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May 23, 2007 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Summer of Love: 40 Years Later, a series of articles appearing this week in the San Francisco Chronicle, revisits the fabled, far-out, semi-spontaneous happening of 1967 in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. Videos and oral history interviews help tell the story of a utopian vision which created a pivot point for American social values, before going a bit rancid around the edges. For more consciousness expansion, see PBS' The American Experience episode on the same topic. Check out that summer's San Francisco Oracle. Oh, and the Diggers are still around.
posted by Miko (59 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can't wait until liberals are the ones focussed on the present and conservatives are the ones endlessly revisiting their one brief moment in the sun.
posted by DU at 8:01 AM on May 23, 2007


(Which might well happen soon, btw, since the longing for the days of Saint Reagan has already begun.)
posted by DU at 8:08 AM on May 23, 2007


As if liberal politicos haven't been running from associations with the hippies for decades.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:10 AM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Too bad for over 20 years now Haight Street's been a yuppified tourist trap trading on that brief moment of 20 years before then. The only counterculture types I saw for years were ancient homeless guys and runaway tweaker teens from the surrounding suburbs. Oh, and tie-dye earing tourists from places like Utah.

Pave it over, from Divisadero to the park.
posted by davy at 8:20 AM on May 23, 2007


Fuck the baby boomers. I've been choking on the detritus of their narcissistic self absorption my whole life.

1967: Blah blah blah "Look how special we are! We're teenagers and we invented sex and drugs!"

1977: Blah blah blah "We invented dancing and nightclubs! Let's ruin it by inventing disco!"

1987: "We're the first people in the universe ever to have careers! Let's call ourselves yuppies! Let's invent junk bonds!"

1997: "We're the first people ever to have kids and own homes! Let's choke the airwaves for the next ten years with home improvement shows!"

COMING SOON: "We're the first people to ever get old! Let's devote the next ten years of the media to talking about it!"
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:21 AM on May 23, 2007 [27 favorites]


As if liberal politicos haven't been running from associations with the hippies for decades.

Yeah, exactly my point.

Person A: I sexed, drugged and rocked and rolled in 1967! Also, I am for affordable health care.
Politician B: I am also support affordable health care.
Politician C: Politician B is promoting sex, drugs and rock and roll!
Politician B: Did I say "support"? I meant "reject utterly".
posted by DU at 8:25 AM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Turtles all the way down, that was very funny. And true.
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:27 AM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


"San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .

. . . And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

- Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
posted by adipocere at 8:54 AM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I agree with Turtles etc. about the baby boom, but to me, studying their times is essential for trying to understand why they're like that. I present this post not in a celebratory but in a documentary spirit. Much of the content -- especially in the American Experience program -- is about the negative aspects of the counterculture and the mistakes that generation made. It's not hard to see why they came out that way.

If anything, it's really important for us to take a look at what they did and why, because we're beautifully set up for another self-absorbed generation to follow in boomers' footsteps. Much like the baby boomers themselves, the generation currently coming of age, made up of their children, grew up in a time of unprecedented affluence and consumer indulgences, have enjoyed a strong sense of entitlement and the obsessive focus of adults, and have led a childhood structured into organized activities. They have the numbers to be similarly powerful in the marketplace and in the voting booth, numbering a few times the number of people born between 1970 and 1990. Advertising and popular culture largely skipped over any period of attentiveness to the generation(s) in between, because the money wasn't there; hence the rise of indie/DIY culture (speaking as someone in that category myself, we kind of had to do it ourselves: in the years between the Big Chill and the Disney Channel there really wasn't all that much mass culture aimed at us, and we were darn hard to unite and didn't have enoughm money to make it worthwhile). Cultural and social problems can be seen a little more clearly when we take a look at the historical forces at work.

All that noted, I have to say that I'm quite thankful that I am living in a post-countercultural time. As a female and as a progressive, the thought of having to exist in American society before the 1950s is chilling. I'd never want to go back. I'm glad the boomers forced the social mores of a repressive midcentury to break down, at the same time that I recognize their failure to replace them with a new and functionaal value system.
posted by Miko at 8:56 AM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Turtles nails it. I was born in '64, either the last year of the boomers or the first year of Gen-X depending on who's counting. So I've spent my whole life being five years behind what ever Time magazine decided was the boomer trend of that day.

As one of my classmates in college said, "The boomers got sex, drugs and rock'n'roll; we got stuck with AIDS, Just Say No and MTV."
posted by octothorpe at 9:00 AM on May 23, 2007 [7 favorites]


What davy says about the Haight is true, though to take his point to the logical conclusion -- which seems to be that nothing in San Francisco is the way it used to be, and everything there in 2007 is a secondhand rendition of some past experience that is being milked by arrivistes desperate for every last drop of pseudo-authenticity that's left -- you'd have to pave over the entire city, not just the Haight.

