While pondering my way across the internet about the Summer of Love, I visited this SF Chron blog -where readers were invited to share their memories from that era. I read through the entries and found a thoughtful & detailed entry by Mr Mark Karan.
I don't think he'd mind that I'm sharing this here with you. In the first paragraph, MK is responding to some negative comments, after that are some of his memories.
Wow! some of us seem to have struck a nerve here. i’m shocked and disappointed to discover so much generalized hostility toward an era and group of people who so clearly (to those of us not predisposed to hatred and intolerance) left a positive mark on society.
my feelings lie with the camp that fondly remembers the time as pivotal and positive. there were problems of course… as in any large group of humans. we’re fallible. it’s our nature as humans. but my experiences in the haight in the middle 1960s were mostly pretty great… myriad, colorful and both life changing and life affirming.
others have mentioned good ol’ foghorn fish’n’chips… wrapped in newspaper old london-style and served w/malt vinegar… there was mnsidika (sp?) where you could find all kinds of fun, colorful, expressive clothes… there was the psychedelic shop where you could get the new rolling stone, berkeley barb or oracle, pick up some incense and maybe an eyeball “stash ring”… magnolia thunderpussy where you could order the wonderfully silly and decadent “fudgecake phoebe” to be delivered in the middle of the nite while sitting up listening to donahue on kmpx… the first “free radio” format.
and there was the music… there was always music going on somewhere. i remember seeing janis and big brother playing in the panhandle… for free on a couple sheets of plywood w/ a generator as the diggers gave away free food to anyone who was hungry… hippie hill, where you could stumble across many a cool soul to chat with, smoke a joint or maybe listen to them sing & play guitar… speedway meadows where so many great bands played… the dead, quicksilver, the airplane, the sons, country joe and on and on… for free! just “because”…
i also went to many of bill graham’s fillmore events because, in the spirit of the times… bill offered those of us “12 & under” an opportunity to see the same shows the “adult” hipsters saw on friday and saturday nites for free on sunday afternoons! along with the radical and fun local bands, i was given the chance to see performers like howlin’ wolf, bb king, james cotton, albert king… a lot of music i would doubtless have missed out on otherwise… and i’m forever grateful for that. this music changed my life. since then both my vocation and my avocation has been to play music and, as much as possible, share the spirit that those times helped birth.
there were drugs to be sure… but initially they were drugs that were all about expanding the mind, not shutting down or hiding from oneself. lsd gave many of us a glimpse into another world that sparked our curiosity about our own consciousness and spirituality. it wasn’t until speed and heroin entered the scene that i saw the ill-effects of “bad” drugs and people’s potential to be consumed by their own “darkness”.
whatever those who weren’t there or who at the time were too threatened to allow themselves to see clearly may say, there were new attitudes flourishing. there was a new positivity… a sense of community and acceptance… a belief and faith in humankind rather than this or that political/religious ideology…
the things i experienced during this time in my life more than anything have guided me thru my life’s journey and served me well. whenever i have remembered to let the love, acceptance… the spirit of growth, expansion and exploration guide my footsteps, i have ended up where i needed to be. that’s the simple truth of it.
it’s sad to see so many of that era seeming to have indeed turned their back on the beliefs and philosophies we all held so dear, but there are still many of us for whom nothing can close the doors that were opened by those experiences and who continue to this day to serve that greater cause.
it’s also sad and painful to see the few hate-filled posts that have appeared on this page. it’s indicative of how far we still have to come before we can really accept, love and support one another. but i still believe that’s the goal. i wish those of you with the angry chip on your shoulders peace. to the rest of us… thank you for being on the planet and sharing “our” experiences!
Posted By: mark_karan | May 20 2007 at 03:40 PM
SF Chron blog
Today's article on it from SF Chronicle-
SUMMER OF LOVE 40 YEARS LATER
Goodbye innocence, hello hippies!
The party starts as rock 'n' roll ethos, LSD inspire beatniks and beckon an influx of free spirits to San Francisco
Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic
Monday, May 21, 2007
Summer of Love
40 Years Later
1967: The stuff that myths are made of
Goodbye innocence, hello hippies!
Before the Summer of Love in 1967, there was the Beat Generation, whose counterculture ethos was defined by Jack Kerouac's "On the Road." The 1957 publication of Kerouac's stream-of-consciousness novel drew thousands of like-minded searchers to San Francisco's North Beach, the heart of Beat culture. Once LSD and electric guitars were added, a new psychedelic underground swirled throughout the city. Those who were there recall the transformative power of the psychedelic experience.
