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The Summer of Love 1967

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Submitted By emmie2015
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It was billed as “the Summer of Love,” a blast of glamour, ecstasy, and Utopianism that drew some 75,000 young people to the San Francisco streets in 1967. Who were the true movers behind the Haight-Ashbury happening that turned America on to a whole new age?
In a 25-square-block area of San Francisco, in the summer of 1967, an ecstatic, Dionysian mini-world sprang up like a mushroom, dividing American culture into a Before and After unparalleled since World War II. If you were between 15 and 30 that year, it was almost impossible to resist the lure of that transcendent, peer-driven season of glamour, ecstasy, and Utopianism. It was billed as the Summer of Love, and its creators did not employ a single publicist or craft a media plan. Yet the phenomenon washed over America like a tidal wave, erasing the last dregs of the martini-sipping Mad Men era and ushering in a series of liberations and awakenings that irreversibly changed our way of life.

The Summer of Love also thrust a new kind of music—acid rock—across the airwaves, nearly put barbers out of business, traded clothes for costumes, turned psychedelic drugs into sacred door keys, and revived the outdoor gatherings of the Messianic Age, making everyone an acolyte anda priest. It turned sex with strangers into a mode of generosity, made “uptight” an epithet on a par with “racist,” refashioned the notion of earnest Peace Corps idealism into a bacchanalian rhapsody, and set that favorite American adjective, “free,” on a fresh altar.

“It was this magical moment … this liberation movement, a time of sharing that was very special,” with “a lot of trust going around,” says Carolyn “Mountain Girl” Garcia, who had a baby with Ken Kesey, the man who helped kick off that season, and who then married Jerry Garcia, the man who epitomized its fruition. “The Summer of Love became the template: the Arab Spring is related to the Summer of Love; Occupy Wall Street is related to the Summer of Love,” says Joe McDonald, the creator and lead singer of Country Joe and the Fish and a boyfriend of one of that summer’s two queens, Janis Joplin. “And it became the new status quo,” he continues. “The Aquarian Age! They all want sex. They all want to have fun. Everyone wants hope. We opened the door, and everybody went through it, and everything changed after that. Sir Edward Cook, the biographer of Florence Nightingale, said that when the success of an idea of past generations is ingrained in the public and taken for granted the source is forgotten.”

Well, here is that source, according to the people who lived it.
“Old-Timey”

Certain places, for unknowable reasons, become socio-cultural petri dishes, and between 1960 and 1964 the area of Northern California extending from San Francisco to Palo Alto was one of them.

San Francisco’s official bohemia was North Beach, where the Beats hung out at Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights bookstore, and where espresso was sipped, jazz was worshipped, and hipsters did not dance. North Beach was not unique, however; it had strong counterparts, for example, in New York’s Greenwich Village, L.A.’s Venice Beach and Sunset Strip, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What was unique was happening across town, where a group of young artists, musicians, and San Francisco State College students became besotted with the city’s past. “There was a huge romanticism around the idea of the Barbary Coast, about San Francisco as a lawless, vigilante, late-19th-century town,” says Rock Scully, one of those who rented cheap Victorian houses in a run-down neighborhood called Haight-Ashbury. They dressed, he says, “in old, stiff-collared shirts with pins, and riding coats and long jackets.”

“Old-timey” became the shibboleth. Guys wore their hair long under Western-style hats, and young people decorated their apartments in old-fashioned castoffs. Scully recalls, “Michael Ferguson [an S.F. State art student] was wearing and living Victoriana in 1963”—a year before the Beatles came to America, and before costuming-as-rebellion existed in England. They were not aping the British. “We were Americans!,” insists musician Michael Wilhelm. Architecture student George Hunter was yet another in the crowd, and then there were the artists Wes Wilson and Alton Kelley, the latter an émigré from New England who frequently wore a top hat. “Kelley wanted to be freeze-dried and set on his Victorian couch behind glass,” says his friend Luria Castell (now Luria Dickson), a politically active S.F. State student and the daughter of a waitress. Castell and her friends wore long velvet gowns and lace-up boots—a far cry from the Beatnik outfits of the early 60s.

Chet Helms, a University of Texas at Austin dropout who had hitchhiked to San Francisco, also joined the group and dressed old-timey. He had come to San Francisco with a friend, a nice, middle-class girl who had been a member of her high school’s Slide Rule Club and who had also left the university, hoping to become a singer. Her name was Janis Joplin.

Helms, Castell, Scully, Kelley, and a few others lived semi-communally. “We were purists,” says Castell, “snooty” about their left-wing politics and esoteric aesthetic. All their houses had dogs, so they called themselves the Family Dog. As for Wilhelm, Hunter, Ferguson, and their friends Dan Hicks and Richie Olsen, they took up instruments that most of them could barely play and formed the Charlatans, which became the first San Francisco band of the era. Wes Wilson, distinct for keeping his hair short, became the eventual scene’s first poster artist, creating a style that would be epoch-defining.