As Joel Kotkin writes, "When I first lived in the Bay Area 30 years ago, San Francisco still had a working class and a thriving corporate economy as well as places for artists to live affordably. The country looked to it as a center for music, new ideas, and fashion. Today -- albeit from my vantage point in detested Los Angeles -- San Francisco seems little more than a distant, overpriced urban amusement park." (You could easily say the same thing about LA or any other of the cities along the California coastline, though.)
posted by blucevalo at 9:11 AM on May 23, 2007


Those were extraordinary years. I feel grateful and proud to have experienced the 60's in America, to have participated in peace marches, be-ins, happenings, gone to the Filmore East and seen many of the rock and roll greats live, their creating a passionate, vital music which exploded the banal, trite expressions that were pop music of the day.

It hurt when I came back to the usa in the mid-80's after 15 years abroad to find the pioneering done by the hippie movement denigrated and perceived some kind of public embarassment. It was astonishing, bizarre. People here had become all coked out and grossly selfish, cheap and superficial. AIDS and herpes had everybody terrified of having sex. It seemed very lonely for many people with a nihilisitc sheen on top of being hollow. Quite bewidering.

Nothing in America made much sense to me again until the wonderful freedom of speech and camaderie of the web groups: open discussion, passion for and about life, people, speaking the truth, finding out the truth, feeling connected and enjoying sharing. Good thing I had enough sex in the 60's and 70's for plenty of great memories :)

So much was founded or started out of the hippie movement...a focus on being considerate of others, how important it is to be a person of integrity and to care about others. The beginings of so many things that are now taken for granted were, truly, revolutionary then...whole ecology/green movement, the hippies warned about trashing the envirnment decades ago. Amnesty International came out of discussing political corruption then, anti-war protesting was the hallmark, outing political corruption with the Ellsburg scandal which got that corrupt bastard, Nixon kicked out. The whole health movement, healthy foods and yoga, world music, combining East and West; curiosity about other philosophical or spiritual traditions, other than the traditional Christian take on things; the Civil Rights movement, Women's Lib, permission to be homosexual publicly, permission to wear relaxed clothes in public, no more white gloves and rigid social uniforms, permission to enjoy sex the way one wants, permission to be a single parent of either gender or have children and not be married; discussing one's life openly, not to mention the revolution of the globe with the foundation of the free speech, mostly, of the internet...

In NYC 1967 it was less feel-good, less about drugs and more political, more about social actisism. That year, I think, Martin Luther King spoke outside the United Nations. There was a peace march that went down Fifth Avenue, one of the first, if not the first of those marches in NYC. I walked alongside a large van, a flat bed truck that was covered and driving very slowly down the avenue with the marchers. Somebody in the truck asked me if I wanted to sit inside and I said okay. It was Pete Seeger, who was playing in the truck. Got to sit next to him as he played. Awesome. What an amazing person he is, how much work he's done, unpretentiously, for good, so many decades.

A pic of me about that time.
posted by nickyskye at 9:14 AM on May 23, 2007 [18 favorites]


grew up in a time of unprecedented affluence and consumer indulgences, have enjoyed a strong sense of entitlement and the obsessive focus of adults,

As miko and octothorpe point out, it's fascinating that the experiences of the generations in between differ so greatly from that of the boomers and their kids. My parents' generation, born during the Great Depression and reared during war-time rationing of goods, were the ones who believed the myth about company loyalty, the American Dream (tm) and unending economic prospects. Instead, they found, the oil shock and stagflation during the prime of their careers, leveraged buyouts, "right"-sizing, the end of well-paying blue collar jobs, forced early retirement and jobs as greeters at Wall*Mart.

While my generation has not experience anything remotely similar in our own lifetimes and careers as adults, we still carry the memories of our parents (as well as our own memories of the economic fear and paranoia of the Ford/Carter years). The current generation coming of age (or at least the media's representation of them) seems to have no expectation that things can ever go south. Makes me wonder what will happen when things finally do go in that direction.
posted by psmealey at 9:24 AM on May 23, 2007


*note to self, now that forehead is bruised with smacking: type comment in Word, spell and grammar check, copy, paste and then press post comment (especially impassioned comment about how meaningful the hippie movement was). sorry.
posted by nickyskye at 9:40 AM on May 23, 2007


The only counterculture types I saw for years were ancient homeless guys and runaway tweaker teens from the surrounding suburbs. Oh, and tie-dye earing tourists from places like Utah.

Davy, that's because counterculture changed. A whole lot. And you were looking for it in the goddamn Haight. The Haight is really boring and gentrified.

