Sunday, August 28, 2016

I was there as Haight went from High to Low

(A conversation I had after a 12 Step meeting made me realize I should write about this:) 

I saw the Haight Ashbury go from wonderful to awful.  I got to The City right after the Summer of Love was over, in the fall of 1967, but I had a classmate Cindy Lindebergh who dropped out senior year to be there when it started. When she came back to Arcadia, we all started wearing clothes like hers that showed our nipples. Another fashion statement Cindy brought back from the summer of love was wearing very short skirts with no underwear.  But to me that seemed unsanitary.
I got up to San Francisco a few months later at the tail end of the phenomenon and the Haight was still wonderful. You walked into a person’s home because their door was open, stayed there for a few days, shared with everybody else who was staying there, then spontaneously walked out the door and connected with a different group of people, or the same people just in a different place. People shared, people trusted, there was music and incense in the air with marijuana and hasheesh smoke but no hard drugs, unless you call LSD a hard drug, it can be transmitted. Sometimes in the Haight at that time there were so many people tripping on LSD that you got a “contact high” just from being in the vicinity.  
I went back to L.A. and returned to S.F. a few months later-  because that was part of life in California in those days, hitchhiking or riding up and down Highway One. So less than a year later I once again walked through the Haight Ashbury District and the only thing that was the same was the buildings.  Now doors were locked and people sleeping in storefronts were not hippies, they were heroin addicts. There was not as much instant trust as there were guys intimidating you into giving them money; they weren’t sharing flowers, now they were sharing dirty needles.  Dark circles rimmed people’s eyes, the sidewalks were stained and grimy. Where there once seemed to be endless sunshine and love, everything now felt grimy.
It only took a few months.  The Haight Ashbury now had a completely different feeling from the summer of love. Looking back on it now, it seems more like the beginning of the era of hate we seem to be in today.
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As I go from city to city in the USA I see homeless people and think, in a way the hippies started this.  We thought we were changing the world, raising man’s consciousness, bringing an end to war and pestilence. No one would ever suffer or even go hungry again if the hippies had their way.
Seems the opposite happened instead.
Wait a minute, there is more to this story.
The hippie movement was not just about getting high and being silly. 
We created a subculture on purpose. 
The Vietnam War created the hippies. 
I was still in high school when I went to my first anti-war demonstration and was shocked at the way our own police forces treated us as criminals, when what we were doing was patriotic, innocent, even naïve. We were protesting a war.  In a few cases, we ended up getting sprayed with teargas, then there was the Kent State incident where the National Guard gunned a guy down and killed him on the college campus for protesting the war.
No matter what we did, the war got worse and the treatment of protesters became more aggressive so – an idea spread through the country. 
We Dropped Out
Hippies were created at first as a political movement. We refused to participate in anything that was “establishment” because that meant you were indirectly supporting the war.  Instead of going to chain grocery stores for our food, or regular restaurants, we grew our own produce and soon the first organic grocery stores and cafes opened in small towns where hippies lived nearby. 
We started a movement, we had the best of intentions, but we were also so naïve.

That's why today, even though we thought the Beatles with their songs of hope and love would live forever, it’s the Rolling Stones with their grit and grind whose music lives on 

Background:

Summer of Love - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_of_Love

Wikipedia
The Summer of Love was a social phenomenon that occurred during the summer of 1967, when as many as 100,000 people, mostly young people sporting ...
Date‎: ‎1967
Location‎: ‎Haight-Ashbury ‎, San Francisco ...
Participants‎: ‎Possibly 100,000 people
Wow, I forgot, we also started Free Clinics. Hippies deserve more credit than we've gotten. I mean, everything Bernie Sanders said in his presidential campaign originated among the hippies. 

Posted by Kay Ebeling
Producer, City of Angels Blog since 2007
Not just L.A., the city of angels is everywhere
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