1967, the San Francisco Sound of The Dead, Janis Joplin, etc. Sgt Pepper. Much acid, and of good quality, though it was now illegal. Peace, love, flowers in your hair. Hair, the musical. "Y'know, if we all band together, we can stop this war". I learned how to tie my shoelaces. This is where "the 60's" ended... then came the deluge.

The Summer of Love has a rich tapestry of definitions. So many things were happening Haight Ashbury was the Holy Grail for free love, expanded consciousness and the ecstatic experience. That summer marked the beginning of a children's crusade that would save America and the world from the ravages of war, and the inner anger that brings it forth, and materialism. The youth of the day identified their lives with the world as a political and social entity, and the planet as a unified environment, an earth household. Love, would replace fear and small communal groups would replace the patriarchal family and mass alienation. There were two aspects to the experience of the 60s: the resistance to the war, and the "psychedelic experience", personified as political activists and hippies. As a society America has tried to understand the sixties mostly as political resistance to the war, but has been slow to acknowledge the changes in values and culture brought about by "psychedelic experiences".

Tripping was common in every area of society from the wealthy and politically powerful to the arts, and sciences and the media. LSD was trendy, exotic, ecstatic, messianic and dangerous. It promise was psychological healing and spiritual transcendence. It also caused devastating pain "bad trips," psychotic breaks, and suicides, and in the case of the Manson Family, an accomplice to murder. There was an aura of living dangerously on a psychological frontier that was part of an alluring mystique.

Why did so many take this dangerous journey? The answer can be found somewhere among Haight Ashbury, the Hippies during this Summer of Love. The overall perception among the Hippies from 1965 through the summer of '67 was that they were witnessing the dawning of a new age. An age that vaulted western man into the domination and potential destruction of creation. Gandhi and Martin Luther King were the heroes and the youth turned to the rich heritage of Asian mysticism and metaphysics for inspiration and practice. Crossing oceans and time to pre-Christian mythologies like the American Indian, the Egyptian and the occult and pagan philosophies of Europe. They studied with Buddhists and Indian gurus, native shamans, witches and yogis and turned from Aristotelian and Christian dualism to the four pronged logic of Vedanta philosophy. They studied the Upanishads, the Tao Te Ching, Alan Watt's books on Zen Buddhism, and Hermann Hesse's novels, especially Siddhartha. They wouldn't leave the house without consulting the I Ching, or Tarot cards or astrological charts. They were becoming world citizens. Peace and love were not just slogans but states of mind and experiences and they were living and bearing witness to them. Living in harmony with the earth was an ideal that was felt and perceived as real experience, bringing forth a second Renaissance that would change world culture.

The Summer of Love was the apex of the Haight Ashbury experience. Over 100,000 youth came to the Haight. Hoards of reporters, movie makers, FBI agents, undercover police, drug addicts, provocateurs, Mafioso and about 100,000 more tourists to watch them all followed in their wake. It was chaotic and wonderful and heavy as they used to say. In the end the police raided the street every weekend gradually scattering the originators to all parts of the world to plant their seeds of change and set the stage for Women's' Liberation, Black Liberation and many more to come. There are moments in history that usher in a new dawn, an awakening of the mind and the spirit. In America it was during the Sixties; that moment was the summer of '67.

We are here to make a better world.
No amount of rationalization or blaming can preempt the moment of choice each of us brings to our situation here on this planet. The lesson of the 60's is that people who cared enough to do right could change history.
We didn't end racism but we ended legal segregation.
We ended the idea that you could send half-a-million soldiers around the world to fight a war that people do not support.
We ended the idea that women are second-class citizens.
We made the environment an issue that couldn't be avoided.
The big battles that we won cannot be reversed. We were young, self-righteous, reckless, hypocritical, brave,silly, headstrong and scared half to death.
And we were right.

Abbie Hoffman


  • Summer of Love in San Francisco. Hippie and Haight-Ashbury become household words.
  • June 16-18. Monterey Pop Festival sets the mood of the "Summer Of Love."
  • September 17. Before appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, Doors lead singer Jim Morrison promised to change line "Girl, we couldn't get much higher" in the song "Light My Fire." When the cameras were rolling, however, Morrison ignored his promise.
  • October 21. - Thousands of anti-war protestors stormed the Pentagon during a rally against the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C. About 250 were arrested. No shots were fired, but demonstrators were struck with nightsticks and rifle butts.
In 1967, television shows, Star Trek and movies like The Graduate reflected the new spirit of idealism and its hallmark was the music. Some of it came from folk tradition, some had a harder rock edge with roots in everything from blues to a new sound born of the Beach Boys by their Pet Sounds album and continued by the Beatles with Sgt. Pepper'.