There's a whole lot of SF counterculture that prefers not to openly identify themselves with garish costuming and easily identifiable markings. If you saw me in the Haight or anywhere in SF, hopefully you wouldn't be able to identify me with any particular subculture or counterculture at all. But I most certainly am a part of the counterculture here and in California in general. (Here is not the place to describe the merits of the particulars, but there's a very, very active counterculture alive and well in SF. You probably just wouldn't like the music.)

(From Miko's post): Oh, and the Diggers are still around.

I live with one. No, really. He speaks mostly in rhyme and likes to drink my coffee. The guy is a trip.
posted by loquacious at 10:06 AM on May 23, 2007


The current generation coming of age (or at least the media's representation of them) seems to have no expectation that things can ever go south.

I assume this generation of which you speak is less than 6 years old?
posted by DU at 10:09 AM on May 23, 2007


Following Sean is a very interesting documentary followup to the documentary Sean, which followed a little hippie kid around the Haight in the 60's. He turns out OK as an adult, probably suprising anyone who saw the first film.
posted by MtDewd at 10:16 AM on May 23, 2007


Actually, I wasn't looking for it in the Haight: in the '90s they had a decent thrift store up there (Goodwill, wasn't it?), it was on the way to the park, and there was one coffee and icecream place that still put chairs outside so in good weather I could smoke cigars and heckle the tourists. I haven't looked for counterculture in the Haight since 1978 when I didn't know any better.

In the winter of 1981-2 I lived on Clayton near the Panhandle and then on Masonic at the corner of Haight (the bus stopped 10 feet from my bed by the window). I was up there because a mentor's brother had moved there and he had spare space in his living room. Some "counterculture" at the Grand Piano, mostly oldtimer burnouts.

In '86-7 I went back and was all over: the TL, SoMa, the Inner Mission, the Western Addition, and a tiny neighborhood I forget the name of between Potrero Hill and Bayview. The Mission was where "counterculture" could be found, slouching around at the pre-remodelling Picaro. (I'd see the punks in the Lower Haight then but I found punk music migraine-inducing; Camper Van Beethoven was more fun.)

in '96-'99 I stayed mostly in the TL since the Delta Hotel had burned. The National Hotel was a great place to go if you're an HIV+ tranny or want to meet them. I'd given up on "counterculture" then and hung out with other eccentric lowlife bums. Then the winter of '99-2000 OI moved across to a place on Shattuck near University in Berkeley -- and found "counterculture" there in of all things suburban-raised undergrads who were brought up as Deadheads. I thought they were cute and funny, but they were frighteningly unoriginal and made me feel so OLD.

In all those years the most reliable places in San Francisco to find counterculture-types were the AYH hostels downtown and at Fort Mason, and they were mostly Europeans whose first language wasn't English.

As for the Closeted Counterculture you speak of, is there a secret handshake? I judge "counterculture" by how they act: if you work for say the BoA or Intel you don't qualify regardless of how you look or what you read.
posted by davy at 10:40 AM on May 23, 2007


I think that, historically, we will see the 1960's as the birthplace of Hip Capitalism.

Before the 60s, "the underground" was seen as a source of inspiration for popular culture, but certainly nothing that you would want to join or that you would want your kids to join. Some time during "the sixties" (and by that I mean the period between 1963 and 1973) people realized that you could make oodles of cash by carefully selecting the most marketable parts of "the underground" and marketing it as "the underground." And thus we have the popular culture dynamic that still exists today, wherein you have millions of identically-dressed hipsters and emo kids who still think of themselves as "underground," when, in reality, no gym teacher could get more people to dress alike.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:54 AM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


As for the Closeted Counterculture you speak of, is there a secret handshake? I judge "counterculture" by how they act: if you work for say the BoA or Intel you don't qualify regardless of how you look or what you read.

Word. I haven't had a real job in almost a year. I am, however, itching for one.

Is there a secret handshake? Trust, genuinism and raw, natural talent? What are you making, right now, if anything, is the secret handshake. Who are you? What do you do? No, not for your fucking job, what do you do?

The small neighborhood you speak of between Portrero and Bayshore/Bayview may be (lower) Bernal Heights.

Also consider Oakland, as well. There's all kinds of stuff going on over there now as well.
posted by loquacious at 11:02 AM on May 23, 2007


Also, mad props for rocking the Tenderloin. I've a newfound respect for you, even though I said I'd never speak to you again. We should grab a beer.
posted by loquacious at 11:03 AM on May 23, 2007


Well loquacious, if I'm ever back in Frisco I'll let you know. Have they gentrified the TL yet, or just lower Polk?

And yes to what "Afroblanco" just said.
posted by davy at 11:26 AM on May 23, 2007


TL is still quite armed and dangerous, Davy. But it is indeed being squeezed by Polk and SOMA, but most of SF proper is re-sliding into blissful decline after the dot-com boom-bust cycle and holding in stasis. There's plenty of active street life all over the city.

