Go ask alice’: remembering the summer of love forty years on icon

Go ask alice’: remembering the summer of love forty years on


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AUSTRALASIAN JOURNAL OF AMERICAN STUDIES




GO ASK ALICE’: REMEMBERING THE SUMMER OF LOVE FORTY YEARS ON


ANTHONY ASHBOLT


Abstract: In 1960s historiography today, the expression ‘Summer of Love’ is used in three senses. It refers generally to the explosion of psychedelic sounds, images and lifestyles in that decade. It is also code for the overall phenomenon of Haight-Ashbury between 1965 and 1968. Specifically, and more accurately, it applies to the summer of 1967 in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. While the multiple meanings all carry weight, too often that first general sense of the Summer of Love shields a dialectic of hope and despair behind a banner of optimism and dreams. To put it more bluntly, the hippie experiments of the 1960s were full of utopian promise, while the Summer of Love actually spelled the end of that particular vision in Haight-Ashbury. This is a paradox rarely explored.


^ The Origins of Haight-Ashbury


The cultural studies theorist Stuart Hall once suggested that ‘hippies as a subculture constituted an ‘American ‘moment’.1 In the first instance, hippies were a distinctive subcultural product of American society, a ‘moment’ sustained by the economic boom, expanded leisure and political conflict at home and abroad. Perhaps more importantly, however (and never let us forget the importance of the local in American politics and society), hippies were a San Franciscan event. The city had captured the media imagination by 1966. Hundreds and then thousands of ‘flower children’ had flocked to San Francisco in search of love, peace, community and self. They sought refuge from an American dream that was crumbling quickly in suburban wastelands and urban hothouses, as well as the jungles of Vietnam. The Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco was the focus. Richard Alpert, the former Harvard colleague of acid guru Timothy Leary, observed at the time that:


The Haight Ashbury is, as far as I can see, the purest reflection of what is happening in consciousness, at the leading edge of society. There is very little that I have seen in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, that is giving me the hit that this place is because it has a softness that is absolutely exquisite.2


Its superb location in the heights of San Francisco, its many attractive Victorian houses, its closeness to both Golden Gate Park and San Francisco State College, its declining status as a middle class district, made the Haight an ideal nurturing ground for a bohemian subculture. Prior to the 1960s, the Haight was a solid working or middle class district with a progressive reputation as many residents were associated with the labour movement. 3 Post-war suburbanisation and plans for commercial re-zoning of large residential areas and for the construction of a nearby freeway (opposed successfully by residents) contributed to a middle class flight from the district. Property values were, as a consequence, forced down and the rent on houses lowered.


By a strange coincidence, at the same time – around 1962 and 1963 – rents in the North Beach district of San Francisco were rising steadily. North Beach was the home of the San Francisco Literary Renaissance forged around poets and writers such as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure and Philip Lamantia. In the 1950s they, in the main, had embraced and absorbed leading New York Beat personalities such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and this signalled a transition of Beat from New York to San Francisco. The North Beach price hikes in the early 1960s forced some remnants of this literary subculture to look elsewhere for accommodation. They chose Haight-Ashbury. Without this particular set of circumstances, nurtured in the soil of San Francisco’s market forces, the trajectory of the counter-culture may have been different. Soon after 1967, the District declined, becoming for around a decade a haven for the homeless, pushers and addicts. Since the late 1970s, gentrification has driven the district up-market and the Victorian homes have become splendid mini-mansions for nuclear family units of whatever sexual persuasion whereas in the late 1960s they were communes. The dialectic of property values has a sometimes underestimated but profound effect upon consciousness and action.

