TIMOTHY LEARY’S LAST TRIP
IF YOU ARE GOING TO SAN FRANCISCO
Counterculture of the 1960′
“If You’re Going to San Fransisco…Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.”
The Hippie Lifestyle
The period of the 1960’s was a time of rapid social change and immergence in the United States. A leftist and liberal philosophy within the society, coupled with the powerful anti-Vietnam War movement, made the 1960’s an extremely memorable era. Fueled by the urge to break away from the conservative mindsets of the ideal 1950’s family, the counterculture generation took a stand against such restricting factors. In doing so, the “hippie” culture took root and spread throughout the United States, mainly amongst the young, college students who were attracted to such a free lifestyle. Philosophies such as free love, communal living, and experimentation with various mind-altering drugs were trademark of the hippie lifestyle. Partaking in activities such as these separated the people from the previous churchgoing, family oriented decade and a powerful counterculture developed.
“If it feels good, do it,” sums the entire attitude of the hippie generation. Each lived a carefree life in which they could express themselves to the fullest and carry on unrestricting customs that were never before seen in society. Constraint of the body as well as the mind was ruled non-cohesive in the beliefs of this new generation. The people wanted to be as free as possible and did so by expressing themselves in unlimited ways. The common characteristics of the hippie were long hair, second-hand, colorful clothing, flowers and beads as well as sandals or bare feet. Sexual experimentation thrived through the culture as free love and casual relations took the place of family values and strict Christian beliefs in a lifetime partnership.
“The counterculture questioned sexual morality and proposed many different models: extended sexual families, sex orgies, sex-therapy groups, acceptance of homosexuality and, most of all, a positive, joyful celebration of sexuality, as opposed to the uptight morality of the previous generation,” (Miles 13).
The open and free sexuality brought about a huge shift in the culture of the United States. People of the counterculture no longer felt the harsh constrictions of society and they each experienced a strong feeling of liberation because of this. When birth control became readily available to the public, women were given more freedom in their sexuality and this fueled the philosophy of free love. Such freedom among the hippie community sparked questioning of sexual roles and demonstrated how the hippie culture was contributing largely to the change of customs in society.
As contemporary personal values and beliefs flourished, people of these similar views tended to join together through communal living. Many hippies of the nation migrated to the West coast of the United States after they dropped out of college to express their freedom and beliefs in a nonrestrictive society.
“Searching for a place in which they could feel free to express their political views and creative spirit, many found themselves in California or New York. Most gravitated to a desolate part of San Francisco known as the Haight-Ashbury District. This neighborhood, close to San Francisco, State College, provided homes for many students,” (Hoy 2).
People of the counterculture found communal living beneficial to their personal needs as well as to their essential beliefs. When living with other people who possess the same views and methods of survival, the group generally tends to conflict with one another much less. When people find benefit in easier living, namely in communes, they are able to agree with the people around them, in turn creating a generally peaceful environment. One of the most popular hippie gatherings was in the Haight-Ashbury District in San Francisco, California. Sparked by the opening of a Psychedelic shop that sold books on drugs and oriental philosophy, flutes, beads, and other hippie paraphernalia. The youth of the counterculture were attracted to this and were quickly drawn to the area. The district provided places to live for the growing population of college dropouts and fed the culture that was driving the counterculture of the United States. There are numerous cases, however, in which when not controlled or peaceful, communes can be a negative thing. If not cautious, the commune could turn into a cult. One of the most famous “communes” of the era was under Charles Manson, a crazed murderer and essential madman. He is highly notorious for acts of sodomy, violent murder, rape, and robbery, among numerous other serious felonies (Miles 272). Manson’s cult is prime example of how communal living could be an evil institution. Although there are unfortunate cases such as this, for the most part, communal living was beneficial to the people within the institution and was a peaceful way of sharing the wealth of life.