Rents are still insane but it often seems like only those who actively love the city (for itself) or have a family history here remain. Which is damn fine by me, because I fucking love this crazy, topsy-turvy city. Even the Haight.
posted by loquacious at 11:57 AM on May 23, 2007


I've been so glad to see these articles arriving on my doorstep cts'y the Cron. Because, you know, the Summer of Love just hasn't gotten enough hype.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:51 PM on May 23, 2007


Whatever, they had a chance to change things and yet I still can sit out on my front porch, smoke a joint and enjoy a beer. Now I have to get the front porch approved by a housing committee.
posted by geoff. at 1:53 PM on May 23, 2007


I assume this generation of which you speak is less than 6 years old?

Intellectually and emotionally: yes.
posted by psmealey at 1:59 PM on May 23, 2007


Some time during 'the sixties' (and by that I mean the period between 1963 and 1973) people realized that you could make oodles of cash by carefully selecting the most marketable parts of 'the underground' and marketing it as 'the underground.'

As shown in Exhibit A: The Gap was founded in 1969 and named after the "generation gap."
posted by kirkaracha at 2:44 PM on May 23, 2007


A pic of me about that time.
posted by nickyskye at 9:14 AM on May 23 [9 favorites +] [!]


I dont suppose youd maybe wanna make out or somethin...
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:54 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


In related news ... I listened to an interesting program on WBUR/NPR this morning [available for WMP and RealPlayer]:

Sgt. Pepper Turns 40
"It was 1967, the Summer of Love, and the Beatles were making cultural revolution. Three years earlier, they were the Fab Four rocking the USA on the Ed Sullivan Show. Three years later, they would be finished, disbanded.

But on June 2, 1967 -- forty years ago next week -- they released the first 'concept album' in rock and roll history, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

It was psychedelic. Off the map. Wildly popular. And cultural dynamite. Lucy was in the sky with diamonds there. And so, suddenly, was a generation."
posted by ericb at 3:29 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Following Sean is a very interesting documentary

Following Sean airs on PBS's P.O.V. series on July 31, 2007. Trailer here. Audio interview with filmmaker Ralph Arlyck.
posted by ericb at 3:34 PM on May 23, 2007


I was born in SF in '63, maybe one of the last birth years for boomers by the timeline typically used, but since my folks were both born in 1940, I'm not a boomer. Instead, if pressed, I'd say my adolescence was a lot more like Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused -- my friends were always ready to party, and please hold the social activism and any sense of zeitgeist, thankyouverymuch.

However, from late adolescence onwards my musical tastes have always had a sixties skew to them, with an emphasis on the SF music scene. Although I later became a pretty rabid (or hopeless, depending on point of view) Deadhead, my initial attraction was not to any one band, but to the scene as a whole - I just loved the music. I also found it fascinating that this whole THING had happened just up the road from me. It looked like it was a hell of a good time, and from the tapes I have, some of it definitely WAS a hell of a good time. However, as I got older and gained a better understanding of what transpired, I also began to find it increasingly sad that this vibrant scene was GONE GONE GONE in its entirety by the time I entered high school, and hell, the best parts were likely gone before I finished second grade. For the myriad reasons that are often cited, the scene could not sustain itself. The 60's ebbed into the 70's, and from what I've read the 70's were ultimately cut into lines and snorted. And so it goes.

I don't mind hearing the Summer of Love recounted by its participants, as the folks that lived to tell the tales have some pretty good stories. Just let me know when they start recounting the 80's, as I have much better things to do than listen to the myth about how Ronald Reagan and his blue ox Nancy made the country safe for capitalists.

Now please, get off my lawn.
posted by mosk at 3:38 PM on May 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've been alarmed about baby boomers since they were called "the 'me' generation".
posted by WolfDaddy at 5:26 PM on May 23, 2007


Hope I die before I get old.
posted by Rangeboy at 6:06 PM on May 23, 2007


As shown in Exhibit A: The Gap was founded in 1969 and named after the "generation gap."
posted by kirkaracha at 2:44 PM on May 23 [+]
[!]


I always point out that history to people who are amazed there is a GAP store at the corner of Haight and Ashbury. Not inappropriate. In fact, very very appropriate.
posted by vacapinta at 6:40 PM on May 23, 2007


the detritus of their narcissistic self absorption

That's not the baby boomers, Turtles, that's Americans of all ages in general. Like the WW II folks who came before us, the self-proclaimed Greatest Generation who (overlooking 25+ million dead Russians), say they saved us from the Nazis.

Or the kids at the University of Michigan I lived with a few days back in December who, late night, just sat around with their MySpace pages, or argued about who had more friends at Facebook. (One thing we never did back in the 60s was blog about what we had for breakfast. Or blog about anything, really.)