Hippie connections to Beat culture were displayed more prominently in San Francisco than elsewhere. Despite all the hype surrounding the youth rebellion, the leading figures in the Haight early on were hardly young. As one hippie put it, “the people who have been big forces in this movement are people who have been around, who are older”.4 One of these people was the playwright and founding member of the Diggers, Peter Berg, who once remarked upon the hippie lineage:


^ I don’t think it happened in ’65…When I read Howl, I knew I didn’t have anything to lose. That’s what did it. That’s what sent people out in search of experience.5


There are clear differences between the Beats and the hippies, differences of style, temperament, philosophy and appearance. Yet the links between subcultures, a crucial one being spatial and another (often missed) being sexual, should not be forgotten. Ignoring the developing alternative subculture across the Bay in Berkeley, we can chart a shift from North Beach to the Haight and then to the Castro. From Beat to hippie to gay – the interconnections are simultaneously spatial and sexual (not for everyone but for some key participants). Just before the Haight came to public prominence, a real estate agent was interviewed about the rising property prices in the area and he noted that much of the credit for improvements in Haight-Ashbury living standards must go to recently arrived homosexuals (who happened to be Beats).6 The idea of a pulsating heterosexuality permeating the Haight-Ashbury scene must at least be modified slightly.

Date stamps are hardly appropriate with regard to hippie history but we can take a stab. Here, however, it is necessary to draw a distinction between the hippie scene in San Francisco and the hippie community in the Haight-Ashbury. The San Francisco hippie scene really began in a public sense in the latter months of 1965.7 The Haight-Ashbury community rose to prominence shortly afterwards, although it had been gestating for almost a year. A series of dances, beginning with one on October 11 organized by a group of hip entrepreneurs called The Family Dog Collective, are decisive moments in the development of the San Francisco hippie scene. The San Francisco Chronicle jazz critic Ralph Gleason in a review of the first dance virtually christened the new scene: It was “a hippy happening…which was delightful and signified the linkage of the political and social hip movements. SNCC buttons and peace buttons abounded, stuck onto costumes straight out of the Museum of National History”.8 The next two significant dances were Appeals to raise money for the San Francisco Mime Troupe, at the time engaged in legal battles with the City Council over the right to stage plays in parks. The second of these, on December 10, established the Fillmore Auditorium as a Sixties venue of great significance. It was organised by the Mime Troupe’s promoter and manager Bill Graham. The Mime Troupe director R.G. Davis remembers this Fillmore Appeal as ‘a big one that made rock promoters drool, music critics hop and Graham rise’.9 Indeed, Graham did rise to become the most important rock promoter of the Sixties and he personified the commercially successful side of the cultural explosion. Interestingly, Francis Ford Coppola used him to act as the master of ceremonies for the girlie extravaganza in Apocalypse Now. Despite its setting, this film is more about America in the 1960s than Vietnam. To be sure, it operates on different levels but the use of Graham, the Sixties music, the surfing, the direct homage to Catch 22, the role of Brando who still had cult status in the 1960s, Dennis Hopper’s part as the photojournalist, and even the way it was filmed like a rock dance light show, support the idea that it is a film about the Sixties. Bill Graham was, in reality, the master of ceremonies for the Sixties rock dance spectacle. In that role, he made a substantial contribution to the choreography of hip style. Yet his pursuit of financial gain eventually distanced him from the cultural radicalism that had nurtured him. He was later accused by rock bands such as The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane of exploiting the hip community but his response was simple: ‘I’m not a freakout, I’m not a hippie, I don’t sell love, I sell talent and the environment’.10 It would be churlish, however, to suggest that Graham only did it for the money. In the early period, particularly, he did allow the Fillmore to be used for various radical causes and supplied lights, sound equipment and band without charge.

Free performances in Golden Gate Park by bands such as the Airplane and the Dead could not, in the end, combat the market dominance of rock music. Yet there was a sense of common endeavour amongst the bands in San Francisco that did distinguish the scene there, and at least in the early period, from 1965 to 1967, kept them from the commercialist dynamic that permeated the rock industry in Los Angeles and New York. A regional sensibility contributed to the distinctive qualities of the rock music culture in San Francisco. What became known as ‘The San Francisco Sound’ was present at the birth of hippie style and the bands associated with that sound were acutely conscious of that historic role. The trouble, of course, was that Bill Graham packaged and sold a version of 1960s history that accommodated itself with relative ease to the dominant spectacular culture. The novelist and prankster Ken Kesey did the same.


