, 'Cuz they were stoned' theory.) Here is Lewis Mumford's look (from the above-same book) at that famous gathering:

Despite the well-founded dissatisfaction of the younger generation with the kind of life offered by the bloated affluence of megatechnic society, their very mode of rebellion too often demonstrates that the power system still has them in its grip: they, too, mistake indolence for leisure and irresponsibility for liberation. The so-called Woodstock Festival was no spontaneous manifestation of joyous youth, but a strictly money-making enterprise, shrewdly calculated to exploit their rebellions, their adulations, and their illusions. The success of the festival was based on the tropismic attraction of the 'Big Name' singers and groups (the counter-culture's Personality Cult!), idols who command colossal financial rewards from personal appearances and the sales of their discs and films.

With its mass mobilization of private cars and buses, its congestion of traffic en route, and its large-scale pollution of the environment, the Woodstock Festival mirrored and even grossly magnified the worst features of the system that many young rebels profess to reject, if not to destroy. The one positive achievement of this mass mobilization, apparently, was the warm sense of instant fellowship produced by the close physical contact of a hundred thousand bodies floating in the haze and daze of pot. Our present mass-minded, over-regimented, depersonalized culture has nothing to fear from this kind of reaction---
5

My Woodstock antecdote is a partial tale of hope. The thrill was only shortly fulfilled by a quick closing window. The drive to get to route 17 in New York, was largely forgotten in the hegira made along that road where we parked some unknown distance. My friends walked in that night, while I remained and slept. The next morning I took the 'fortification' and walked untold miles to arrive to see Joe Cocker setting up. I even ran across a former University of Maryland co-ed I'd remembered, and she was so sunburned that she was in the poisoned mode. There it was: a grassy amphitheater littered with hundreds of thousands, (heck it was half a million like they said), of people and, well, litter. One could barely find the stands for drinks and bathrooms, and probably the edge of the woods sufficed better for the latter. Most everyone was spaced-out, but in good communal spirits together. The vibes were good. We then were treated to "Feeling Alright" followed by "A Little Help From My Friends." Then the ominous clouds came, and I remember as the thunder and lightning came, "I hope those kids get off that metal scaffolding." We all then turned into temporary tent dwellers, as folks shared their blankets over our heads, and a bottle of cheap wine. Hey, I'd run into this guy, Rick was his name, I knew from before. But, I never found my buddies who came up with me. (In fact I had to ask them in later years how we got there, and they exclaimed in disbelief, "You drove.") We all then got into a mass exodus thing, heading for our cars, but my mocassins, or sandals (I can't remember which...) got stuck in the mud. I had a black trashbag over my head, and I felt like something in some disaster movie. How I made it home, I don't know.

I was fortunate enough to see in live performances in the sixties through the early seventies (well, some mentioned at the end in the eighties) of these (and most are of the 60's type I've talked about):

