Caroline and I returned from the Netherlands on Friday, so we had the Father’s Day Weekend to recover from jetlag:
I hit a funk of sorts, which coincided with an oppressive heat which was so intolerable that we escaped into the city yesterday, to visit the Summer of Love Exhibit at the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.
Even though the West Coast Left came out of the hippie movement and Free Speech Movement, I think we’re possibly overstating the political significance of The Summer of Love.
Mind you, in 1967, there was no Internet or Facebook but somehow the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco became the central gathering place for the Summer of Love. Hippies from all over the United States fetched a Greyhound bus or hitchhiked to the Haight, and center of the so-called Diggers, a group (www.diggers.org) which was not unlike the Provo group and movement in Amsterdam.
Originally, they were a theater group but soon they became a political and anti-capitalist hippie movement that declared possessions and ownership the root of all evil. Wanting to abolish trade, they started Free Stores (much like the white and free bicycles in Amsterdam by Provo) all over the Haight where you could come and take what you wanted. Every day, there was free food in the park as well, and there was a free clinic for health care.
The ambiance was pretty groovy in 1967 but sadly, the druggies took over from the Diggers. At the end of 1968, there were more heads and freaks than hippies or true reformers and thus that special summer of 1967, its music, its flower children and its idealism turned into a winter of LSD. Hence maybe Eric Cartman’s quote who said that hippies wanted to save the world but all they did was smoke dope and play frisbee.
What has remained is the Victorian and many-colored homes in the Haight. The free stores are gone but the eclectic shops, vintage clothing, the smell of incense (as well as marijuana) are still there, and the atmosphere, albeit tarnished by mass tourism, is still somewhat palpable. Janis Joplin lived in the Haight, at 122 Lyon Street. Rumor has it that one room was painted black completely, and that, if you walked into her house, you stumbled over the empty bottles.
And then it was Monday… GoFundMe was launched in the Netherlands today, a feat I and my Dutch colleague helped make happen, so I’m moving on– new clients, more work, and hopefully a little less heat…