David Getz/Big Brother and the Holding Company: I was 25 years old and I really thought I knew where it was at, that I really knew how to teach painting and what painting was about and all of that. ... And then I dropped acid. I met Peter Albin and I was in a band. I thought when I first got in the band -- this is before Janis (Joplin) was in that band -- I thought, "This is fun, I'll get laid a lot, be more of a part of this great scene that's going on, starting out, and have some fun playing music." ... Within a year after I joined that band, I wasn't painting. I wasn't teaching. I didn't get hired again. My hair was long. I started to look different than everybody.
Alton Kelley: I came out originally in the winter of '64 and settled in on Pine Street. Went up to the Red Dog Saloon with the Charlatans. They were putting the Red Dog together. Then we came back and said, "What are we going to do now?" That's when we started the Family Dog. I was one of the four original members. We got Bill Ham to do a light show. We rented Longshoreman's Hall, threw a few dances and found out we weren't very good businesspeople.
Michael Rossman: Also in late '65, the rock dances started happening, the first public events of what came to be called the countercommunity or, in this local case, the Haight-Ashbury.
Before more than a thousand long-haired weirdos showed up at the first Family Dog dance at Longshoreman's Hall, nobody had any idea there were even that many hippies around town. The dances proved popular and quickly moved in late '65 to the Fillmore Auditorium. That's where Bill Graham began presenting weekly shows in January 1966. Before long, Chet Helms opened weekly dances at the Avalon Ballroom at Sutter and Van Ness, and the golden age of the San Francisco rock underground was in full swing. Dancers flocked to the halls, grooving beneath pulsing, throbbing psychedelic light shows. Large portions of the audience were under the influence of LSD. The bands often were, too. Helms recognized these tribal rites as Dionysian revels.
Bob Weir/Grateful Dead: I left home when I was 17 and stepped into a situation where I could make a good living, or at least a decent living, in a communal environment doing what I always wanted to do, which was make music. It was just wonderful to step from home into that environment and be able to live that way. I think maybe a lot of other people, maybe they weren't quite as young as I was, but still it was the best of all possible homes for us. We were the young, artistic community and we didn't have to struggle quite as much as young artists normally do, because there was a big market for what we had to offer right there in the neighborhood.
Stewart Brand: In January of '66, we did the Trips Festival and had something like 10,000 people over three nights. At that point, nobody had any idea there was that many hippies in the world, never mind the Bay Area.
Revolution was in the air. Free thinkers turned to social action. A Haight-Ashbury group calling itself the Diggers began to serve free food every day in the Panhandle, made from scraps scavenged from local supermarkets and restaurants. Soon, the Diggers opened the Free Store on Haight Street, where everything in the store was given away.
Peter Berg: Emmett Grogan walked into the San Francisco Mime Troupe when I was the assistant director and Judy (Goldhaft) had been there a long time. Billy Murcott had been reading a book about (Gerrard) Winstanley, the leader of the English heretical, communalistic group -- and very Christian, by the way -- called the Diggers. So Billy said, "Well, you know, dig, like to dig, dig this, man." Together they made a manifesto that they tacked up on the front door of the Mime Troupe on Howard Street, next to that journalists' bar, the M&M. This was like (Martin Luther) tacking the 95 Theses on the cathedral door. ... A lot of people collaborated on the ideas -- "everything is free, do your own thing."
Judy Goldhaft: That was the Diggers' phrase. ... We opened the first Free Store right after the manifesto.
Peter Coyote: We wanted to use our improvisatory skills to create theatrical events that no one would know was theater. So Peter Berg created the Free Store, in which not only were the goods free, but so were all the roles: manager, owner, boss. People would come in and say, "Who's in charge here?'' and we'd say, "You are.'' So, if you just stood there and looked stupid, there was no sense blaming the Pig or the Man or the System for your shabby little life. You've been offered a gift of the imagination and you dropped the ball. By the same token, if you said, "Oh, I'm in charge, great, let's clean this place up, it's filthy,'' we'd do that. In retrospect, the Diggers were probably a four-year performance art piece designed to trigger a fundamental dialogue about power and money and class and status and who owned what in American society.
Wavy Gravy: I clicked my heels three times and found myself standing in a corner of the Digger Free Store on Haight Street. There was a swing in the window, an actual swing, inhabited by a spunky 7-year-old, celebrating her blackness and swinging in the sunshine. Into this timeless moment, came these words loud and clear, into the very ear of my ear: "Wanna help?" In what seemed merely a moment, I had helped to fold every last garment like magic. No surprise, my fellow folder was Emmett Grogan.
