Tag Archives: music

Your Top 40s Songs of the Sixties Decade

Standard

Your Top 40s Songs of the Sixties Decade 

according to your vote

  60s decade Top 40 Music CountdownThe votes are in and your votes have been counted. Which song is the number one song of the decade according to your vote? Did your songs you voted on make these top 40? You can now listen to the most popular songs that our visitors enjoy the most. Where were you when these songs were being played on the radio for the very first time? What are your memories when that special song or songs are played? Well now is the time to grab your favorite beverage and your favorite partner and listen as we once again go back to the 60s to listen to the greatest music ever recorded. Neal Stevens plays these songs you voted as your favorites from the 60s decade. Enjoy listening to this great music excursion back to the 60s as they are counted down according to how you voted.

Click Here to play the greatest music ever recorded.

The Tiny island on the Thames that once held The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and the UK’s Largest Hippie Commune

Standard

The Tiny island on the Thames that once held The Rolling Stones, David

Bowie, and the UK’s Largest Hippie Commune

By

21ST AUG, 2014

15

Eel Pie Landscape 3

Let’s take a walk along the towpath by the Thames, breathing in the heady scent of summer. See that island in the middle? That’s where we’re headed. And I’ve got a map, so I know it’s there!

lanscape 6

Map of Island

Past the gently bobbing riverboats moored at Twickenham,

Boatyard 2

Until we reach a single footbridge.

Over the bridge 2

Here we go…

Private Island Sign

And we’re in!

Welcome to the exclusive and elusive Eel Pie Island, former site to the now legendary Eel Pie Island Hotel and one of London’s best kept secrets. It’s tiny expanse is home to just 120 residents, but don’t be fooled by its size- this little island holds an extraordinary history and quirky character all its own.

A postcard showing the Eel Pie Hotel c. 1900

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s rumoured that King Henry VIII used the island during the 1500′s as a courting ground for his many mistresses, and from 1830 onwards its beautiful three-storey Eel Pie Island Hotel made it a popular leisure resort for holidaymakers. The island got its unusual name from the tasty eel pies that were sold by its residents to passing river traders. Although this specialty died out, the name remained.

A photograph from 1952

The footbridge was built in 1957, until then visitors had to pull themselves across the water by rope and paddle boat

But things really took off during the 50′s and 60′s, when the hotel’s old, elegant 19th century ballroom and dusty bar played host to numerous gigs and raves, gradually transforming Eel Pie Island into a buzzing and eclectic music venue.

Pink Floyd

It began to attract a flood of up-and-coming but as yet unknown bands who went on to become some of the biggest names in rock and roll history. Music legends who graced its shores include Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, David Bowie and of course, The Rolling Stones.

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones Ad

Oh for the time when The Stones were a weekly fixture! Below, a young Mick Jagger plays a gig on the island with his unknown band in 1963.

With bands like these playing almost every week, it’s easy to see why many claim Eel Pie Island launched the UK’s first underground music scene. Gigs were infamously raucous and the liqueur (amongst other things) flowed freely. Crowded, loud, smoky, sweaty, and flooded with free spirits and new music lovers from all over the world, it was an escapist’s paradise and the perfect place to leave the daily grind behind.

Rave Island 1960

Rave 1960 2

Rave 6

Rave 7

Rave 5

Interestingly, the owner of the hotel and founder of the Eelpiland Club, Arthur Chisnell, often used profits from the club to help a number of hard-up teenagers who attended the gigs to get a better start in life. An avid social researcher and philanthropist, Arthur was also a bit of a bohemian at heart and had a wicked sense of humour. Check out these Eel Pie Island ‘passports’ that were issued to jivers in the 50′s and 60′s.

Passport 1

Passport 2

But when the club failed to raise the £200,000 required for much-needed repairs it was forced to close, and the hotel was eventually occupied by a group of anarchists. The island quickly grew into an oasis for society’s waifs and strays, becoming the UK’s largest hippie commune by 1970.

Eel Pie Hotel c. 1970

Hippy gathering on the banks of Eel Pie Island c. 1970

Hippy Group 2

Hippies 4

Eel Pie Hotel c. 1970 2

Although the authorities deemed the hotel ‘uninhabitable’, they admitted that the hippies and the children on the island appeared to be ‘healthy and well cared for’.

Hippie Group

Hippies 2

Hippy 9

But when a mysterious fire destroyed the famous hotel in 1970, it was abandoned, left derelict, and eventually demolished in favour of a new block of flats, much to the islanders’ dismay.

The abandoned hotel

Derelict Hotel 2

we'relow

The hippies and hotel may be gone, but Eel Pie Island has lost none of its bohemian flair. Today it’s home to a colourful array of inventors, artists, craftsmen and boat builders, who decorate their houses, studios and little alleyways with Alice in Wonderland charm.

Artist's House 2

Artist's House 6

Loveshack 1

pumpkin patch 1

Car in garden 1

Artist's House 4

Front steps

Adornments range from the enchanting to bizarre, and you can find pretty much anything in their gardens…

Garden 2

True to its heritage, a number of these beautiful old boatyards are still in use.

Boat House 1

Boatyard 5

Although the footbridge is only open to the public twice a year for the summer and Christmas markets, these are special occasions- a chance for people to browse the arts and crafts on display,

Market 2

Craft 1

Meander through the islanders’ quaint and quirky lanes,

Lane 1

And meet some of the artists who live there.

Sheba Cassini

Lee Campbell

I get the feeling there’s more to this secretive island than meets the eye. Unexplored paths and secret gardens beckon…

But we’ll have to leave that for another day. The light is fading, and twinkling lights guide the way. Back we turn, past the artists’ houses,

Artist's Studio Night 1

Back over the bridge,

Bridge 2

And with one last glance over our shoulders, we leave the Eel Pie isle behind and head towards the gathering dusk.

Landscape Night 1

A book has been published on the history of Eel Pie Island that includes many interviews, images and anecdotes from those who spent time there. It’s available for purchase here.

You can also take a look at this short documentary from 1967, which shows footage of the Eel Pie Island Hotel and details how the club helped several who attended gigs there.

All photos via Flickr

Who Are All Those People In Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

Standard

Who Are All Those People In Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

posted by ricky smith, Spacious Planet, May 08, 2012

The album art from Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles is one of themost popular album covers in music history.
beatles sgt pepper
The cover is a collage of more than 60 famous people. Most of the people selected for the collage were requested by The Beatles. For example, George Harrison requested the three Hindu gurus who appear in the collage.
Lennon requested Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus Christ. However, Jesus and Hitler were rejected because the record label feared a public backlash. The record label was nervous because of the controversy over the US Butcher Cover a year earlier. Mahatma Gandhi was excluded because EMI was worried about a negative reaction in India.EMI needed the permission of all living persons in the collage, creating a nightmare for their legal department. All the celebrities in the collage gave their permission. Only one person, Leo Gorcey was removed from the collage because he demanded a payment of $400.

The following is the complete list of all the people on the cover of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band:

Top Row- from left to right
Yukteswar Giri – Hindu guru
sri yukteswar giri

Aleister Crowley – Magician
aleister crowley

Mae West – Actress
mae west

Lenny Bruce – Comedian
lenny bruce

Karlheinz Stockhausen – German Composer
karlheinz stockhausen

W. C. Fields – Comedian
wc fields

Carl Jung – Psychologist
carl jung

Edgar Allan Poe – Writer and Poet
edgar allan poe

Fred Astaire – Actor
fred astaire

The Vargas Girl – Fictional Pin-up Girl
the vargas girl

Richard Merkin – Artist
richard merkin

Huntz Hall – Actor
huntz hall

Simon Rodia- Designer
simon rodia

Bob Dylan – Musician
bob dylan

Second Row
Aubrey Beardsley- Illustrator
aubrey beardsley

Sir Robert Peel- 19th Century British Prime Minister
sir robert peel

Aldous Huxley – Writer
aldous huxley

Dylan Thomas – Poet
dylan thomas

Terry Southern – Writer
terry southern

Dion – Singer
dion

Tony Curtis – Actor
tony curtis

Wallace Berman – Artist
wallace berman

Tommy Handley – Comedian
tom mix

Marilyn Monroe – Actress
marilyn monroe

William S. Burroughs – Writer
william s burroughs

Mahavatar Babaji – Hindu Guru
sri mahavatar babaji

Stan Laurel – Comedian
stan laurel

Richard Lindner – Artist
richard lindner

Oliver Hardy- Comedian
oliver hardy

Karl Marx- Political Philosopher
karl marx

H. G. Wells – Writer
hg wells

Paramahansa Yogananda- Hindu Guru
sri paramahansa yogananda

Sigmund Freud – Psychiatrist
sigmund freud

Second Row
Stuart Sutcliffe- Musician / Former Beatle
stuart sutcliffe

Max Miller- Comedian
max miller

A Petty Girl – A Series of Cartoon Pin-up Girls by Artist George Petty
a second petty girl appears in the front row
the petty girl

Marlon Brando – Actor
marlon brando

Tom Mix – Actor
tom mix

Oscar Wilde- writer
oscar wilde

Tyrone Power- Actor
tyrone power

Larry Bell- Artist
larry bell

David Livingstone – Missionary
david livingstone

Johnny Weissmuller- Actor
johnny weissmuller

Stephen Crane – Writer
stephen crane

Issy Bonn – Comedian
issy bonn

George Bernard Shaw – Playwright
george bernard shaw

H. C. Westermann – Sculptor
hc westermann

Albert Stubbins- English Football Player
albert stubbins

Sri Lahiri Mahasaya – Guru
lahiri mahasaya

Lewis Carroll – Writer
lewis carroll

T. E. Lawrence- The Historical Lawrence of Arabia
te lawrence

Front Row
Sonny Liston- Boxer
sonny liston

Shirley Temple (appears three times on the cover)
shirley temple

Albert Einstein – Physicist
albert einstein

The Beatles (John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and
George Harrison) all appear twice – once as wax models.
the beatles

Bobby Breen – Musician
bobby breen

Marlene Dietrich – Actress
marlene dietrich

Diana Dors – Actress
diana dors

A few additional facts about the Sgt Pepper Album Art:

  • Two figures in the cover photo are hairdresser’s wax dummies.
  • It was the first UK album to have the lyrics printed on the inside cover.
  • There was a long running urban legend that the green plants in the photo are cannabis.

Taking it Furthur – Waking the Dead

Standard

Taking it Furthur – Waking the Dead

CANNABIS CULTURE – The Grateful Dead has never really been a band as much as it’s been a culture that has to be experienced to be believed. The band’s latest incarnation, Furthur, continues the tradition and finds new ways to deconstruct and express their musical creativity.

Furthur concert poster. (Click to enlarge)Furthur concert poster. (Click to enlarge)Cuthbert Ampitheater, Eugene Oregon – September 24, 2011

“The way things were going, I never would have expected to be here at this moment. This is the overtime round, and every gathering like this is a blessing. And the way the band is playing, you can tell they know that and they’re making every note count”
– Delirious elder Deadhead between sets

Who’d have thought that forty-six years after playing their first gig together, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh would still care so much about their music? It would have been forgivable if after so much time, their live show had ground down to a well-rehearsed routine or nothing more than a workmanlike celebration of their greatest hits; there are plenty of classic rock acts on the road that give their audiences just that and still manage to send them home happy.

But, simple crowd-pleasing has never been the forte of anyone associated with the Grateful Dead. From the very beginning, they’ve asked more than that from their audience. Being a Deadhead has always been more of a back and forth two-way conversation between the artists and fans. It’s never been simply about consuming pre-digested entertainment that can be carelessly disposed of and forgotten as easily as a fast food wrapper. There’s always been lots of gristle to ruminate over and chew on as the music Bob Weir and Phil Lesh are conjuring these days continues to demand so much of the listener. In the public imagination, The Grateful Dead may always remain as little more than a psychedelic band – a throwback to the summer of love who lull their soft-headed fans with utopian ballads about peace and contentment. Fortunately, that’s only the tip of the iceberg as anyone who’s followed the music’s nearly fifty year history knows. Songs like ‘Trucking’, ‘Ripple’ and ‘Uncle John’s Band’ are classics of the hippie era and still figure prominently in Furthur’s repertoire, but if that’s all that Jerry Garcia and company contributed to the history of music, it wouldn’t account for the dedication and diversity of the crowds that continue to gather and follow the band as it selectively tours around North America.

A good show - Phil and Bob.A good show – Phil and Bob.By playing music that ranges from crass roadhouse boogie to covers of Marty Robbins country classics with generous doses of everything from techno to free jazz thrown into the mix, the Grateful Dead have always thrown a huge musical net. As risky and improbable as such a creative approach sounds, it’s paid off hugely over the years as their longevity certainly attests. When they’re on – as they were this last weekend in Eugene – it’s not much of a stretch to suggest that no one plays better than they do. To hear them navigate the elliptical twists and turns of “Estimated Prophet”, “Dark Star”, “Caution…” and “The Eleven” – some of the most challenging compositions in their repertoire – without flinching or hesitation should convince the most skeptical of music fans that the members of Furthur are at the absolute peak of their musical game. Furthur’s ferocious and eclectic approach to sound encourages the audience to listen – really listen – and engage with the hidden potential that rests inside of every song, no matter how many times they’ve heard them before.

Going to a Furthur show in 2011 might be more than a little overwhelming to the uninitiated because the Grateful Dead has never really been a band as much as it’s been a culture and an extended nomadic community of freaks and diverse individuals whose gatherings have a power and appeal that has to be experienced to be believed. A person parachuted into ground zero – the centre of the Furthur parking lot – during the band’s weekend stand in Eugene could be forgiven for wondering if they’d somehow been sent back in time to 1968 rather than the early fall of a year more than a decade into the new millennium. For to look around at the tie dyed buses, burrito kitchens, freak-out tents and spontaneous drum circles that were forming all over the property around the stadium, the atmosphere that was created felt more like Woodstock or a Rainbow gathering than anything one would expect to experience in contemporary America. Scantily clad young men and women wafted through the crowd holding huge kind buds, chocolate covered mushrooms and banners offering a variety of psychedelics and no one batted an eye. Baskets of hash brownies were passed through the throng of people gathering outside the gate. No one took more than their share. People who had taken too much of a substance were kindly escorted to a quiet place, supported by compassionate individuals who patiently talked them down. If there was another America somewhere outside of Eugene this weekend, it was a universe away and nobody here wanted to know about it.

It may have been many years since any of the members of the Grateful Dead took any acid themselves, but the imprinting of the thousands upon thousands of trips they took left its mark on them many years ago. No one anywhere – to this day – can create a more psychedelic soundscape and environment than the members of Furthur when they’re on a roll. It’s a power they came by early and honestly as in their most embryonic form, back when they were called ‘The Warlocks’, Jerry Garcia and company served as the house band for Ken Kesey’s acid tests. Those early gigs, that often stretched out to eight hours or more, essentially unhinged their conception of what a song had to be as the crude blues and Beatles covers that once formed their set took on extra dimensions and dissolved into huge exploratory jams that mirrored the stages of the psychedelic experience.

Acid and marijuana helped take down the gates imposed by the conformity of the fifties and the Grateful Dead – along with other Bay area outfits like Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service – were happy to provide the soundtrack to the burgeoning Haight Ashbury scene that was influencing youth culture throughout the western world as the Sixties went on. A decade later, the hippie scene had all but faded as the culture moved into ‘the me decade’ and other musical forms from ‘prog rock’ to disco expressed the values of a new generation.

Whatever changes were afoot during the ensuing decades didn’t seem to faze the Grateful Dead in the least. They continued to tour and record at a regular pace as they, somewhat bafflingly, continued to increase in popularity the further away the Sixties became. Their concerts were more like tribal gatherings or meetings of counter cultural survivors than rock concerts. The campsites and parking lots around a venue were like hippie retreats where a person could eat great vegetarian food, learn about sustainable agriculture, trade high quality pot seeds and score great acid. It’s a scene that was cherished by thousands upon thousands of musicians, political visionaries, spiritual advocates and eccentrics of all descriptions before the Grateful Dead suddenly retired their freak flags in the late summer of 1995 after the death of Jerry Garcia in August of that year. For many, ‘the long strange trip’ was over and real life loomed threateningly around the bend. But, again, you’d never have any inkling of that if you happened to drop right into the middle of the crazy throng of humanity that gathered to hear Furthur unleash the psychedelic beast lurking in the heart of their music in Eugene last September.

At this moment in time, Furthur are undeniably on fire musically, and their loyal and sometimes long-suffering fans couldn’t be happier. Several times during Furthur’s weekend run in Eugene, people in the audience threw up their arms, hugged friends and wept with joy as if the band’s triumphs and redemptions mirrored their own.

The moment Lesh and Weir are experiencing now is one to savor as it hasn’t always been an easy ride being a member of the Grateful Dead. Since Garcia’s death, it’s safe to say that there have been a lot of bumpy patches and the moments of pure crystalline musical joy have at times seemed few and far between. The muse that channeled such sweet, complex and riveting sounds throughout a September weekend in Eugene has often been conspicuously absent in recent years, though it’s not been for lack of trying.

Since Garcia’s death, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead have continued to experiment with playing music in many permeations and formations of their former group. The whole ensemble – with a revolving set of keyboard and guitar players – have toured as ‘The Other Ones’ and ‘The Dead’ on several occasions, and while each tour has had its share of interesting musical moments, the magic that characterized the Grateful Dead for so many years has often been in short supply. It’s been said that Jerry Garcia was the glue that held the whole group together and that the transcendent musical conversations that morphed between songs during live sets were really conversations that each member was having with Garcia. His death created a huge emotional and musical void, so it’s not really surprising that it took years for the others to find new approaches and creative territory to explore with each other.

The Dead tour of 2003 shook things up by adding R and B singer Joan Osborne into the mix with some very interesting results, but many of the band’s older fans found the young singer’s wailing and rapping hard to take. For their 2004 tour, they ditched Osborne, having little to offer in her stead. Acrimony and accusations marred the tour and for several years it appeared that it was all over as Lesh and Weir toured constantly with their own groups (Phil Lesh and Friends and Ratdog respectively). Percussionists Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann intermittently played together as The Rhythm Devils while each cultivated their own groups, Planet Drum and The Trichomes as additional side projects. The surviving members convened again in 2009 for the Dead 09 tour which unfortunately – despite some great shows late in the tour – failed to create any new chemistry or memorable innovations when it came to interpreting The Grateful Dead’s old material. The Dead 09 tour ended inauspiciously as Lesh, Weir, Kreutzmann and Hart took up with their own bands again to tour without indicating any desire to play together again.

Rumbles of change began to be heard later that year as the news leaked out that Lesh and Weir had had a pow wow and expressed a desire to play together again. Both were apparently discouraged by the ‘restrictive format’ imposed by touring under the banner of ‘The Dead.’ Hart and Kreutzmann were not invited to participate in the new venture as the ‘drums’ section of the show as well as the improvisational ‘space’ sequence were central to the predictability that Lesh and Weir wanted to sidestep.

Many in the Dead camp felt that the formation of Furthur was the last straw, the final coffin nail in what remained of the Sixties spirit and that their favourite musicians had finally lost the plot, plugging in their instruments to the twin amplifiers of greed and senility. Fans held their breath, a few gigs were played, and surprisingly the initial reports were good. By the time they swung through the northwest in the fall of 2010 for gigs in Oregon and Washington, the band was on fire. Focus and intensity had returned with a vengeance and skeptical listeners had to admit that the unmistakable Grateful Dead sound hadn’t been as robust and interesting in a long, long time.

By the fall of 2011, if the music they play during their three night stand in Eugene was any indication, Furthur sound even better than they did last year. Flashing back to the midway point of the first set of the second concert of their Oregon run, it was obvious to everyone that this was all about music and legacy and not about anything as trivial or transient as fame and lucre. To paraphrase an old Grateful Dead song, these days Weir and Lesh are not playing ‘for silver, but playing for life.’ The fans know it as they continue to be surprised by how Furthur’s band of grizzled veterans can find new ways to deconstruct and express songs and musical ideas they’ve toyed with, in some cases, for almost five decades.

The road can’t go on forever. Bob Weir appears healthy and consumed by creative fire, but he is in his late sixties and Phil Lesh tilted onto the septuagenarian scale a few years ago. But, for the time being, the Dead’s ‘overtime round’ in its latest incarnation is in full blossom. Furthur is charging forward at breakneck speed. There are plenty of twists and turns ahead. Time’s passing and there’s no better time than now to jump on the bus.

Essential Listening – A beginner’s guide to listening to the Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead recorded several studio albums during their thirty year history, but if a person restricted their experience of the band’s music to listening to those records, they’d probably wonder what all the fuss was about. First and foremost, The Grateful Dead have always been a live band and it is their concert recordings that are most prized by their fans. In the old days, tapes were traded back and forth for free – without any money changing hands – but it can be difficult to track down music that way. For the curious, it’s never been easier to access high quality recordings of their music than it is today. To begin with, there are over 100 official Grateful Dead live shows for purchase to choose from. Check out the band’s official site at www.dead.netto start looking.

Here are some of my favourites:

Road Trips series is an inexpensive way to sample live shows from throughout the band’s career. Typically offers the best songs from a run of shows rather than complete shows (much to hardcore Deadhead’s dismay, but sometimes it’s nice to just hear the good stuff)

Dick’s Picks contains archival recordings of complete and near-complete shows. These warts-and-all sets are highly prized by collectors who want to hear the highs and lows of each show. Very reasonably priced and perhaps the best way to experience the whole spectrum of the Grateful Dead experience.

If you’re willing to splash out a little more money, there are several great box sets of complete runs of shows to choose from. My favourites are the bargain priced Winterland 1973 and Winterland 1977 box sets. Played to a hometown crowd, these nine-disc sets feature the band in all their ferocious, tender, psychedelic glory.

There are lots of Grateful Dead videos out there to watch, but for my money, the only one really worth buying is The Grateful Dead Movie. Filmed in 1974 and released in theatres two years later, it presents the Dead at the peak of their powers and offers lots of background into the band as well as great footage of Seventies Deadheads getting their freak on. If you really love watching straight up concert films (I personally find them quite boring) there are tons of vault releases of complete shows available on the Grateful Dead’s website.

