October 12, 1997
Moss Beach, California, USA
I just got back from the 30th anniversary of the "Summer of Love" celebration.
It was amazing. This morning, I made up a sign that said Golden Gate Park, and sat by the
highway reading a book until someone stopped. It only took about half an hour to get a
ride. The dudes who picked me up were classic Hippies, driving a beat-up VW van, and
talking about halucinogens the whole way there. Peter, the guy in the back with me, looked
like a bum, but turned out to be the author of a well-known book, The Psychedelics
Encyclopedia - Im sure you can figure out what that is about.
The Summer of Love was the climax of American counter-culture in the late sixties. During
that summer "Hippies" from all over the US came to Berkeley and the
Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco. This happened during the Vietnam war when there were
a lot of protests going on around Peoples Park on the UC Berkeley campus. People
were sick of seeing their brothers killed, and wanted to do something about it. The area
was also known for having "Electric Koolaid Test" groups experimenting with LSD.
Kids went to Haight-Ashbury, two intersecting streets, because this is where two of the
most popular bands of the day often hung out, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.
Stepping out of the van at Golden Gate Park, was like stepping out of a time machine.
There were folks wearing bell bottoms and all types of groovy clothes. I heard one dude
say, "Man... this is just like the old days... except the sound system is
better." With 10,000 people in attendance, it was like a miniature Woodstock. For most of the day, I just walked around and people-watched. There was no shortage of funky
people to photograph.
There was a professional clown, named Wavy Gravy, who was an old friend of the Grateful
Dead. He was cool. I was told that Ben and Jerrys had named an ice-cream flavor
after him. I met a guy named Christopher, who let me hold his parakeet, and I watched an
almost-naked black dude in high heels dance around while playing the violin for dollar
Things didnt get rockn on stage until later in the afternoon, when bands like
Country Joe started to play old tunes like his Vietnam protest song... "1-2-3-4, What
are we fightn for? Who cares, I dont give a damn... Next stop is Vietnam. And
its... 5-6-7-8, open-up the Pearly Gates! There aint no time to wonder why.
Yuppeee!!!.. were all going to die!"
The last artist on stage was the son of the man who wrote the song "Get
Together". His excellent rendition of that number was the perfect way to end the
concert. Everyone was totally into it, with their hands up in the air making peace signs
and singing along... "Come on people now... Smile on your brother... everybody get
together... and try to love one another, right now!"
After the concert, there were lots of people hanging around and police on horse-back began
asking them to leave while there was still light. In the old days, they wouldnt have
asked so nicely. Unlike the old days, they werent dealing with a bunch of punks kids.
These were mothers and fathers, grandparents, and, possibly, a few lawyers.
I left Golden Gate Park just after sunset, and walked through a parking lot asking folks
if they were heading toward Moss Beach. After walking through the entire parking lot and
coming out unsuccessful, I decided to start walking toward the highway, 2 miles away. I
figured Id be picked up long before I got there, considering the steady stream of
cars departing the Summer of Love event. As I was walked along the road, with my thumb
out, there must have been two hundred cars that drove right past me. I began to get a
little ticked-off, and thought to myself, "Where is all your love and understanding
now, ya bunch of Mercedes-driving Yuppies? So much for that "helping out your fellow
man" crap, you were singing about an hour ago."
It was late and I was getting fed up, so I tried something new. I waited at a stop sign,
and when a car pulled up, Id stand only a couple feet away and look them in the
eyes. The driver of the fifth car opened his door and I got in. The guys name was
Steve, and we actually had a friend in common - the hostel warden at Pigeon Point. Steve
lives in the town before Moss Beach, but drove me all the way to Johns front door. Is
that amazing or what!?!