Music reflected the growing domestic conflict of the War in Vietnam, the experiments with drugs, continuing civil rights struggle. A maturing of the British Sound, groups like The Who and new regional sounds, notably from Los Angeles; The Byrds, Steppenwolf and San Francisco arose.

"Progressive" rock radio, played album cuts, flourished in cities like New York, Boston and San Francisco at the same time that "Top 40" or "hit radio" continued playing pop singles from groups like The Monkees or The Mamas and Papas.

The Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever sparked a mystery when rumors began that some could hear the message, "I Buried Paul," when it was played backwards. Leading many to believe that Paul McCartney was dead. The Beatles claimed it said, "Cranberry Sauce!"

The artists who had performed in the mid-June, 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, just 2 hours south of San Francisco, included Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Dead and The Who, in their first ever U.S. appearance and helped orchestrate the Summer of Love, too, as did Scott McKenzie's "San Francisco..." Eric Burdon's "Down in Monterey" and "San Franciscan Nights," and The Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love."

1967 also saw the spectacular emergence of The Doors and their mega-hit, "Light My Fire." Jim Morrison had founded the group with fellow UCLA graduates and got the name from Aldoux Huxley's book The Doors of Percerption.

Take a look at this snapshot of this moment in time; the Top 5 songs of the weekly Top 40 as well as the album artists of 1967 follows. Enjoy yer trip;)

  • The Monkees: Daydream Believer, Pleasant Valley Sunday
  • The Doors: Light My Fire, Strange Days
  • Aretha Franklin:Respect
  • Steppenwolf
  • The Young Rascals: Groovin'
  • The Mamas & Papas:Creeque Alley, Words of Love, Dedicated To One I Love
  • The Turtles: Happy Together
  • The Byrds
  • The Association: Windy, Never My Love
  • The Jefferson Airplane: Surrealistic Pillow, Somebody to Love, White Rabbit
  • Peter, Paul and Mary: Album 1700
  • Buckinghams: Kind of a Drag
  • The Supremes: The Happening
  • Scott McKenzie: San Francisco (Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)
  • Rolling Stones: Ruby Tuesday
  • Strawberry Alarm Clock: Incense and Peppermint
  • The Cowsills: The Rain, The Park and Other Things
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Bob Dylan
  • Buffalo Springfield: For What It's Worth
  • The 5th. Dimension: Up, Up & Away
  • Electric Prunes: I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night
  • Bill Cosby: Revenge
  • The Who: I Can See For Miles
  • Laura Nyro
  • The Beatles: Sgt.Pepper, All You Need is Love, Penny Lane
  • Frankie Valli and 4 Seasons: Can't Take My Eyes Off You
  • The Boxtops: The Letter
  • Lulu: To Sir, With Love
  • Procol Harum:A Whiter Shade of Pale
  • Tommy James & The Shondells: I Think We're Alone Now

    Selected Sources:

    Additional Notes on the S.F. Oracle


  • Summer of Love Diary

    May 31, 1967
    Hooeey! School's finally out, and I made it out of fifth grade alive. Let the summer begin!

    June 2, 1967
    Last night they cooked hotdogs on the charcoal pits in the courtyard, and Chris Popejoy's band set up in the pool area and played music for everybody. They were pretty good. They played Wipeout and Wooly Bully and Satisfaction before the Apartment Manager came down and made them stop. Bobby Diller's dad said that was too bad, 'cause he was hoping they'd electrocute themselves. They were standing in the water we were splashing up doing cannonballs into the pool, but I guess their tennis shoes protected them. Chris usually won't talk to kids our age, but last night he said his old man might hire some of us this summer to deliver flyers for him. That would be so cool.

    June 4, 1967
    We were sitting up in the big tree today, and Bobby Diller came up with the idea of building a treehouse. We went across the big field to where they're building some new apartments and got a lot of wood and stuff. It's Sunday, so nobody was there except for a couple of kids from some other complex. They scooted when they saw our troop, so we just took everything we'll need to build a regular castle.

    June 5, 1967
    Everybody was out early today, and the treehouse is looking great! We built a cabin with a trap door, and a porch on top. Chip Fisk cut his hand, and had to leave to go get stitches, but he worked pretty hard before that, so we're going to let him in anyway.