Other stores along Haight Street, such as the Thelin brothers' Psychedelic Shop and the rainbow-colored underground newspaper the Oracle, gave the growing social experiment an even stronger sense of community. Before long, the Haight had its own free medical clinic, a first in the country.
Dr. David Smith: My parents died in the '50s, when I was in my teens. I inherited some money and I bought an apartment building to have a home. I didn't have any brothers or sisters. That's where I lived. That was basically right on the outskirts of the Haight, but I had absolutely no social activism. I just happened to be a drug expert on the outskirts of the drug revolution. All that Hippie Hill stuff just started. It just totally boggled my mind. I took LSD and had a spiritual experience. I had a cultural transformation and ended up starting the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic. After I took LSD and got involved in the counterculture, the air moved and you became one with the world. Suddenly, you had to help the poor. It was this consciousness transformation that happened during that time.
The dance halls were serving a nightly cultural renaissance, where old bluesmen or celebrated jazz artists shared the stage with the new psychedelic San Francisco bands, everything from Bo Diddley to Lenny Bruce.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Before, up through the Human Be-In, the Haight was really sort of innocent, clean. I remember the early Jefferson Airplane, which was very lyrical. I was going to Fillmore quite a bit. (Poet) Andre Voznesensky and I performed in between sets of the Jefferson Airplane at the old Fillmore. Bill Graham generously offered us the stage. I was reading translations of Andre's poems. He was doing them in Russian. There was a light show going on.
In January 1967, the crowd for the Human Be-In, a Gathering of the Tribes, organized by Haight-Ashbury communards, swelled into the tens of thousands, filling the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park for a day of rock music, poetry, Buddhist chants -- a day of peace and music where the Hells Angels took care of lost children. A Harvard professor named Timothy Leary issued the marching orders, admonishing the crowd to "turn on, tune in and drop out."
Michael McClure: I was sitting onstage next to Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder. Timothy Leary was up there, and Lenore Kandel. I sang one of my poems, "The God I Worship Is a Lion.'' It was the first great congregation of the young seeker people, known as the counterculture, who were drawing together to create their own huge family, and to celebrate it in their own huge tribe, and to celebrate it with music and dance and song and psychedelics and some real good political things.
Ferlinghetti: I was onstage right next to Allen Ginsberg at the Human Be-In. I had an autoharp, which I was playing in those days. Luckily, they never allowed me to perform because it would've been a disaster. There was a sea of 10,000 faces. Don't know how many they actually counted. I remember, in the sunset, this lone parachutist descended on the crowd.
The March 1966 Life magazine cover article on LSD led to the psychedelic drug being made illegal by October. But the genie was out of the bottle. Word about the Haight-Ashbury had spread -- not least by finger-wagging mainstream media -- which inadvertently gave the burgeoning movement the best advertising it could have. People were already starting to trail into town in early 1967.
Getz: It was a time when, in the beginning of '67, where the band had moved back from living together in a house in Lagunitas to having our own places in the city. I was living on the outskirts of the Haight, in the Fillmore, a little apartment I had. It was kind of a nice time in the beginning of '67, before all the influx of all those people, still Lagunitas. People knew each other. You could go down to Haight Street and see your friends, walk around, go to the different dances. My life had really shifted into a place where I was completely consumed with the business and the music of Big Brother.
Country Joe McDonald: Everything just started changing. For me, I think it changed because it was the Bay Area. The Bay Area allowed that sort of thing to happen and it could happen, magically. And I was changing with it. I was very, very happy. It was very interesting. The music was new. The clothes were new. The drug thing was interesting. To me, it had an erotic sexual thing, which was the opposite of the repressed thing that I grew up with in the '50s.
Kelley: But those first years -- '65, '66, '67 -- it was really a great neighborhood, the Haight-Ashbury. Everybody knew everybody. It was really fun. Everybody was really enjoying themselves. It was sort of the opposite of the beatnik era. They all dressed in black and were on kind of a downer. We all came out of the rock 'n' roll world and not World War II. We all had this background behind us of Chuck Berry and Little Richard.
Margo St. James: That's when I got my nun's habit from Dick Gregory. He sent it to me from New York. So I was having my own Summer of Love and happening and running my salon, if you will. The neighbor lady didn't like me laying topless in my little garden because, on her deck, she had a 16-year-old boy. I had a black girlfriend living with us, Barbara. This lady next door was kinda antsy. She'd be watering her flowers up there and make sure to squirt me with the water.