Arguably, Kesey’s Trips Festival, held over three days at the Longshoremen’s Hall in January 1966, was even more significant than the aforementioned dances. It resonated with the sights and sounds of hippie cultural experimentation. The Festival was a multi-media event inspired by a series of gatherings or happenings, known as the Acid Tests, staged by Kesey. As suggested by their title, these happenings promoted the collective experience of psychedelic drugs, particularly LSD. In the words of Tom Wolfe:

The Acid Tests were one of those outrages, one of those scandals, that create a new style or a new world view…The Acid Tests were the epoch of the psychedelic style and practically everything that has gone into it ...it all came straight out of the Acid Tests in a direct line leading to the Trips Festival…11


Vic Lovell, one of Kesey’s early Bay Area colleagues, has testified about the significance of their happenings staged in Perry Lane, Menlo Park (near Stanford University):


We pioneered…the hallmarks of hippy culture: LSD and numerous other psychedelics, body painting, light shows and mixed media presentations, total aestheticism, be-ins, exotic costumes, strobe lights, sexual mayhem, freakouts and the deification of psychoticism, Eastern mysticism and the rebirth of hair.12


The Trips Festival was advertised as ‘a drugless psychedelic experience’ featuring various San Francisco bands with light shows, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey and the Pranksters and many others.13 The result was a stroboscopic spectacle that established the frame of reference for hippie style. While for at least one person, the Trips festival was “a bore even on acid”14 (no one seriously expected it to be drug-free), to a certain extent it signalled the beginning of ‘the Haight-Ashbury era’15 which, arguably, climaxed with the Summer of Love. One of the key figures in the Haight scene, Ron Thelin, remembers the Trips Festival as ‘the first thing that got the larger kind of whole community thing happening – everybody turning on together.’16 To put it another way, it helped create a sense of community as a happening. This was just one element of the entire Haight-Ashbury community experience.


^ A Hippie Community


The Trips Festival brought together, in graphic relief, the two crucial factors in hippie ways of being: drug experimentation, particularly LSD, and music. Philosophies of love and community were underpinned by drug usage and involvement with rock music. A veritable psychedelic lifestyle was growing. As one hippie put it: ‘the street scene and its extensions into the art and living patterns that are being developed is in large part due to what is first envisioned and then consciously applied through the use of LSD and other drugs’.17 LSD, to paraphrase the historian and participant Charles Perry’s observation, was seen to break down boundaries of perception, melting the self into the world around it.18 It is not hard for an ethic of love and community to flow from that sort of psychedelic experience. It is, of course, hard to sustain it.


Acid Rock was a synthesis of the twin foundations of hippie lifestyle. It was a musical form that paralleled the psychedelic experience. The evocative song ‘White Rabbit’ expressed the centrality of both drugs and music to the hippies. The lyrics advocated psychedelic promiscuity, the music (a mixture of eastern musical styles and haunting garage rock, particularly the earlier version by The Great Society) reinforced sensory exploration and expansion:


^ One who makes you large

And one who makes you small

And the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all

Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall19


The hippie community in the Haight was founded upon two cultural (but also saleable) commodities – drugs and music – that helped define ways of living and ways of seeing.20 The term ‘community’ is being used here in two senses. While the early dances and the Trips Festival were significant moments in the evolution of a hippie style closely identified with Haight-Ashbury, they helped cement only one level of hip community experience. Hippies constituted a community in that they possessed a collective style (revolving around drugs, music, fashion generally), which brought them together no matter where they were (the Fillmore and Avalon Ballrooms were outside the Haight, as was the Longshoremen’s Hall). Arguably, however, this is an insubstantial or amorphous sense of community. More significantly, hippies achieved community by becoming wedded to particular places. A hippie community like that in the Haight-Ashbury was bounded by place as well as taste and habit. It was a concentrated social experiment rather than a diffuse set of styles. That is why the signal event in the formation of the Haight-Ashbury community was the opening of the Psychedelic Shop on January 3, 1966.