Along with free love and revolutionary philosophies, the drug culture was a main and important attribute to the new counterculture of the United States. It was not uncommon for hippies to have marijuana or LSD in their possession. Mind altering drugs were extremely popular amongst the youth culture because they were able to free their minds more effectively.
“While listening to this (psychedelic rock) some hippies smoked marijuana or took LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), a powerful drug that includes hallucinations,” (Hoy 2).
Getting high was the ultimate method for a hippie to release their minds and relieve any sort of impurity or stress in their life. Drugs were a lifestyle, providing income for the majority, usually just enough money for personal marijuana purchase and basic living costs. Rising celebrities, mainly on the rock scene front, such as Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles experimented in the drug culture. Hendrix dabbled heavily in LSD while the Beatles experimented with LSD as well and marijuana on occasion. Paul McCartney of the Beatles answers questions,
“’Do you think you have encouraged your fans to take drugs?’
‘I don’t think it will make any difference. You know, I don’t think it will make any difference. You know, I don’t think my fans are going to take drugs just because I did,’” (Miles 237).
The celebrities claim to not want to directly influence the fans into taking on the drug culture, but were rather experimenting with it for their personal curiosity or interest. Even though marijuana was technically illegal, it was only the rich and famous who were caught and penalized with scandal. This was mostly because the conservative remnants of society rejected the hippie lifestyle and its influence on society as a whole. Conservatives took action and turned events into scandals in order to downplay and discredit the hippie movement. Although drugs such as marijuana and LSD have been illegal, except for medicinal uses, before and during the 1960s, they were not uncommon in the slightest. Drugs were readily available to the common hippie of the 1960s and allowed them to free their mind and experience an alternate way of life.
The hippie lifestyle matched that of any other new and different way of life, revolutionary and for the most part, popular. The 1960’s was a period in which college students “tune in, turn on, and drop out”, like psychedelic drug research advocate, Timothy Leary states. The revolutionists of the era expressed their New Leftist beliefs by expanding their sexual freedoms, living together in communes, and involving themselves in the powerful drug culture which would allow them to ideally live by their free beliefs. The hippie lifestyle was truly a side of society which effectively expressed and practiced their ways of life alongside the disapproving conservative America of the previous decade.
Counterculture of the 1960’s
Express Your Inner Hippie;
the Art, Fashion and Music of the 1960’s
The counterculture of the United States brought on a new sense and philosophy of life and along with this, different and new ways of expression. The counterculture youth of the nation utilized their first Amendment rights to their full advantage in terms of protest, music, literature and art. The freedom of expression was the main attribute to the carefree, hippie lifestyle. The youth expressed their beliefs through freedom of expression by dawning eccentric clothing, creating new artwork and literature, and expressing themselves through song.
With new ideas about life came new designs for clothing and trends in the 1960’s. Designers fashioned new clothing for the expanding hippie culture whom were attracted to the bright, psychedelic colors and patterns. The drug culture and massive quantities of LSD being consumed fed the appeal of such bizarre fashion. “‘With acid, there was an emergence of young people dressed to die for’ –Christopher Gibbs,” (Miles 255). Designers purposefully created patterns and colors that imitated an “acid trip”.
“The patterns, suitably enough, were created by the burning of acetate colored slides with acid…Colors and materials floated, crossed over into one another and seemed to expand and blur as the wearer danced,” (Miles 255).
People made statements with their outlandish attire and attitudes. The clothing was a way in which the youth could express themselves to the public as free individuals who had no regard for what people had to say about them or how they dressed. Some hippies did not feel the need for such expensive, outrageous clothing. Some were content with less expensive or home-made clothing.
“The 1960’s describes hippies wearing flowers in their hair, dressing in second-hand clothes from thrift and army surplus stores. They wore ponchos, bell-bottoms decorated with patches and embroidered tie-dye shirts, leather sandals, bright colors, and intricate patterns…Women wore men’s clothes and ‘granny dresses’ without bras because they found them too restricting,” (Hoy 1).