Or, if you want to sample without buying, there are hundreds of Grateful Dead, Ratdog, Phil Lesh and Rhythm Devils shows that can be streamed for free online. Try Archive.org for a comprehensive list.

You can listen to the 9/24 Furthur show in Eugene (or the complete Eugene run and many more can be heard at Archive.org)

Happy Listening!

BEATNIK HIWAY-TIMES SQUARE N.Y.C.

Standard

 images (7) images (3) images (2) images (1) images New-York-Time-Square Times_Square_New_York_City_HDR

THE HISTORY OF TIMES SQUARE

Humanity Not at its Best, or Worst – but

at its Most

Times Square is the intersection of spectators and performers, tourists and locals; all the diversity of the city, the country, and the world interacting. Times Square accommodates many activities both planned and spontaneous, and connects streetscapes, underground passages, and penthouses. Finally there are the layers of history that lie under the streets and behind the facades of theaters, diners and stores. The density and the congestion are part of what is authentic to a place where art, life and commerce quite literally collide.

Much of what constitutes modern American culture has been invented and reinvented, tested, and displayed in the few blocks that make up the Times Square district. This is where Americans devise new ways to entertain themselves. By 1928, some 264 shows were produced in 76 theaters in Times Square. These theaters showcased not old-world opera, but the new popular culture born of America’s immigrant stew – vaudeville and musicals, jazz and the movies. Today it remains the busiest theater district in the world, and is also home to MTV, ABC, B.B. Kings, Hard Rock Cafe, Best Buy Theater, and Madame Tussaud’s.

The most popular spectacles of Times Square have always been free – the dazzling electrical signs that gave Broadway its reputation as “The Great White Way.” Over the course of the past hundred years, Times Square has become an outdoor laboratory for new ways to communicate and advertise.

Times Square is also where American news was made. It was here that writers like Walter Winchell and Damon Runyon perfected their punchy reporting style, the gossip column, and the use of slang, that redefined what news was – how it was to be written and reported, and what counted. Now ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Reuters, Viacom, Condé Naste, and of course the New York Times are all here.

Prostitution and sex theaters defined the area for much of the post-World War II era. In a larger sense, Times Square was a place where boundaries could be pushed, and broken, and desire expressed. It is no accident that, in Times Square, women could challenge the rules of dating, and gays and lesbians could find a greater level of freedom than they found elsewhere in the city.

Times Square blossomed in the first third of the twentieth century, only to slide into notorious decay in the face of the post-1945 world of television, suburbs, and racial strife. Times Square has returned in the past two decades. The crowds that first made the place have also returned, contributing to the unique mix of creativity and commerce, energy and edge that makes Times Square both an international icon and a universe in miniature, reflecting the obsessions, desires and priorities of a changing world.

Paul McCartney Pops Up in Times Square

The star plays four songs from his ‘New’ album at unannounced New York performance

Paul McCartney
Kevin Mazur/WireImage
Paul McCartney performs songs from his new album “New” at Times Square in New York City on October 10th, 2013.

BY | October 10, 2013

Just 24 hours after playing a surprise show at a Queens high school auditorium, Paul McCartney gave another impromptu performance in New York’s Times Square today, delighting tourists and Midtown workers with four songs from his upcoming album New (due out next week).

McCartney alerted his fans around noon with a tweet: “Wow! Really excited to be playing New York Times Square at 1pm this afternoon!” By 12:45, a sizeable crowd had already gathered at Broadway and West 46th Street, where a large truck was parked blocking pedestrian traffic. Many of them were there to see McCartney, but more than a few could be heard asking what, exactly, was about to happen.

A few minutes after 1:00 p.m., McCartney and his band pulled up in a caravan of yellow taxicabs. The star emerged to huge cheers and climbed up into the truck – where a curtain had by now been pulled away to reveal a bare-bones stage, set up with instruments. “OK, we’re just going to do a few songs from my new album,” McCartney said as he took a seat at his multicolored piano. “Ready?”

Read All About ‘New’ and 25 More of This Fall’s Most Exciting Albums

A sea of cameras, phones and iPads followed McCartney as he began to sing the album’s lead single, “New,” smiling bright enough to make everyone forget the gray afternoon weather. “Well, this is something, isn’t it?” he said when it was done. “Let’s stay here all day!”

McCartney switched to his Hofner bass for “Save Us,” a fast-paced number that recalled Wings at their most rocking. Album promotion is a chore for some artists, but not for McCartney, who looked like there was nowhere else he’d rather be. “I’ll be putting a little hat out here later,” he joked. “We’re basically busking.”

His wife, Nancy Shevell, could be seen off to the side of the crowd dancing to the next song, “Everybody Out There” – a jangly anthem with McCartney on acoustic guitar. “There but for the grace of God go you / and I,” he sang. “Do some good before we say goodbye . . .” By song’s end, he’d broken into his trademark Little Richard howl.

“We’ve just been told we’ve only got one more,” McCartney said. “We’ve only got 15 minutes!” The crowd booed heartily, but he was in a goodnatured mood. “Mr. Andy Warhol predicted I’d get 15 minutes of fame,” he added with a grin. “This is it.”

With that, he returned to his piano and launched into one last song from the new LP: “Queenie Eye,” a psychedelic pub singalong. The song featured a sly wink to Beatles superfans: At one point, McCartney sang, “O-U-T spells ‘out’!” – just like on “Christmas Time (Is Here Again),” a fan-club exclusive recorded by the Beatles in 1967 and first released to the wider public as the B-side to 1994’s “Free As a Bird.”

And then, alas, it was time to go. “See you next time!” McCartney said brightly as he vanished back into the Manhattan crowd.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/paul-mccartney-pops-up-in-times-square-20131010#ixzz39ijThPVf
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

HOW TIMES SQUARE WORKS

Adam Clark Estes

How Times Square WorksEXPAND

When we stepped out onto the roof, the wind whipped me sideways, and it took me a second to get my bearings. I was nine stories above Times Square, staring at the back of its biggest LED sign, and it was thrilling.

Of course, standing on a dirty rooftop shouting over the cacophony of Midtown Manhattan is not thrilling in and of itself. I was with an engineer from D3 LED, one of the leading digital display manufacturers in the world, who was explaining to me how the sign worked. Gizmodo’s photo savant Michael Hession was wandering around, shutter snapping, and I was staring down into the guts of the 100-foot-wide LED display. As the engineer explained how the modular LED panels could be swapped out in seconds and the entire display switched with just a few key strokes, I straightened up.

“So you’re saying it’s just one big huge computer?” I asked.

He thought for a second and then nodded, “Pretty much.”

How Times Square Works

This is the back of the largest continuous surface LED display in Times Square. The blinking green lights mean that everything is working!

New York City’s Biggest Gadget

Times Square is one big, busy machine. Powered by American ingenuity and more than a few megawatts of electricity, these six square blocks stay bright 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You’ve seen Times Square in movies and on TV a million times. A lot of you have probably seen it in real life, teeming with chaos and glowing with capitalism. But how exactly does all that work? The shops and restaurants are one thing, but what exactly makes Times Square such a functional, perpetual spectacle?

That’s a complicated question. Obviously there are the workers themselves. Times Square supports some 385,000 jobs, a little over half of which are in that bright sliver of Midtown, while the other half are strewn across the country supporting Times Square operations from designing the content on the signs to keeping the power plants that power them on line. All together, they help generate about 11 percent of New York City’s economic output, or about $110 billion annually, according to the latest figures. These are the men and women who man the ticket booths, who sell the T-shirts, who clean the hotel rooms, and who keep everyone safe. And since about 350,000 pedestrians pass through Times Square on an average day—that number jumps to 460,000 on the busiest days—that’s no small task.

How Times Square WorksEXPAND

We actually got to climb inside the sign that sits on top of the Double Tree hotel. It was as precarious and scary as it looks.

But then there’s the technology. Times Square is home to countless billboards, many of which are now digital, that make up some of the most expensive advertising real estate in the world. These signs are so central to the area’s identity that there’s actually a zoning code that requires all buildings on that stretch of Broadway to have at least one illuminated sign of a certain size. And while the buildings themselves aren’t too different than those found throughout the rest of Manhattan, Times Square does have that big ball.

Put simply, Times Square works thanks to a productive marriage of labor and technology. And what better manifestation of these two things than those countless billboards that turn night into day in the middle of Manhattan? They bring in tourists. They drive up real estate prices. They fuel innovation in media and advertising in a manner unlike any other place on Earth. Put simply: Times Square works as long as those signs are shining.

It Wasn’t Always Like This

Times Square was still considered countryside when John Jacob Astor started buying up real estate in the first half of the 19th century. By the beginning of the 20th century, the area—then known as Longacre Square—had been considerably built up, having become home to The New York Times as well as a subway stop (in that order). On April 9, 1904, the paper announced the new moniker with a bold headline: “Times Square Is the Name of City’s New Centre.” Three years later, in 1907, Times owner Adoph S. Ochs lowered an illuminated ball down a pole on the roof of One Times Square in the last minute of the year, a tradition that endures today. It was, arguably, the first electrified advertisement in Times Square.

A few decades later, Times Square had become the center of New York’s sin city. The theater district that had made the area an entertainment hub was eclipsed by the seedy strips of sex shops and adult cinemas. This, along with an ever-growing crime problem, is part of why the Timescalled the area around its former home “the ‘worst’ in town” by 1960. The slide into seediness continued through the 1970s and 1980s, eventually slowing with the election of Rudy Giuliani and an aggressive push to boost security and encourage tourists. That eventually meant those porn theaters had to close.

How Times Square WorksEXPAND

“Seedy” is almost too gentle a word to describe Times Square in the 1980s.

Times Square was properly “Disneyfied” by the mid-1990s. While it’s widely believed that aggressive urban planning caused the rebirth of Times Square, the former head of New York’s Urban Development Corporation says that’s not quite right. “The changes in Times Square occurred despite government, not because of it,” wrote William J. Stern a few years ago. “Times Square succeeded for reasons that had little to do with our building and condemnation schemes and everything to do with government policy that allowed the market to do its work, the way development occurs every day nationwide.”

What better beacon of progress than a bunch of blinking—and eventually glowing—billboards. By the 2000s, Times Square had been transformed into a sort of shrine to capitalism, with mansion-sized signs beaming down onto pedestrian walkways that steered out-of-towners into chain stores and scared locals into staying downtown.

Times Square is safer than it’s ever been, safe enough to slurp a bowl of gumbo at Bubba Gump Shrimp well past midnight and then stroll onto brightly lit sidewalks without fear of getting mugged. Businesses are clearly thriving, and even the empty pedestrian walkways turn a tiny profit. It wasn’t just real estate developers, or extra security, or even Guy Fieri that transformed Times Square into the well oiled machine it is today. It was the millions of LEDs.

How LEDs Killed the Billboard

The thing about the signs in Times Square is that they never stay the same. Like the rest of America, the place is constantly reinventing itself through various innovations and a perpetual quest to grow bigger and become greater. So in the late 1990s, as LED technology was finally becoming affordable, Times Square became a testing ground for a revolutionary approach to display advertising.

D3 LED managing partner Meric Adriansen was one of the mad scientists in charge. Actually, he’s an engineer who was working in Disney’s fabled research arm before he got recruited to help design a new kind of sign for ABC in 1998. The network was preparing to move the fledgling Good Morning America franchise from Lincoln Center for Times Square, and it wanted a bright, splashy sign to announce the show’s presence to every passerby. The vision was to create a ribbon of sorts that wrapped around the corner of the the new Times Square Studios at the corner of West 44th Street and Broadway, where they could broadcast breaking news and the like. It was not an easy place to put an interactive display, especially with the state of technology at the time.

How Times Square WorksEXPAND

While the ribbon-like bands of LEDs panels looks like an obvious hardware challenge, writing the software that keeps everything in sync was the really difficult part.

Meric found a way to make it work. The challenge wasn’t so much getting the displays to curve. That was the easy part. The hard part was keeping the image on the screen in sync as it traveled across an uneven surface at various speeds.

The solution was smarter software. Using a series of morphing algorithms, Meric managed to program the display to move at varying speeds, so slightly out of sync that it looked completely in sync to the people on the sidewalk. The effect was spectacular, and Meric quickly realized that everybody in Times Square would want to one-up ABC with their own dancing LED creations. So he went into business.

Turning Times Square Into a Video Show

When you walk into Times Square today, there are no fewer than 55 giant-sized LED displays blinking and begging you to look at them. (It’s hard to keep count because new ones are going up all the time; D3 alone operates 27 of them at present.) That’s just a fraction of the 230-odd total billboards sprinkled throughout the Square.

The most prominent sign is certainly the skyscraper-high Walgreens display that D3 recently installed on both sides of One Times Square.Developers figured out that they could make more money selling advertising real estate on the outside than maintaining an office building inside, so they kicked out all the tenants and started basically minting money. That’s right. The former home of The New York Times is now just one big billboard, with companies like Toshiba, Sony, and Budweiser on display. Now the bright beacon of industry looks less like a sliver of Gilded Age grandeur, as it did when it was built in 1903, and more like the set ofBladerunner. In total, there are a staggering 17,000-square-feet of signage on the skinny old building.

How Times Square Works

On the left is the (still pretty new) One Times Square building in 1919. On the right is the (now completely empty) One Times Square building in 2012 as seen from the same vantage point.

The Walgreens sign is clearly a source of pride for D3, and it should be. It’s very impressive! When I first met Meric on an unusually cold early spring day earlier this year, he pulled out all of the plans to show me how all of the display’s 12 million LEDs were arranged so that the sign looked uniform to tourists passing by on the sidewalk, who remain the primary demographic for Times Square display advertising. He explained that the LEDs were denser on the bottom for higher resolution and spread out a bit towards the top. I still can’t see the difference.

“Content is king,” Meric kept saying. The signs, he explained, only looked as good as the images you displayed on them. And much to my surprise, they were just basic video files, run off of hard drives that were stored in any of D3’s facilities sprinkled throughout Times Square in buildings where the company either owns real estate or operates signs.

How Times Square WorksEXPAND

It’s hard to tell from photographs just how towering the Walgreens sign at One Times Square is, but it is. The diagonal slash is 30-stories tall, in fact.

Like Lego for Lights

At this point, you’re probably wondering exactly how these LED creations work. The answer is actually very simple. Each large LED display is actually an array of smaller LED displays that are connected to each other both physically and virtually.

The Walgreens sign is D3’s largest installation, with 29 separate displays that are lit with 16 miles of electrical cables and held together with half a million nuts and bolts. But the images themselves start out as regular old Adobe After Effects files that are then rendered into video. Clients need to supply D3 with just a single video file to get their dynamic ads in front of the 100-million-odd pedestrians who pass through the square annually. Well, that and a ton of money. An NYU study last year found that it costs a stunning $368,291,070 a year in water, electricity and green house gas emissions to run Times Square.

How Times Square WorksEXPAND

D3’s modular sign at the Quicksilver store in Times Square is one of the more creative uses of the LED module technology, with multiple displays forming a mosaic of moving images.

While the Walgreens sign looks impossibly vivid compared to its neighbors, it will fade over time, just like its painted and vinyl ancestors. LED technology is certainly much better than it used to be, but it’s still not invincible. An individual LED works by sending electricity through a semiconductor, or diode, but over time, heat causes the wires to degrade and the light to fade. The signs in Times Square, Meric told me—which stay on 24 hours a day, seven days a week—typically have a lifespan of about 10 years.

As the D3 technician told me, the LED displays are effectively giant computers. In fact, each of the individual modules is equipped with its own processor that coordinates with the rest of the modules to create one huge seamless image. The whole thing is internet-connected, too, so it can be controlled remotely. Meric told me that he gets push notifications on his phone if a sign has a problem, and no matter where he is in the world, he can troubleshoot on the fly.

How Times Square WorksEXPAND

The LED modules come in several different sizes and resolutions. The pixels on modules for outdoor signs are spaced between 10 and 24 millimeters apart, while they’re usually six millimeters apart on indoor displays.

The modules also each have their own MAC address, which makes it easy for technicians to identify exactly where the problems are. This is a big improvement over the old incandescent signs that required daily checks to see if any bulbs had burnt out. While Times Square was certainly impressive back when it was coated in incandescent light, the introduction of LED technology not only transformed the types of content that could be displayed, it made maintenance so easier which encouraged more people to build the futuristic-looking displays. Dynamic billboards used to be a thing of science fiction. Now it’s the de facto standard, thanks to LEDs.

Of course, no technology is perfect. Errors don’t happen often, but when they do, fixing them is sort of a cinch. As if they were big electronic Lego bricks, the broken modules can simply be swapped out for functional ones, and they’re good to go.

How Times Square WorksEXPAND

The modules (pictured from behind here) are completely, well, modular and can be swapped out in a matter of seconds.

The software that runs the whole system is also smart enough to route around problems whenever possible so that the whole sign doesn’t go down like a string of Christmas lights with a bad bulb. Meanwhile, the video files are all stored on hard drives in control rooms around Times Square, and D3 keeps backups on hand. While each sign has its own controller and control system, many of them have dedicated real estate where the hardware can live. In total, D3 operates 35 separate control rooms in Times Square.

How Times Square WorksEXPAND

All of the control panels and server towers are custom built for D3. On the right, above, you can see the hard drives displaying previews of the live content.

Obviously, security is an issue when you’re running several dozen giant, internet-connected displays in one of the most conspicuous places on Earth. “It’s a sobering thought that you’re always vulnerable,” Meric said. “If there’s anything that keeps me up at night, it’s the security aspect.”

As such, D3 follows very rigorous protocol to ensure that the whole system doesn’t get hacked. That includes routing signals through VPNs and running intrusion detection systems at all times. And if someone wanted to physically break into one of the control rooms, they’d have a damned hard time finding them. When I visited, we walked through the bowels of some pretty nondescript buildings, ducking under pipes and climbing over ventilation ducts to find a tiny unmarked door with a bunch of servers inside. It felt like a game of hide-and-seek.

The Spectacle of Darkness

It’s not until you gaze at the backside of the largest LED display in Times Square that you can finally get a sense of perspective. First of all, these things are huge. That particular sign spans over 100 feet and weighs a whopping 82,000 pounds. It’s filled with five million LEDs that produce a resolution thats four times denser than standard definition.

While LED signs are a relatively new addition to Times Square, they’re becoming more and more popular. They’re also getting better. While the resolution of existing signs is good, the technology is starting to get great. Some of the latest D3 creations almost look like high definition displays from afar, despite the fact that the individual pixels are spaced a few millimeters apart.

How Times Square WorksEXPAND

An up-close look at the modules reveals how much black space is between each pixel, but you can’t even tell when looking at the displays from the ground.

As smart companies tend to do, D3 is constantly looking ahead and trying to predict the next big innovation. Believe it or not, they think it’s 3D displays. The technology isn’t quite there to support glasses-free 3D images that passers by would enjoy, but Meric and friends built the this particular LED sign with 3D in mind, though they don’t currently display any 3D content. This basically means that they’ve built in enough resolution and back end support that 3D could be possible with the right content. It’s outfitted with 16 state-of-the-art SSD hard drives and enough processing power to handle 5 gigabytes per second of data. (3D video requires a lot of data.) The sign is also capable of playing video at 120 frames per second, so it looks smooth as can be. Oh, and it can handle live video, too.

All of this inevitably requires a lot of electricity. New York’s main utility company, ConEd, estimates that it takes at least 161 Megawatts at any given time to keep Times Square and the surrounding theater district glowing. A large chunk of that power goes to the signs themselves. That’s enough juice to light 161,000 American homes, and twice the amount of electricity required to power all of the casinos in Las Vegas.

How Times Square WorksEXPAND

While the Earth Hour event makes the majority of the signs in Times Square go dark, there’s always a light on somewhere in New York City.

You almost never see Times Square go dark, and when it does, it’s quite a spectacle. It’s also a great way to make a statement about our bad energy habits. Earlier this year, (most of) the square went dark from 8:30pm to 9:30pm in observance of Earth Hour, organized by the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness about energy use and conservation. One Times Square has participated in the protest (of sorts) for five years now, and Jamestown, the company that manages the building, has vowed to reduceits carbon footprint by 20 percent before 2020. Others have made similar efforts, and one of the signs in Times Square is even powered completely by solar panels.

The Crossroads of the World

Times Square is obviously a busy place, and again, it’s an impossibly complex piece of technology in its own right. But before bright lights and the stores and the stupid naked cowboy, it was a gathering spot, not just for Americans but for people from all over the world. That’s why people call it the Crossroads of the World.

How Times Square WorksEXPAND

Some call this bombastic little spot, America’s Town Square. There’s even stadium seating.

While the signs don’t tell the whole story, they exist as living proof that Times Square is evolving machine, always on and always adapting to whatever the future brings. Companies like D3 make up a multimillion dollar industry that revolves simply around these ever-changing displays, a business so curiously impactful that some tourists come to New York City just to see the signs.

Perhaps most profoundly, however, is the fact that the signs stand as tribute to the unabashed glory that is American ingenuity. A hundred years ago, Times Square was just a little piece of real estate halfway into the relative countryside that was Uptown back then. A visionary newspaper owner, careful urban planning, even more careful urban renewal efforts, millions of visitors, and of course, some pretty awesome signs have now helped Times Square become one of the most iconic places on Earth.

And if you really think about it, without all those signs, Times Square would be just another messy Manhattan intersection.

Top image by Jim Cooke, photo via stockelements / Shutterstock.com

Photos by Michael Hession / Wikipedia / AP

the making of the counterculture

Standard

 

 THE MAKING OF THE COUNTERCULTURE

 misterypsychoworld tn_00005

Cropped600tumblr_mmni1wtCrw1sqatlgo1_1280 (1)200 (46)download (6)tattoo_girl_space_20100208_1328425372

In the winter of 1954-55 America was in an economic, social, and cultural interregnum. One style of life, one mood — like Victorianism or Edwardianism — was giving way to another. The industrial age based on the mechanical exploitation of coal and iron was giving way to electronics, computers, automation — with all the social and intellectual results such a basic revolution implies — but as yet few indeed understood what was happening.