I always thought San Francisco itself was narcissistic, always nattering on about how it's the most romantic city in America, when my memories are more of angry panhandlers screaming at me when I tried to walk down the street. The town has been a media creation at least since Tony Bennett left his heart there, as were the hippies of the Haight who, as people have noted above, were soon co-opted by big business, and it turned out that their whole trip didn't amount to much. The real changes caused by our 'the-one-after-the-greatest' generation, some good of which continues to last today, mostly came from somewhere else.

A pic of me about that time.
nickyskye, I used to love watching you on The Mod Squad...
posted by LeLiLo at 8:05 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yo nickyskye, another boomer babe representing - slap me five, sistah!

Hey you haters, you might be getting a lot less sex if people like Nicky and me hadn't worked so hard to set the shores a little wider. And it was terribly hard work, let me tell you.

Let us not then speak ill of our generation, it is not any unhappier than its predecessors. Let us not speak well of it either. Let us not speak of it at all. It is true the population has increased. S. Beckett
posted by madamjujujive at 8:31 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wonderful quote, madamjjj. Unfortunately, though, Samuel Beckett's own population has decreased since then. (Still, I guess there's "nothing to be done" about that.)
posted by LeLiLo at 8:37 PM on May 23, 2007


madamjujujive, you know I wasn't including your fine self or the babalicious nickyskye in my screed. ;-)
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:45 PM on May 23, 2007


Tatwd, I found your screed pretty damn amusing.

lelilo, re a world sans Beckett, there's another part to that quote that precedes it: The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh. Let us not then speak ill of our generation ... etc Those damn Irish sure have a way with words.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:48 PM on May 23, 2007


Rents are still insane but it often seems like only those who actively love the city (for itself) or have a family history here remain. Which is damn fine by me, because I fucking love this crazy, topsy-turvy city. Even the Haight.

What he said.

Unless asked I don't go on and on about San Francisco and it is certainly not for everyone. (But) I have lived here for 20 years and could not have had my crazy life of misfits and ideals anywhere else. I have no idea if I am "counterculture."
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:03 PM on May 23, 2007


Hey you haters, you might be getting a lot less sex if people like Nicky and me hadn't worked so hard to set the shores a little wider. And it was terribly hard work, let me tell you.

I, for one, thank you both for all your hard work. Cheers!
posted by homunculus at 11:25 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was only 10 years old during that fabled Summer of Love, and lemme tell you, I wanted to be older so bad. I listened to Sgt. Pepper's over and over (that and Jimi Hendrix was like some crazy mystical message from another dimension). I wanted out of Birmingham Alabama evan then, at age 10. I dreamed of being a hippie.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:11 AM on May 24, 2007


Oh, and Miko: nice post!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:12 AM on May 24, 2007


If '67 was the sweet spot, I was a tad too young to catch the hippie zenith, too, flapjax at midnite. And a few years later, I was too poor to be a yuppie. I am always a day late or a dollar short.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:46 AM on May 24, 2007


nikyskye: Thanks for sharing that photo. I'm w/flapjax, a tad too young to have been a partcipant then. But not too young to have missed the final gasps of the spirit of those times, in isolated pockets all over the States.

And madamjujujive is totally correct about the lasting benefits of the efforts made and the prizes won.
posted by Goofyy at 7:49 AM on May 24, 2007


aww, thanks for favoriting my comment and nice words about the pic. Thought I'd be trounced out of MetaFilter for being an old hippie and proud of it. It was fun being a kid then. It's fun being an old fart now. :)

Miko, I recognize their failure to replace them with a new and functional value system.

Yes, the hippies wanted to change it all, make everything better in a ten year stretch: complete freedom of speech and choices while being sanely good hearted, equal opportunity for all, no more obsession with materialism, no more rotten governments, no more prejudice, no more war...It was an awful lot to change and when the change wasn't fast or wide enough there seemed to be a new counterculture of deep and terrible bitterness.

Perhaps the majority of hippies, like me, didn't realize the extent of their enemies we were facing in trying to make those changes, the forces of materialist greed and malicious government secrecy. I had some idea, age 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19...that the Americans were being lied to and that the Viet Nam War was less about the domino theory and more fought by Americans over not publicly discussed oil reserves; that the government of the time oppressed the truth-telling of journalists and citizens - and were willing to kill, to assassinate truth tellers- to keep their secrets, their money and their power positions.

The Movement failed to make all those changes...but it was a good beginning. Now I'm 53 I can see that large, important changes happen in increments over time and need to grow roots. Each generation has something profound and meaningful to offer, if they care to make the effort.

Afroblanco, I think that, historically, we will see the 1960's as the birthplace of Hip Capitalism.

After Queen Victoria kicked the royal bucket in the early part of the last century, there was a huge surge in hip capitalism. In the USA the rich, old money and nouveau riche, mixed with the new culture of cool, early Hollywood and the Jazz Age. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald tells a good tale about that.

