O my children! O my brothers and sisters! The
Summer of Love, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, as
old Charlie used to say. It was a time of great beauty, it was a
time of great ugliness. From all over America, and beyond, came children
whom the Dream had failed, or who imagined the dream failed them, who had
too much to dream last night, or who simply wanted to dream some more.
They were shown where it's at by a Pied Piper who
wrote a song to sell tickets to a music festival. The Haight swelled with the ranks
of the Flower Children, all clamoring to see The Dead
or Airplane, or even be offered a swig of Southern
Comfort from Janis's own bottle. And all The Man
had to do was stand by and let it turn into great ugliness, let the Flower
Children drown in their own shit and crab lice, or make their own tracks
for a permanent way out. It was a reflection of the Great Ugliness in
the rest of the world, the Ugliness The Man uses and promulgates to justify
Who are you, O cheesy one, you may ask, who are you to comment on the
time of love beads, of long hair, of the Panhandle, of a generation
lost in space, of the time when Frodo lived and everyone tried to grok everyone else? You turned three during the Summer of Love.
You were playing with letter blocks, plastic fake radios and Dr. Seuss
books, and getting sick on unripe peaches that had fallen out of Daddy's
peach tree, while two continents away, young American men were dragging
themselves through bloody muck, being thrown across minefields and into
sniper fire for no good reason, and Vietnamese babies were being vaporized by bombs? One
sight of the Hell's Angels and you'd have started screaming for Mommy and
Daddy! Who are you to lay on us this trip about the love, the squalor,
the children, who, one continent away, imagined they could get
experienced, and change things at the same time? You're like one
of tourists that poured through the Haight to take pictures of hippies
from the safety of their tour buses! You liked to sing along, you liked
to shoot your gun, but do you really know what it meant?
Maybe I do, maybe I don't, O my children. I can be your Gorgonzola,
but not your Guru, you who have known so many false profits.
I only know things third hand. Not from Siva. From TV documentaries that
sneer as they wonder. From, say, a Freshman Disorientation flyer,"Children
of the Summer of Love", found in the gutter during my senior year in college,
a pamphlet which said that graduating wasn't that important, but LSD was
the key to discovering yourself. Gloriously, I rejected our hippie friend's line of crap. For
all the wrong reasons, but still to my lasting benefit.
If you really want to know why I brought you here, my children, it is
not to sit around in a circle and put blotter acid on our tongues and
wave in the breeze like seaweed. I merely set the mood for my real
motive in bringing you to this node. Yes, my children, this is a
con as well. It is a much more mundane thing, the type of thing you have
already learned to expect from your Gorgonzola, to love and hate in your
I come to tell you of a book. A long, strange, wondrous, groovy
trip (* * * 1/2) of a science fiction novel by
A girl runs away from her well-to-do but self-centered parents in fabulous
Shaker Heights, Ohio, and comes to San Francisco
to find the New Explanation. A Haight shopkeeper throws her dealer
boyfriend out and has to live with the fact that all of these enlightened
cats running the Summer of Love don't need any help from women. Ruby
Maverick, our shopkeeper, tells our American Beauty, our Star-bright
girl to return to her fortress on the Cuyahoga: "Cleveland needs you more". Starbright fails to heed her advice, and goes off to seek
her school chum Penny Lane, and gets herself into a really heavy situation
And a dude named Chiron Cat's Eye in Draco comes from far, far away,
from the future, a future where people have to live in domes to survive.
We know our children will curse us for what we do to the Earth.
But Chiron comes back to save the Summer of Love, himself, and everyone
else. While not doing anything to affect history, you all know that
old Time Travel shtick. Shades of Star Trek as well as Bill and Ted's
Yours Truly reads Ms. Mason's book and imagines this is what the Summer
of Love was really like, in all its glory and vileness.
But beware, O brothers and sisters. Ms. Mason paints a vivid picture
but also hoists herself upon her own moral petard. She lectures
our Man from Mars, telling him that the way you frame your arguments affects
their reality, while all the time, she pushes a moral repugnance as a Good
Thing, merely to advance the plot. I do not mean the drug dealing,
I do not mean the illegal abortion, I do not mean any of the groovy,
awful, beautiful, ugly, things we have come to associate with the Summer
You will see, my children, if you choose to read. And read you
should, if you promise to be careful. You may just learn a thing or two.
Do not read this book if you have teenage daughters; it is not the book