The country was in a minor economic depression following the end of the Korean War. The Korean War represented a qualitative leap forward in technology and a lag in all other factors. However, morale broke down for a more simple reason. You can fight only one such war every twenty-five years. The Korean War took place within the effective memory of the Second World War. The academic and intellectual establishment, Left, Right, and Center, was shattered, demoralized, and discredited by the years of McCarthyism. Young men by the thousands were returning from the Korean War to the colleges disillusioned and contemptuous of their elders. They said to each other, “Keep your nose clean and don’t volunteer.” “Don’t believe anybody over thirty.” Communication between groups broke down. Only those of the older generation who had remained defiant were respected, listened to, questioned. Just as the Army took years to discover the almost total breakdown of morale in Korea, so the older intellectuals were unaware that a volcano was building up under them.

McCarthyism itself was an expression of breakdown of an older American synthesis. It has often been pointed out that McCarthy came from a small Wisconsin city, from a state which was once the home of the radical Progressive LaFollette, the most intransigent spokesman for the old agrarian Populism with its distrust of Wall Street, the New York and New England political and cultural establishment, isolationist, defiantly middle class. The doors were closed and locked forever for any escape into economic power of the Midwestern debtor society of small farmers, small-town independent merchants, and country bankers. McCarthyism is the last expression of what in central Europe was called the Green Revolution, devouring itself in impotence.

Most of the slogans of McCarthyism, like those of the John Birch Society today, had once possessed an entirely different meaning and had been formative ideas in the shaping of an older America. This content had been emptied out and replaced by truculent suspicion of any and all enlightened ideas which were forming the new, succeeding society. At the top America was in the hands of a sort of regency. The ship of state was steering itself. A generation was growing up which had known World War II only as children. Not one of the hopes or the promises of that war had been realized. Russia and the United States both had the Bomb and were striving to divide the world between them, to turn whole nations into aircraft carriers and army bases.

The Korean War had ended in a bloody stalemate and a wholesale breakdown of morale. While McCarthy was at the height of his power, with few exceptions the intellectual and moral leaders of America feared to challenge, if they did not actually support him. The entire academic community was shattered and terrorized both by McCarthy and dozens of local witch hunts and state-sponsored investigating committees. McCarthyism more than any other thing revealed to the young the moral bankruptcy of their elders. College professors complained that they were facing a silent generation who received their lectures with the response “no comment.” Nihilism in public life was reflected in nihilism amongst young intellectuals. The intellectual establishment, in fact, many of whom were ex-Communists, largely supported McCarthy. Nihilism in authority breeds nihilism in response, as it did in nineteenth-century Russia.

Although all the literary editors and the academicians were busy telling the world in the early fifties that the age of experiment and revolt was over, a very few critics, myself amongst them, had begun to point out that this slogan alone showed how complete was the breakdown of communications between the generations. Under the very eyes of the pre-war generation a new age of experiment and revolt far more drastic in its departures, far more absolute in its rejections, was already coming into being. The Beat writers were not at first part of this movement. Kerouac had published a very conventional novel, Ginsberg was writing dry whimsical little imitations of William Carlos Williams, Burroughs’s intoxicated lucubrations were not considered publishable even by himself. Gregory Corso, a naïve writer, a kind of natural-born Dadaist, was tolerated as an amusing mascot by the boys on The Harvard Advocate as a convenient practical joke.

San Francisco was the one community in the United States which had a regional literature and art at variance with the prevailing pattern. During the thirties it had become a strong trade-union town with a politically powerful Left, yet this radical activity was remarkably independent of the doctrinaire dictates of the American Communist Party. Perhaps the main reason for this was that most of the leadership had come from the IWW, the anarcho-syndicalist “One Big Union” movement which had been so strong on the Pacific Coast a generation before. During the war, work camps for conscientious objectors were established throughout the mountains and forests of California. These boys came down to San Francisco on their leaves. They met with San Francisco writers and artists who had been active in the Red Thirties but who had become, not professional anti-Bolsheviks, but anarchists and pacifists. During the war, meetings of pacifist and anarchist organizations continued to be well attended. Immediately on the war’s end a group of San Francisco writers and artists began an Anarchist Circle with public meetings which for five years were better attended than those of all the Socialist and Communist organizations put together. From this group and from the artists’ C.O. camp at Waldport, Oregon, came a large percentage of cultured activities in San Francisco which have lasted to the present time — a radio station, three little theaters, a succession of magazines, and a number of people who are considered the leading writers and artists of the community today. And it was this sympathetic environment that the so-called Beat writers discovered around the early fifties.

There is probably more misunderstanding and misinformation current about the Beat Generation than any other phenomenon in contemporary culture. This is due to the fact that the sensational press were quick to seize on the Beat writers and to reconstruct them in their own image. The public personality which had been grafted onto Allen Ginsberg is the kind of person the editors of Timemagazine would be if they only had the nerve. The Beat writer is what the French call a hallucination publicitaire, Madison Avenue’s idea of a Revolutionary Bohemian Artist. It bears almost no relation to actuality although the delusion, the false image, is a continuous temptation to the real writers. They can always find applause and profit by living up to the delusions of their enemies.

The factual historical misinformation about the Beat Movement is immense. In the first place, there never really was a Beat Movement, with the exception of four writers — Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and Gregory Corso. Second, these writers have had little connection with San Francisco down the years and they were all fairly well known amongst bohemian intellectuals before they ever saw the city. William Burroughs, several years older than the rest, had first brought them together in New York shortly after 1950. Kerouac and Ginsberg were at that time students at Columbia and Gregory Corso a non-student at Harvard University. For several years a group of very hip young men had been running a magazine in St. Louis called Neurotica. About 1952 two of the editors, Jay and Fred Landesman, moved to New York and opened a large loft studio a block away from the San Remo Café, then the most in or the most far out of the Greenwich Village bohemian hangouts. It was at the Landesmans’ studio that Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso, and Burroughs first made contact with the literary bohemian society of New York. There are several novels about this phase of the movement. With the exception of Clellan Holmes’s Go, they very significantly do not concentrate on the specific behavior patterns peculiar to the four Beats but describe the general scene in the first postwar generation of disaffiliation, revolt, disgust.

The trouble with the New York scene around the San Remo Café was its total mindlessness. There was nothing there but disgust. When Ginsberg and Kerouac began visiting San Francisco in the course of their student wanderings around the country during vacation the effect on them was explosive. In 1956 I asked the proprietors of the Six Gallery, one of the launching pads of abstract expressionism, if they would sponsor a reading by Walter Lowenfels, who could not get a hall anywhere in San Francisco because he was under indictment for violation of the Smith Act. He was an editor of the Philadelphia edition of The Daily Worker and had been a well-known modernist poet in the Paris America of the late twenties and early thirties. (He is the Jabberwohl Kronstadt in Henry Miller’s Black Spring.) The proprietors of the gallery were delighted at the chance to defy authority. Nobody under 40 had ever heard of Lowenfels as a poet but to everyone’s amazement the large gallery was jam-packed with young people who came to hear him read. The proprietors were so delighted that they asked me to arrange other readings. The next one made history. It was a parade of the city’s leading avant-garde poets — Robert Duncan, Brother Antoninus, Philip Lamantia, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, and four young men who had just come to town — Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg. Here Ginsberg first read Howl, which he had been working on in a state of excited entrancement for the past two weeks. The effect beggars description. A new folklore and a new folkloristic relationship between audience and poet had been created.

The Six Gallery reading is usually said to have launched the Beat movement. In fact the only connection is Allen Ginsberg himself. Kerouac was present but did not participate except to create periodic disturbances. Public reading of poetry had become a regular institution in San Francisco as early as 1928 and was a principal attraction in the John Reed Club, the Communist artist and writers’ organization, and in the Jack London Club, the competing Socialist group. Poetry readings were given by the united pacifist Randolph Bourne Council and later by the San Francisco Anarchist Circle all through the war and the decade after, mostly in the Arbeiter Ring, the largely Jewish workingmen’s fraternal organization. The San Francisco Poetry Center had been in existence for some years and had already moved to San Francisco State College. The annual Poetry Festivals had begun shortly after the war and the satirical musical review, The Poets’ Follies, under the direction of Weldon Kees and Michael Grieg, with acts like the beautiful stripper Lili St. Cyr reading T.S. Eliot’s Ash Wednesday (dressed), had already shown three consecutive years. Kenneth Patchen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and myself had already started reading poetry to jazz in local jazz clubs. (The great bassist and composer Charles Mingus was closely associated with many of the artists and writers of San Francisco during the war years.)

The older poets had all been active in the anarchist and pacifist movement for many years, had been conscientious objectors during the war, and worked in C.O. camps or in hospitals. Of the younger, Philip Whalen and Gary Snyder had grown up in IWW circles in Oregon and Washington.

It was from this background that the very superficial and largely factitious interest in Zen Buddhism shared by Kerouac and Ginsberg comes, not, as is often imagined, from contact with G.I.’s returning from China, Japan, and Korea. The influence of Oriental religion on San Francisco is partly indigenous. There are many large, flourishing Buddhist churches in the Bay Area with mostly Japanese congregations, but with Caucasians as well, and with many contacts with the general community. I know of only one returned G.I. who came back with an interest in Buddhism. He had no contact with the San Francisco intellectual community except myself and became an academic Buddhologist. On the other hand, Alan Watts, Gerald Heard, Christopher Isherwood, Aldous Huxley, and myself in California and the painters Mark Tobey and Morris Graves in Seattle were centers of interest in Oriental religion, but more especially in the revival of the contemplative life, all through the war years. Most of us conducted seminars, discussion groups, and retreats teaching younger people the elements and the techniques of nonviolence and meditation. These activities of course still go on in different forms and on a much larger scale. Gary Snyder is an ordained Zen monk and learned in the poetry and religious literature of India, China, and Japan. I will always remember the night Jack Kerouac appeared uninvited at my home, sat down with a jug of cheap port wine beside him on the floor, announced that he was a Zen Buddhist, and discovered that everybody in the room read at least one Oriental language.

Kerouac’s portrayal of this aspect of San Francisco culture, in The Dharma Bums, would be a malevolent libel if it were deliberate. It is only an expression of his own baffled ignorance in the face of human motivations and beliefs, which he was intrinsically incapable of understanding. It is this ignorant confabulation presenting itself as reality which accounts for the almost complete eclipse of Kerouac’s reputation. Young people no longer read him and consider him absurd, the apotheosis of uptight. It is not just the misrepresentation of fact but the misunderstanding of motivation, the distortion of character and the ignorance of the ideas involved which has caused him to be no longer read by people who really understand what he is talking about. The world view of post-modern culture and of the San Francisco version of it especially has now become the common possession of millions of young people and it is backed up with a whole literature and way of life which bears no real resemblance to the disorderly conduct for its own sake of Kerouac’s characters.

Another influence on the San Francisco scene was Henry Miller, who had lived in Big Sur since 1941 and who was known to most of the San Francisco writers. I doubt if either Ginsberg or Kerouac ever read much of what he has written. They once hitchhiked down the coast 130 miles to visit him and were not admitted. Miller’s very positive and powerful religious convictions and love of life have little to do with the nihilism of the beatnik.

I should mention by the way that the word “beatnik” was invented by the San Francisco columnist, Herb Caen. The term “beat” was a common slang phrase amongst bop musicians and often, like “funky,” and other bop slang, was used in a reverse sense, but usually to mean emotionally exhausted. The term “Beat Generation” was first used simultaneously by Clellan Holmes, in an article in the New York Times Magazine, and by myself in New World Writing. This article and others like it which I wrote at the time about the then youngest generation of poets — the new age of experiment and revolt — included along with Ginsberg and Corso, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Duncan, Brother Antoninus, and many others. This was an unfortunate linkage which has endured to this day. None of these people has anything to do with any imagined Beat movement. Their writing is of the widest variety and they share only a rejection of the morals of a commercial civilization and a return to the international idiom of modern verse which had been stifled in America by the Reactionary Generation of the forties and the Proletarians of the thirties.

William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound, but Williams especially, were strong influences on this entire group, as were the unreconstructed modernists surviving from the inter bellum years — Louis Zukofsky, Walter Lowenfels, Sam Beckett, Kenneth Patchen, and myself. Another factor in San Francisco culture that is very important is its closer connection with London and Paris than with New York. San Francisco intellectuals first made contact with London anarchists during the Spanish War and all during the Second World War correspondence was kept up with people like Sir Herbert Read, Alex Comfort, George Woodcock, Charles Wrey Gardner, Tambimuttu, and others. I for instance first read the poetry of Denise Levertov when she was a Land Girl in Essex and introduced her by mail to Charles Wrey Gardner, who was publishing Poetry Quarterly in Billericay. George Barker lived in Big Sur in the forties. Dylan Thomas spent two long periods in San Francisco.

French publications of the résistance like Éditions de minuit and Pierre Seghers’s Poésie arrived in G.I. mail in some quantity as soon as the Americans got to Africa, and lesser amounts had trickled in from the very beginning. Writers like Simone Weil, Sartre, Camus, and poets of the résistance like Char, Frénaud, Rousselot, Seghers, Follain, Guillevic, were read in San Francisco before anyone in New York literary circles had so much as heard of them. People in San Francisco had corresponded with Simone Weil from the days of the Spanish War.

All this goes to make up the picture of the emergence of the post-modern worldwide intellectual culture in which the Beat Generation was only a minor episode, a kind of misunderstanding on the part of a few intellectual amateurs and following them the literary journalists of the gutter press. The present revolt of youth, the new radicalism, the democratization of the avant-garde, are all aspects of a worldwide revolution in the very foundations of culture, basic changes in ways of living, the emergence of a fundamentally new civilization. Allen Ginsberg has survived into this new civilization, and is today one of its leading figures in Tel Aviv, Calcutta, Moscow, but the Beat Generation placard which was hung around his neck has long since dropped away. Only squares and elderly Communist bureaucrats in the minor Balkan countries used the term “beatnik” after 1960.

What was the significance of the Beat movement, so called? What was its effect on the evolution of American literature and culture? It was the form in which the mass disaffiliation of postwar youth from a commercial, predatory, and murderous society first came to the attention of that society itself. Kerouac’s On the Road was a bestseller. It served the purpose of detective stories and cowboy romances and girlie magazines for the vast new white-collar class; the grey flannel suburbia escaped into a dream world of fast cars, easy women, drunken parties. This world of Jack Kerouac’s had essentially the same values as did the world of the upwardly mobile new professions. A whole literature of dope, homosexual prostitution, knife fights, sado-masochism, gang bangs has followed in its train — the soap operas and horse operas of the lumpen petty power élite, the little Jet or Squirt Set, in the decade since its publication. Their life has gradually come to resemble their escape literature. The effect of Kerouac on young people, on the revolt of youth, on the genuinely disaffiliated, was minimal. True, all sorts of juvenile delinquents abandoned their disorderly conduct in the soda fountains near the high schools of Cle Elum, Fort Dodge, and Tucumcari, hitchhiked to San Francisco, and started making like Kerouac’s characters in North Beach. But this invasion vanished like the Gauls from Rome. It was unable to hold the territory. While it lasted it had certain characteristics that distinguished it from the older bohemia or the present worldwide culture of secession. It was life-denying. It hated sex. It used alcohol only for oblivion. One of the diagnostic signs of the Beat syndrome, very obvious in Kerouac’s and Burroughs’s books, was contempt for women. The Beat come-on was to treat a girl exactly as one would treat a casual homosexual pickup in a public convenience. An interesting thing about the winter of 1957 in North Beach was the wave of young girl suicides, one of them the mistress of the hero of On the Road. Another man had killed his wife in Mexico some years before, playing William Tell at a party. This kind of senseless nihilism was pushed aside by the rising tide of genuine revolt with a new ethic and a new kind of social responsibility and a new and very male and very female sexuality — even though the squares are still bothered because everybody wears long hair.

Burroughs is a special case. His work is source material for social history, not literature, and as such of minor importance. He is also one of many writers mining a current faddism. Corso is another special case. Like most naïves, he really has little relationship to literary literature. It is possible to relate le douanier Rousseau to the beginnings of Cubism but the relationship is fortuitous. If anything, they were influenced by him, certainly not the other way around. He wanted to paint as photographically as possible. This does not mean that Corso is not a considerable poet; he is, just as Rousseau is a very great painter.

Of the four Beat writers, Ginsberg is much the most important. Howl has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and been translated into most civilized languages and many semi-civilized ones. It is a true vatic utterance, the speech of a nabi, an excited Hebrew prophet, and the closest parallels in literature are Hosea and Jeremiah. For several years it was fantastically popular with American students and played an important role in reinforcing and consolidating their contempt for the conspiracy of the Social Lie — the American Way of Life. Ginsberg has none of the life hatred, nihilism, praise for oblivion, sexual disgust, or social destructiveness of Kerouac and Burroughs. He has never lost a certain boyish ingenuousness which leads him to showing off on television and provoking arguments about dope and homosexuality with Bolshevik bureaucrats. In some ways he resembles, most especially in his unquenchable youthfulness, Colin Wilson. The great difference between the Angries and the Beats is that the Americans rejected the entire social structure. They didn’t want to be admitted to the old Establishment or to found a new one. They wanted to pull down all Establishments whatsoever. More important even than this — all of them, even Kerouac and Burroughs, were interested in what the avant-garde between the wars called The Revolution of the Word. They were interested in attacking, disorganizing, and in the case of Ginsberg and Corso, reorganizing the structure of the human sensibility as such through a revolutionary use of language, the overturning of the old patterns of logic and syntax. This last phrase is almost exactly that of the surrealist theoretician André Breton and it is still believed in passionately by the Beat poets. On the other hand, I have found in interviews with the leading Angries that when you question them about this matter they are unable to understand what you are talking about — it’s some French thing, like eating frogs and snails. An American television interviewer, after a long hassle trying to get the most articulate of the Angries to understand what he was talking about, gave up with the remark, aired throughout the world, “I guess I’d be angry too if I went to all that trouble and ended up writing like bum Galsworthy.” Whatever the faults of the Beats, they were the first challenge to what we call the basic values of the civilization to reach a popular audience, but it must be remembered that they were essentially a small focal point in an overwhelming social movement, a highly visible ripple in a worldwide New Wave.


II

The most significant, if not the best by older critical standards, literature in America today is to be found, not in books, or even in the established literary magazines, but in poetry readings, in mimeographed broadsides, in lyrics for rock groups, in protest songs — in direct audience relationships of the sort that prevailed at the very beginnings of literature. The art of reading and writing could vanish from memory in a night and it would not make a great difference to the poetry, or even much of the prose, of the youngest generation of poets and hearers of poetry. This is the new world of youth which so disturbs the oldies. Rightly so, it is a world they never made. In it they are strangers and afraid — totally unable, most of them, to comprehend what is happening.

The last few years have seen a steady stream of American books on the New Left, on the revolt of youth, and especially on such mass phenomena as the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley and the anti-Vietnam protests on all the campuses. With no exceptions these books have been written by ideologues, men of the Thirties, or by somewhat younger people who grew up in lingering Marxist sectarian groups. They all try to assimilate a non-ideological, non-political worldwide movement to the programmatic delusions of another age.

What we are witnessing today is a profound change in the patterns of life and an even greater change in its possibilities. This affects all nations — I used to say except Red China — beatniks, hooligans, gammlers, stilyagi, provos, hippies — they’re not just to be found in Amsterdam, in the East Village in New York, on Haight Street in San Francisco, or on Notting Hill in London. Terms of abuse only represent the attempt of the squares and the oldies to exorcise behavior which they do not understand with stereotyped formulas which they think they do.

Britain is a special case. British society assimilates all things — the ceremonies of the monarchy, the country house orgies of high life, the stodgy Communist Party of Great Britain. Today the Teddy Boys are middle-aged; the Angries lunch in the Reform Club; and even Mods and Rockers, no longer young, have been digested by a homogeneous and homogenizing society. Carnaby Street is already part of the Establishment and a tourist attraction second only to the boys in bearskin busbies. The subculture of secession in Great Britain is a kind of Fabian anarchism, slowly penetrating all structures of the society by metastasis. This is not true anywhere else and it makes the profound and ever-widening schism in the soul in modern society difficult to explain to a British audience. Can you imagine an American president making the very influential American anarchist, critic, poet, psychiatrist, urbanist, educator, Paul Goodman, a knight like Sir Herbert Read, or Bob Dylan an M.B.E. like John Lennon?

Most nations show no capacity to absorb their youth culture. Not only does the sight of the long coiffure give most premiers, ministers, and cabinet secretaries running and barking fits, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for young people in the uniform of secession — beards, long hair, blue jeans — to cross national boundaries. They are harassed with elaborate customs inspections and forced to give proof of their solvency and in some countries, Greece, Morocco, and Algiers for instance, are refused entrance on their appearance alone. Les douaniers are perfectly right; they are the enemy. If there were enough of them national boundaries would disappear instantly.

Does this mean that they are Internationalists and Pacifists, capital I and capital P? Certainly not. Any question like this provokes a false answer. What is happening cannot be explained in terms of ideology. Ideologies are at best schematizations of social reality, never fit the facts, and wear out rapidly like ill-fitting shoes. Suppose Hitler had conquered the world and had totally suppressed all the documents and the very memory of the writings of Marx. Would the industrial process then have failed to produce “human self-alienation”? Would there no longer be any necessity for the capitalist system to expand regardless of human values or else collapse? Would the ratio of labor power to capital investment and with it the rate of profit stop falling? Would the failure of the economic system to ensure a minimum of life satisfactions for the majority of its members not have resulted in an ever-increasing demand for a fundamental change in the quality of life? Do all these things depend upon familiarity with a four-foot shelf of books full of errors and failed prophecies? Revolutionary consciousness is not the product of courses in the ABC of Marxism. It is a kind of natural secretion of the hopeless contradictions of modern society and it is most doubtful if Marx would have recognized it — in fact he notoriously was as intolerant as any country pastor in Ibsen of the mild bohemianism of his own children.