Radical subcultures such as the Beats had used marijuana and peyote, sometimes harder drugs, as part of their lifestyle experimentation but never before had drugs, and even more specifically one drug, been the fundamental symbol around which a community grew. LSD, which was to remain legal until October 1966, provided such a symbol. The Psychedelic Shop was designed to provide information on drugs, particularly LSD, and it thus functioned as a support centre for, even a defining agency of, the infant hippie community:


Suddenly there was a common fact that everyone could identify with. It was right in the middle of town, and it was called the Psychedelic Shop … And then more people started coming in and then pretty soon it was like the whole Haight-Ashbury was the community.21


These are the words of Ron Thelin, co-founder of the Psychedelic Shop, and elsewhere he observed that, while ‘things were happening in the Haight-Ashbury before we opened…it seems like the Psychedelic Shop brought publicity to what was happening’.22 While streets and parks were vital public spaces for hippies, the community increasingly revolved around new shops like the psychedelic poster shop The Print Mint. The San Francisco Mime Troupe director R.G. Davis was reported to have made this caustic observation: ‘Look at the beatniks in North Beach: what did they leave there? A bookstore. And now look at the Haight, the new thing, what do they have there? A Print Mint.23


A telling point, perhaps, as City Lights Books is still going strong but the Print Mint faded away long ago. Yet the Print Mint had a significant impact upon poster design and advertising internationally.24 One can thus not afford to be too dismissive but Davis does highlight the significant differences of style between the Beats and the hippies, with the Beats acting as emissaries of literary modernism and the hippies more connected to a visually oriented mass culture. Hippie papers such as the San Francisco Oracle communicated through a mixture of words and psychedelic art but the latter took primacy of place. The generous, even frenzied, use of colours and patterns in the Oracle (as in the poster art) was designed to replicate on paper the hallucinatory experience.25 Words frequently became buried under a plethora of pulsating images. So while McLuhan’s writings on media may have had an impact on some underground media practitioners26, generalisations are risky as a hippie involved in the poster art scene reveals: ‘You see, like I never read McLuhan and I don’t know anyone who has read him, because one of the things that is difficult to do is read.’27


The cultural radicalism of hippies was grounded in modes of experimentation and styles of living, which challenged traditional notions of time and space. Psychedelic drugs encouraged a sense of crashing ‘through time and space’.28 So, too, did the music. In the words of cultural studies ethnographer Paul Willis, it ‘attempted timelessness’ and yet possessed ‘an abstract, complex shape’.29 Even the hippie term ‘spaced out’ carried connotations simultaneously applicable to drugs and music: ‘In the space held open by the drug experience [hippies suggested] it was possible to follow the line of particular instruments, and to differentiate the sound of different instruments in a way that was not possible normally’.30 Hippies also played around with the politics of space through communal living arrangements and the use of streets and parks as public forums. ‘Street life’, suggested one of the Haight hippies, ‘breaks the conditioning of the perpetual motion machine.’31

New shops in the Haight, together with the rock dance spectacles at the Fillmore and Avalon ballrooms, helped define the community. Just as important, however, was life in the street, in Golden Gate or Buena Vista Parks, in the commune or art pad. The Haight was a community in part founded upon the market place but not delimited by it. Traditionally, the market place is not simply a venue for trade. It can, indeed, be a rich source of experience, of theatre, a place where masks are worn and the ‘authentic’ self thus hidden.32 While the hippies yearned for personal authenticity (‘be yourself, man’), at the same time they were bedecked in colourful costumes and used the market place as a space for performance.33 Indeed, much of the Haight revolved around theatre or carnival, from the multi-media rock dances or ‘happenings’ to daily life itself. The crucial role of the market in this suggests not only possible limitations to the hippie critique of Establishment culture but also the very real seriousness with which community set about building a potential alternative society.34 Here, in the Haight-Ashbury district, was a community that lived its opposition to bourgeois society. Yet it was underpinned by commercialism. Here also was a subculture which sought collectivity under the guiding principle of ‘doing your own thing’. And here was a communal space within the city but somehow distanced from the urban technological nightmare and embodying a pastoral arcadia. These sorts of paradoxes permeated the hippie experiment in the Haight. They help explain its success as well as its failure. The paradoxes are reflected in the battle within Haight-Ashbury between the Haight Independent Proprietors (HIP) formed in late 1966 and the anarchistic Diggers. HIP sought to demonstrate that the district was successful in terms of commerce and lifestyle. The Digger response was to burn money and start a Free Store.


