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RD3 Rides Again!
Weir, Wasserman, and Jay Lane will reunite after a lengthy lengthy period of not playing together. The trio is set to play a benefit for the Creative Arts Charter School in San Francisco on June 1 at the Ferry Building.
Keeping up with "Losing Jerry".cONCERT GOERS TO BE dEAD EXTRAS.
SUMMER OF LOVE: 40 YEARS LATER
Just a season, but it lives on
From politics to music to sexuality -- even to the way the PC was designed -- the values are ingrained in our culture
Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Forty years later, the ripples from the Haight-Ashbury are still being felt in our culture. The event itself may have gone bad almost at once, but the fact that the Summer of Love had a profound and lasting impact on American life -- that's one thing on which all the now-gray leaders of what was once called the Youth Movement agree, even if they debate what lasted and what didn't. The effects are here, undeniable and quantifiable -- in pop music, human relationships and sexuality, racial and ethnic diversity, a whole agenda of social thought and, yes, drugs.
David Freiberg/Quicksilver Messenger Service: There's still hippies. I see them every time we play.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti: That (movement) changed the whole country. All the main aspects of the hippie counterculture were ingested into the middle class -- the music, the clothes, the psychedelic colors, the anti-war movement. Herbert Marcuse spoke of the enormous capacity of the dominant society to ingest its own most dissonant elements. That's just what happened.
Peter Coyote: If you look at all the political agendas of the 1960s, they basically failed. We didn't end capitalism. We didn't end imperialism. We didn't end racism. Yeah, the war ended. But if you look at the cultural agendas, they all worked.
Stewart Brand: It was a permission-to-try-everything period where people encouraged each other to try things and to say things that were indefensible, if you looked at them closely, like Mao is a great leader.
Carolyn Garcia (Mountain Girl): I see remnants of that movement everywhere. It's sort of like the nuts in Ben and Jerry's ice cream -- it's so thoroughly mixed in, we sort of expect it. The nice thing is that eccentricity is no longer so foreign. We've embraced diversity in a lot of ways in this country. I do think it's done us a tremendous service.
Peter Berg: This is 2007, and it's been longer from "now" to "then," than "then" was from the '30s. It's an incredible thing to consider. Since time has speeded up a lot in our era, that makes it really antique. And there are people today who lived through it who tend to renounce it. Like, we were wrong-headed, or we didn't know the effects of drugs. I don't know where that spirit of renunciation comes from. I'm not like that.
Judy Goldhaft: The ideas for the rest of the continent spring out of the earth here. The Ohlone Indians said we dance here on the edge of the world.
David Smith: If it could have just stopped with the vision, that would have been great. But drugs seem to never stop. The movement encompassed such a broad spectrum of human enterprise -- from spiritual to sexual, from sweeping political ideas to intimate details of personal living. Music, food, art, fashion -- nothing passed through the firestorm of the '60s unchanged. Signs are everywhere.
Alton Kelley: It's all over the place. The very fact that people dress like they do, maybe a little more radical than we were, but I think all of these kind of wild-looking children are part of that thing, that freedom where you're not just a cookie-cutter person.
Michael Rossman: The range of experiments that characterized the Haight continued all over the country because it was a hydra with no central head. The whole range of inner exploration ... we're 40 years downstream and if you go cruise the telephone poles you still see the advertisements for the gurus and the wellness center and the yoga classes.
Paul Krassner: It was sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, and those were all fun. But at the core of the counterculture was a spiritual revolution, in a sense of leaving the Western religions of control, and exploring the eastern disciplines of liberation.
Angela Alioto: The Summer of Love really stressed the principles of St. Francis of Assisi, the guy who loved the environment, loved animals, loved the sick and poor and was against war. That was exactly what the Summer of Love was. ... The Summer of Love was flat-out beautiful.
Margot St. James: People are finally, four decades later, they're getting hip to what I think the beats and hippies were espousing -- a way of life that doesn't damage the planet and doesn't damage people. At that time, they called them Third World countries; they now call them Developing Nations.
Rock music gave the movement a public voice. It provided an easy entrance to the subculture and spread easily around the world. The early heroes of San Francisco rock not only broke the three-minute barrier in pop music -- stretching songs past the boundaries of the length of a 45 RPM single record for the first time -- but they were making startling, fresh music unlike anything that had ever been heard before.
Bob Weir/Grateful Dead: We were enamored of the notion that the times were changing. We were well aware that we were the tip of a pretty massive iceberg of population preponderance of youth and that we were in some regards the face of the youth culture movement.
Grace Slick/Jefferson Airplane: We thought enough information could change people's minds. If they sat around and considered it and weighed it, they'd see what was going on was probably not appropriate. And it's the same thing as anybody trying to do that today. ... But the basic desires of men to kill each other haven't changed at all. It's just stupid.
David Getz/Big Brother and the Holding Company: Who did more for African American people in this country -- Rosa Parks or Tiger Woods? Maybe somebody like Otis Redding and Janis Joplin, maybe that connection had more of a reverberation in the area of civil rights and racial awareness than some things that are more obviously political.
The message radiating from the Haight was far more personal than were political or social issues, complex as they were, such as the Vietnam War or voting rights in Mississippi. The very premises of modern American life were under scrutiny and suspicion.
David Harris: There was an understanding that the larger society was discredited and that the war was wrong, but the statement that was happening on the streets of the Haight-Ashbury was far more personal than that. It didn't address itself to the political issues of the day.
Coyote: I am still proud to say that I'm an anarchist. It's a viable political, decentralized system. I don't see much evidence that huge nationalized, centralized states, under either communism or capitalism, work very well for the majority of their citizens.