Fortunately for the present generation, the hundred years from 1848 to 1948 witnessed the total bankruptcy of all ideologies. The revolutions of the past, said Teilhard de Chardin, had economic and political objectives, but the latter half of the twentieth century will see a worldwide revolutionary struggle to change the quality and meaning of life. This revolution cannot be understood unless we realize that it starts off with the slate wiped clean. There is no worse guide conceivable than an aged ex-Left-Trotskyite holding down a professorship in a multiversity, the boss of a corps of graduate students tagging demonstrators about the campus with questionnaires.

Today there is growing up throughout the world an entirely new pattern of life. For several years I have called it the subculture of secession but this it is no more — it is a competing civilization, “a new society within the shell of the old.” It has come about not through books or programs but through a change in the methods of production. It is a society of people who have simply walked into a computerized, transistorized, automated world, a post-industrial or post-capitalist economy, in which there is an ever-increasing democratization of at least the possibilities for a creative response to life.

What does democratization of the arts mean in practice in America? What happens when an entire subculture takes to poetry, rock groups, folk songs, junk sculpture, collage pop pictures, total sexual freedom, and costumes invented ad lib? What is the relationship of this literary and artistic activity in which everyone can take part to the official, professionalized culture? What is the relationship of the Establishment and the Secession? Obviously the younger people are both seceding from something and acceding to something. What?

Conventional academic poetry is certainly flourishing in America. Most poets of this type, in fact all of them, have very good jobs in universities which pay from $8000 to $30,000 a year. Their books do not sell, but readings on the poetry circuits of the Establishment are at least as profitable as ever was Vaudeville. Any established poet can ask and receive fees from $500 to $1000 an appearance, thus nuzzling the heels of concert stars on the rung above him.

There is another world of poetry readings altogether. Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, and Bob Dylan form the only bridge from one world to another. I have no idea what Bob Dylan’s sales are, but Ferlinghetti’s Coney Island of the Mind alone had sold 250,000 copies by 1969. The book sells at the rate of 45,000 a year and has been translated into Swedish, Danish, Polish, Russian, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, at least, not counting pirated editions in the Orient and in the smaller Iron Curtain countries. Ferlinghetti’s other books sell 20,000 a year, altogether. Ginsberg’s Howl has sold over 200,000 in the U.S. alone.Kaddish had sold 30,000. Reality Sandwiches, 20,000. The foreign editions of Ginsberg are innumerable. Dylan Thomas’s sales are still about equal to Ginsberg’s or Ferlinghetti’s and he was one of the most popular “platform personalities” in American history — but not in Great Britain!

People like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and the leading rock groups have fabulous incomes. Yet even those who have gone over to the nightclub circuit like Peter, Paul, and Mary and Judy Collins still live essentially the same lives as the seceders on unemployment payments or welfare, with the same values and the same pleasures, and they are even more active in civil-rights and civil-liberties struggles. That is the point — in a society of abundance where the poor live better than Charlemagne, everybody can afford to be ethical. Aristotle confines his Nichomachean Ethics to the moral behavior of free citizens of Greek city states. Slaves, says he, cannot afford ethics — their wills are not their own. The reason for the vast eruption of moral protest in America since the beginning of the civil-rights struggle is that people now can afford to be good — aggressively so. Nothing serious, except possibly murder, can happen to a young girl who leaves a Northern college and goes to the South to help out. Suppose her parents disown her? She won’t starve. She’ll have an interesting life and be welcomed back to school with a scholarship. In an abundant society a large number of people will discover that ethics is (or are) fun — like poetry or jazz or happenings. Only in a wealthy society could the film play so important a role. Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, Bruce Conner, James Broughton, one of their films costs more than James Joyce made on Ulysses — yet these film-makers are as much a part of the scene as Gary Snyder, whose life motto is, “Don’t own anything you wouldn’t leave out in the rain” — or as Joan Baez, who must make as much as Maria Callas.

Far more important than their large sales, readings by Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder are mass demonstrations where the charisma practically reeks, and could be bottled and sold. In the new subculture, no longer very submerged, these poets have founded a way of life. In countless coffee shops and community pads people gather nightly, play records of rock groups like The Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, The Only Alternative and the Other Possibilities, records of protest and of folk singers like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, or records of the modern jazz musicians, Ornette Coleman, John Handy, Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp; or they may beat congas and atonal guitars polyrhythmically and recite their own poetry. Usually this poetry has no life beyond the immediate occasion. Sometimes small groups, essentially neighborhood communities, in the analogs of New York’s East Village and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, which are springing up all over the country, get together and put out duplicated publications of their own poems. Sometimes they even manage a hand press, and produce a regular magazine. The girls set type, the fellows turn the cranks, babies crawl on the floor, and cats tip over the fonts and piss in the pied type. The first magazine of this kind from such a group was The Ark, published just after World War II by the San Francisco Anarchist Circle. Since 1946 its progeny are numbered in thousands, but they still come from the same kind of group (although nobody is so square as to call himself an anarchist anymore), and are produced in the same circumstances in the same cold water flats with rubbish décor.

Like the old French Canadian threat of winning the battle of the cradle, this is a revolution which hopes to win simply by outliving and outbreeding the squares. In a few years most people will be under 25. In this world there are no economic problems. This is the world of post-Theobald man, functioning on the bare minimum subsistence income which the modern Welfare State actually does guarantee right now. These people not only accept their redundancy, they glory in it. Nobody works any more than enough to get his unemployment insurance. The standard of living is exactly that of the unsophisticated redundants — two pairs of blue jeans a year in Appalachian fashion, welfare cuisine of lots of rice and beans, wine at $1.30 a gallon, and grass consumed till every roach has vanished from its crutch. Where the records and books come from, I don’t know. I guess they’re stolen. Paintings, and found art, like the poetry, are authentic products of cottage industry.

If you democratize art you necessarily, at least at first, lower its standards. Anybody can do junk sculpture or drip painting or collages. Anybody can sing as well as Bob Dylan. Anybody can write as well as most of the poems given away in San Francisco shops by the Free Poetry Movement (on the butcher’s counter a stack of mimeographed sheets and a card, “Free Poems — Take One”). When Lenin said the time would come when any cook could run the State he didn’t say he’d be a very good cook or a very good governor. However, already a new set of artistic and literary values or criteria are emerging. They reflect the interpersonal relationships and their attendant values of a quite different kind of society — anti-predatory, anti-exploitative, personally, morally engaged. This results in a quite different formal esthetic — and through all the apparent chaos, a new concept of form can be seen emerging and new evaluations. Fifty years of socialist power have not ended human self-alienation but seem to have increased it. You can’t expect the Free Poetry Movement to produce Homers overnight or even T.S. Eliots. However — the Seceders have attacked precisely alienation and I suppose that is the fundamental criterion: does this poem or song or story or film or painting or play overcome the gulf between man and man and between man and himself — even a very little?

This is a revolutionary movement which has substituted for “Workers of the World Unite — You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Chains,” “Please Let Me Alone, Man; I Just Want to Do Nice Things With My Friends.” Innocuous as this might seem as a revolutionary slogan, it is a specter that is haunting Europe, and America, and Asia as well. In Prague there was a coffee shop called “The Viola” where Ferlinghetti was recited to records by Thelonious Monk, although in Prague in cette belle époque between the wars nobody ever thought to recite Allen Tate to Stephen Foster on the banjo.

Poetry, probably because it is the one art most difficult to turn into a commodity, is, with folk-rock and jazz, the focus of life in this world. An equally important reason is that contemporary disaffiliation is essentially a religious challenge to the universal hypocrisy of the Social Lie, and poetry, of all the arts, can give most specific, most overt, most challenging expression to religious values. Beginning with Howl, which is a poem by a nabi of the New York Subway, strictly in Allen Ginsberg’s own tradition, that of the Hebrew prophets, most of the poetry of the subculture of secession has been religious and its practitioners have been devoted to the theological virtues — voluntary poverty, sexual honesty, and obedience to personal integrity.

In such a culture, particularly if it is floated by, rather than submerged in, an affluent society like our own, economic questions wither away, more rapidly than in Lenin’s State. The significant poetry of the youngest generation escapes altogether from the strictures of the dismal science. These are the people who have walked into the Great Society uninvited, without even turning down an invitation to the White House. They have taken possession of the social results of the cybernetic future.

Political organizations that represent one pole or the other of the vast evil try to use this subculture without success. Turnouts like the great Vietnam protests are not organized by the Progressive Labor Party or the Students for a Democratic Society or any of the other tiny neo-Bolshevik groups that crowd their way into the TV cameras. They crank out leaflets and go through the mechanical patterns of “leading the struggle” but they are very minor external parasites on the tail of a vast mass movement. When they take over and force their people to the front, they find themselves without followers. The youth of America — or the rest of the world for that matter — do not protest the Vietnam War for geopolitical reasons, in the interests of Chairman Mao or Ho Chi Minh or the Kremlin — but as a murderous conspiracy of the aged, and for purely human and moral reasons. They look on the war as a war of the old men at the desks and on the podiums against the young men and women in the rice paddies and behind the guns. When political groups try to force this protest into their own channels they discover that the protestors have suddenly gone away. The crazier violent groups are doubtless, as always, 75 percent agents provocateurs.

There is a good deal of confusion about several quite different types of youth behavior. Just because conduct is revolting, that doesn’t mean it is revolt. There is no more relationship between the wild boys of the road — motorcycle clubs like Hell’s Angels or some of the more violent Rocker types — and poets like Gary Snyder or singers like Bob Dylan or Joan Baez, than there is between an Establishment writer like John Osborne and people who hunt foxes. A good part of what goes on amongst people under thirty is simply the perennial youth culture we have always had, which has always disturbed the old, from Babylon to Benny Goodman. Today the opportunities for mischief offered by affluent society simply make it all that more conspicuous.

When the Hell’s Angels announced they were going to disrupt the Vietnam protest march in Berkeley, Ken Kesey and Allen Ginsberg invited the leaders down to Kesey’s mountain home and turned them on with LSD and the next day they were as meek as lambs, loved all sentient creatures, and rode in the march on Kesey’s Op-Art truck. That’s the connection.

Which brings up the subject of narcotics. It is true that more young people smoke marijuana than drink alcohol (except for wine and beer). They say it is obviously less harmful, and less harmful than tobacco. Most medical opinion agrees with them. The reason for the persecution by the State is that marijuana is impossible to tax. Anybody can grow it in a window box in a moderately dry and warm climate. But by very definition, a pleasure which is not taxable is a vice.

As for LSD and the various hallucinogens and stimulants (speed) — the more dangerous ones are losing their popularity. People who use LSD claim that it doesn’t cause lung cancer or lead men to beat their wives or women to let their children starve. Since older Americans smoke two to four packs of lethal cigarettes a day and consume immense quantities of alcohol — solely to get drunk — and go to sleep with the goof ball and get up with a pep pill — their moral horror when they discover their children smoke grass or drop acid is a little disgusting. I have been in some pretty low pads but I have never been in one whose atmosphere of evil and debauchery approached by miles that of an ordinary financial district junior executives’ and stenographers’ cocktail bar.

Total sexual freedom — astonishingly enough to the elders — doesn’t seem to make a great deal of difference. There is total sexual freedom in the Wall Street or Madison Avenue cocktail lounge too — but there it is motivated by malevolent mutual hostility and exploitation. In the typical post-Beat cooperative rooming house it is usually motivated by a rather excessively aggressive mutual affection, a vulgarized hobo Buddhism. An older-type square is liable to turn off abruptly when the young lady poet says as she takes him to bed, “I just love all sentient creatures, don’t you, hunh?” Most remarkable is the sharp decline in homosexuality in a completely permissive environment.

Again, the Carnaby Street costume is often confused with the Revolt of Youth. This is absurd. Carnaby Street is for the rich — rich by the standards of the secession. It is a remarkably successful attempt of London to disrupt and capture some of the international fashion trade so long held by Paris and then by Italy and New York. (The Beatles and Carnaby Street are what defunct empires produce, attempting to rectify the balance of payments when everybody can make their own steel.) Nor is it really peculiarly British. Clothes like this are common now everywhere amongst the junior Jet or Squirt Set. Portobello Road and Waterlooplein costumes — Edwardian evening gowns topped by 1840 army dress tunics, or togas, or chitons worn with high button boots are something else. This fashion for optional dress — dress any way you want — began in San Francisco and New York about 1960. Before that it had been confined to a small handful of post-Beat intellectuals and their girls, mostly in San Francisco — but with a few friends in the East Village. Now it is also worldwide but I think it is more than a fashion — it is here to stay. In the future probably both rich and poor will dress any way they like. The society can produce an unlimited variety of costume. Clothes are certainly not crucial — but it is beards, long hair, bare feet, that seem to distress the oldies more than even dope and promiscuity.

What lies back of all this confusion is simply that the older generation believes that those who reject their values must be delinquents. They are incapable of seeing that a new culture with a new system of values has sprung up around them. People ask loaded questions like: Do they sponge on their parents for a college education? No. In the American West a college education costs so little it can be earned by part-time work. Many students attend classes without registering or paying anything and the hipper teachers wink at them. I conducted a seminar last year in which half the students, and by far the better half, were so-called non-students.

Do they loaf and write poetry on welfare or unemployment payments — in other words on the taxpayers’ money? What’s wrong with that? Better write poetry with the taxes than what any current administration is doing with them. One bomber destroyed while attacking a bamboo bridge or burning up babies costs more than it would cost to keep all the poets in America for a year.

Such questions are invidious and show a complete lack of understanding of people whose only response is, “Go away man, I just want to do nice things. I love everybody. Something is happening and you’ll never know what it is.”

What are the things the seceders accede to? Where and how are they engagé? In issues that directly effect the quality of life. The provos of Amsterdam are no different than the people in the East Village or San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. They are against and will act in mass against the destruction of the environment by the automobile, the pollution of the atmosphere and waters, the censorship of art, drama, literature, they will act for all civil-rights and civil-liberties issues. They will even support trade-union action to organize the wage slaves in California agriculture — because this is a moral issue. Otherwise they are antagonistic to trade unions as part of a vicious system. They will fight for free theater and music in the parks. For neighborhood cultural centers — and of course in attacks by the Establishment on the Blacks — they appear in force.

The society is vulnerable to this kind of direct, personal spontaneous attack. If you put your hand in an old-fashioned gear box of a steam shovel, you will get it torn off. If you poke your finger into a million-dollar computer, it will shudder, choke, and break down. Four Negro boys walked into a cheap Southern restaurant and asked for hamburgers and sat and waited quietly — that was more than a decade ago. They began a process which nothing now can ever stop.

Similarly, poets and singers and even underground moviemakers are — each one — more subversive of the old society than any organization or party possibly could be anymore. And they have their own international. The London Scene is top-heavy with Americans — especially San Franciscans. Provos seem to go back and forth across the Channel every week. The Underground Press Syndicate includes not only The Berkeley Barb and The East Village Other, but the London International Times, and Peace News, and papers in Amsterdam, Stockholm, Paris, and the Rhineland. Although they are many times as many, like the old Paris-London-America avant-garde around the Café Dôme in the twenties, everybody seems to know everybody else — and wherever you go, you find friends who dig Gary Snyder, know where the best grass grows, and love all sentient creatures.


III

Youth is The Man of the Year. Marijuana parties and Vietnam demonstrations are overwhelmed by sociology students with true-or-false questionnaires and by Life photographers. What passes for analysis of what is happening is usually based on vestigial remnants of the sectarian Marxism of the years between the wars, as appropriate to contemporary problems as the speculations of the Gnostics.

“What goes on? I really wanna know,” says Donovan. First, the biological structure of the human race is changing. Most obviously man is growing younger. In both the wealthy and poor nations the majority of the population is under thirty, and soon the majority of the voting population will be in their twenties. Birth rates, death rates, infant mortality, age at sexual maturity, age at the onset of senescence, general health, causes of death, even height, weight, and condition of the teeth — all the statistics of public health have changed drastically in the last two decades and are still changing in the same directions. People under thirty don’t look like members of the same nation as their grandparents.

Mental health statistics, records of commitments to mental hospitals, prison populations, out-patient cases of neurosis and psychosis, arrests for petty crimes and disorders, juvenile delinquency, seem to be moving in the opposite direction. Mostly this is due to better diagnosis and treatment and to more thorough policing of the society. It is simply not true that “the tensions of life are greater now than they were a century ago,” as a reading of Engels’s Condition of the British Working Class or any of hundreds of similar works on the slum poor and the workers in mines and mills of those days will prove.

The poor didn’t have mental problems. Tension, like sexual intercourse in the old joke, was much too good for them. If they broke through the crust of society and disturbed their betters they were hauled off to court and jail. If they stayed in the slums they were allowed to stew in their own juice of crime undisturbed, or tried, convicted, and punished on the spot by the policeman’s club.

Today a skilled mechanic in a Stockholm suburb lives better than Gustavus Adolphus; that we know, but we seldom realize that in many ways a Negro family in San Francisco on welfare payments in a subsidized housing project lives better than Charlemagne. Both can afford tensions and neuroses which only fifty years ago were the exclusive privilege of the Viennese mercantile aristocracy.

In the years since the Second World War our ways of life have changed drastically, but they have lagged just as drastically behind the changes in technology, as technology still lags behind the changes in science itself. The well-educated layman over forty seldom has any notion of what has happened in biology, physics, astronomy, cosmology, since he read the ABC of Relativity and the popular works of Eddington and Jeans, just as the suburban housewife who switches on her “electronic oven” has any idea of how it works, or still less, of what technology could really do to housekeeping if it got the chance. We are still destroying the environment with a machine, the internal combustion automobile engine, which is totally obsolete, from the steering mechanism to the sales organization to the political disgrace of the Arab peninsula. A billion people still have unwanted children year after year. We still inhale clouds of carcinogens to relax our nerves. We still drink alcohol in poisonous concentrations. We still murder “niggers” in America and “gooks” in Vietnam. One third of the population is still, as FDR said, ill clothed, ill housed, and ill fed — in the civilized countries. In the world, nine-tenths of the people still live lives that are nasty, brutish, and short, and grow steadily worse.

Here, in the foregoing paragraphs, lies the explanation of what’s happening. The cybernetic, computerized, transistorized society is already here in potential and an ever-increasing number of people are insisting on walking into it and living there. We can afford peace, we can afford creative leisure, we can afford to demonstrate and revolt until we get them. A society in which hard labor is no longer the original source of value can afford to be good. The best and most effective demonstration is simply to start living by the new values. The people who do are going to outlive the people who don’t unless the oldies murder them all in their wars.

The past year has witnessed a tremendous step up in the tempo and force of protest and a great clarification of objectives. First of course is the Vietnam War. It is no longer safe for spokesmen for the Credibility Gap, otherwise known as the U.S. State Department and Executive, to appear on college campuses. They are physically attacked and driven from the platform and have to be rescued by helicopter from cellar exits. One of the most popular buttons amongst young Americans reads, “Lee Harvey Oswald, Where Are You Now That Your Country Needs You?” Students riot and go on general strikes when the Navy erects a recruiting booth on university property. You don’t have to take my word for it — Time magazine says so too.

What would have happened had there been no Vietnam War? Much the same thing but at a slower tempo. Vietnam, like Voltaire’s God, has been so convenient that, had it not have existed, it would have had to be invented. There is more than a stale joke here. All correspondents agree that the minute they land in Saigon, the brass overwhelms them with exhibitions of new hardware, like little children on Christmas morning. All wars, but Vietnam most especially, are characterized by a qualitative change in the technology, a “great leap forward” in which “quantity changes into quality,” to talk Marxist argot. Electronic search-and-destroy gimmicks above the jungles, and an indomitable demand to change completely the quality of life at home.

There are no Dutch troops in Vietnam, so the provos have been able to concentrate on resistance to the destruction of the environment by an outworn technology in the grip of mindless greed. From the point of view of an intelligent insect from Mars, there is a remarkable similarity. The fumes that make Amsterdam almost uninhabitable and the machines that clutter the streets and destroy all the advantages and pleasures of men living together in cities — these differ from napalm only in being slower in their effects — it is all gasoline in one form or another. For “politics” in Clausewitz’s maxim, substitute “technology.”

Against cigarettes, against hard alcohol, against sexual hypocrisy, against political fraud, against the commodity culture of conspicuous expenditure, against the dead hand of the past armed with a police truncheon that opposes all motion into the future — for the ancient theological virtues, voluntary poverty — the rejection of the destructive lures of a predatory society, the chastity of sexual honesty, and obedience to personal integrity . . . it is very convenient to the social critic that the youth of Amsterdam should have been able to define their program so clearly, unconfused by the vast evil that hangs in a cloud over America. Is this anarchism? If anarchism is the realization that the ballot is a paper substitute for the bullet, the bayonet, and the billy, that liberty is the mother, not the daughter of order, and that property in the means of life is robbery, it is anarchism. Certainly there is no important difference between the anti-programmatic programs of youth in Amsterdam, Stockholm, and San Francisco. The fundamentals stand out clearer in the smoggy air of Amsterdam, that is all. As jazz musicians say, we need a new book.

The great difference between Europe and America is on the other side, amongst the old whisky drinkers, as American youth now call them. Europe lies under a dictatorship of the aged. Willy Brandt, Günter Grass, Harold Wilson, these are professional young men grown old. Who represents “youth” in France? A mummified boy adventurer from the Chinese and Spanish Revolutions, a kind of political Jean Cocteau . . . really a horrifying vision. A politician like Kiesinger, who has been as carefully manufactured as a TV image as ever was Nixon, Kennedy, and Reagan, to whom is he manufactured to appeal to? The young? Indeed not. People all over recently were crying about the comeback of Nazism in the provincial elections. Kiesinger has been constructed to appeal to the stay put, not the come back. His publicity image is that of a kind of Talleyrand or Abbé Sieyès of a half-century of lost revolutions, wholesale betrayals, and genocide on all hands. His appeal is aimed at a target distinguishable by the same gleam of silver hair as his own head.