^ The Disappearance of Utopia


The Diggers had evolved, in essence, out of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and sought to create an ideology and practice of ‘free’. They were involved in a long march outside the institutions, a march designed to weave theatrical spectacle into alternative mechanisms of social cohesion. They were the dispossessed clamouring about the evils of possession, the hip philosophers throwing barbs at the consumerist dynamic pervading hippie culture, the spiritual advisors who confronted youth in the Haight with some of the rawer facts about their social experiment.35 Neither they nor the hip proprietors, however, could counteract a dynamic of decay that had beset Haight-Ashbury by the time of the Summer of Love. Beginning in promise and hope, the Summer of Love spelled the end of the Haight-Ashbury experience.


A Council for the Summer of Love, based around both HIP and the Diggers, was established in April 1967 and it exuded optimism and self-confidence: ‘This summer, the youth of the world are making a Holy pilgrimage to our city, to affirm and celebrate a new spiritual dawn…This city is not a wasteland; our children will not discover drought and famine here. This city is alive, human and divine…’36


Even before the summer, however, it had become possible to suggest that in the Haight love had become a ‘bartered commodity’ and ‘the fight against organizations of the Establishment has suddenly turned into an Established Organization’.37 The alternative society was folding in on itself, yet it had barely begun. The Summer of Love itself propelled an unsustainable population explosion and this, together with the steady gaze of media spotlights, placed almost unbearable pressure on the community. Simply too many with flowers in their hair flocked to the Haight and the chilly winds off the Bay fuelled a culture of despair more than one of hope. Moreover, the categorical imperative of drug taking provided criminal elements with a mass market to manipulate, whereas internal dealing characterized the early community experience.38 The Beat poet Lew Welch prefigured the crisis, calling on hippies to leave the Haight in tribes before the Summer of Love.39 Some did and helped extend the rural commune movement in northern California. Others stayed on but there was an exodus of sorts soon after the Summer of Love. ‘The Death of the Hippie’ parade on October 6, 1967, during which the Psychedelic Shop’s sign was buried, functioned as the Haight’s ‘goodbye to all that’. This parade was really a protest resulting from the feeling that hippies were no longer ‘doing their own thing’ but rather responding to a media image. The Haight was not completely dead as a hippie venue. Signs of community, however, were withering quickly.


In a colourful exchange with remaining hip leaders in 1969, Bill Graham boiled over: ‘What the fuck has this community ever done for itself? .., [D]o you know what you got here? You got a fucking vacuum.… The greatest tragedy for me in the last 20 years, wars aside, is this community, because it could have done so much.’40 Earlier, a street-wise group across the Bay in Berkeley distributed this poem:


^ Ruling guru greybeard bards

Having new fun in yr rolling rock renaissance.

Have u passed thru the Haight

Lately?

Have u seen yr turned on kids?


U promised them Visions & Love & Sharing.

They got

Clap, hepatitis, fleas, begging & the gang-bang.


Sure you didn’t want to see the scene go that way

But that’s how the shit went down.

And I do not hear your “Howl”.

I do not see u exorcising demons.41


The Commodification of Haight-Ashbury


So the Haight-Ashbury experiment, the attempt to forge an alternative community, was remarkably short-lived given the impact it made on youth culture as a whole and given its central position in memories of the Sixties. Attempts to revive hippie style in the wake of the fortieth anniversary of the Summer of Love present us with an idealized summer of colourful and dynamic youthful rebellion. The real picture is somewhat different and captures the paradoxes of the hippie rebellion. The living critique of bourgeois society was truncated by a fetishism of style and commodities. Arguably the Beat subculture was less open to penetration by and accommodation with the dominant culture because their community was smaller and their cultural commodities not quite as saleable to a mass audience. An exchange between the Zen philosopher Alan Watts and the Beat poet Gary Snyder in early 1967 highlights this:


^ Watts: …I’ve noticed that, recently, all turned on people are becoming more colourful.