Some hippies did not feel the need to spend so much money on the highest and fashionable trends of the era. Instead, they kept their attire simple and used what money they made for essential living and most times drugs.
The fundamental origin of the 1960’s hippie culture was derived from the “Beat Generation” of the late 1950’s. Generally known as “Beatniks”, these people started to really experiment in the field of art, namely poetry.
“Beatniks frequently rejected middle-class American values, customs, and tastes in favor of radical politics and exotic jazz, art and literature,” (‘Beatnick’ 1).
The “New Beats” developed into the Hippie Generation in the 1960’s as the culture in popularity and exposure increased dramatically. Beatniks were struggling artists, trying to find new ways to express themselves and quickly found an outlet in poetry. Aside from new literature which fed the public alternate ways of life and philosophies, the psychedelic poster business took form and exploded onto the scene. Bold, fluorescent colors and intricate patterns were also reflected in the art of poster making. The fascination with such bizarre patterns and colors was apparent through both the clothing and the posters.
“1966 was the year that psychedelic posters really took off…The letters were often so distorted that they were very difficult to decipher-unless you were stoned. This made the posters and the events they were advertising more appealing,” (Miles 100).
People would design these posters such as fashion designers created clothes and outfits for the hippie generation to wear. People of the generation were highly attracted to them, just as much as they were attracted to the drug culture that was thriving in the nation. Andy Warhol, a famous artist of the era, designed album covers for bands as well as works of art. He is known for many works, among them the psychedelic four-frame portrait of Marylyn Monroe and the can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup. Busses that transported hippies to the West Coast, such as San Francisco, were painted with similar designs and plenty of bright colors. Bright colors and intricate patterns, as well as deep thought were methods of effective expression during the counterculture era.
Throughout the decades of the 20th century, each has had their own label in terms of musical revolution. For example, swing was popular in the 1920’s, jazz and blues through the next two and a half decades, and rock ‘n’ roll in the conservative 1950’s. The 1960’s era is known for the emergence of psychedelic rock, a genre which hippies listened to when high on drugs, believing they could reach a higher place. The “British Invasion” of bands from England contributed to the explosion of this new rock genre in the United States. “Then came the Beatles, followed rapidly by the Stones and a whole explosion of beat groups that transformed rock ‘n’ roll, if not overnight, then in a year or so,” (Miles 76). The Beatles were a crazed sensation in the United States; they gained a solid fan base in the country amongst the youth. Amongst the most popular groups were the individuals who spoke out against issues with their music. People such as Bob Dylan expressed his protest point of view through acoustic singing and song-writing. He soon became “an electrified spokesperson for a generation in 1965.” (Miles 50). Artists such as Dylan were able to express their views on current issues of the country because they had a right to do so, and because they wanted to be heard. Janis Joplin, a female artistic activist, both for anti-war protest and feminisms in this era because she was able to express herself through music, much like the rest of the counterculture in the United States. The new-wave genre of psychedelic rock took firm hold on the nation and grew more defined as its popularity expanded and the hippie generation found another effective way to freely express themselves.
With a completely worry and carefree lifestyle, the people of the Hippie generation and counterculture used their rights as citizens of the United States to their advantage. They could outright ridicule America’s involvement in the Vietnam War and make statements against the restrictive society that possessed the previous decade. Counterculture youth made statements with their fashion sense, their creative and appealing artwork and through their own voice, either through poetry and literature or song. It was never uncommon to see people of this generation dressing bizarrely, or even simply, painting the flowers and peace signs on the side of an old bus in neon colors, and never without a guitar or flute. Through each of these means, the hippie generation effectively defines their views and purpose, and in turn, positively share it with the rest of society.
“Beatnik.” RetroGalaxy.Com. 2007. Online. Internet. 06.06.07. Available:
Hoy, Rosemary. “Flower Children Chose Alternative Lifestyle.” Borderlands.
Miles, Barry. Hippy. New York. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc, 2003.