In America things are different. This is the land of highly developed consumer research. What’s the Target? Youth. What’s the hottest commodity along Mad Alley? Revolt. God knows, I was told that on Madison Avenue in the executive office of MCA ten years ago, when they wanted to take me over as a stellar attraction.

So the Republican rebirth in the November election was a kind of youth revolt . . . a revolt of aging youth who are entering income brackets they never knew existed until they got their tax forms. Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, the winners were all presented as idealized junior executive types. Where this was impossible, as in the case of Reagan, who is about as old as I am, liberal applications of pancake makeup, Man-Tan, mascara, hair dye, pep pills, and the experience of a lifetime playing good cowboys produced a reasonable facsimile thereof, if not youth itself. Reagan’s opponent, Pat Brown, looked old and tired and vulgar in his cradle.

Johnson the Second and his successors are old men with old ways and old solutions for old problems, whatever their ages. Most of them are men of the Cold War, if not of the New Deal, the Spanish Civil War, and the Moscow Trials. What everyone realizes, except themselves, about the Vietnam War is that, blood and horror disregarded, it is inappropriate — it is an obsolete answer. The 1968 national election was a contest (as will be the 1972) between the draft-card burners and the IBM branch managers, young youth against old youth . . . the audiences of Bob Dylan versus the audiences of Dave Brubeck. I think from the point of view of older societies, in both senses, American politics in the coming years is going to seem very odd indeed. The Declaration of Independence, the Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, these are totally obsolete as rhetorical manuals. The new styles are to be found in Seventeen, Mademoiselle, and Playboy. Or so the million-dollar public-relations firms believe. The backwash into Europe is going to be interesting to observe. Even more interesting is going to be the youth backlash — the response of the target itself. Besides being anti-anti-life, the young are also anti-manipulation, or is that the same thing?

KENNETH REXROTH
1967-1969

Pot of Tage

SF History Home

The Hippies – By Hunter S. Thompson

Thursday, July 13, 2006 The best year to be a hippie was 1965, but then there was not much to write about, because not much was happening in public and most of what was happening in private was illegal. The real year of the hippie was 1966, despite the lack of publicity, which in 1967 gave way to a nationwide avalanche in Look, Life, Time, Newsweek, the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Saturday Evening Post, and even the Aspen Illustrated News, which did a special issue on hippies in August of 1967 and made a record sale of all but 6 copies of a 3,500-copy press run. But 1967 was not really a good year to be a hippie. It was a good year for salesmen and exhibitionists who called themselves hippies and gave colorful interviews for the benefit of the mass media, but serious hippies, with nothing to sell, found that they had little to gain and a lot to lose by becoming public figures. Many were harassed and arrested for no other reason than their sudden identification with a so-called cult of sex and drugs. The publicity rumble, which seemed like a joke at first, turned into a menacing landslide. So quite a few people who might have been called the original hippies in 1965 had dropped out of sight by the time hippies became a national fad in 1967.

Ten years earlier the Beat Generation went the same confusing route. From 1955 to about 1959 there were thousands of young people involved in a thriving bohemian subculture that was only an echo by the time the mass media picked it up in 1960. Jack Kerouac was the novelist of the Beat Generation in the same way that Ernest Hemingway was the novelist of the Lost Generation, and Kerouac’s classic “beat” novel, On the Road, was published in 1957. Yet by the time Kerouac began appearing on television shows to explain the “thrust” of his book, the characters it was based on had already drifted off into limbo, to await their reincarnation as hippies some five years later. (The purest example of this was Neal Cassidy [Cassady], who served as a model for Dean Moriarity in On the Road and also for McMurphy in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.) Publicity follows reality, but only up to the point where a new kind of reality, created by publicity, begins to emerge. So the hippie in 1967 was put in the strange position of being an anti-culture hero at the same time as he was also becoming a hot commercial property. His banner of alienation appeared to be planted in quicksand. The very society he was trying to drop out of began idealizing him. He was famous in a hazy kind of way that was not quite infamy but still colorfully ambivalent and vaguely disturbing.

Despite the mass media publicity, hippies still suffer or perhaps not from a lack of definition. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language was a best seller in 1966, the year of its publication, but it had no definition for “hippie.” The closest it came was a definition of “hippy”: “having big hips; a hippy girl.” Its definition of “hip” was closer to contemporary usage. “Hip” is a slang word, said Random House, meaning “familiar with the latest ideas, styles, developments, etc.; informed, sophisticated, knowledgeable [?].” That question mark is a sneaky but meaningful piece of editorial comment.

Everyone seems to agree that hippies have some kind of widespread appeal, but nobody can say exactly what they stand for. Not even the hippies seem to know, although some can be very articulate when it comes to details.

“I love the whole world,” said a 23-year-old girl in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, the hippies’ world capital. “I am the divine mother, part of Buddha, part of God, part of everything.

“I live from meal to meal. I have no money, no possessions. Money is beautiful only when it’s flowing; when it piles up, it’s a hang-up. We take care of each other. There’s always something to buy beans and rice for the group, and someone always sees that I get ‘grass’ [marijuana] or ‘acid’ [LSD]. I was in a mental hospital once because I tried to conform and play the game. But now I’m free and happy.” She was then asked whether she used drugs often. “Fairly,” she replied. “When I find myself becoming confused I drop out and take a dose of acid. It’s a short cut to reality; it throws you right into it. Everyone should take it, even children. Why shouldn’t they be enlightened early, instead of waiting till they’re old? Human beings need total freedom. That’s where God is at. We need to shed hypocrisy, dishonesty, and phoniness and go back to the purity of our childhood values.”

The next question was “Do you ever pray?” “Oh yes,” she said. “I pray in the morning sun. It nourishes me with its energy so I can spread my love and beauty and nourish others. I never pray for anything; I don’t need anything. Whatever turns me on is a sacrament: LSD, sex, my bells, my colors…. That’s the holy communion, you dig?” That’s about the most definitive comment anybody’s ever going to get from a practicing hippie. Unlike beatniks, many of whom were writing poems and novels with the idea of becoming second-wave Kerouacs or Allen Ginsbergs, the hippie opinion makers have cultivated among their followers a strong distrust of the written word. Journalists are mocked, and writers are called “type freaks.” Because of this stylized ignorance, few hippies are really articulate. They prefer to communicate by dancing, or touching, or extrasensory perception (ESP). They talk, among themselves, about “love waves” and “vibrations” (“vibes”) that come from other people. That leaves a lot of room for subjective interpretation, and therein lies the key to the hippies’ widespread appeal.

This is not to say that hippies are universally loved. From coast to coast, the forces of law and order have confronted the hippies with extreme distaste. Here are some representative comments from a Denver, Colo., police lieutenant. Denver, he said, was becoming a refuge for “long-haired, vagrant, antisocial, psychopathic, dangerous drug users, who refer to themselves as a ‘hippie subculture a group which rebels against society and is bound together by the use and abuse of dangerous drugs and narcotics.” They range in age, he continued, from 13 to the early 20’s, and they pay for their minimal needs by “mooching, begging, and borrowing from each other, their friends, parents, and complete strangers…. It is not uncommon to find as many as 20 hippies living together in one small apartment, in communal fashion, with their garbage and trash piled halfway to the ceiling in some cases.”

One of his co-workers, a Denver detective, explained that hippies are easy prey for arrests, since “it is easy to search and locate their drugs and marijuana because they don’t have any furniture to speak of, except for mattresses lying on the floor. They don’t believe in any form of productivity,” he said, “and in addition to a distaste for work, money, and material wealth, hippies believe in free love, legalized use of marijuana, burning draft cards, mutual love and help, a peaceful planet, and love for love’s sake. They object to war and believe that everything and everybody except the police are beautiful.”

Many so-called hippies shout “love” as a cynical password and use it as a smokescreen to obscure their own greed, hypocrisy, or mental deformities. Many hippies sell drugs, and although the vast majority of such dealers sell only enough to cover their own living expenses, a few net upward of $20,000 a year. A kilogram (2.2 pounds) of marijuana, for instance, costs about $35 in Mexico. Once across the border it sells (as a kilo) for anywhere from $150 to $200. Broken down into 34 ounces, it sells for $15 to $25 an ounce, or $510 to $850 a kilo. The price varies from city to city, campus to campus, and coast to coast. “Grass” is generally cheaper in California than it is in the East. The profit margin becomes mind-boggling regardless of the geography when a $35 Mexican kilogram is broken down into individual “joints,” or marijuana cigarettes, which sell on urban street corners for about a dollar each. The risk naturally increases with the profit potential. It’s one thing to pay for a trip to Mexico by bringing back three kilos and selling two in a circle of friends: The only risk there is the possibility of being searched and seized at the border. But a man who gets arrested for selling hundreds of “joints” to high school students on a St. Louis street corner can expect the worst when his case comes to court.

The British historian Arnold Toynbee, at the age of 78, toured San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district and wrote his impressions for the London Observer. “The leaders of the Establishment,” he said, “will be making the mistake of their lives if they discount and ignore the revolt of the hippies and many of the hippies’ non hippie contemporaries on the grounds that these are either disgraceful wastrels or traitors, or else just silly kids who are sowing their wild oats.”

Toynbee never really endorsed the hippies; he explained his affinity in the longer focus of history. If the human race is to survive, he said, the ethical, moral, and social habits of the world must change: The emphasis must switch from nationalism to mankind. And Toynbee saw in the hippies a hopeful resurgence of the basic humanitarian values that were beginning to seem to him and other long-range thinkers like a tragically lost cause in the war-poisoned atmosphere of the 1960’s. He was not quite sure what the hippies really stood for, but since they were against the same things he was against (war, violence, and dehumanized profiteering), he was naturally on their side, and vice versa.

There is a definite continuity between the beatniks of the 1950’s and the hippies of the 1960’s. Many hippies deny this, but as an active participant in both scenes, I’m sure it’s true. I was living in Greenwich Village in New York City when the beatniks came to fame during 1957 and 1958. I moved to San Francisco in 1959 and then to the Big Sur coast for 1960 and 1961. Then after two years in South America and one in Colorado, I was back in San Francisco, living in the Haight-Ashbury district, during 1964, 1965, and 1966. None of these moves was intentional in terms of time or place; they just seemed to happen. When I moved into the Haight-Ashbury, for instance, I’d never even heard that name. But I’d just been evicted from another place on three days’ notice, and the first cheap apartment I found was on Parnassus Street, a few blocks above Haight.

At that time the bars on what is now called “the street” were predominantly Negro. Nobody had ever heard the word “hippie,” and all the live music was Charlie Parker-type jazz. Several miles away, down by the bay in the relatively posh and expensive Marina district, a new and completely unpublicized nightclub called the Matrix was featuring an equally unpublicized band called the Jefferson Airplane. At about the same time, hippie author Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1962, and Sometimes a Great Notion, 1964) was conducting experiments in light, sound, and drugs at his home at La Honda, in the wooded hills about 50 miles south of San Francisco. As the result of a network of circumstance, casual friendships, and connections in the drug underworld, Kesey’s band of Merry Pranksters was soon playing host to the Jefferson Airplane and then to the Grateful Dead, another wildly electric band that would later become known on both coasts along with the Airplane as the original heroes of the San Francisco acid-rock sound. During 1965, Kesey’s group staged several much-publicized Acid Tests, which featured music by the Grateful Dead and free Kool-Aid spiked with LSD. The same people showed up at the Matrix, the Acid Tests, and Kesey’s home in La Honda. They wore strange, colorful clothes and lived in a world of wild lights and loud music. These were the original hippies.

It was also in 1965 that I began writing a book on the Hell’s Angels, a notorious gang of motorcycle outlaws who had plagued California for years, and the same kind of weird coincidence that jelled the whole hippie phenomenon also made the Hell’s Angels part of the scene. I was having a beer with Kesey one afternoon in a San Francisco tavern when I mentioned that I was on my way out to the headquarters of the Frisco Angels to drop off a Brazilian drum record that one of them wanted to borrow. Kesey said he might as well go along, and when he met the Angels he invited them down to a weekend party in La Honda. The Angels went and thereby met a lot of people who were living in the Haight-Ashbury for the same reason I was (cheap rent for good apartments). People who lived two or three blocks from each other would never realize it until they met at some pre-hippie party. But suddenly everybody was living in the Haight-Ashbury, and this accidental unity took on a style of its own. All that it lacked was a label, and the San Francisco Chronicle quickly came up with one. These people were “hippies,” said the Chronicle, and, lo, the phenomenon was launched. The Airplane and the Grateful Dead began advertising their sparsely attended dances with psychedelic posters, which were given away at first and then sold for $1 each, until finally the poster advertisements became so popular that some of the originals were selling in the best San Francisco art galleries for more than $2,000. By this time both the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead had gold-plated record contracts, and one of the Airplane’s best numbers, “White Rabbit,” was among the best-selling singles in the nation.

By that time, too, the Haight-Ashbury had become such a noisy mecca for freaks, drug peddlers, and curiosity seekers that it was no longer a good place to live. Haight Street was so crowded that municipal buses had to be rerouted because of the traffic jams.

At the same time, the “Hashbury” was becoming a magnet for a whole generation of young dropouts, all those who had canceled their reservations on the great assembly line: the high-rolling, soul-bending competition for status and security in the ever-fattening yet ever-narrowing American economy of the late 1960’s. As the rewards of status grew richer, the competition grew stiffer. A failing grade in math on a high school report card carried far more serious implications than simply a reduced allowance: It could alter a boy’s chances of getting into college and, on the next level, of getting the “right job.” As the economy demanded higher and higher skills, it produced more and more technological dropouts. The main difference between hippies and other dropouts was that most hippies were white and voluntarily poor. Their backgrounds were largely middle class; many had gone to college for a while before opting out for the “natural life”à an easy, unpressured existence on the fringe of the money economy. Their parents, they said, were walking proof of the fallacy of the American notion that says “work and suffer now; live and relax later.”

The hippies reversed that ethic. “Enjoy life now,” they said, “and worry about the future tomorrow.” Most take the question of survival for granted, but in 1967, as their enclaves in New York and San Francisco filled up with penniless pilgrims, it became obvious that there was simply not enough food and lodging.

A partial solution emerged in the form of a group called the Diggers, sometimes referred to as the “worker-priests” of the hippie movement. The Diggers are young and aggressively pragmatic; they set up free lodging centers, free soup kitchens, and free clothing distribution centers. They comb hippie neighborhoods, soliciting donations of everything from money to stale bread and camping equipment. In the Hashbury, Diggers’ signs are posted in local stores, asking for donations of hammers, saws, shovels, shoes, and anything else that vagrant hippies might use to make themselves at least partially self-supporting. The Hashbury Diggers were able, for a while, to serve free meals, however meager, each afternoon in Golden Gate Park, but the demand soon swamped the supply. More and more hungry hippies showed up to eat, and the Diggers were forced to roam far afield to get food.

The concept of mass sharing goes along with the American Indian tribal motif that is basic to the whole hippie movement. The cult of tribalism is regarded by many as the key to survival. Poet Gary Snyder, one of the hippie gurus, or spiritual guides, sees a “back to the land” movement as the answer to the food and lodging problem. He urges hippies to move out of the cities, form tribes, purchase land, and live communally in remote areas. By early 1967 there were already a half dozen functioning hippie settlements in California, Nevada, Colorado, and upstate New York. They were primitive shack-towns, with communal kitchens, half-alive fruit and vegetable gardens, and spectacularly uncertain futures. Back in the cities the vast majority of hippies were still living from day to day. On Haight Street those without gainful employment could easily pick up a few dollars a day by panhandling. The influx of nervous voyeurs and curiosity seekers was a handy money-tree for the legion of psychedelic beggars. Regular visitors to the Hashbury found it convenient to keep a supply of quarters in their pockets so that they wouldn’t have to haggle about change. The panhandlers were usually barefoot, always young, and never apologetic. They would share what they collected anyway, so it seemed entirely reasonable that strangers should share with them. Unlike the beatniks, few hippies are given to strong drink. Booze is superfluous in the drug culture, and food is regarded as a necessity to be acquired at the least possible expense. A “family” of hippies will work for hours over an exotic stew or curry, but the idea of paying three dollars for a meal in a restaurant is out of the question.

Some hippies work, others live on money from home, and many get by with part-time jobs, loans from old friends, or occasional transactions on the drug market. In San Francisco the post office is a major source of hippie income. Jobs like sorting mail don’t require much thought or effort. The sole support of one “clan” (or “family,” or “tribe”) was a middle-aged hippie known as Admiral Love, of the Psychedelic Rangers, who had a regular job delivering special delivery letters at night. There was also a hippie-run employment agency on Haight Street; anyone needing temporary labor or some kind of specialized work could call up and order whatever suitable talents were available at the moment. Significantly, the hippies have attracted more serious criticism from their former compatriots of the New Left than they have from what would seem to be their natural antagonists on the political right. Conservative William Buckley’s National Review, for instance, says, “The hippies are trying to forget about original sin and it may go hard with them hereafter.” The National Review editors completely miss the point that serious hippies have already dismissed the concept of original sin and that the idea of a hereafter strikes them as a foolish, anachronistic joke. The concept of some vengeful God sitting in judgment on sinners is foreign to the whole hippie ethic. Its God is a gentle abstract deity not concerned with sin or forgiveness but manifesting himself in the purest instincts of “his children.”

The New Left brand of criticism has nothing to do with theology. Until 1964, in fact, the hippies were so much a part of the New Left that nobody knew the difference. “New Left,” like “hippie” and “beatnik,” was a term coined by journalists and headline writers, who need quick definitions of any subject they deal with. The term came out of the student rebellion at the University of California’s Berkeley campus in 1964 and 1965. What began as a Free Speech Movement in Berkeley soon spread to other campuses in the East and Midwest and was seen in the national press as an outburst of student activism in politics, a healthy confrontation with the status quo.

On the strength of the free speech publicity, Berkeley became the axis of the New Left. Its leaders were radical, but they were also deeply committed to the society they wanted to change. A prestigious University of California faculty committee said the activists were the vanguard of a “moral revolution among the young,” and many professors approved. Those who were worried about the radicalism of the young rebels at least agreed with the direction they were taking: civil rights, economic justice, and a new morality in politics. The anger and optimism of the New Left seemed without limits. The time had come, they said, to throw off the yoke of a politico-economic establishment that was obviously incapable of dealing with new realities.

The year of the New Left publicity was 1965. About the same time there was mention of something called the pot (marijuana) left. Its members were generally younger than the serious political types, and the press dismissed them as a frivolous gang of “druggies” and sex “kooks” who were only along for the ride.

Yet as early as the spring of 1966, political rallies in Berkeley were beginning to have overtones of music, madness, and absurdity. Dr. Timothy Leary the ex-Harvard professor whose early experiments with LSD made him, by 1966, a sort of high priest, martyr, and public relations man for the drug was replacing Mario Savio, leader of the Free Speech Movement, as the number-one underground hero. Students who were once angry activists began to lie back in their pads and smile at the world through a fog of marijuana smoke or to dress like clowns and Indians and stay “zonked” on LSD for days at a time. The hippies were more interested in dropping out of society than they were in changing it. The break came in late 1966, when Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California by almost a million-vote plurality. In that same November the GOP gained 50 seats in Congress and served a clear warning on the Johnson administration that despite all the headlines about the New Left, most of the electorate was a lot more conservative than the White House antennae had indicated. The lesson was not lost on the hippies, many of whom considered themselves at least part-time political activists. One of the most obvious casualties of the 1966 elections was the New Left’s illusion of its own leverage. The radical-hippie alliance had been counting on the voters to repudiate the “right-wing, warmonger” elements in Congress, but instead it was the “liberal” Democrats who got stomped. The hippies saw the election returns as brutal confirmation of the futility of fighting the Establishment on its own terms. There had to be a whole new scene, they said, and the only way to do it was to make the big move either figuratively or literally from Berkeley to the Haight-Ashbury, from pragmatism to mysticism, from politics to dope, from the involvement of protest to the peaceful disengagement of love, nature, and spontaneity. The mushrooming popularity of the hippie scene was a matter of desperate concern to the young political activists. They saw a whole generation of rebels drifting off to a drugged limbo, ready to accept almost anything as long as it came with enough “soma” (as Aldous Huxley named the psychic escape drug of the future in his science-fiction novel Brave New World, 1932). New Left writers and critics at first commended the hippies for their frankness and originality. But it soon became obvious that few hippies cared at all for the difference between political left and right, much less between the New Left and the Old Left. “Flower Power” (their term for the power of love), they said, was nonpolitical. And the New Left quickly responded with charges that hippies were “intellectually flabby,” that they lacked “energy” and “stability,” that they were actually “nihilists” whose concept of love was “so generalized and impersonal as to be meaningless.”

And it was all true. Most hippies are too drug oriented to feel any sense of urgency beyond the moment. Their slogan is “Now,” and that means instantly. Unlike political activists of any stripe, hippies have no coherent vision of the future which might or might not exist. The hippies are afflicted by an enervating sort of fatalism that is, in fact, deplorable. And the New Left critics are heroic, in their fashion, for railing at it. But the awful possibility exists that the hippies may be right, that the future itself is deplorable and so why not live for Now? Why not reject the whole fabric of American society, with all its obligations, and make a separate peace? The hippies believe they are asking this question for a whole generation and echoing the doubts of an older generation.

Pot of Tage

SF History Home

Chronology of San Francisco Rock

January 1, 1965
New Year’s Eve costume ball at California Hall to raise funds for the Council on Religion and the Homosexuals harassed by police. It became a turning point in the San Francisco gay rights movement. ACLU took the case, which was dismissed.

April 3, 1965
Students at UC Berkeley circulated a flyer which claimed seismologist Dr. Charles Richter suggested the next big earthquake would be centered in the East Bay. It was a tongue-in-cheek ad for the Johnny Otis Show at Zellerbach Hall which, the flyer said, met all State earthquake requirements.