Some time during "the sixties" (and by that I mean the period between 1963 and 1973) people realized that you could make oodles of cash by carefully selecting the most marketable parts of "the underground" and marketing it as "the underground."

Merchants of Cool. Frikkin brilliant affirmation of what you said.

loquacious, I live with one..

That's interesting. *curious*

even though I said I'd never speak to you again. We should grab a beer.

aww, You're very loveable.

psmealey, Intellectually and emotionally: yes.

zing.

Senor Cardgage, I dont suppose youd maybe wanna make out or somethin...

aww, "make out", wow man. It's been a while (40 years) since I heard that. *big smile*

flapjax at midnite, I was only 10 years old

But you seem to have lived your life bravely flapjax, very much in the spirit of that time. I was only 13 in 67, so I almost missed it, except that being in NYC made it ok to be precocious.

madamjujujive, If '67 was the sweet spot...

Maybe '67 was the sweet spot in SF, they were radically ahead of the rest of America at that time in many ways. It wasn't so sweet on the East Coast though. Our summer of love was 2 years later in '69, with Woodstock. Rock on!

And it was terribly hard work, let me tell you.

*hard work*, you're naughty.

Rangeboy, Hope I die before I get old.

Any sane person thinks that. People don't tell kids that the 20's are way harder in many ways than the teen years but by 30 -the real beginning of adulthood not 21- there is a feeling that life is manageable and it gets really energizing, fun and passionately interesting. The 40's started out hard for me although most people mellow out then, I didn't. I thought as a kid I'd like to die then at 40, when people seemed old. But there was so much to learn and then, all of a sudden life made so much sense, a wonderful feeling came over me, how good it is to be alive, the world really is an amazing place!

I'm old now or starting the old years time at 53, glad I'm not dead, not just for the mere clinging to life thing but for the adventure of it. I want you to have a long life too, Rangeboy. Wishing you a satisfying and interesting journey.

Peace and love.
posted by nickyskye at 10:33 AM on May 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


Love you, nickyskye, well done.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 12:20 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wait... stop... what's that sound?

That's just the sound of nickyskye rocking my world again.
posted by psmealey at 1:12 PM on May 24, 2007


I feel that I should comment in this thread.
posted by grateful at 2:53 PM on May 24, 2007


Wild, crazy and free still appreciated in SFO --
Bay To Breakers 2007 - Public Nudity at Its Fastest!
posted by ericb at 4:00 PM on May 24, 2007


hippie bitch.
posted by nickyskye at 11:01 AM on May 25, 2007


Turtles all the way down writes 'Fuck the baby boomers. I've been choking on the detritus of their narcissistic self absorption my whole life.'

I hear this stuff a lot from American Generation X'ers. Generally, it amounts to jealousy that they never had a counter culture of their own. In other countries, people tend to recognize that it's faintly ludicrous to believe that everybody born between 1945 and 1965 had the same value system, culture, etc. etc.

Here's the thing, kid. The sixties were a bit like Woodstock. If all the people who claimed to have been there were actually there, the whole of the east coast would have fallen into the Atlantic Ocean.

And like, I know that rebelling against what the previous generation did *is* cool. After all, we boomers invented it, you know? But the trick is to actually come up with a set of values and attitudes of your own -- something to stand up for, a significant struggle for social justice and attitudinal change. Because in my experience, all those people who were activists back in the sixties and seventies *remain* activists and committed to the same set of principles and issues today.

And finally, complaining that 'Disco Sucks' is as lame, racist and homophobic today as it was back in 1976 or 1977.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:47 PM on May 25, 2007


Disco sucks.

Only half kidding and saying it in a whisper before jack_mo comes to this thread, he loves Disco and I like him in a MeFite commenter kind of way. But why's not liking Disco racist or homophobic? You sound passionate about it, I honor your feelings and am sincerely curious.

Disco's great for sexy dancing, motivation for doing aerobics, any exercise or putting on portable headphones and doing chores. But I always thought it was a weird segue, really commercial following the authenticity of emotions and thoughts in Rock. It seemed subversively antithetical to the political impact of Rock, as if it were Muzac for sex. Still like Disco in a limited way though.
posted by nickyskye at 3:10 PM on May 25, 2007


And finally, complaining that 'Disco Sucks' is as lame, racist and homophobic today as it was back in 1976 or 1977.

For serious? My irony detector is still in the shop, so you'll have to help us out with that one. Disco, to my mind is throwaway, mindless dance music. It surfaced somewhat as a more palatable (to upper middle class white people) version of 60s R&B and funk, with simpler and lighter dance beats.

It certainly wasn't for everyone, as purists, rockers and punkers all openly loathed it the time. And although it was loudly proclaimed a fad, it never really went away. New Wave era sensations like the New Order and Dead or Alive, to Madonna right on up to latter day teen stars like Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Jessica Simpsons owe enormous debts to it.