They’re wearing beads and gorgeous clothes and so on and so forth…and it’s gradually coming out. Because you remember the old beatnik days when everybody was in blue jeans and ponytails and no lipstick and DRAB…and CRUMMY!

^ Snyder: What! (laughter)

Watts: Now, something’s beginning to happen.

Snyder: Well, it wasn’t quite that bad, but we were mostly concerned with not being consumers then…and so we were showing our non-consumerness.42


In 1967, Time magazine reported that ‘San Francisco’s North Beach was a study in black and white; the Haight-Ashbury is a crazy quilt of living colour’.43 A participant in the San Francisco hippie scene remembers the Haight in 1964 being the epitome of cool: ‘It was sort of introverted, depressed: black poetry and black clothes…It was a sort of drab, ugly thing’.44 Yet if Gary Snyder’s memory is accurate the Beats quite deliberately adopted a style that resisted the glamour of the spectacle and established a distance from consumer society. Aspects of hippie style, on the other hand, clearly fed consumer society. Still the similarities between the subcultural experience of Beats and hippies should not be elided: there were a lot of pretend beatniks and countless ‘weekend hippies’; buses operated in both the North Beach and the Haight-Ashbury to give tourists the opportunity to gawk at both the Beats and hippies; police harassment was a factor in the decline of both communities; the zany, bumbling and inarticulate Maynard G. Krebbs image of ‘beat’ (from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis television show) was a powerful media absorption and negation of the Beat subculture, and media obsession with the Haight turned it into a spectacular commodity.


^ The Return of Utopia


The San Francisco scene throughout the 1960s was a vitally important component of the Movement. Yet, in a sense, Haight-Ashbury was just a moment in the development of a counter-culture. Its significance lies in the visions it embodied, even though these visions of a new society were blurred fairly quickly. In the recent rather witty sexually explicit film Shortbus (itself full of 1960s references), the ‘mistress’ of the Manhattan sex club of the title, says about the orgy going on: ‘It’s just like the Sixties, only with less hope’.45 And that is why there is still memorialising of the 1960s, still anniversaries for moments of importance. It was a time of possibilities and optimism and hope, a time of utopian dreams. Sometimes the dreams came undone as with the Summer of Love in San Francisco. Yet the Haight-Ashbury phenomenon was highly significant. Moreover, there is the other Summer of Love, the general reference standing as a metaphor for all the cultural experimentation of the latter half of the Sixties decade. That Summer of Love still has resonance.


ENDNOTES

1 Stuart Hall, ‘The Hippies: and American ‘Moment’, in J. Nagel (ed.), Student Power, Merlin Press, London, 1969, pp. 170-192. For a recent article commemorating The Summer of Love, see Ruth La Ferla, ‘Another Summer of Love’, New York Times, 21 June 2007.

2 Richard Alpert, interview, Oracle, vol. 1 no. 5, 1966. In many ways the rest of this interview reflects a dark and inarticulate side of hippie philosophy and reads these days like a parody of hip language (‘See the one thing the system falls apart on is if everybody doesn’t fill their consciousness with external games’)

3 Sherri Cavan, Hippies of the Haight, New Critics Press, 1972, p. 44.

4 Charlotte Todd, interview in Leonard Wolff (ed.), Voices From the Love Generation, Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1968, p. 108.

5 Peter Berg, interview in Ibid., p. 25.

6 Michael Fallon, ‘Are Beats Good Business?’, San Francisco Examiner, 8 September, 1965; also see Cavan, Hippies of the Haight, pp. 45-6. On the politics of space and the Castro district see Manuel Castells, The City and the Grassroots: A Cross-Cultural Theory of Urban Social Movements, Edward Arnold, London, 1983, pp. 139-172.