May 14, 1965
“Boss of the Bay,” KYA presents the Rolling Stones, the Byrds, Beau Brummels, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and the Vejtables, at Civic Auditorium.

August 13, 1965
The Matrix, San Francisco’s first folk night club, opened at 3138 Fillmore in the Marina District. New band called “The Jefferson Airplane“ performed.

September 2, 1965
Beatles concert at the Cow Palace in Daly City. Pandemonium broke out as fans rushed the stage.

September 21, 1965
The Jefferson Airplane opened for Lightnin’ Hopkins at the Matrix on Fillmore St. Norm Mayell backed Hopkins on drums.

October 15, 1965
The Great Society performed at the opening of the Coffee Gallery. Band members included Darby, Jerry and Grace Slick. San Francisco State College Vietnam Day Committee Teach-In. Country Joe and the Fish entertained.

October 16, 1965
Family Dog collective dance and concert, a tribute to Dr. Strange, at Longshoremen’s Hall with The Jefferson Airplane andthe Charlatans, and the Great Society. Russ “The Moose” Syracuse of KYA was master of ceremonies.

October 24, 1965
Family Dog collective dance and concert at Longshoremen’s Hall with the Lovin’ Spoonful.

November 6, 1965
San Francisco Mime Troupe Appeal party in a loft on Minna Street. The Jefferson Airplane, the Fugs and the Mystery Trend performed.

December 10, 1965
Warlocks become “The Grateful Dead,” and debut with the new name at the Fillmore Auditorium for the second San Francisco Mime Troupe Appeal Party. The Jefferson Airplane, The Great Society, the John Handy Quintet, the Mystery Trend, and Sam Thomas also appeared.

January 8, 1966
KYA Super Harlow A Go-Go dance and show at Longshoremen’s Hall with the Vejtables and the Baytovens. “Super” Harlow Meyers was Russ “The Moose” Syracuse’s radio engineer on KYA’s “All-Night Flight,” and a former disc jockey.

January 21, 1966
Three-day Trips Festival at Longshoremen’s Hall, 400 North Point St. featured the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Loading Zone, Chinese New Years’ Lion Dancers and Drum and Bugle Corps, Stroboscopic Trampoline, and Ken Kesey and His Merry Pranksters.

February 4, 1966
Bill Graham presented The Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore Auditorium, 1805 Geary Street.

February 12, 1966
Rock For Peace at the Fillmore Auditorium with the The Great Society, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Big Brother and the Holding Company. Benefit for Democratic congressional candidates and the Viet Nam Study Group.

Lincoln’s Birthday Party with Sopwith Camel at the Firehouse, former quarters of Engine Co. 26 and Truck Co. 10, 3767 Sacramento St. The Charlatans also appeared.

February 19, 1966
Family Dog and Bill Graham presented The Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore Auditorium. Wildflower and Sopwith Camel at the Fire House.

March 4, 1966
The Charlatans and the Electric Chamber Orkustra appeared at Soko Hall, 739 Page St.

March 12, 1966
The Alligator Clip, the Charlatans, Sopwith Camel, and Duncan Blue Boy and his Cosmic Yo-Yo, at the Firehouse on Sacramento Street.

March 15, 1966
Thomas C. Lynch, Attorney General of the State of California, condemned the use of LSD and other drugs in a statement to the State Senate Judiciary Committee in Sacramento.

March 19, 1966
Big Brother and the Holding Company appeared at the Fire House. Sgt. Barry Sadler, who was to entertain, could not attend.

March 22, 1966
Sopwith Camel appears at the Matrix in the Marina District

March 25, 1966
Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Quicksilver Messenger Service opened at Fillmore Auditorium.

April 7, 1966
City Lights Books sponsored the appearance of Russian poet Andri Vozneskensy at the Fillmore. Lawrence Ferlinghetti read translations and The Airplane performed.

April 8, 1966
The Jefferson Airplane opened at California Hall on Polk Street.

April 9, 1966
Week of Angry Arts Vietnam Mobilization fund raiser at Longshoremen’s Hall, 400 North Point St.

April 15, 1966
Fifth-Annual San Francisco State College Folk Festival with Malvina Reynolds, Mark Spoelstra, and Dick and Mimi Fariñia.

April 16, 1966
Charlatans, Mystery Trend, Wanda and Her Birds and the Haight St. Jazz Band appeared at California Hall.

April 30, 1966
Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service at the Fillmore Auditorium.

May 6, 1966
Jefferson Airplane, and the Jaywalkers at the Fillmore Auditorium

May 18, 1966
PH Phactor Jug Band opened at 40 Cedar Street, also known as Cedar Alley, near Polk and Geary.

May 20, 1966
Capt. Beefheart and His Magic Band opened at the Avalon Ballroom, Sutter and Van Ness.

May 27, 1966
Artist Andy Warhol and his Plastic Inevitable, Velvet Underground and Nico, plus the Mothers, at Fillmore Auditorium.

May 30, 1966
Benefit for the Haight-Ashbury Legal Organization (HALO) at Winterland. The Jefferson Airplane performed.

June 4, 1966
The Jefferson Airplane appear in Exposition Auditorium at Civic Center.

June 6, 1966
The Turtles, and Oxford Circle at the Fillmore Auditorium.

June 22, 1966
The Jefferson Airplane at the Avalon Ballroom.

June 24, 1966
Lenny Bruce and the Mothers of Invention appeared in concert at Fillmore Auditorium.

KFRC Presents the Beach Boys Summer Spectacular at the Cow Palace. Other acts included the Jefferson Airplane, Lovin’ Spoonful, Chad and Jeremy, Percy Sledge, The Byrds, and Sir Douglas Quintet,

June 26, 1966
Sopwith Camel opened for the Rolling Stones in performance at the Cow Palace. Jefferson Airplane also performed.

July 1, 1966
Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother, and Jaywalkers at the Fillmore Auditorium.

July 2, 1966
Great Society, Sopwith Camel and the Charlatans at the Fillmore Auditorium.

July 3, 1966
Love, Grateful Dead and Group B at the Fillmore Auditorium.

July 10, 1966
United Farm Workers’ benefit at the Fillmore with Quicksilver and the Messenger Service and the San Andreas Fault Finders.

July 17, 1966
Allen Ginsberg read poetry and Sopwith Camel performed in concert at the Fillmore, to benefit A.R.T.S. Gary Goodrow of The Committee emceed.

July 22, 1966
The Association, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Sopwith Camel, and Grassroots at the Fillmore Auditorium.

July 26, 1966
The Temptations’ dance and show at the Fillmore Auditorium.

August 6, 1966
Vietnam War peace march up Market Street.

August 7, 1966
Third-Annual South-of-Market and North Beach Children’s Adventure Day Camp benefit with Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and The Grateful Dead held at Fillmore Auditorium. Gary Goodrow of The Committee was master of ceremonies.

August 10, 1966
Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs at the Fillmore Auditorium.

August 17, 1966
Psychedelic fashion show and tarot reading at the Fillmore. The Airplane and Mimi Fariñia entertained.

August 25, 1966
Yardbirds performed at the Carousel Ballroom. The Carousel was the former El Patio Ballroom on the second floor of the car dealership on the southwest corner of Market and Van Ness.

August 26, 1966
Grace Slick and the Great Society, Country Joe and the Fish, and Sopwith Camel at the Fillmore Auditorium. It is Country Joe and the Fish’s first performance at the Fillmore – they filled in for 13th Floor Elevator.

August 29, 1966
Beatlemania swept San Francisco as the “Fab Four” performed in concert at Candlestick Park. It was the Beatle’s last public appearance together. Also appearing were The Cyrkle, The Ronettes, and the Remains. Ticket purchases by mail were available from KYA, No. 1 Nob Hill Circle, San Francisco.

September 5, 1966
Labor Day opening of Martha and The Vandellas at the Fillmore Auditorium.

September 6, 1966
The Blues Project opened at the Matrix.

September 11, 1966
Benefit for BOTH/AND jazz club at the Fillmore with “Big Mama” Thornton, The Airplane, Elvin Jones, Jon Hendricks Trio and the Joe Henderson Quartet.

September 16, 1966
Grateful Dead at the Avalon Ballroom

September 23, 1966
The Jefferson Airplane opened at Winterland.

September 27, 1966
The Four Tops, with Johnny Talbot and De Thanks opened at Fillmore Auditorium.

September 30, 1966
Three-day Acid Test opened at San Francisco State College Commons. The test was to peak on the evening of Oct. 1. The Grateful Dead performed.

October 6, 1966
Love Pagent in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park. Big Brother, Wildflower, The Dead and the Electric Chamber Orkustra entertained. California Legislature outlaws sale and possession of LSD.

October 7, 1966
Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Big Brother, and Electric Train at the Avalon Ballroom.

October 15, 1966
Artists’ Liberation Front Free Fair in the Golden Gate Park Panhandle.

The Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore Auditorium.

October 21, 1966
Grateful Dead, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Loading Zone at the Fillmore, with dancing and strobe light show.

October 23, 1966
The Yardbirds, and Country Joe and the Fish at the Fillmore.

October 27, 1966
New “alternative” weekly newspaper, “The Guardian,” debuted. Edited and published by Bruce Brugman. Editors at the Chronicle, Examiner and News Call-Bulletin give it little chance for survival.

October 31, 1966
Bob McKendrick presented “Dance of Death” costume ball at California Hall. The Dead, and Mimi Fariñia entertained.

November 6, 1966
The Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore Auditorium.

November 8, 1966
Movie and TV actor Ronald Reagan defeated incumbent Gov. Edmund G. Brown by almost one million votes.

November 12, 1966
Hells Angels’ motorcycle gang dance at Sokol Hall, 739 Page St. Grateful Dead performed.

November 13, 1966
The Dead, Quicksilver, and Big Brother and the Holding Company Zenefit at the Avalon Ballroom for the Zen Mountain Center.

November 19, 1966
Righteous Brothers, with April Stevens and Nino Tempo, appeared at the USF Gymnasium. Beau Brummels at the Carousel Ballroom. Grateful Dead and James Cotton at the Fillmore.

November 20, 1966
Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) fundraiser at the Fillmore with the James Cotton Chicago Blues Band. Stokely Carmichael and his staff were there. Jon Hendricks was master of ceremonies.

November 29, 1966
District Attorney John J. Ferdon dropped charges against members of The Diggers, who staged a Halloween puppet show at Haight and Ashbury streets. Released from custody were Emmett Grogen, Peter Berg, Brooks Bucher, Peter Minnault and Robert Morticello.

December 1, 1966
Print Mint store in the Haight-Ashbury opened at 1542 Haight St.

December 17, 1966
Benefit for Legalization of Marijuana (LEMAR) at California Hall. Country Joe and the Fish entertained.

December 20, 1966
Otis Redding Show opened at the Fillmore Auditorium.
January 5, 1967
Inaugural message of Ronald Reagan, California’s 33rd governor, delivered during ceremonies in the Rotunda of the State Capitol at midnight. Just before the swearing in, the new governor turned to U.S. Senator George Murphy — a former movie song-and-dance man — and said “Well George, here we are on the late show again.” The new governor placed his hand on Father Serra’s bible as he was sworn in by State Supreme Court Justice Marshall F. McComb.

January 6, 1967
Young Rascals, Sopwith Camel, and the Doors at the Fillmore Auditorium.

January 13, 1967
The Dead, Junior Wells’ Chicago Blues Band, and the Doors at the Fillmore Auditorium.

January 14, 1967
Human Be-In at the Polo Grounds, Golden Gate Park. Speakers included Jerry Rubin, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Timothy Leary. Participants were urged to bring food to share, flowers, beads, costumes, feathers, bells, cymbals and flags. The Jefferson Airplane entertained. The Be-In was produced by Michael Bowen.

Ike and Tina Turner Revue with the Ike-Ettes at California Hall.

January 17, 1967
Big Brother and the Holding Company appeared at the Matrix.

February 3, 1967
Big Brother and the Holding Company entertained at the Hells Angels’ dance at California Hall.

Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service at the Fillmore Auditorium.

February 10, 1967
“Tribute to J. Edgar Hoover” at California Hall. Music by the Jook Savages, Blue Cheer and the Mojo Men.

John H. Myers Blues Project, Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker at the Fillmore Auditorium.

February 12, 1967
Benefit at the Fillmore for the Council for Civic Unity. Moby Grape, and Sly and the Family Stone performed.

February 14, 1967
Jim Morrison and The Doors performed at Whisky A-Go-Go, 568 Sacramento St.

February 19, 1967
Port Chicago Vigil Benefit at California Hall.

March 3, 1967
First Love Circus at Winterland, music by Moby Grape and lights by the Commune. Jim Morrison and The Doors at the Avalon Ballroom

March 5, 1967
Warren Hinckle III, editor of Ramparts Magazine, hosted a “rockdance-environment happening” benefit in honor of the CIA (Citizens for Interplanetary Activity) at California Hall. Participants included the S.F. League for Sexual Freedom, the Diggers and the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

March 7, 1967
Jim Morrison and The Doors performed at the Matrix.

March 21, 1967
Eric Burdon and the Animals appeared at the Civic Auditorium.

March 24, 1967
Political satire as The W.C. Fields Memorial Orphanage presented the Pitschel Players at 120 Julian St. near 15th and Valencia.

March 31, 1967
Mime Troupe appeared at Fluxfest at Longshoremen’s Hall.

April 7, 1967
Canned Heat opened at the Avalon Ballroom.

April 11, 1967
Buffalo Springfield, and the Electric Chamber Orkustra appeared at the Rock Garden, 4742 Mission near Ocean.

April 12, 1967
Benefit at the Fillmore Auditorium for arrested members of the San Francisco Mime Troupe. The Airplane, the Dead, and Moby Grape appeared.

April 14, 1967
Country Joe and the Fish performed in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park on the eve of the peace march.

April 15, 1967
Vietnam War protest as 100,000 people marched from Second and Market to Kezar Stadium at Golden Gate Park. Vietnam veteran David Duncan gave the keynote speech.

April 20, 1967
Howlin’ Wolf opened at the Matrix.

May 5, 1967 Grateful Dead, and the Paupers at Fillmore Auditorium.

May 11, 1967
Vanguard Records party at Fillmore Auditorium for Country Joe and the Fish.

May 26, 1967 The Charlatans, The Salvation Army Banned, and Blue Cheer at the Avalon Ballroom.

May 30, 1967
Benefit for the Haight-Ashbury Legal Organization at Winterland. The Jefferson Airplane performed.

June 2, 1967
KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival at Mt. Tamalpais to benefit the Hunters Point Child Care Center. “Trans-Love Buslines” carried participants from the parking area to the festival.

June 10, 1967
Festival in Hunters Point to honor the fighter Muhammad Ali.

June 16, 1967
First and last Monterey International Pop Festival. Janis Joplin, The Jefferson Airplane, the Dead, Big Brother and other San Francisco artists performed.

June 20, 1966
The Jefferson Airplane appears with the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Fillmore Auditorium.

July 14, 1967
Steve Miller Blues Band and the Sunshine Company concert at California Hall.

July 17, 1967
Moore Galley exhibition at 535 Sutter St. of the works by Rock poster artists Wes Wilson, Stanley Mouse, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin and Alton Kelley.

July 21, 1967
The Youngbloods and Wildflower performed at California Hall.

Grand opening of the Straight Theatre at Haight and Cole. It was the former Haight Theatre, but was now a hippie-run alternative to the commercially successful Fillmore Auditorium and Avalon Ballroom.

July 23, 1967
Beatster Neal Cassady in performance with “Straight Theatre Rap” at the Straight Theatre.

August 5, 1967
Flamin’ Groovies opened at the Matrix.

August 9, 1967
Peace torch arrived from Hiroshima.

August 15, 1967
Count Basie and his Orchestra and Chuck Berry at the Fillmore Auditorium.

August 27, 1967
Peace torch began its journey to Washington, D.C. for a demonstration against the Vietnam War.

September 17, 1967
Little Richard with an all-soul revue opened at the Straight Theatre.

September 23, 1967
The Airplane and Muddy Waters at Winterland, Post and Steiner streets.

September 25, 1967
Paul Butterfield Blues Band at the Fillmore.

September 30, 1967
13th Floor Elevators; Quicksilver Messenger Service at the Avalon Ballroom, presented by the Family Dog collective.

October 2, 1967
San Francisco police raid the Grateful Dead’s Haight-Ashbury house.

October 6, 1967
Hippies blocked the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets to celebrate the “Death of Hip.”

October 11, 1967
Benefit for the Haight-Ashbury Medical Clinic at the Fillmore Auditorium.

October 13, 1967
Morning Glory and Indian Head Band opened at the Western Front Dance Academy club at Polk and O’Farrell.

October 19, 1967
The Jefferson Airplane perform at Loews Warfield Theatre on Market Street.

October 30, 1967
Benefit at the Fillmore for KPFA radio station. Pink Floyd and the Sopwith Camel performed.

November 19, 1967
Purple Onion Two, a hipper version of the original Club, opened at 435 Broadway.

December 1, 1967
Mad River and the Santana Blues Band appeared at the Straight Theatre.

December 16, 1967
Second-annual Grope for Peace at the Straight Theatre.

January 7, 1968
Stop the Draft Week defense fund concert dance at the Fillmore with Phil Ochs, Loading Zone and The Committee.

February 1, 1968
Jimi Hendrix Experience, with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, at the Fillmore Auditorium.

February 14, 1968
The Airplane opens at the Carousel Ballroom, Van Ness Ave. and Market Street.

March 3, 1968
Grateful Dead leaves the Haight with a farewell concert before relocating to Marin County.

March 8, 1968
Cream, James Cotton Blues Band, Jeremy Satyrs, and Blood Sweat and Tears at the Fillmore Auditorium. Love, Congress of Wonders, and Sons of Champlin at the Avalon Ballroom.

March 15, 1968
Blood, Sweat and Tears opened at the Avalon Ballroom.

March 22, 1968
President’s daughter, Lynda Bird Johnson, ordered off cable car for eating ice cream cone.

March 29, 1968
Grateful Dead and Chuck Berry opened at the Carousel Ballroom.

April 5, 1968
Mayor Alioto issued a proclamation condemning the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Thousands of people gathered at Civic Center in memory of the civil rights leader. City flags lowered to half staff.

April 12, 1968
Moby Grape opened at the Carousel Ballroom.

April 19, 1968
Santana Blues Band and Frumious Bandersnatch at the Carousel Ballroom.

April 27, 1968
Peace march and rally.

May 3, 1968
Thelonious Monk and Dr. John the Night Tripper at the Carousel Ballroom.

May 8, 1968
Benefit for poster artist Alton Kelley at the Carousel Ballroom.

May 24, 1968
Charlie Musselwhite and Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks appeared at the Straight Theatre.

May 31, 1968
Works of Robert Edward Duncan exhibited by the San Francisco Museum of Art as part of its celebration of San Francisco underground art 1945-1968.

June 4, 1968
San Francisco voters defeated a $5.7 million measure to acquire the Cliff House and Sutro Baths for a park. Ballot counting came to a standstill at City Hall when the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles was broadcast live on television.

June 7, 1968
Grateful Dead and The Airplane at the Carousel Ballroom.

June 19, 1968
“Soul Scene” benefit dance for the Blackman’s Free Store, held at the Carousel Ballroom.

June 23, 1968
Big Brother and the Holding Company at the Carousel Ballroom.

July 1, 1968
KSAN Stereo Radio 95 Family Freakout at the Avalon Ballroom. Music by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

July 14, 1968
Bill Graham left the Fillmore Auditorium to take over the Carousel Ballroom. Electric Flag and Blue Cheer closed out performances at the Fillmore at Geary and Fillmore streets.

July 16, 1968
Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Sly and the Family Stone opened the new Fillmore West, the former Carousel and El Patio ballroom.

August 5, 1968
Ornette Coleman in concert at Bill Graham’s new Fillmore West.

August 9, 1968
Steppenwolf opened at the Avalon Ballroom.

August 29, 1968
Cream and Electric Flag opened at Fillmore West.

September 25, 1968
Five-day Radical Theatre Festival at San Francisco State College featured Bread and Puppet Theatre, Teatro Campesino, and the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

October 12, 1968
GI’s and Vets marched for peace from Golden Gate Park to Civic Center.

October 14, 1968
27 soldiers protesting the Viet Nam War charged with mutiny at the Presidio of San Francisco.

October 24, 1968
The Airplane opened at the Fillmore West ballroom.

November 6, 1968
First day of San Francisco State College strike.

November 26, 1968
Robert R. Smith, President of San Francisco State College, resigned.

November 26, 1968
S.I. Hayakawa named acting president, San Francisco State College.

March 20, 1969
Janis Joplin and Her Band opened at Winterland.

March 21, 1969
San Francisco State College strike ended.

March 27, 1969
Bo Diddley opened at Winterland.

May 7, 1969
Grateful Dead and the Airplane perform at the Polo Field in Golden Gate Park.

May 24, 1969
Haight-Ashbury Festival in the Golden Gate Park Panhandle.

May 28, 1969
People’s Park Bail Ball benefit held at Winterland. Creedance Clearwater Revival and the Airplane entertained.

June 13, 1969
Jefferson Airplane with Grace Slick at the Family Dog Ballroom at the Great Highway. The show was broadcast by KSAN.

June 17, 1969
Woody Herman and His Orchestra at the Fillmore West.

June 25, 1968
The Doors, Lonnie Mack, Elvin Bishop Group at the Cow Palace.

July 19, 1969
The Who appeared at Fillmore West.

August 22, 1969
Three-day Wild West Festival at Kezar Stadium with Janis Joplin, Turk Murphy, Jefferson Airplane, the Dead, Country Joe, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, and the Youngbloods.

October 9, 1969
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young opened at Fillmore West.

October 21, 1969
Beat-era author Jack Keroac dies

November 13, 1969 Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Cold Blood, Joy of Cooking, and Lamb at Winterland.

November 15, 1969
Thousands of people participated in a peace march.

November 20, 1969
American Indians seized and occupied Alcatraz Island.