As for conflating the "disco sucks" mantra with bigotry, that just seems ludicrous to the point of trollery to me, but I'm willing to keep an open mind. Can you explain what you meant?
posted by psmealey at 3:26 PM on May 25, 2007


Here's the thing, kid. The sixties were a bit like Woodstock. If all the people who claimed to have been there were actually there, the whole of the east coast would have fallen into the Atlantic Ocean.

I found this Newsweek article to be quite interesting -- A Festival With No Mess -- "Generation Y's answer to Woodstock -- The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival." [brought to you by AT&T, Heineken and Virgin Megastore].
posted by ericb at 4:13 PM on May 25, 2007


But the trick is to actually come up with a set of values and attitudes of your own -- something to stand up for, a significant struggle for social justice and attitudinal change.


The thing is, your ability to say that with such conviction is as symptomatic of your generational identity as is a Gen X'ers ability to reject such broadly sweeping statements of idealism. We're all products of our historical times. To the next generation on, baby boomers often appear both naively idealistic and morally compromised -- CLinton and Bush both being excellent examples of a described morality that is not actually lived. The generation following the baby boom grew up in a more fractured, violent, and contentious world than their parents and older siblings did, with far fewer heroes describing the utopia that could be built if we all held hands and sang. We had no JFK and no progress narrative of having just trounced the world in a massive war and having an economy and technology systems that would solve all conceivable future problems. Instead, we grew up in a time of political turmoil, watching a government led by people older than we utterly fail at war, fail to solve issues of poverty, fail to operate healthy public schools, fail to pass the ERA. Most of us didn't have a parent at home during the day; many of didn't have two parents at home, as increasing focus on individuality contributed to rising divorce rates. Our views are formed in part by our times.

We do have a set of values and attitudes. They are just different from those of your generation, so they might not look like a 'struggle for social justice and attitudinal change' to people who expect it to look like a broad social movement, 60s-style. I, for one, am seriously grateful for the bravery and energy of the individuals who contributed to real social change - the feminists, civil rights activists, war protesters, and theologians who really did produce important changes in our society. I'm also fascinated by the historical forces that contributed to the creation of this generation. But it's just plain true that it's a generation that's also fascinated with itself, since it has been the focus of media attention and financial investment since the babies started coming, and it's used to and able to foot the bill for constant self-documentation, as media makes evident. Some members of the baby boom did quite a lot to make improvements in society and felt a tremendous amount of power in their sheer numbers (which is at the heart of the Summer of Love phenomenon, as one person in the story is quoted saying: 'who knew there were so many of us?'

But the activist work done by the following generation looks quite different. People who are slightly younger are generally distrustful of big institutions, grandiose statements, and broad-based movements - because we could see so many examples of corruption and hypocrisy as we grew up. My activism doesn't look much like my parents'. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist - far from it.It's a lot more localized (where I can see real impact) and a lot more about getting projects done, networking, and communicating in smaller groups and organizations. It's not much about population-wide consciousness-raising, slogans, and demonstrations. There's just not that sense of being part of a large social movement. There are 80-some million boomers, 80-some million 'milennials,' and only 16 million Xers. It's quite a different landscape - as such a small slice of the population, we've never been marketed to in great numbers, have not seen our concerns often reflected in top news stories, are politically marginalized rather than courted, did not live in a time when schools and universities expanded to accommodate us - rather, they contracted and reduced services as budgets were cut. We look at each other and say 'damn, there are so few of us.'
posted by Miko at 4:29 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


psmealey, My irony detector is still in the shop

dang, that's funny.

Miko, wow, Loved your comment, it answered so many questions I'd had about the Xers and makes a lot of sense. How beautifully you write. Thank you.

naively idealistic and morally compromised

That painfully hilarious Brit comedy Absolutely Fabulous comes to mind.

it's just plain true that it's a generation that's also fascinated with itself, since it has been the focus of media attention and financial investment since the babies started coming, and it's used to and able to foot the bill for constant self-documentation, as media makes evident

You're right.

Looking back at the extraordinarily tumultuous last century, I think there was a huge post-Victorian Era backlash with the Roaring Twenties. Lots of exciting stuff was going on at the time the corsets and whalebones came off. Every kind of technology was morphing the planet. Railroads had made mega economic changes, the automobile was being taken seriously, Tesla and Edison made the foundation of the whole Electric Revolution possible...Then the first World War, the crash of '29, The Great Depression followed immediately by World War II interrupted all that massive cultural change to focus on catastrophe. Post WWII and pre-60's many kinds of fear became a cultural force. Stalin had slaughtered 20+(?) million approx, WWII resulted in the death of 55 to 72 million approx, the Chinese Civil War and Mao's "Great Leap Forward" offed many tens of millions...the 20th Century Hemoclysm.