7 Barry Miles dates the start of the San Francisco scene a little earlier in the Red Dog Saloon where the Charlatans, one of the first of the Bay Area psychedelic bands, played. Given that the Saloon was in Virginia City, Nevada, that perspective is hard to sustain: Barry Miles, Hippie, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2005, p. 28. Miles’ book is, however, a superb compendium of hippie history (although it is somewhat strange that there is no Summer of Love in the index). Another compendium which features essays by Miles and Charles Perry is James Henke & Parke Puterbaugh, I Want to Take You Higher: The Psychedelic Era 1965-1969, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 1997. Also see Jeff Tamarkin, Got a Revolution! The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane, Atria Books, New York, 2003, pp.22-3. Tamarkin argues that the Charlatans’ effect on the San Francisco scene was not particularly dramatic and the real rock scene there was started by Paul Kantner and Marty Balin when they formed Jefferson Airplane.

8 Ralph Gleason, “Wild Weekend Around the Bay”, San Francisco Chronicle. October 18, 1965; Ralph J. Gleason, The Jefferson Airplane and the San Francisco Sound, Ballantine Books, New York, 1969, p. 6. This was also the weekend of the International Days of Protest against the war in Vietnam, so Gleason was right to point to the connections between the culture and politics of dissent. Moreover, he was a significant chronicler of the developing San Francisco music scene.

9 R.G. Davis, ^ The San Francisco Mime Troupe: The First Ten Years, Ramparts Press, Palo Alto, 1975, p. 69.

10 Bill Graham, quoted in Steve Chapple & Rebeee Garofolo, Rock’n’Roll is Here to Pay, Nelson-Hall, Chicago, 1977, p.140; also see Sol Stern, “Altamont: Pearl Harbour to the Woodstock Nation”, in Ramparts (ed.), Conversations With the New Reality, Canfield Press, San Francisco, 1971, p.63.

11 Tom Wolfe, ^ The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Bantam, New York, 1969, p. 223.

12 Vic Lovell, “The Perry Lane Papers”, Mid-Peninsula Observer, vol. 11 no. 8, no date (probably 1968).

13 press advertisement reprinted in Gene Anthony, The Summer of Love, Celestial Arts, Millbrae, 1980, p. 111.

14 Gleason, The Jeffersion Airplane…, p. 18.

15 Wolfe, The Electric…, p. 234.

16 Ron Thelin, interview, in Wolff (ed.), Voices From the Love Generation, p. 228.

17 Richard Honigman, “Flower from the Street”, Oracle, vol. 1 no. 9, August 1967. The Oracle, otherwise known as The San Francisco Oracle was the psychedelic underground paper published in the Haight from 1966 to 1968. It is available as a CD-Rom, Regent Press, Oakland. The facsimile edition is a far better research tool: Allen Cohen (ed.), The San Francisco Oracle, facsimile edition: The Psychedelic Newspaper of the Haight-Ashbury, 1966-68, Regent Press, Berkeley, 1991.

18 Charles Perry, The Haight-Ashbury: A History, Random House, New York, p. 265. Perry’s book has subsequently been republished: Wenner Books, New York, 2005. References in this paper are to the Random House edition.

19 Grace Slick’s “White Rabbit” is best remembered through Jefferson Airplane’s album ^ Surrealistic Pillow. Prior to joining the Airplane, Grace Slick belonged to The Great Society and they did a version with a long instrumental introduction.

20 The epigraph for Perry’s The Haight-Ashbury comes from Tom Donahue writing in a 1967 Billboard magazine: “There are only two constants in the San Francisco hippie scene: music, grass and LSD”. Well, who’s counting?

21 Ron Thelin, interview in Wolff (ed.), ^ Voices from the Love Generation, p. 225.

22 Ron Thelin, interview in Haight-Ashbury Maverick, vol. 1 no. 5, 1968

2 R.G. Davis, quoted by Charlotte Todd, in Wolff (ed.), Voices from the Love Generation, p. 108.

24 For a valuable compendium on 1960s psychedelic art see Christoph Grunenberg (ed.), Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era, Tate Publishing, London, 2005. Sally Tomlison’s essay in that volume specifically deals with Haight-Ashbury poster art: “Sign Language: Formulating a Psychedelic Vernacular in Sixties’, pp.121-143.