December 6, 1969
Rolling Stones appeared at the Altamont Speedway near Livermore after they were denied use of Golden Gate Park. One person was murdered during the show. Marked the end of the San Francisco Rock era.

December 22, 1969
Radio Free Alcatraz broadcast for first time from Berkeley radio station KPFA.

December 31, 1969
Jefferson Airplane New Year’s show at Winterland.

How Did Bob Dylan Get So Weird?

Standard

HOW DID BOB DYLAN GET SO WEIRD?

Bob Dylan, 1964
Photo: © Daniel Kramer.

In August, a Bob Dylan album may well arrive in stores concrete and virtual. It may be called Shadows in the Night. It may have a song called “Full Moon & Empty Arms” on it; a stream of the tune was released without comment on his website a couple of months ago. Why Dylan chose to record a cover of an old Sinatra track isn’t clear; it may, or may not, be a clue that the purported album will consist of covers. Dylan has just finished shows in Japan, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia; will head next to Australia and New Zealand; and may or may not be preparing for a swing through the U.S. in the fall.

We think of Dylan in a pantheon of great rock stars, at or near the top of a select list that includes the Stones, Springsteen, maybe U2, but not too many other active artists. But he behaves much differently. He’s released more albums than Bruce Springsteen in the past 25 years and played more shows than Springsteen, the Stones, and U2 combined. Yet he hardly ever does interviews and does virtually nothing to publicize his albums or tours. For someone who seems to be in such plain sight, he remains hidden, present but opaque, an open book written in cipher. Normal questions don’t seem to do him justice. You want to ask: What is Bob Dylan? Why is Bob Dylan? After listening to him since I was a kid and seeing him live for—gulp—nearly 40 years, I think I’m beginning to figure it out.

You have to start by disregarding the well-told narrative: The soi-disant vagabond’s rise through folk music to a place of utter domination at the highest level of literate, passionate, and difficult pop and rock music, all by 1966; a retreat and Gethsemane until 1974, when he came back, roaring and vengeful, more passionately focused than before, adding a remarkable personal dimension to his ’60s work. After that, depending on how generously you view his career, there has been either a long decline or decades of remarkable and kaleidoscopic creativity, culminating in the triumphs, late in life, of his five most recent albums.

For an artist as rooted in our musical culture as Dylan, the linearity of a narrative works more to disconnect him from the influences and traditions his work comprises than to explain him. First, you have to appreciate the many layers that make up his peculiar but unmistakable aesthetic. His work is grounded in acoustic folk-blues—­ballads, chants, and love stories, populated with mystical or just plain weird meanings and themes, rattling and farting around like tetched uncles in the attic of our American psyche. To this add the dread-filled dreamscapes—unexplainable, ­unnerving—of French Surrealism, and then, arrestingly, the punchy patois of the Beats, who originally intuited the substratum of social stresses that would whipcrack across the ’60s and into the ’70s. Then factor in personal songwriting, a strain of pop he basically invented, doled out first with obfuscations, payback, tall tales, and lies—some by design, some on general principle, some just to be an asshole—and then the signs, here and there (and then everywhere, the more you look), of autobiographical happenstance and deeply felt emotion.

And remember that some of his narratives are fractured. Time and focus shift; first person can become third; sometimes more than one story seems to be being told at the same time (“Tangled Up in Blue” and “All Along the Watchtower” are two good examples). And then there’s plain sonic impact: Even his earliest important songs have a cerebral and reverberating authority in the recording, his voice sometimes filling the speakers, his primitive but blistering guitar work adding confrontation, ease, humor, anger, and contrariness, presenting all but the most unwilling listeners with moment after moment of incandescence.

And, finally, a key component often overlooked: Dylan’s artistic process. On a fundamental level, he doesn’t trust mediation or planning. The story of his recording career is littered with tales of indecisive and failed sessions and haphazard successful ones, in both cases leaving frustrated producers and session people in their wake. You could say the approach served him well during his early years of inspiration and has hobbled him in his later decades of lesser work. Dylan doesn’t care. During the recording of Blood on the Tracks,which may be the best rock album ever made, one of the musicians present heard the singer being told how to do something correctly in the studio. Dylan’s reply: “Y’know, if I’d listened to everybody who told me how to do stuff, I mightbe somewhere by now.”

He came to New York in early 1961, telling anyone who’d listen he’d ridden the rails, played with Buddy Holly, all sorts of nonsense. In reality, he was a fairly middle-class kid who’d hitchhiked, in winter, from the far north of Minnesota; in a way, this single act of propulsion toward reinvention by a 19-year-old is braver and more interesting than all his later tall tales of travel. He arrived in New York on the coldest day the city had seen in many years.

He was a prodigy, with a natural affinity for a medium that would, unexpectedly, afford a few people like him international acclaim and a permanent place in the cultural firmament, and lots of money too. His uncanny musicianship—producing enduring melodies and lovely harmonica solos—included an ability to effortlessly transpose keys that would impress professionals throughout his career. He also had a first-class mind, quick (almost too quick) of wit and relaxed enough to let inspiration flow without forcing it, yet also wiry, retaining permanently the complex wording of many hundreds of tunes. He soaked up the songs and the lore of folk and blues, cobbling together a shtick—an Okie patois, a shambling affect, and a fixation with Woody Guthrie, the socialist troubadour of the ’30s and ’40s and the author of “This Land Is Your Land,” who at the time was dying in a New Jersey hospital. It all served to disguise, at first, a mysterious charisma—with eyes, as Joan Baez remembered them later, “bluer than robin’s eggs”—and an apparent ambition that left a few damaged friendships, and egos, in its wake.

Baez, stentorian and humorless, recorded her first album in 1960 and was a star the next year. (She moved to Carmel and bought a Jaguar.) Dylan got an early rave in the New York Times, which led to his record contract. His second album contained several tracks that became standards. One, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” was a strikingly imagistic portrait of a child returning from a journey to impart wisdom to an older generation. It’s the place where Dylan’s self-definition begins to merge with his songs. On his third and fourth albums, Dylan showed he was capable of increasing nuance. “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” the compellingly told true story of a barmaid carelessly killed by a moneyed young drunk, still able to make one’s blood boil, never mentions Carroll’s race.

At the same time, his mash-up of influences was creating deeper, subtler work, producing mysterious moments like the end of “Boots of Spanish Leather.” The song, spare and lulling, is a dialogue between the singer and his lover, who’s going on a journey. The woman wants to bring the guy back a present; the guy keeps saying he wants nothing besides her return. She finally says she won’t be coming back for a while—at which point the guy asks for a gift: some “Spanish boots of Spanish leather.” It’s not clear why the word Spanish is repeated. Maybe the guy’s heart was broken, or maybe the woman was right—he did just want something from her. But there’s a self-referential meaning to the song as well: Dylan’s own journey. Stars, after all, promise devotion to their fans and then disappear, leaving a simulacrum of their former selves that fans can never get something authentic from.

Beginning in 1965, in a 14-month rush, Dylan released three albums—Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde—each with two or three (very) major songs, three or four relatively minor (but still mind-blowing) efforts, and some doggerel and fun for leavening, all in a great spew of poetic verbiage. Dylan’s voice had deepened and matured; it rang with clarity, snickered with derision, led us compellingly, at its best hypnotically, through nightmares and fever dreams. “Subterranean Homesick Blues” introduced a modern, rock-and-roll Dylan, blasting off political aphorisms softened with absurdities—“Don’t follow leaders / Watch the parking meters.” Lacerating new epics made his old epics seem trite. Take “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”; the title, and a potent Cold War reference in the first line, fixes our narrator seemingly as a wounded soldier, who then spends the rest of a very long song reflecting on the society he’s dying for. “Like a Rolling Stone” captured the second half of the decade in advance, a Scud missile of mockery directed at an entire pampered generation adrift. When Dylan howled the words “no direction home,” it was hard to tell if his tone was exultant or pained; it was a conundrum he and his audience have gnawed at ever since. In a telling example of how Dylan’s words can leapfrog meanings across decades, the song’s final silky lines—“You’re invisible now / You’ve got no secrets to conceal”—capture precisely the predicament of a new generation paradoxically rendered faceless by electronic connectivity and yet entirely without privacy.

Bob Dylan in Bratislava, Slovakia, 2010.

Dylan’s remarkable work from this period is sometimes trivialized by stories about how he freaked everyone out by “going electric.” In I’m Not There, his cubistic cinematic portrait of Dylan, Todd Haynes represents the moment with the singer and his band mowing the crowd down with machine guns. Please. There were some boos at the Newport Folk Festival when Dylan and his electric band played there. But at least some of the reaction came from the high volume and poor sound quality of the performance, which was, after all, at a folk festival. Meanwhile, “Subterranean Homesick Blues” was Dylan’s first Top 40 hit, and “Like a Rolling Stone,” an unprecedented six minutes long, went to No. 2. Dylan’s move to electric is of course a key moment in his musical growth, and an interesting footnote in the history of 1960s American folk; but it was not a thumb in the eye of propriety. Everyone liked it!

Dylan is intensely private. More than almost any star I can think of, our understanding of his personal life is occluded and disjointed. His first wife was Sara Dylan, née Sara Lownds, née Shirley Noznisky. When they met, she was married to a guy in publishing in New York; early in their relationship, Dylan mentioned to an interviewer that he’d met a woman named Sara and that she was one of only two truly “holy people” he had ever met. (The other was Allen Ginsberg, though Ginsberg had never done a stint as a Playboy bunny.) “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” is widely seen as a tribute to Sara; it has a title that suggests the name Lownds and other lyrical hints (“Your magazine husband / Who one day just had to go”) and is placed ostentatiously to fill up the entire final side of Blonde on Blonde. Dylan’s memoir, Chronicles: Volume 1, some of which may be true, is at its most dyspeptic when the singer describes the hordes of hippies impinging on his and his family’s life by the mid-’60s. Using a motorcycle accident as an excuse, Dylan retreated in 1966 and began releasing country-flavored albums at long intervals to dampen his celebrity. In the meantime, he and Sara raised an eventual family of five in peace. The names and number of his children were widely misunderstood until the publication ofDown the Highway, a powerful, definitive biography by Howard Sounes, in 2001. (The children are Maria, from Sara’s first marriage; Jakob, whom you know from the Wallflowers; Jesse, a Hollywood and new-media guy, director of Will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” Obama music video; Anna, an artist who stays out of sight; and Samuel, a photographer who keeps a low profile as well. This is not to mention his second, secret wife and at least one other acknowledged child, but that’s a tale for another time.)

Dylan emerged in the mid-’70s to tour with the Band, release two of his strongest albums (Blood on the Tracks and Desire), and embark on a nutty and hilarious gypsy-­caravan tour dubbed the Rolling Thunder Revue. His relationship with Sara was strained at this point, though she came along on the tour and even starred in his bizarre four-hour movie, Renaldo & Clara. But in the end, Dylan’s womanizing fueled what became a bitter divorce. His most plainly personal album is Blood on the Tracks, a lancing portrait of a romantic death spiral. (Jakob has said he gets no pleasure from listening to it: “When I’m listening to Blood on the Tracks, that’s about my parents.”) Among (many) other things, Blood on the Tracks is an exercise in emotional intensity, from self-pity and anger to ruefulness. There are obvious references to his wife in the wrenching “Idiot Wind” and also at the beginning of “Tangled Up in Blue” (“She was married when we first met / Soon to be divorced”). Blood on the Trackswas recorded in bizarre circumstances, first in New York and then more than half of it rerecorded in Minneapolis with a pickup band; yet its shuddering atmospherics and controlled, specific writing combined to make it the most organic and emotionally fulfilling work in Dylan’s canon.

The Rolling Thunder Revue saw the return of the lovely Baez; she sang “Diamonds & Rust,” her greatest song, a poison­-­pen love letter to Dylan, and did the frug behind Roger McGuinn during “Eight Miles High.” A decade on, in the ’80s, she and Dylan toured again, this time in Japan, with what was supposed to have been shared star billing. Baez inevitably became an opening act and eventually told the tour to fuck off, as she later told the story. Granted an exit audience with Dylan, she found him an aged version of the immature ragamuffin. He was tired but slipped his hand up her skirt for old times’ sake.

The next two decades were tough for him artistically; as Greil Marcus has put it, Dylan was essentially committing a “public disappearance.” Beginning in 1979, he tested his audience’s expectations and goodwill more tellingly than any punk by releasing three albums of unimaginative Christian-themed songs, along with two tours in which he plowed stolidly through this material. The problem was not Dylan’s beliefs, though they leaned to the crackpot; lots of acts had religious leanings—Van Morrison among them. It was how Dylan articulated those beliefs. To listen to the albums today is to enter a (not very) fun house of mediocrity and intolerance.

Dylan began to produce his own albums. He wasn’t dogmatic about it; he would once in a while bring in an outside ­producer—Mark Knopfler helped on ­Infidels, and Daniel Lanois superimposed a decent setting (and demanded a suite of coherent songs) for Oh Mercy. Other albums from the ’80s and ’90s were weirdly inconsistent in the quality of both the songs and the production values. Even weirder is the fact that Dylan was actually writing and recording some of his best work during this time. “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar, “Blind Willie McTell,” “Caribbean Wind,” “Foot of Pride,” “Series of Dreams” … Authoritative and undeniable, they were better than anything his contemporaries were then releasing. Unfortunately, they were also better than anything Dylan was releasing and only turned up later on compilations albums.

In 1997, Lanois returned for Time Out of Mind. The critics went nuts over this work and the four regular releases since. I think these albums are woefully overrated, but they have sold well, and with the critics behind them, too, I’m willing to acknowledge the disconnect may be mine. But deep down I know that it’s hard to find, over the past ten or 15 years, more than three or four songs you’d stick on a mix tape to try to convince someone of this singer-songwriter’s greatness. Too many of his recent songs start with a pleasant-enough (or, more often, serviceable) riff—which is then beaten into the ground by his backing band. My hunch is that Dylan, producing in the studio, nods in inscrutable approval when he hears something he likes. The band, nervous but eager to please, obliges and starts playing the damn riff continuously. There’s no outsider around to tweak it or vary it or add dynamics.

In the folk-blues tradition, older songs were reappropriated and built upon; in his later years, Dylan has played with this tradition and found himself in mini-controversies when researchers find that some words in his songs first appeared somewhere else. Amateur sleuths discovered that his album “Love and Theft” had a pattern of lines seemingly taken from a fairly obscure Japanese writer, Junichi Saga. More recently, some obsessives started looking at passages in Chronicles and found lines taken from an astonishing variety of places, from self-help books to The Great Gatsby. The pickings seem to be phrases bouncing around the ragged mind of a guy with a photographic memory. On the other hand, some of the inner workings are plainly mischievous, like an in-passing list of news stories; the headlines were all from a mocking take on the press in John Dos Passos’s U.S.A.

To tweak the purists again, he’ll once in a while appear in a TV commercial—­distracting from the subtle attention he pays to how posterity will see his work. He goes out of his away to appear on awards shows when they beckon; he’s shown his artwork and sells it online; his memoir, while odd, was nonetheless transfixing and reminded us that he was once a young man groping for a future and placing his bets on a very long shot indeed. The Dylan camp is readying an extraordinary digital archive of his songs, recordings, and paraphernalia. Dylan owns a coffeehouse, it’s said, in Santa Monica; unprepossessing and iconoclastic, it has an extremely friendly staff and no Wi-Fi. There’s not much on the walls, but you notice the references contained in what’s there: Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali, Leonardo da Vinci. There’s one big oil painting behind the counter, one that looks a lot like Dylan’s own work, silent and content in the company it keeps.

And then there’s the touring. In Chronicles, Dylan details, with seeming frankness, the aimlessness that brought him to a slough of despond at the end of the ’80s. He may have been facing what all rock stars who survive face, which is how to grow old gracefully in a medium cruelly tied to youthfulness. He resolved to get out and play his songs—and went back on the road in 1988 with a small, seldom-changing backing ensemble, with whom he delved into his back pages, including many songs he’d never played live before.

Here’s the odd thing—26 years on, he hasn’t stopped. He’s been playing about 100 shows annually ever since, growling through a set of songs old and new with a small band. It’s an endeavor that for a good chunk of each year keeps him on a private bus and, in the U.S. at least, in relatively crummy hotel and motel rooms. (He’s said to prefer places that have windows that open and allow him to sleep with his pet mastiffs. Beyond that, they are places fans wouldn’t expect to find him.) The shows at first may have been a tonic, but over time they revealed themselves to be a panacea. It must have struck Dylan: How could he look foolish if he just kept doing the same thing? If he were an artist, he would continue to create and show his art publicly. If he were a celebrity, he would appear in public. And if he were a seer, a prophet, or even a god, well, he would let folks pay and see for themselves how mortal such figures actually were. And far from saturating the market, he has created a new industry for himself as a touring artist. On a good night he makes some of his best-known songs unrecognizable, and on a bad one you come out wondering what it was, exactly, you’ve just seen. So far this year, the 73-year-old has played in Japan (17 shows), Hawaii (two), Ireland, Turkey, and nearly 20 other cities in the hinterlands of Europe; he’s headed now to more than a dozen shows in eight different cities in Australia and New Zealand—and this is before what should be a fall run through the States. Robert Shelton, the New York Times writer who first noticed Dylan, labored on a biography for more than 20 years; seeing the star’s unstable arc on its publication in 1986, he titled it, grandly, No Direction Home. Dylan hadn’t even begun not to go home.

 It strikes me that the one thing all of these bizarre behaviors have in common is that they tend to strip away everything that stands between Bob Dylan’s art and his audience but simultaneously occlude everything else. There was a subtle shift in emphasis in one of his most powerful images, and perhaps a hint of resignation, in the song “Not Dark Yet,” in 1997:

I was born here and I’ll die here against my will

I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still

Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb

I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from

Don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer

It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from. The exultant cry of “no direction home” derived its power from the fact that, in the end, any place new was better than where we’d come from. In that context, not remembering what you left originally is a remarkable statement of anomie.

Still, we might have focused over the years too much on the word direction, as in “heading toward.”

Maybe “no direction home” means that there’s no guidance home, that you have to figure it out for yourself.

If Bob Dylan is a question, maybe this is the answer. Given the chance, Dylan will give the audience his art, unadulterated, as he creates it, and nothing more. He believes it’s a corruption of his art to be directed by someone else’s sensibility. In its own weird way, isn’t this one sacred connection between artist and audience? It might be nicer if he did things differently. It might be more palatable, more commercially successful. (He might be somewhere by now.) This is what ties together his signal creations, his ongoing shows, and even the wretched albums of the ’80s and ’90s; what he does might be sublime and ineffable or yet also coarse and unsuccessful; it is what it is, defined by where it comes from, not what it should be. Even his remoteness is a by-product; it’s what he deserves after having given his all. Call the work art, call it crap, call it Spanish boots of Spanish leather, but in the end it’s the creation of an artist who defies us to ask for something more.

*This article appears in the July 28, 2014 issue of New York Magazine.

COOL PEOPLE – See Paul McCartney Jam With Johnny Depp in ‘Early Days’ – Premiere

Standard
871825beatles7download (68) download (57)
Sir Paul shares the story behind the black-and-white clip for his “memory song” about growing up with John Lennon
JULY 7, 2014 10:00 AM

“Early Days” is one of the highlights of Paul McCartney’s most recent album, 2013’s New, but its music video — which you can watch exclusively here — might never have happened if it was left up to McCartney. “When I’ve got a song, I don’t think about the video,” the singer says. “I’m sure some people do, but I don’t. I just think about the song, first writing it, then recording it.”

Behind Beatlemania: Intimate Photos of Paul McCartney

Earlier this year, though, director Vincent Haycock sent over a video treatment for “Early Days” that caught his eye. “It’s a memory song for me, about me and John in the early days,” McCartney says. “But Vince came up with this great idea: Instead of having young lookalikes of me and John walking the streets of Liverpool, guitars slung over our backs, and literally acting out the song, what if it was any two aspiring musicians? I thought that was such a cool idea.”

Haycock spent a month scouting locations in Natchez, Mississipi, and Faraday, Louisiana, and casting local actors for the video’s main storyline, set in the American South in the 1950s. He also traveled to Los Angeles to film a jam session between McCartney and some special guests. “I happened to ring Johnny Depp,” McCartney says. “I said, ‘Come along and we’ll sit around and jam with these blues guys.’ He said, ‘Yeah, OK, count me in, man.’ I knew it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.” (Other musicians at the session included Roy Gaines, Al Williams, Dale Atkins, Henree Harris, Motown Maurice, Lil Poochie and Misha Lindes; see an exclusive photo from the video shoot below.)

 

Paul McCartney at Early Days music video shoot in Los Angeles, California.
MJ KIM/MPL Communications

“Early Days” marks the third McCartney video Depp has appeared in, after 2012’s “My Valentine” and 2013’s “Queenie Eye.” “It’s getting to be a running gag,” McCartney says. “He’s like the Alfred Hitchcock of my videos. And he’s good! He used to be a musician before he was an actor, you know. One of his old band mates actually organized getting me that cigar-box guitar that I played with Dave Grohl on ‘Cut Me Some Slack,’ that we ended up getting a Grammy for. So I knew he could play.”

Music and acting, McCartney notes, often go hand in hand. “They’re similar gigs, really. Ringo used to know Peter Sellers very well, and Peter wanted to be a drummer – that was his secret closet ambition. You run into a lot of guys who play who are actors. There a bunch you can think of. Bruce Willis does it. Then there are people who do both, like Jared Leto.”

As for himself, the former Beatle disavows any interest in taking up acting. “No, I don’t think it’s my thing,” he says. “I get self-conscious in front of a movie camera. Off-camera, I can impersonate, I can do this and that, and I’ll think, ‘I could be such a great actor.’ Then they say ‘Action!’ and turn the camera on, and I go uh-uh-uh-uh-uh…I just don’t think I’m a natural.

“But you know what?” he adds with a laugh. “I’ve got enough to do.”