Post WWII in the USA there was this smug and rigid 50's gluttony thing that seemed deadly to me. Real Stepford People scary. There was a Cold War paranoia that we'd all nuke ourselves into oblivion any second now, a similar feeling I experience with all this bogus War On Terror bs; Acting Fakely Good (while killing others) Because We're All Afraid.

I think the '60's generation in the USA took over, in part, where the 1920's left off...very messy and often morally compromising change. All these years the post 60's generations were quite mysterious to me and what you say makes a lot of sense. I feel more loving and good about the ppst-60’s generations now.

My activism doesn't look much like my parents'. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist - far from it.It's a lot more localized (where I can see real impact) and a lot more about getting projects done, networking, and communicating in smaller groups and organizations.

By the time I left the West in 1975, I'd come to that conclusion too, about how change needs to be local, personal, walking it like one talks it.

It wasn't until last week, when I saw the film that fellow MeFite, a 30 year old jgilliam produced, Iraq for Sale that I felt, after decades of feeling despair about politics of any ilk, a tremendous rush of energy, to get involved in trying to make or support others making some bigger political changes.
posted by nickyskye at 7:00 PM on May 25, 2007


The History Channel -- Hippies.
posted by ericb at 4:31 PM on May 26, 2007


This seems as good a place as any to share this little word game we started to play. The game is to create pairs of words related to both 1967, the Summer of Love, to 2007, which we dub the Summer of Meh.

Share and Enjoy!


1967: Summer of Love. 2007: Summer of Meh


1967: Transcendental Meditation
2007: Transdermal medication

1967: Civil Rights
2007: Civil Unions

1967: LSD
2007: DSL

1967: Don't trust anyone over 30
2007: Don't trust anyone but your Top 8

1967: Tie-dyes
2007: Tie-ins

1967: "Guantanamera"
2007: Guantanamo

1967: The Graduate
2007: The Apprentice

1967: National guard kills college students
2007: College student kills college students

1967: "Ruby Tuesday"
2007: Ruby Tuesday's

1967: Peter, Paul, and Mary
2007: Simon, Paula, and Randy

1967: Sexual revolution
2007: Dance Dance Revolution

1967: Metaphysics
2007: MetaFilter

1967: The Fab Four
2007: The Remaining Two

1967: Mescaline
2007: Mesclun

1967: Axis Bold as Love
2007: Axis of Evil

1967: Big Brother and the Holding Company
2007: Big brother

1967: Free love
2007: Free downloads

1967: Fight the Power!
2007: Suck it, haterz!

1967: Inarticulate President from Texas
2007: Inarticulate President from Texas

1967: Haight Ashbury
2007: Hate crimes

1967: Boston Strangler
2007: Boston Mooninites

1967: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
2007: eHarmony.com

1967: The Pill is introduced, triggering fears that it will encourage sexual promiscuity in women
2007: The HPV vaccine is introduced, triggering fears that it will encourage sexual promiscuity in women

1967: Are You Experienced?
2007: User Experience

1967: The War on Poverty
2007: The War on Terror

1967: The Black Panthers
2007: LOLCATS

1967: The Six Day War
2007: "24" Day 6

1967: Bond Jr.: Casino Royale
2007: Bond 2.0: Casino Royale

1967: "Hair" opens off-Broadway
2007: "Xanadu" opens on Broadway

1967: Laugh-In
2007: ROFLMAO

1967: Expo 67 (Montreal) electronic marvel: Picturephone
2007: Macworld Expo (SF) electronic marvel: iPhone

1967: Gilligan's Island
2007: Lost

1967: A Man for All Seasons
2007: Spiderman 3

1967: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
2007: The Office

1967: Weejuns
2007: Vegans

1967: Paris fashion
2007: Paris Hilton

1967: Nudism
2007: Anal Bleaching

1967: Bossa Nova
2007: Hugo Boss

1967: Cesar Chavez
2007: Hugo Chavez

1967: Maharishi Maheesh Yogi
2007: Sanjaya Malakar

1967: Plastic raincoats
2007: Plastic surgery

1967: Timothy Leary
2007: Denis Leary

1967: Micro Minis
2007: Microsoft

1967: Stevie Smith
2007: Anna Nicole Smith

1967: Clogs
2007: Blogs

1967: Tom and Jerry
2007: Ben & Jerry's

1967: BoHo
2007: Botox

1967: The Bobbsey Twins
2007: The Olsen Twins

1967: Op Art
2007: Op-Ed

1967: Love beads
2007: Anal beads

1967: Christiaan Barnard
2007: Christian Right

1967: Outer space
2007: Inner child

1967: Red Menace
2007: Red States

1967: The Generation Gap
2007: The Digital Divide

1967: Thousands dead in pointless war
2007: .
posted by Miko at 10:14 AM on May 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


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