Fifty years ago the United States was about to embark on an adventure which came to be known as The Summer of Love.
1967 was the year of the release of the Beatles’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and of debut albums from the Doors, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, among many others.
In addition to the thriving music scene, 1967 was also the year of the Summer of Love; the year that millions of now-illegal LSD tabs flooded America; Muhammad Ali was convicted of avoiding the draft; Martin Luther King Jr. publicly opposed the war in Vietnam; Stokely Carmichael championed Black Power; Israel won the Six-Day War, and Che Guevara was murdered.
It was the year that hundreds of thousands of protesters vainly attempted to levitate the Pentagon.
It was the year the word “hippie” peaked and died, and the Yippies were born.
Friend of MindPod Network, Danny Goldberg, has a new book coming out that explores what made 1967 such a pivotal year, one that resonates with millions of people around the globe.
Danny’s book, “In Search of The Lost Chord: 1967 and the Hippie Idea” is a subjective history of 1967, the year he graduated from high school. It is, he writes in the introduction, “an attempt at trying to remember the culture that mesmerized me, to visit the places and conversations I was not cool enough to have been a part of.”
It is also a refreshing and new analysis of the era; by looking at not only the political causes, but also the spiritual, musical, and psychedelic movements, Goldberg provides a unique perspective on how and why the legacy of 1967 lives on today.
Danny provided MindPod Network with an excerpt of the book (out June 6th) which you can find below.
THE SUMMER OF LOVE
(from Chapter 6, “Flower Power”)
The Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic was founded in June 1967 by Dr. David E. Smith, who immediately became a go-to source for journalists covering the Summer of Love.
Smith staffed the clinic with volunteers who contributed samples of penicillin and tranquilizers from local hospitals where they also interned.
Aware of police scrutiny, Smith put up a sign on the door that read,
“No dealing! No holding drugs. No using drugs. No alcohol. No pets. Any of these can close the clinic. We love you.”
The clinic served more than two hundred and fifty people a day. Among the most common ailments treated at the clinic were bad trips, drug overdoses, and venereal diseases. (As of the writing of this book in 2017, the clinic is still operating.)
There were ongoing tensions between hippies and local police, who periodically enforced the drug laws and were under constant pressure from local businesses to help minimize disruptions in traffic.
Censorship of the arts was still a major issue in 1967.
Lenny Bruce had died of an overdose the previous year, driven to despair by relentless and unconscionable obscenity prosecutions of his stand-up performances.
Statements of support for The Beard (a Michael McClure play that had been shut down by the cops) came in from Norman Mailer, Robert Creeley, and Allen Ginsberg, among others.
Parallel to the Haight world, the antiwar movement was surging, but combining the cultures remained elusive.
On April 15, the same day that Martin Luther King Jr. led the march to the United Nations in New York, there was a march in San Francisco to Kezar Stadium.
At the outset, there were 50,000 people there, but the pacifist organizers focused the program on the earnest but unhip peaceniks.
Country Joe and the Fish played from the back of a truck as the march went on, yet once inside the stadium they were only given enough time for two songs.
Ginsberg complained that they had foolishly ignored the hippies and the crowd dispersed early.
Nonetheless, the Vietnam War was inescapable even at the Oracle.
Early in 1967, they published “A Curse on the Men in Washington, Pentagon,” a Gary Snyder poem which addressed those at the Department of Defense with the lines:
“To trample your throat in your dreams / This magic I work, this loving I give / that my children may flourish / And yours won’t thrive.”
The decision to publish was controversial within the Oracle, and involved a vote by the entire staff.
By a margin of one vote, the paper moved forward with running the poem, a decision that resulted in a photographer, whose father worked at the Pentagon, leaving the magazine.
The August issue had the line “Psychedelics, Flowers, and War” on its cover, and it included two full pages dedicated to a Michael McClure poem.
In representing the sensibilities of the community that had put Haight-Ashbury on the cultural map, the Oracle focused much of its energy on visions of a more positive alternate society.
Many of the Oracle writers and artists refused to sign their work, because they felt that their writing came from a higher consciousness.
One frequent theme in the paper was getting back to nature.
A writer who identified himself by the initials S.B. extolled “those who seek being rather than status and who decide to return to the land often to attain an ethical relationship with nature.”
Other articles focused on organic gardening and astrology. There was even a piece on Aquarian tarot cards, and another headlined, “Dialogue between Astronomer and Philosopher.”
Letters to the editor poured in from newly formed communities around the country.*
Pre-order In Search of the Lost Chord on Amazon here> http://amzn.to/2q4ReWS
*Excerpted from In Search of the Lost Chord: 1967 and the Hippie Idea, copyright 2017 by Danny Goldberg, used with permission of Akashic Books (akashicbooks.com).