One day I put on my nun's habit and walked down to Haight Street. The florist ran out and gave me some flowers. He thought I was from the Good Shepherd. He said, "You're doing such good work." Then the neighbor lady's husband passes me on the street and I thought, "Oh, I'm busted now." But he didn't recognize me. I had on the Mammy Yoakum shoes, the rimless glasses with, of course, the whole habit. That was my contribution to the Haight, just providing a place for people to hang out and meet. I had Steve Mann living with me. Frank Zappa came by to see Steve. Dr. John came by, Mac Rebennack. I had a grand piano there, so we always had live music there. I loved it.
Rossman: The thing about weed and political action, in that era, when you sucked on a joint, you inhaled not simply some smoke, but you inhaled this whole complex of cultural attitudes, not only opposition to the war, but a liking for madras bedspreads, an inclination to taste new and interesting foods, to feel less guilty about cutting class, to disrespect authority more because they were trying to make you a criminal for having these experiences and changes of perspective. When you made millions of young people criminals this way, on the narrow issue of whether they could put this plant's smoke or that plant's smoke in their bodies, you corrupted their attitudes about a whole lot in the culture.
Julia Brigden (Girl Freiberg): From my perspective, it seems to me that LSD had a lot to do with the mind-set at least that me and some of my friends had. That sort of changed perspective on everything and added this spiritual side that not having grown up in a church -- my family looked at church as a sort of primitive hangover -- not having been exposed to any sort of religion, it was really exciting to be exposed to LSD and realize that there was this whole bigger context out there and we this little tiny piece of the great web of life.
-- Tuesday, Part III: As soon as the school year was over, they began to head for San Francisco. Summer would arrive early that year.
Summer of Love's poets, painters, musicians and activists
Here's a list of the people interviewed in today's Summer of Love feature:
Peter Berg and Judy Goldhaft, directors of Planet Drum, a grassroots ecology outreach program that encourages regional sustainability around the world.
Stewart Brand, president of Long Now Foundation, which is developing an accurate millennial clock.
Julia Brigden (Girl Freiberg), now living with her second husband and their teenage son in Napa.
Peter Coyote, well-known film and television actor.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, North Beach poet, publisher and owner of City Lights Books.
David Freiberg, musician who now tours with Paul Kantner's Starship.
David Getz, musician, teacher of drumming and art, and still a member of Big Brother and the Holding Company.
Alton Kelley, artist, now living in Sonoma County.
Keith Mather, works for the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection and remains involved in anti-war work.
Michael McClure, poet who occasionally performs with Ray Manzarek, organist for the Doors.
Country Joe McDonald, musician, Berkeley resident and the father of two teenagers.
Michael Rossman, writer who continues to focus on counterculture topics and is building a huge poster archive at his home in Berkeley.
Dr. David Smith, recently left the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic to start his own practice specializing in addiction medicine.
Margo St. James, feminist and advocate for prostitute's rights, retired, living on her grandmother's farm in Washington state.
Wavy Gravy, grand guru of the Seva Foundation, helping people with eyesight problems in developing nations.
Bob Weir, musician, RatDog.
The Chronicle looks back at the Summer of Love with a four-part series.
-- Sunday: The Summer of Love, 40 years ago.
-- Today: Participants recall the time before that summer.
-- Tuesday in Datebook: Thousands jam the city and the party goes bad.
-- Wednesday in Datebook: How it changed our lives.
Chronicle Staff Writer Jesse Hamlin contributed to this series. E-mail Joel Selvin at jselvin@
My mom called today .
Alexis is my sister, Chris is my Brother in law, C. is his sister and Richard is C's husband.
L & W are my sister's kids.
Mom: You'll never guess who I saw yesterday!
Me: mmm ?
Mom: We were at Alexis & Chris's club.
Mom: Richard said it was Bob Weir!
Mom: He was just sitting there next to Richard.
Me: Well, did you meet him? Did Alexis meet him? Did you mention your older daughter is
Mom: Well, no, I was chasing after L & W. Alexi & Chris were playing tennis he was just sort of sitting next to Richard and Richard didnt tell me it was THAT Bob Weir until we were on our way to the parking lot afterwards.
Me: You didnt go back and say anything did you?
Mom: I thought about it but it didnt seem right to bother him.
15 hours ago