I'm going tomorrow-
San Francisco still feels the love
Concerts, tours mark 40th anniversary of hippie summer
By BRIAN J. CANTWELL / The Seattle Times
BRIAN J. CANTWELL/ Seattle Times
Tie-dye delights never go out of style at Positively haight Street in San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO – The Summer of Love turns 40 this year, and parties are planned. So is this the death knell for Haight-Ashbury's hipness? If 30 was over the hill in the '60s, surely 40 represents a headlong tumble toward an open grave.
Actually, by the time of the Haight district's famed Summer of Love in 1967, when the young and the restless flocked here from all over the nation, the Haight's hippies already were a dying cliché by their own proclamation: They even staged a mock funeral.
But the 40th birthday isn't going uncelebrated. A Labor Day weekend bash is planned for Golden Gate Park, and a July concert reunion brings nostalgic names such as Big Brother & the Holding Company and Jefferson Starship to Monterey, two hours to the south.
Meanwhile, it's easy to stage your own observance with a walking tour of Haight-Ashbury with a guide who's been around long enough to know the neighbors.
"Mommy and Daddy brought me out here from New York to hippie-fy me during the Summer of Love because they thought I was too conservative, and boy did they regret it," said Izu, our 53-year-old guide, who was 14 in '67, and who moved to the Haight permanently in 1971. (Her last name is Interlandi, but she doesn't use it.)
With a tie-dyed skirt and long black hair, she gabbed and laughed nonstop as we wandered the district on the 2 ½-hour Haight-Ashbury Flower Power Walking Tour.
We saw the Victorian house where the Grateful Dead used to live, right across the street from the Victorian where the Hell's Angels motorcycle club used to hang out.
Standing on Ashbury Street between the houses, Izu told us some insider stories:
"A lady from Long Island bought the Hell's Angels house in 1996, and she made it beautiful. It was a dump when the Angels had it. And, every Thanksgiving, hundreds of Hell's Angels still ride by to honor this house, and she comes out to greet them in full black leather. Then they go down to eat together at the People's Cafe on Haight Street."
When Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead band leader, died in 1995, hundreds of fans showed up at the house at 710 Ashbury. A couple who have owned the house since 1980 were respectful of Garcia's memory, Izu said.
"People came and made an altar up the steps of the house, with candles, crystals and flowers, and the owners carefully walked around everything when they came and went."
In 1967, Hunter Thompson wrote of the neighborhood: "There will always be at least one man with long hair and sunglasses playing a wooden pipe, a hairy blond fellow wearing a Black Bart cowboy hat playing bongos ... and a dazed-looking girl wearing a blouse but no bra." On our walk, I think we passed each of them.
And at the end of the tour, we all got big, sincerely sweet hugs from our guide, who bid us farewell like lifelong friends.
WHEN YOU GO
•The 2 ½-hour Haight-Ashbury Flower Power Walking Tour is offered Tuesdays, Saturdays and Fridays. Tickets: $20 per person; 9 and younger free.
Contact: 1-800-979-3370; www.hippygourmet.com (click on "walking tour").
•The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society has a free 2 ½-hour High on the Haight Walking Tour, 2 p.m. Saturday. Begins at 231 Frederick St. Information: www.sfhistory.org.
•Summer of Love 40th Anniversary is a free musical event planned for Speedway Meadow in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, Sept. 2.
Information: www.2b1records .com/summeroflove40th.
•Monterey Summer of Love Festival 40th Anniversary Celebration, at the same venue as 1967's Monterey Pop Festival, is July 28-29 in Monterey, Calif.
Information: sfsummerof love.com.
San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau: 415-391-2000; www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com.
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