  • Charlie Byrd (This guy played great classical and jazz guitar. Since I was a fellow Unitarian back then, I saw him free.)
  • Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (I was just a frosh, and was treated to 'Goin' to A Go go' at U of MD's Ritchie Coliseum.)
  • Judy Collins (She was there at U of MD in a fancy dress, just her and her guitar, singing about that "Blue Mark on the Head")
  • Jefferson Airplane (They were a great treat, too, at Ritchie.)
  • Grand Funk Railroad (They were in the U of MD's Cole Field House)
  • James Gang (Saw Steve Walsh and Co. at Cole.)
  • Sly and the Family Stone (These guys and the next three were at the Spectrum in Philly. They had a round rotating stage for all the groups. Sly played a long time it seemed. Later he became infamous for no-shows.)
  • Grateful Dead (I remember these guys just jamming instrumentally, and jamming and jamming. I asked a roadie, smelling of Mush in a fur coat, who came near me. "Do you guys get stoned?" 'Yeah', he said, 'all the time.')
  • Steppenwolf (These fellows put all their equiptment with the backs on the floor, speakers up. The blonde haired bass player looked all tripped-out. But they opened with "Desperation" and did not disappoint.)
  • Iron Butterfly (I had an attitude about these guys at that time, with that 'one hit wonder' thing with "In A Gadda Da Vida" I actually walked out in protest. I have their CD today, though.)
  • Ten Years After (Man, I loved their Undead album, where they played Woodchopper's Ball, along with their famous "Goin' Home." Alvin Lee seemed at the time the fastest lead guitarist. I think I saw them in Baltimore.
  • Buddy Miles Express (In that same show in Baltimore? Hey, I remember he jammed too long and the place closed, and I missed Frank Zappa)
  • Cream (These musicians, led by Eric Clapton jammed better than anybody. I think it was in B'more for it.)
  • Al Kooper (after he left Blood Sweat and Tears at some meager event called the Laurel Pop Festival)
  • Led Zeppelin (At that Laurel Racetrack event, these guys played stuff on their first album that reverberated off the stands, and I swear that's why the second album had all that echoey stuff.)6
  • The Band (They were at DAR Hall, whose excellent acoustics made this one of the best concerts I ever went to.)
  • Steve Miller Band (Also at DAR, another time. They played those great early cuts like "Living in the USA," and "Space Cowboy."
  • Jimi Hendrix (I almost got trampled when they opened the downstair located doors for him at the DC Hilton. He was an experience, LOUD. He was on a budget, cuz all he did was throw his guitar behind his amps.)
  • Soft Machine (They were the opening show for Jimi, they had a thermin. My father made one for me.)
  • Vanilla Fudge (There was a DC wannabe version of the Fillmore E or W called the Ambassador Theater. I thought these guys heavy rock treatment of Supremes tunes was neat.)
  • Strawberry Alarm Clock (They were at the Ambassodor another time. I got mad when I had heard the drummer had a fist fight with another member. Some peaceful hippies they weren't!)
  • James Cotton Blues Band (I always dug the blues, and I never had a chance to see any of these pros 'til they were at the Ambassador.)
  • Janis Joplin (I went to Columbia, MD's Merriweather Post Pavilion to see her. She had her big band, then. I was, however bathed in orange sunshine.)
  • Moody Blues (I think it was in Baltimore for them, too. I remember at one time only their Mellotron was heard with some power problems. They had to argue with the audience that was shouting "Go Now", their first hit. They were right, those new tunes were special.)
  • Bob Seger (before the Silver Bullet Band) (I think I saw him at Rosemont Raceway. His organist, wearing a big white cowboy hat, I recall, said one of his tunes was dedicated to all the little ladies (the lil whores) out in front, to come back and visit later.)
  • Little Richard (It was outside at American U. in DC that he did his crazy stuff.)
  • Bob Dylan (I guess at DC Arena I saw him. During his middle period. He whined and rocked, though.)
  • David Bowie (In DC? He had this huge white bright backlit thing behind him on stage, must have been his Thin White Duke period.)
  • Neil Diamond (Hey, my date made me go. He put on a heck of a show.)
  • Diana Ross (Ditto)
  • Jan of Jan and Dean (or was it Dean?) When I owned a house in College Park (in whose basements many tapes were made, too) I could see local, and other groups in the Back Room club. It was oldies revival when I saw them in the mid seventies.)
  • The Ramones (Great time in the Back Room seeing these torn jeaned fellows "wanna be sedated.")
  • Gary U.S. Bonds (I saw him at King's Dominion in VA.)
  • Judas Priest (I was visiting a PO buddy who bought a cheap house in Crisfield (near OC?). The neighbor kid told us that they were playing at Salisbury State College. Man, he put on a show like it was the biggest in the world. Had lights and smoke, scaffolding, and his Harley on stage! My ears hurt for hours later, too.)
  • Fleetwood Mac (In DC, this was one of the best concerts I ever went to. Hey, they played the thirty-something angst songs untoppable.)
  • Van Halen (My stepson wanted to go. I went, and Mr. Roth screamed and pranced and swung from the scaffolding like there was no tomorrow.)

I played drums, too. I bought a set of English-made Premiere drums (Beatles started out on 'em) in around 1964. I played my share of attempts at copying Mitch Mitchell and Ginger Baker as I progressed from Rockabilly, to Soul to the Beatles and Stones to hard and psychedelic rock. How many times did I play "Can't Get No Satisfaction," and unfortunately meant it, to some degree. The Chase was fun. It wasn't until I was in college and got turned on, and did likewise for the chicks (the beer-heads called'em broads) did my bummer of shove, turn to my summer of love. I remember while in University playing in a band with other kids from high schools nearby. The young kid about 15 played his guitar through a home-made fuzz-tone, and did the Yardbirds (another English hip group I forgot to mention...see'em in "Blow Up") "Train Kept A Runnin'" but at about twice the normal speed. I felt old at 22. Alas, we had no real vocalist, the keyboardest was the original nerd, and the audience at the Hyattsville Lutheran Church Youth Group where we played hated us, they couldn't dance to it....

What music is in my CD library from those good times, not mentioned as seen live? That is, besides the Stones and Beatles? (I have the Mobile Fidelity complete vinyl record set, bought just before CD's came out.) I love the Paul Butterfield Blues Band still to this day. I had heard them when I was a freshman in college, and when I was just a senior in High School, years before I was 'hip', my hawkish liberality was challenged then with the record, "Freewheelin' Bob Dylan." I especially love my Michael Bloomfield's Electric Flag release, A Long Time Comin', I play it everytime I get a buzz, which for me now, is only from the Champagne of Beers. What else? Never to forget Creedence Clearwater Revival. I have to get a dose every now and then of Janis, Jimi and Eric. Sadly, I hate listening to classic rock as they don't get it playing just the 'hits.' But, at work, once in a while, I'll turn it on, and be glad to hear that others are being treated to "Manic Depression." Oxymoronic, ain't it? Actually, there is a lot of classical music, and some older and contemporary sacred music as well in my meager collection.