25 see Abe Peck, ^ Uncovering the Sixties: The Life and Times of the Underground Press, p. 43ff.; David Armstrong, A Trumpet to Arms: Alternative Media in America, South End Press, Boston, 1981, pp. 82-3; Roger Lewis, Outlaws of America: The Underground Press and its Context, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1972, p. 81; Lawrence Leamer, The Paper Revolutionaries: The Rise of the Underground Press, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1972, p. 34.

26 Armstrong, A Trumpet to Arms, p. 64.

27 Louis H. Rapaport, “Flower Power: An Interview With a Hippie”, Evergreen Review, 49, October 1967, p. 97. It should be noted that one of the new shops in the Haight was the I-Thou Coffee Shop and it staged poetry readings. Nonetheless, the difficulty that some participants had in putting their experience into words is revealed further in Stephen Gaskin’s badly written and banal memoir Haight Ashbury Flashbacks, Ronin Publishing, Inc., Berkeley, 1990.

28 Perry, The Haight-Ashbury, p. 274.

29 Paul E. Willis, Profane Culture, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1978, pp. 168-9.

30 Ibid., p. 147.

31 Richard Honigman, “Flower from the Street”, op.cit.

32 On the subject of public life as theatre in the ancien regime, see Richard Sennett, The Fall of Public Man, Alfred A. Knopf, 1977.

33 Perry, The Haight-Ashbury, . pp. 252-3. For a discussion of the role of carnival in public space, see Dominick La Capra, “Bakhtin, Marxism and the carnivalesque” in his ^ Rethinking Intellectual History: Texts, Contexts, Language, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1983, pp. 300ff.

34 For further analysis of the contradictions of cultural radicalism, see Anthony Ashbolt, “Hegemony and the Sixties: Observations, Polemics, Meanderings”, ^ Rethinking Marxism, vol. 19 no, 2, April 2007, pp. 208-20.

35 Chester Anderson (and his Communication Co.) was even more caustic about the Haight. Anderson and the Diggers were colleagues until August 1967 and shared a gestetner (see Perry, ^ The Haight-Ashbury, pp. 180-2, 230), For interesting reflections upon the Digger philosophy and practice, as well as the entire counter-cultural experience (including the Black Bear Ranch commune), see Peter Coyote’s autobiography, Sleeping Where I Fall, Counterpoint, New York, 1999.

36 Statement from the Council for a Summer of Love, the Oracle, vol.1 no.8, 1967. The press conference announcing the Summer of Love was held the same day that Gray Line Bus tours began their “Haight-Ashbury District ‘Hippie Hop’ tour”, “the only foreign tour within the continental United States.”(Perry, The Haight-Ashbury,, pp.164-5).

37 ‘An Open Letter to the Haight/Ashbury Community’, March 21, 1967 from the Communication Co, Diggers File, Social Protest Project, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley.

38 David E. Smith & John Luce, Love Needs Care, Little, Brown & Co., 1971, pp. 151ff.

39 Lew Welch, “A Moving Target is Hard to Hit”, March 27, 1967, a leaflet from the Communication Co., Diggers File, Social Protest Project, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

40 Bill Graham, quoted in the ^ Berkeley Tribe, August 8-14, 1969; also see “Haight-Ashbury, dead in pain and boredom…”, San Francisco Express Times, July 24, 1968 & Jerry Densch, “Haight Street Blues”, The Movement, September 1968.

41 “An Open Poem to the Prophets and Their Apostles”, Persian Fuckers Anonymous and Unlimited, Berkeley Commune file, Bancroft Social Protest Project, UC Berkeley.

42 “Changes”, Oracle, vol. 1 no. 7, 1967.

43 Time magazine cover story, “The Hippies: Philosophy of a Subculture”, Time, vol. 90 no.1, July 7, 1967, p. 20. Also see Joe David Brown (ed.), The Hippies, by the correspondents of Time, Time Incorporated, New York, 1967.

44 Maggie Gaskin, in Wolff (ed.), Voices From the Love Generation, p. 85.

45 Shortbus, written and directed by John Cameron Mitchell. THINKFilm, 2007.




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