Soon they came to share something else: LSD. It had been more than a decade since Sandoz Laboratories made the first batches of lysergic acid diethylamide, the high-octane synthetic version of two natural consciousness-altering compounds, psilocybin and mescaline, when, in 1961, the Harvard psychology professor Timothy Leary had his life-changing experience with psilocybin mushrooms, in Mexico. Leary, a charismatic womanizer, and Richard Alpert, a colleague at Harvard and a closeted bisexual, would invite friends and a few grad students to drop acid with them off campus, and they endeavored to apply scholarly methodology to the sense-enhancing, cosmic-love-stimulating, and sometimes psychosis-abetting properties of LSD.

While Leary and Alpert were raising consciousness in their way on the East Coast, Ken Kesey, a young Oregonian, was doing it on the peninsula south of San Francisco far more outrageously—by buying a school bus, painting it in jubilant graffiti, and driving around in it, stoned, with a group he called the Merry Pranksters. In 1959, Kesey had been a volunteer in a C.I.A.-sponsored LSD experiment at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Menlo Park. His 1962 novel, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, was the result of his work there. In 1963 he assembled the Pranksters, including Stewart Brand, later famous as the author of the Whole Earth Catalog,and Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac’s best friend and the model for Dean Moriarty in On the Road.

At the same time, the Peninsula was incubating a music scene. In 1962 a young guitarist named Jorma Kaukonen, the son of a State Department official from Washington, D.C., went to a hootenanny (a sing-along folk event) and met another young guitarist, a music teacher who had been named after the composer Jerome Kern. Open-faced with wild hair, Jerry Garcia led a jug band, and Kaukonen recalls him as “absolutely the big dog on the scene: he had a hugefollowing, was very outgoing and articulate. People gravitated to him.”

The same weekend Kaukonen met Garcia, he says, he met Janis Joplin, “who was in her folky stage.” Later, after amphetamine addiction made her return to Texas to straighten out, “she would be R&B Janis, peerless as Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie,” Kaukonen recalls. But that night she was singing her Texas heart out on folk classics.

Two years later, a flirtatious Neal Cassady picked up Carolyn Adams near her cabin in the hills above Palo Alto, and they drove to Kesey’s house. Adams, who came from a good Poughkeepsie family and had been kicked out of a private high school, would soon be known as Mountain Girl because she lived in the woods and rode a motorcycle. “I was frolicking about,” she says. That night, she recalls, “I saw the bus and fell in love.” She found Kesey to be “this Promethean figure, [who] saw psychedelics as a gift to mankind.”

Carolyn Adams became a Prankster, and she and Kesey, who was married, became lovers. Their group soon initiated the Acid Tests, “happenings around the Bay Area,” she says, where “we were creating a safe place for people to get high.” They’d put a “low dose” of acid “in a big picnic cooler or garbage can, something that would hold 10 or 12 gallons,” often diluted in “Kool-Aid or a big bucket of water.... It was a voyage,” she says, adding, “At a ‘graduation,’ [we] gave out diplomas to people who passed the test. Ken was wearing the silver lamé space suit I made for him.” www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/07/lsd-drugs-summer-of-love-sixties--