    June 6, 1967
    We had some wars at the treehouse today, and that was fun, but everybody started playing baseball after a while, so I left. I went and found my brother at Pike Janes' apartment. Pike's parents weren't home, so they were playing records real loud and telling dirty jokes. They're very old - 10th grade - but they let me hang around anyway. My brother has always treated me just like a friend, and his friends don't mind me being around 'cause he has Wilson's Disease, so he's hard to understand, and I translate for him. That's okay for regular conversation, but boy does he get mad when they don't get his jokes! I can't tell 'em like he does.

    June 12, 1967
    Nothing much today. Just swam all day again. We'd be in trouble if it weren't for good ol' Dustin. There has to be an adult in the pool area for us to swim, and he's the only one who stays there all the time. I don't know where he gets all those muscles, 'cause he just lies around tanning all the time.

    June 19, 1967
    What a day! Chris Popejoy came and got four of us at the tree this morning, and we got to work for his dad. The Old Man paid us $1.00 per hundred to put some stupid flyers on peoples' doors, and to top it off, Chris took us around in his Barracuda! I'm tired but rich.

    June 21, 1967
    Last night I had to go downtown with my mom. My dad's still in California, and his company lets her use their WATS line at night to call him. It's a big bore. They talk forever, and it always puts her in a bad mood. There's nothing for me to do but go through peoples' desks. I'm gonna go sit in the treehouse if there's nobody there.

    June 22, 1967
    I was in a bad mood yesterday, so I didn't want to be with everybody at the treehouse. I walked on down the ditch to where I know there is a big piece of concrete pipe where I could sit and think. There's a piece of wood in the bottom for sitting, and for some reason, I looked under it. Imagine my surprise when I found some Playboys! I told Bobby about it, and he said that he knew they were there all along. Chris Popejoy put them there, and Bobby said that he smokes pot in that pipe, too. I don't know if I believe that.

    June 23, 1967
    I worked for Chris's old man again today, but I didn't get paid. We went out as normal, but when Chris dropped us off, Bobby talked me into dumping our flyers in a storm drain, and we just hung around in a little park until Chris came to get us. When we got back to the apartments, the old man was waiting for us. Instead of paying us, he threw down a stack of muddy flyers and told us we were fired. Chris, too! For some reason, he seemed madder at Chris than anybody.

    June 25, 1967
    Sunday, so everything's closed. Bobby and I walked over to the mall, 'cause on Sundays they put out traffic cones in the parking lot and have a Road Rally. There were a bunch of people there, and some really swift cars. There were a couple of 'vettes, some Mustangs, three TR-4s, a Porsche, an XKE, a Corvair, a GTO, and a Sunbeam Alpine. I don't know who won.

    June 28, 1967
    WAR! Some kids from another complex invaded our field, and tried to take down our treehouse. Chip Fisk caught 'em, and sounded the alarm. We swarmed them like Sergeant Rock's platoon. Bobby even popped some of them with a BB gun. We took one of them captive, and tortured him until he revealed who their leader was. Then we marched him out to the edge of the field and Chip poked him in the butt with a tree limb and made him yell until they came for him. We didn't release the prisoner until they swore an oath never to bother our property again. A glorious day.

    July 5, 1967
    There was a big 4th of July blast yesterday. Bobby's dad took us down to the fireworks stand, and we bought a dozen bunches of bottle rockets, and some other stuff. As soon as it got dark, we went out to the back parking lot to set them all off. We took everything out of the packages and dumped it all in a big pile, 'cause we knew we were going to set off every last one. Bobby's big brother set up a coke bottle, and lit the first rocket, but the sparks flew back to the pile, and the whole thing went off! Kids and rockets were flying everywhere. I got hit about six times, but it hardly hurt at all. It was scary, but fun, though we lost all our fireworks.

    July 10, 1967
    I got pretty mad today. Bobby's big brother, Randy, was making fun of my brother. He called him a retard, which should have been funny, 'cause my brother is ten times smarter than that dumbass, but it still bothered me. I tried to go after him, but he pushed me down on the pavement, and walked off with Chris Popejoy. Both of them were laughing like crazy while I cried. I thought my arm was broken. My brother just picked me up and told me not to pay any attention to them. Chris burned rubber and spat gravel on us with his 'cuda.

    July 19, 1967
    It's been pretty boring lately. Most of the time I hang around with my brother and his friends, but they never want to do anything but talk. Bobby is acting just like his brother.

    July 22, 1967
    My mom's off work today, and she let me go down to the 7-11 and buy frozen popovers for breakfast. That was nice, but then she cut my hair. I hate that.

    July 29, 1967
    Some of us were hanging around the parking lot, and Bobby decided to sneak up behind Big Mike. Big Mike is a cop, and I think Bobby was going to try to grab his gun or his handcuffs or something, but before you know it, Bobby was face down on the car hood. Mike apologized, but I thought it was hilarious.