Slick: I've heard a lot of guys say "I became a lawyer because my father had a firm." They spent 25 years, wasted their lives, and they wanted to be a landscaper. You know what I mean? ... I did pretty much most of the stuff I had in mind. I don't sit around thinking I wasted my life making breakfast for old Fred. Uh-uh. Didn't do it.
The spirit of the late, lamented counterculture lives on. It lives at every yoga class in a strip mall, at every outdoor rock concert, in the organic produce section of your local supermarket and even in the heart of every personal computer.
Steve Wozniak: We were meeting at our Homebrew Computer Club right there at SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) in Menlo Park and were surrounded by a lot of the old hippie thinkers from the counterculture movement, basically trying to apply the same internal drives and passions into the use of technology to get us to that better, good world where people were equal and not so subject to the major corporations of the time, having all the power. The guy who knew how to program a computer was going to be the most important person in the company, more important than the CEO. It was so tied in with empowering the normal low-level people. That's not where it turned out now, but it's sure where the ideal got us going in that directions.
Brand: Burning Man, they have surpassed in every way the various things we were attempting with the Acid Tests and the Trips Festival. Burning Man has realized with such depth and thoroughness and ongoing originality and ability to scale and minimalist rules, but enough rules that you can function, and all the things we were farting around with, Larry Harvey has really pulled off.
David Hilliard: I think the entire political landscape has been changed by the actions of the people from the '60s. Many of the politicians who are now in Congress, senators, were people from the '60s. I think it had a tremendous impact on the political landscape.
Will Hearst III: I was in New York driving in a taxicab. Every taxicab driver is a philosopher, as well as politician and observer of the political scene. This guy was ragging on me. "God damn it -- the frickin' beatniks won." And I said, "What? What are you talking about?" Were driving through Manhattan in the year 2000. He says, "God damn, my kid goes to public school. God damn, when I went to school the teachers came in and they were dressed in a jacket and tie and it was Mr. this, Sir that. Now I go into my kid's classroom and the goddamned teacher looks like a beatnik. He's got jeans on. He's got an open neck shirt. They won, they won. That's what happened in America. They won."
Some things never change, of course: Shortly after this interview, when Joan Baez went to Washington, D.C., to sing with John Mellencamp at Walter Reed, the Army refused to allow her to appear.
Joan Baez: There is a song now that competes for me with "With God on Our Side," the song I've been waiting for, the song I thought was really brilliant and moving, and that's Tom Waits' song "The Day After Tomorrow." I'm going to go to Walter Reed Hospital for a John Mellencamp concert and sing that song in the middle of the concert. So it is so beautiful that it just kind of knocked my sock off. I just do it by myself. I don't do it with any other musician. Christ, what a song. I do it beautifully, if you don't mind my saying that.
Country Joe McDonald: All the things that Country Joe McDonald is, I became that in Summer of Love. The great thing about it is that it didn't stop. It gave me a reason to be alive, to live and to have hopes and dreams. ... It opened up a door and I walked through it and I'm still going through it right now.
Getz: I've done a lot of different things since the '60s, since Big Brother had its moment in time, its three and a half years. I've done a lot of other things. I've done art. I've done teaching. I've played jazz. I've done a whole lot of other things. But my tombstone is probably going to say Dave Getz played drums with Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company, no matter what I do.
Weir: I've never been called upon to really grow up. It just hasn't been part of my job description. What I grew into being back then, I'm still pretty much that same guy. I'm still open -- I try to stay open -- and I still question authority. I still believe in everybody pulling together and accomplishing stuff that is too difficult to do on any individual or small collective basis. I'm still making music and still wondering about it all, wondering about the cosmos and our place in it. Never gone away.
Series interviewees Here's a list of the people interviewed for today's segment of the Summer of Love anniversary series:
-- Angela Alioto, former San Francisco Supervisor, now working as a civil rights lawyer.
-- 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.
-- Peter Coyote, 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.
-- Carolyn Garcia (Mountain Girl), currently living in Oregon.
-- David Getz, musician, teacher of drumming and art, and still a member of Big Brother and the Holding Company.
-- David Harris, journalist and author of the 2004 book "The Crisis: The President, the Prophet, and the Shah -- 1979 and the Coming of Militant Islam."
-- Will Hearst III, partner in the venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers and a member of the board of directors of the Hearst Corp., owners of The Chronicle.
-- David Hilliard, visiting professor at the University of New Mexico.
-- Alton Kelley, artist, now living in Sonoma County.
-- Paul Krassner, author and social satirist whose most recent book, "One Hand Jerking: Reports from an Investigative Satirist," was published in 2005.
-- Keith Mather, works for the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection and remains involved in anti-war work.
-- Country Joe McDonald, musician, Berkeley resident and the father of two teenagers.
-- Michael Rossman, writer who continues to focus on counter-culture topics and building a huge poster archive at his home in Berkeley.
-- Grace Slick, painter who exhibits her portraits of other '60s rock stars all over the country, now living in Malibu.
-- David Smith, recently left the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic to start his own practice specializing in addiction medicine.
-- Margot St. James, retired, living on her grandmother's farm in Oregon state.
-- Bob Weir, musician, RatDog.
-- Steve Wozniak, the co-inventor of the Apple Computer, still attends rock concerts frequently.
The Chronicle looks back at the Summer of Love with a four-part series.
-- Sunday: The Summer of Love, 40 years ago.
-- Monday: Participants recall the time before that summer.
-- Tuesday: Thousands jam the city and the party goes bad.
-- Today: How it changed our lives.
Chronicle Staff Writer Jesse Hamlin contributed to this series. E-mail Joel Selvin at jselvin@sf chronicle.com.
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