Rebellion against the establishment appeared in many forms in the United States during the 1960s. Caught up in the rising frustration circling around America’s increased involvement in Vietnam, the racial unrest in many urban areas, and the pressure to conform, a growing number of the younger generation rejected the American way of life. The resulting movement, termed the counterculture, embraced an alternative lifestyle characterized by long hair, brightly colored clothes, communal living, free sex, and rampant drug use. Distrustful of the American government and what they perceived as an increasingly materialistic society, hippies and other members of the counterculture attracted a great amount of media attention during the 1960s, including feature articles in magazines such as Time. Throughout the decade many counterculture events increased the movement’s notoriety, but two in particular, the Summer of Love and Woodstock, epitomized the spirit of the protests. On January 14, 1967, counterculture leaders called for a “human be-in” in San Francisco, California. Thousands of people answered the call, gathering in Golden Gate Park to promote peace, happiness, and love. During the spring, more disillusioned youth traveled to San Francisco upon hearing a declaration that the summer of 1967 would be the “Summer of Love.” The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco quickly became the gathering place and home for many displaced youth who came to celebrate the counterculture event. The Summer of Love boasted music festivals, poetry readings, speeches, and even theater. For the most part, the Summer of Love proved successful in its ability to spread the counterculture message, but by the fall of 1967, increased incidents of crime and drug abuse by hippies gathered in Haight-Ashbury signaled a change in the movement. Cognizant of the shift away from peace and love within the movement, some hippies proclaimed their own death on October 6, 1967, with the “Death of Hip” Ceremony. Burning a gray coffin labeled the “Summer of Love,” the ceremony acknowledged that the counterculture had transformed into something more sinister than “flower power.” Although a shift away from peaceful protest had begun in the movement after the Summer of Love, one final significant event grounded in the founding principles of the rebellion against the establishment would leave its mark on history. Throughout the 1960s, music served as an integral part of the counterculture movement. Seen as a way to both embrace an alternative lifestyle and protest against war and oppression, hippies organized outdoor music festivals across the United States. The most famous of all the counterculture concerts, Woodstock, took place from August 15-17, 1969. Originally hoping for attendance of 50,000, the promoters of the event, who chose a thousand-acre farm in upstate New York as the site for “The Woodstock Music and Art Fair: An Aquarian Exposition,” seemed as shocked as everyone else when over 500,000 arrived for the three-day affair. Unprepared for such a large crowd, massive traffic jams ensued, food and water quickly disappeared, and bathroom facilities were scarce. Despite the potential for violence and disaster, the festival advertised as “Three Days of Peace and Music” lived up to its billing. Listening to popular musicians of the day such as Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, and Janis Joplin, concertgoers seemed to bond because of the harsh conditions and a common desire to promote peace and love. All in all, Woodstock remains a lasting icon of the cultural movement of the 1960s that looked to change the world through its acceptance of values and beliefs that contradicted the established power structure of the United States. www.coldwar.org/articles/60s/summeroflove.asp

The Summer of Love refers to the summer of 1967, when an unprecedented gathering of as many as 100,000 young people converged on the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, creating a phenomenon of cultural and political rebellion. While hippies also gathered in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, and across Europe, San Francisco was the epicenter of the hippie revolution, a melting pot of music, psychedelic drugs, sexual freedom, creative expression, and politics. The Summer of Love became a defining moment of the 1960s, as the hippie counterculture movement came into public awareness. During the Summer of Love, as many as 100,000 young people from around the world flocked to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, Berkeley and other San Francisco Bay Area cities to join in a popularized version of the hippie experience. Free food, free drugs and free love were available in Golden Gate Park, a Free Clinic (whose work continues today) was established for medical treatment, and a Free Store gave away basic necessities to anyone who needed them. The Summer of Love in 1967 also presented a recognition of great music during that summer. Although I don't consider myself a hippie, I did have friends who considered themselves a hippy. This period of time although many from the 60s generation did not recognize or support it, needs to be recognized here on this site because it was a part of the 60s generation history. The ever-increasing numbers of youth making a pilgrimage to the Haight-Ashbury district alarmed the San Francisco authorities, whose public stance was that they would keep the hippies away. However Adam Kneeman , a long-time resident of the Haight-Ashbury, recalls that the police did little to help, leaving the organization of the hordes of newcomers to the overwhelmed residents. College and high-school students began streaming into the Haight during the spring break of 1967. City government leaders, determined to stop the influx of young people once schools let out for summer, unwittingly brought additional attention to the scene. An ongoing series of articles in local papers alerted national media to the hippies' growing momentum. That spring, Haight community leaders responded by forming the Council of the Summer of Love, giving the word-of-mouth event an official-sounding name. The mainstream media's coverage of hippie life in the Haight-Ashbury drew the attention of youth from all over America. Hunter S. Thompson labeled the district "Hashbury" in the New York Times Magazine, and the activities in the area were reported almost daily.The movement was also fed by the counterculture's own media, particularly The San Francisco Oracle, whose pass-around readership topped a half-million at its peak that year.The media's fascination with the "counterculture" continued with the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, where approximately 30,000 people gathered for the first day of the music festival, with the number swelling to 60,000 on the final day. The song "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" written by John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas and sung by Scott McKenzie was initially designed to promote the Monterey Pop Festival.

"If you're going to San Francisco,be sure to wear some flowers in your hair...If you're going to San Francisco,
Summertime will be a love-in there"

"San Francisco" became an instant hit (#4 in the U. S., #1 in the UK) and quickly transcended its original purpose by popularizing an idealized image of San Francisco. In addition, media coverage of the Monterey Pop Festival facilitated the Summer of Love, since large numbers of fledging hippies headed to San Francisco to hear their favorite bands, among them Jefferson Airplane, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Otis Redding, The Byrds, the Grateful Dead, The Who, and Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin.When the newly recruited Flower Children returned home, they brought new ideas, ideals, behaviors, and styles of fashion to most major cities in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.On October 6, 1967, those remaining in the Haight staged a mock funeral, "The Death of the Hippie" ceremony, to signal the end of the played-out scene. www.the60sofficialsite.com/Summer_of_Love.html

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