    August 4, 1967
    Bobby's parents, and Tina's parents, and my mom all got together for a party this afternoon. They made fondue and had drinks. Tina's parents are from Canada, and they talk funny. Bobby's dad wore a beret and played Claudine Longet records. His mom just drank a lot. Mine told funny stories.

    August 10, 1967
    Chip Fisk's parents have a big canvas tent, and they let us set it up in the field and sleep out overnight. Of course we all slipped out at 2 in the morning, and sneaked around the complex. We were skulking around the front drive when Big Mike got home. We saw him go into his apartment, then seconds later, we saw Dustin come running out BUCK NAKED. Mike was right behind him, followed closely by his wife, also naked. Dustin zipped across the courtyard and hopped the rail, and we heard the sound of his Austin Healy Sprite making a getaway. We made doubletime back to the tent, and fell apart for hours, imagining the looks on peoples' faces when they looked down into that little open-top car at stop lights.

    August 15, 1967
    Bobby has some pot. He wanted me to smoke it with him, but I won't go with him. I don't know what he did. I didn't tell my brother about this, and it feels kind of creepy to have a secret like that.

    August 18, 1967
    Randy Diller told me that Chris Popejoy got drafted. My brother and I went to the record store. He bought Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and I bought Feelin' Groovy by Harper's Bazaar.

    August 23, 1967
    Bobby burned down the treehouse. He was flipping matches at Petey Barnet, and it caught fire. They both got out, but Petey broke his arm jumping down. The treehouse is gone. Actually, the whole TREE is gone.

    August 27, 1967
    There was another party in the courtyard last night, but there were not many people there. I think I'm ready for school to start up again.

    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 himself.

    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 various ways.

    I come to tell you of a book.  A long, strange, wondrous, groovy trip (* * * 1/2) of a science fiction novel by Lisa Mason.

    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 really fast.

    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 Excellent Adventure.

    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 of Love.

    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 for you.

    It is the middle of August, in the year 2012. Depending on how you count "summer", my summer is half or almost over. Here in Montana, the first frost might come in early September. And of course, in an oft-repeated comment, time seems to be going faster. It seems that summer has just started. It seems that spring has just started.

    But I am not here just to complain about how boring my life is. I am using this information about the slow crawl of my own life for context on the Summer of Love. Because even more than being about Love, the summer of 1967, the year of 1967, was about change. I was born in 1979, but from all the accounts I heard, things were just as sudden and dramatic as any montage scene in a movie could make it out to be.

    My mother tells me that a year or two previously, her town had one movie theater, a sleepy small town movie theater a la The Last Picture Show, where the children would go down to see cartoons for a nickel, with an usher who would quickly shush any children who giggled too much. And then sometime around 1967, the previously staid owners decided the best way to boost business would be to attach a head shop to the theater. And pretty soon the kids were allowed to hang out in the movie theater laughing and smoking while watching the film Woodstock over and over (with that particular film meaning that perhaps the cultural 1967 and the chronological 1967 were not the same thing, in this particular location.

    But there was a time when our culture changed very rapidly. When things that today all of us take for granted appeared on the scene very suddenly. The music, for most people, stands out the most: can we imagine a world without not just the searing psychedelic music of Jimi Hendrix, but without a host of soul and pop songs? But music wasn't all of it: there was a time when the thought of girls wearing jeans to school was considered to be quite outrageous, and once again, this (along with many other fashion and lifestyle choices) was something that changed quite suddenly. The number of lifestyle and cultural changes that happened are quite numerous, and are not confined to the stereotypical rebellion against authority. Today, everyone, from the radical performance artist to the grumpiest old man playing golf, owes something to a shift in attitudes that took place over perhaps 16 weeks, four decades ago.

    Which brings us back to the summer of 2012. Perhaps it is because I am older, perhaps it is because the country has turned more boring, but things seem to be moving so slowly. Personally, I look at the empty mason jar on my counter, think about putting it somewhere else, like I have every day for the past three months, and then forget it for another week. Nationally...well, what do we have that is boosting our culture forwards? A new flavor of Pringles? A pop song that isn't even memorably stupid? Phones that can do even more than the phones we had last year? Call me cynical, but none of the things going on right now count as Breaking On Through, to the Other Side, whatever that might be.

    Perhaps my perception of both the past and present is distorted, perhaps things were moving so fast then, and aren't moving so slowly now. But seeing things creep by so slowly now, it is incredible to think there was a brief period when everything that people expected was turned on its head.

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