It wasn't called the "Summer of Love" for nothing, until the "winter" came, when the drugs turned from mushrooms and grass to crank and coke....or worse. There were two kinds of barbarians (as Mumford saw), one peaceful, and the other macho. Some of the bikers changed the whole scene. Interesting that in Easy Rider the two Harley riding protaganists are selling smack to finance their mellow trip, read 'grass' and 'acid,' to New Orleans. But, Canned Heat based their name on a song by someone else about a certain 'junk' high. Beer-drinking rednecks are the villain. (I remember disdaining the beer-heads, they were unintellectual, roudy, violent.) The greasers who used to terrorize the 'longhairs', 'hippies', 'beatle''s, etc., were also getting high. Maybe some became mellowed-out, but not necessarily, and, that's one of my points --- drugs alone did not make the movement. Though they were doing marijuana, too, they really loved the speedball, meth, heroin and whatever in a shoot-em up cocktail that led many on a downward spiral. Sometimes to the grave. Mumford mentions this modern age need for speed as part of the self-neurotoxination that goes with fast cars, fast communications and fast food. "Sucking in the Seventies" (as was a title of a compilation album by the Stones) was not the prime-time for hippies. The 'free love' got a wake up call in the eighties when it had its first warning with Herpes, then other STD's, and finally the deadly scourge of AIDS.

David Getz a drummer that was with Big Brother and the Holding Company, that included besides Janis Joplin, James Gurley, Sam Andrew, and Peter Albin. Getz had a great recollection:

In one sentence, in some ways, you could say that the hippie movement was a continuation of Bohemia or counterculture that started somewhere in the late 1800s. Who knows when it started? Maybe it started with Oscar Wilde and (Aubrey) Beardsley and people like that. Maybe it started before. Maybe it started with people like Edgar Allen Poe, people like that. But somewhere it started in the 1800s and it continued. There were different manifestations of it. The Lost generation was a manifestation of it. The Jazz Age was a manifestation of it. The Beats were, of course, a big manifestation. And then the hippies came along. Before the hippies, when I first came to San Francisco, what the counter culture looked like, there was a lot of painters, jazz musicians, folk musicians, some writers that I knew. It was a kind of artistic community and Bohemian community. The existential blackness of the Beats had kinda dissipated, I would say. It had a different kind of character to it. It was artistic in nature. It was experimental. Things were starting to happen with spirituality was starting to creep in through guys like Alan Watts, Gary Snyder. The Zen thing was happening. The Esalen thing was beginning to happen. People were starting to search. Whereas the Beat thing was very anti-religion, anti-spiritual, kinda a God Is Dead thing. I think somewhere in the early '60s a lot of the people that I knew were getting into Jung, they were getting in Buddhism. They were getting into different kinds of spiritual things.

As Long As I Can See The Light

There is also a remnant of those who seek love and truth because some became Jesus Freaks especially among those who are burdened down with everyday life. It was not that much of a leap to want to leave the idolatry of materialistic life, even as bemoaned in George Harrison's first solo album in his "Living in the Material World." Many hippies actually were modeling themselves after the Nazarene, as a matter of fact, maybe even understanding the persecution better than many.

And, I have been many things in my life: son, husband, Postal clerk, soldier, student, teacher, writer, artist, (maybe even a bit of a neo-con, like ex leftist radical David Horowitz , (I am now, --2009-- in favor of pulling all troops out of the Middle East, they don't want us there, and we don't need folks dying for them, then.)  Christian (most importantly), and though it cost me some brain cells, (restored somewhat with prayer, Calamus Acorus (be careful, it's also considered poisonous!) and E2 reading and writing) I still am happy with my stint as a hippie!

Now, in 2010 I want us out.
In 2011, glad to hear we're pulling out!

We're out! And next year out of Afghanistan.  The UN should have realigned all the borders based on religious sectarian lines, maybe that would have helped the peace.


Footnotes

1 Mumford, Lewis, The Pentagon of Power, "New World Utopia," Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: NY, (1970), pp 22-3.
2 ibid., "Epilogue: The Advancement of Life," pp. 420-1.
3 ibid., "Demoralization and Insurgence: The Cult of Anti-Life," pp. 366-7.
4 ibid., "Epilogue: The Advancement of Life," p. 423.
5 ibid., (Woodstock) illustration caption 26.
6 Here is what the official website has for that day:

  • Here's from their website:

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Laurel Pop Festival (Laurel Race Track)

Location(s)

Laurel, MDUnited StatesSee map: Google Maps

Laurel Park is an American thoroughbred racetrack in Laurel, Maryland which opened in 1911. Its name was changed to "Laurel Race Course" for several decades until returning to the "Laurel Park" designation in 1994. Repeated renovations have marked the course's nearly 100 years of operation. (Wikipedia) 

Shows At This Venue:

  • Laurel Pop Festival (Laurel Race Track) - July 11, 1969
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(bold emphasis mine)

Sources:

http://www.ushistory.org/tour/tour_south.htm
http://www.woodstock69.com
Mumford, Lewis, The Pentagon of Power: Myth of the Machine, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: NY, 1970.
Personal recollection

Note: See also hip is pre-beat.

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