 

 

HIWAY AMERICA -AND COOL PEOPLE, THE LIFE OF RODGER MILLER AND THE RODGER MILLER MUSEUM, ROUTE 66 ERICK OKLAHOMA

Standard

image

download (69) download (70) download (71)

RODGER MILLER AND HIS BIG HIT -KING OF THE ROAD

http://youtu.be/OmOe27SJ3Yc

RODGER MILLER AND JOHNNY CASH  1971

http://youtu.be/74uv5FmWu0w

RODGER MILLER SINGS BOBBY MAGEE

The Life of Roger Miller (1936-1992) Laudene and Jean Miller (L to R) Wendell, Duane, Roger Elmer, Armelia, & Roger Miller Songwriter, singer, guitarist, fiddler, drummer, TV star, humorist, honky-tonk man, Broadway composer, and perhaps above all else, an awesome wit- Roger Miller was all of these and more. Roger Dean Miller was born January 2, 1936, in Fort Worth, Texas, the youngest of three boys. His father, Jean Miller, died at the age of 26 from spinal meningitis. Roger was only a year old. It was during the depression and Roger’s mother, Laudene Holt Miller, was in her early 20’s. She was just not able to provide for the boys. So each of Jean’s three brothers came and took one of the boys to live with them. Roger moved in with Armelia and Elmer Miller on a farm outside Erick, Oklahoma. Roger later joked, “It was so dull you could watch the colors run,” and, “the town was so small the town drunk had to take turns.” Roger had a difficult childhood. Most days were spent in the cotton fields picking cotton or working the land. He never really accepted the separation of his family. He was lonely and unhappy, but his mind took him to places he could only dream about. Walking three miles to his one-room school each day, he started composing songs, the first of which allegedly went a little something like this: “There’s a picture on the wall, It’s the dearest of them all, Mother” Roger, of course, painted a somewhat more humorous and inventive picture of his school days. “The school I went to had 37 students,” he once said, “me and 36 Indians. One time we had a school dance and it rained for 36 days straight. During recess we used to play cowboy and Indians and things got pretty wild from my standpoint. Nevertheless, Roger, who also liked to tell people that he “even flunked school bus,” did let his humorous guard down now and then to comment on the insecure loner he truly seems to have been as a child. “We were dirt poor,” he once explained. “What I’d do is sit around and get warm by crawling inside myself and make up stuff… I was one of those kids that never had much to say and when I did it was wrong. I always wanted attention, always was reaching and grabbing for attention.” Roger in grade school – bottom row, 3rd from left Roger was a dreamer and his heart was never in pickin’ cotton. He said, “We used to raise cotton ankle high.” Most days his daddy would catch him daydreaming. “It’s really a good thing that he made it in the music business ’cause he would have starved to death as a farmer,” says entertainer Sheb Wooley (1921-2003), an Erick native who married Roger’s cousin, Melva Laure Miller. Sheb Wooley & Melva Laure Miller Fifteen years older than Roger, Wooley’s career would lead him to Hollywood and the movies. One of Wooley’s biggest hits was “The Purple People Eater.” In those days, Wooley and little Roger would ride out “fixin fence, chasing steers and talking about stardom,” Wooley recalls. The two would listen to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights and the Light Crust Doughboys on Fort Worth radio by day. Miller came to idolize Bob Wills and Hank Williams, but it was Wooley who taught Roger his first chords on guitar, bought him his first fiddle, and who represented the very real world of show business that Roger wanted so much for himself. Eager to follow in Wooley’s long tall footsteps while he was still in high school, Roger started running away, knocking around from town to town through Texas and Oklahoma. He took whatever work he could find by day and haunted the honky-tonks by night. His drifting came to an abrupt halt when he stole a guitar in Texas and crossed the state line back into Oklahoma. He had so desperately wanted a guitar to write songs on and this seemed the only way to get one, since pulling bowles would never earn him the kind of money he needed for a guitar. Roger in the Army – c. 1952 Roger in the Army – c. 1954 Roger turned himself in the next day and rather than put him in jail they offered to let him join the Army. Although he was only 17, he chose to go into the service. He was eager to be going someplace else and before long he was shipped to Korea, where he drove a jeep and earned one of his favorite one-liners, “My education was Korea, Clash of 52.” Roger was terribly homesick, but his world was growing larger. Towards the end of his tour with the Army, he was sent to Fort McPherson in Atlanta. Assigned to Special Services, he played fiddle in the Circle A Wranglers, a well known service outfit previously started by PFC Faron Young. After Roger’s discharge from the Army, he headed directly for Nashville to see Chet Atkins. He told Chet he was a songwriter and Chet asked him to play something. Seeing that Roger didn’t have a guitar, Chet offered his to him. Roger just couldn’t believe he was sitting in front of Chet Atkins and playing his guitar. He said, “I was so nervous, people thought I was wavin’.” Roger proceeded to sing in one key and play in another. Chet was kind about it but suggested he work on his songs a little more and come back. Roger used to say, “I was everywhere at once.” He had an energy that was new to Nashville. Needing to work while he pursued his dream, Roger took a job as a bellhop at the Andrew Jackson Hotel. “It had more dignity than washing dishes,” he later said. Situated right in the thick of Nashville’s downtown music district, the Andrew Jackson gave him proximity to the small but vibrant Country scene. Roger soon became known as the “Singing Bellhop.” He would sing a song to anyone who would listen on the way up or down the elevator.   continued on page 2:

RODGER MILLER AND JOHNNY CASH GOOFING OFF AND KING OF THE ROAD http://youtu.be/PVdi-JO0Q5I

HITCHHIKER -RODGER MILLER http://youtu.be/1mxZE0Ef5Tw

INVITATION citation TO THE BLUES LIVE 1989  RODGER MILLER http://youtu.be/SKuxJz5oiiE

Roger Miller Museum 101 E Roger Miller Blvd Erick, OK 73645 Phone: 580-526-3889 580-515-1540 Fax: 580-526-3331 E-mailWeb Site View all Photos Description Located in Erick at the corner of Sheb Wooley Ave and Roger Miller Blvd, a renamed section of Route 66, the Roger Miller Museum gives travelers and visitors a one-of-a-kind glimpse into the life and times of Roger Miller, one of Oklahoma’s and Erick’s favorite sons. The newly renovated museum features exhibits, memorabilia and personal effects celebrating the life and accomplishments of this unique songwriter and entertainer. Among the items on display are music, photographs, videos, instruments, clothing, Roger’s high school FFA jacket and essay, handwritten lyrics, Roger’s army shirt from Korea and even the motorcycle he was riding when he met Elvis. In addition, visitors can watch DVD footage on the big screen TV in the audio/video room of past performances by Miller, plus many tributes made by his colleagues. Come and share the wit and wisdom of Roger Miller. He was a true original, whose dreams and talent led him to be considered one of the most influential country artists of the 20th Century. The museum also includes a gift shop with music CDs performed by Miller, King of the Road caps, t-shirts and more, along with other unique items relating to western Oklahoma.

WOODSTOCK- 40TH ANNIVERSARY

Standard

Woodstock

Image

Woodstock

The Woodstock Music and Art Fair was an event held at Max Yasgur’s 600 acre (2.4 km²) dairy farm in the rural town of Bethel, New York from August 15 to August 18, 1969. For many, it exemplified the counterculture of the 1960s and the “hippie era.” Many of the best-known musicians of the time appeared during the rainy weekend, captured in a successful 1970 movie, Woodstock. Joni Mitchell’s song “Woodstock,” which memorialized the event, became a major hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Though attempts have been made over the years to recreate the festival, the original Woodstock festival of 1969 has proven to be unique and legendary.

Woodstock has been idealized in the American popular culture as the culmination of the hippie movement. – What started as a paid event ended being free with over 500,000 attendees or flower children.  Although the festival was remarkably peaceful given the number of people and conditions involved, the reality was less than perfect. Woodstock did have some crime and other misbehavior, as well as a fatality from a drug overdose, an accidental death caused by an occupied sleeping bag being run over by a tractor and one participant died from falling off a scaffold. There were also three miscarriages and two births recorded at the event and colossal logistical headaches. Furthermore, because Woodstock was not intended for such a large crowd, there were not enough resources such as portable toilets and first-aid tents. As a matter of fact the original plan for holding the festival in Wallkill, NY was scrapped because the town officially banned it on the grounds that the planned portable toilets wouldn’t meet town code. Maybe they would have preferred full bathroom suites.

There was some profiteering in the sale of “electric Kool-Aid.”

Woodstock began as a profit-making venture; it only became a free festival after it became obvious that the concert was drawing hundreds of thousands more people than the organizers had prepared for, and that the fence had been torn down by eager, unticketed arrivals. Tickets for the event (sold in 1969) cost US $18 to buy a ticket in advance (which would be US$95.58 in 2005 with inflation factored in) and $24 to buy a ticket at the gate for all three days. Ticket sales were limited to record stores in the greater New York City area, or by mail via a Post Office Box at the Radio City Station Post Office located in Midtown Manhattan.

Yet, in tune with the idealistic hopes of the 1960s, Woodstock satisfied most attendees. Especially memorable were the sense of social harmony, the quality of music, and the overwhelming mass of people, many sporting bohemian dress, behavior, and attitudes

Woodstock Peace, Love, Music

Click Here For More Woodstock Photos

Performers and Schedule of Events

Friday, August 15
The first day, which officially began at 5:08 p.m. with Richie Havens, featured folk artists.

Richie Havens (opened the festival – performed 7 encores)
High Flyin’ Bird
I Can’t Make It Anymore
With A Little Help w/ me
Strawberry Fields Forever
Hey Jude
I Had A Woman
Handsome Johnny
Freedom/Motherless Child
Swami Satchidananda – gave the invocation for the festival

Country Joe McDonald, played separate set from his band, The Fish
I Find Myself Missing You
Rockin All Around The World
Flyin’ High All Over the World
Seen A Rocket flyin
The “Fish” Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag

John Sebastian
How Have You Been
Rainbows Over Your Blues
I Had A Dream
Younger Generation
Sweetwater
What’s Wrong
Motherless Child
Look Out
For Pete’s Sake
Day Song
Crystal Spider
Two Worlds
Why Oh Why
Incredible String Band
Invocation
The Letter
This Moment
When You Find Out Who You Are
Bert Sommer
Jennifer
The Road To Travel
I Wondered Where You Be
She’s Gone
Things Are Going my Way
And When It’s Over
Jeanette
America
A Note That Read
Smile

Image
Tim Hardin, an hour-long set
If I Were A Carpenter
Misty Roses
Ravi Shankar, with a 5-song set, played through the rain
Raga Puriya-Dhanashri/Gat In Sawarital
Tabla Solo In Jhaptal
Raga Manj Kmahaj
Iap Jor
Dhun In Kaharwa Tal
Melanie
Beautiful People
Birthday of The Sun

Arlo Guthrie
Coming Into Los Angeles
Walking Down The Line
Amazing Grace

Joan Baez
Oh Happy Day
The Last Thing On My Mind
I Shall Be Released
Joe Hill
Sweet Sir Galahad
Hickory Wind
Drug Store Truck Driving Man
(I Live) One Day at a Time
Sweet Sunny South
Warm and Tender Love
Swing Low Sweet Chariot
We Shall Overcome
Baez Source: Arthur Levy, annotator of the expanded editions of the 12 Joan Baez CDs on Vanguard

Saturday, August 16
The day opened at 12:15 pm, and featured some of the event’s biggest psychedelic and guitar rock headliners.

Quill, forty minute set of four songs
They Live the Life
BBY
Waitin’ For You
Jam

Keef Hartley Band
Spanish Fly
Believe In You
Rock Me Baby
Medley
Leavin’ fuct
Halfbreed
Just To Cry
Sinnin’ For You
Santana
Waiting
You Just Don’t Care
Savior
Jingo
Persuasion
Soul Sacrifice
Fried Neckbones

Canned Heat
A Change Is Gonna Come/Leaving This Town
Going Up The Country
Let’s Work Together
Woodstock Boogie

Mountain, hour-long set including Jack Bruce’s “Theme For An Imaginary Western”
Blood of the Sun
Stormy Monday
Long Red
Who Am I But You And The Sun
Beside The Sea
For Yasgur’s Farm (then untitled)
You and Me
Theme For An Imaginary Western
Waiting To Take You Away
Dreams of Milk and Honey
Blind Man
Blue Suede Shoes
Southbound Train

Janis Joplin (Performed 2 encores; Piece of My Heart and Ball and Chain).
Raise Your Hand
As Good As You’ve Been To This World
To Love Somebody
Summertime
Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)
Kosmic Blues
Can’t Turn you Loose
Work Me Lord
Piece of My Heart
Ball and Chain

Sly & the Family Stone started at 1:30 am
M’Lady
Sing A Simple Song
You Can Make It If You Try
Everyday People
Dance To The Music
I Want To Take You Higher
Love City
Stand!
Grateful Dead
St. Stephen
Mama Tried
Dark Star/High Time
Turn On Your Love Light

Creedence Clearwater Revival
Born on the Bayou
Green River
Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do)
Commotion
Bootleg
Bad Moon Rising
Proud Mary
I Put A Spell On You
Night Time is the Right Time
Keep On Chooglin’
Suzy Q

The Who began at 3 AM, kicking off a 24-song set including Tommy
Heaven and Hell
I Can’t Explain
It’s a Boy
1921
Amazing Journey
Sparks
Eyesight to the Blind
Christmas
Tommy Can You Hear Me?
Acid Queen
Pinball Wizard
Fiddle About
There’s a Doctor
Go to the Mirror
Smash the Mirror
I’m Free
Tommy’s Holiday Camp
We’re Not Gonna Take It
See Me, Feel Me
Summertime Blues
Shakin’ All Over
My Generation
Naked Eye

Jefferson Airplane began at 8 a.m. with an eight-song set, capping off the overnight marathon.
Volunteers
Somebody To Love
The Other Side of This Life
Plastic Fantastic Lover
Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon
Eskimo Blue Day
Uncle Sam’s Blues
White Rabbit

Sunday, August 17 to Monday, August 18

Joe Cocker was the first act on the last officially booked day (Sunday); he opened up for the day’s booked acts at 2 PM. The day’s events ultimately drove the schedule nine hours late. By dawn, the concert was continuing in spite of attendees’ having left, returning to the workweek and their other normal obligations.

  • Joe Cocker
    1. Delta Lady
    2. Some Things Goin’ On
    3. Let’s Go Get Stoned
    4. I Shall Be Released
    5. With a Little Help from My Friends
  • After Joe Cocker’s set, a storm disrupted the events for several hours.
  • Country Joe and the Fish resumed the concert around 6 p.m.
    1. Rock and Soul Music
    2. Thing Called Love
    3. Love Machine
    4. The “Fish” Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag
  • Ten Years After
    1. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
    2. I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes
    3. I May Be Wrong, But I Won’t Be Wrong Always
    4. Hear Me Calling
    5. I’m Going Home
  • The Band – Set list confirmed via Levon Helm’s book “This Wheel’s On Fire”
    1. Chest Fever
    2. Tears of Rage
    3. We Can Talk
    4. Don’t You Tell Henry
    5. Don’t Do It
    6. Ain’t No More Cane
    7. Long Black Veil
    8. This Wheel’s On Fire
    9. I Shall Be Released
    10. The Weight
    11. Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever
  • Blood, Sweat and Tears ushered in the midnight hour with five songs.
    1. More and More
    2. I Love You Baby More Than You Ever Know
    3. Spinning Wheel
    4. I Stand Accused
    5. Something Coming On
  • Johnny Winter featuring Edgar Winter, his brother, on two songs.
    1. Mama, Talk to Your Daughter
    2. To Tell the Truth
    3. Johnny B. Goode
    4. Six Feet In the Ground
    5. Leland Mississippi Blues/Rock Me Baby
    6. Mean Mistreater
    7. I Can’t Stand It (With Edgar Winter)
    8. Tobacco Road (With Edgar Winter)
    9. Mean Town Blues
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young began around 3 a.m. with separate acoustic and electric sets.
    • Acoustic Set
    1. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
    2. Blackbird
    3. Helplessly Hoping
    4. Guinnevere
    5. Marrakesh Express
    6. 4 + 20
    7. Mr. Soul
    8. Wonderin’
    9. You Don’t Have To Cry
    • Electric Set
    1. Pre-Road Downs
    2. Long Time Gone
    3. Bluebird
    4. Sea of Madness
    5. Wooden Ships
    6. Find the Cost of Freedom
    7. 49 Bye-Byes
  • Paul Butterfield Blues Band
    1. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright
    2. Driftin’
    3. Born Under A Bad Sign
    4. Morning Sunrise
    5. Love March
  • Sha-Na-Na
    1. Na Na Theme
    2. Yakety Yak
    3. Teen Angel
    4. Jailhouse Rock
    5. Wipe Out
    6. (Who Wrote) The Book of Love
    7. Duke of Earl
    8. At the Hop
    9. Na Na Theme
  • Jimi Hendrix had insisted on being the final performer of the festival and was scheduled to perform at midnight. Due to various delays, he did not take the stage until nine o’clock on Monday morning. The crowd, estimated at over 400,000 at its peak, is reported to have been no larger than 80,000 when his performance began. His set lasted two hours — the longest of his career — and featured 17 songs, concluding with “Hey Joe”; but it played to a relatively empty field. The full list of Hendrix’s Woodstock performance repertoire follows:
    1. Message to Love
    2. Hear My Train A Comin’
    3. Spanish Castle Magic
    4. Red House
    5. Mastermind
    6. Lover Man
    7. Foxy Lady
    8. Jam Back At The House
    9. Izabella
    10. Gypsy Woman
    11. Fire
    12. Voodoo Child (Slight Return)/Stepping Stone
    13. Star Spangled Banner
    14. Purple Haze
    15. Woodstock Improvisation
    16. Villanova Junction
    17. Hey Joe

Image

Cancelled appearances

The Jeff Beck Group was scheduled to perform at Woodstock, but failed to make an appearance due to the band’s break-up the week before.

Iron Butterfly was stuck at an airport, and their manager demanded helicopters and special arrangements just for them. They were wired back and told, as impolitely as Western Union would allow, “to get lost”, but in other ‘words’.
Neil Young joined Crosby, Stills & Nash, but refused to be filmed; by his own report, Young felt the filming was distracting both performers and audience from the music. Young’s “Sea of Madness,” heard on the album, was actually recorded a month after the festival at the Fillmore East dance hall.

Joni Mitchell was slated to perform but her agent informed her that it was more important that she appear on “The Dick Cavett Show” on Monday, with its national audience, rather than “sit around in a field with 500 people.” Ironically, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Jefferson Airplane (who both performed at the festival) also made it to the show. She wrote and recorded the song “Woodstock” that was also a major hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and was recorded by Richie Havens on his 2004 album Grace of the Sun.


Ethan Brown was a solo guitarist highly admired by the ‘hippie’ youth, but he was arrested three days before the festival on LSD related charges. He is known best for his earlier childhood friendship with The Doors piano player, Ray Manzarek.

Canadian band Lighthouse was originally scheduled to play at Woodstock, but in the end they decided not to, fearing that it would be a bad scene. Later, several members of the group would say that they regretted the decision.

Mind Garage declined for various reasons but one of the primary reasons is that the band had agreed to a paid gig in Cleveland. Had they known that many of their friends were playing at this concert they would have attended. Read the entire story by clicking here.

Refused Invitations

The promoters contacted John Lennon, requesting for The Beatles to perform. Lennon said that he couldn’t get the Beatles, but offered to play with his Plastic Ono Band. The promoters turned this down.

The Doors were considered as a potential performing band, but cancelled at the last moment. Contrary to popular belief that this was related in some fashion to lead singer Jim Morrison’s arrest for indecent exposure while performing earlier that year, the cancellation was most likely due to Morrison’s known and vocal distaste for performing in large outdoor venues.[2] There also was a widely spread legend that Morrison, in a fit of paranoia, was fearful that someone would take a shot at him while he was onstage Drummer John Densmore attended and can be seen on the side of the stage during Joe Cocker’s set.

Led Zeppelin were asked to perform, their manager Peter Grant stating “We were asked to do Woodstock and Atlantic were very keen, and so was our US promoter, Frank Barcelona. I said no because at Woodstock we’d have just been another band on the bill.” “Led Zeppelin: The Concert Files”, Lewis & Pallett, 1997, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0.7119.5307.4

Jethro Tull refused to perform, claiming that it wouldn’t be a big deal.

The Moody Blues for unknown reasons declined to perform. They later regretted not performing. They were however promoted as being a performer on the third day on early posters that stated the site being Wallkill.

Tommy James and the Shondells declined an invitation to perform at Woodstock, which they later regretted. Lead singer Tommy James stated later, “We could have just kicked ourselves. We were in Hawaii, and my secretary called and said, ‘Yeah, listen, there’s this pig farmer in upstate New York that wants you to play in his field.’ That’s how it was put to me. So we passed, and we realized what we’d missed a couple of days later.”

The Clarence White-era Byrds were given an opportunity to play, but refused to do so after a melee during their performance at the Atlanta Pop Festival earlier that summer.

Paul Revere & The Raiders declined to perform. They later regretted.

Bob Dylan was in negotiations to play, however he had to pull out as his son was taken ill. He also was unhappy about the number of the hippies piling up outside his house near the originally planned site. He would go on to perform at the Isle of Wight Festival two weeks later.

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention Quote: “A lot of mud at Woodstock. We were invited to play there, we turned it down” – FZ. Citation: “Class of the 20th Century,” U.S. network television special in serial format, circa 1995.

Woodstock Trivia

 Image

Jimi Hendrix’s E-string broke when he was playing Red House and played the rest of the song with five strings, which was a remarkable feat.

John Sebastian wasn’t originally scheduled to perform. He was enlisted to perform when several of the acts were late in arriving due to the traffic going to the festival.

Richie Havens’s song “Freedom” was totally improvised. He was called back for so many encores that he ran out of songs to sing, so he just picked up his guitar and started singing “Freedom.” The song includes lyrics from the Negro spiritual, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.”

Country Joe McDonald wasn’t scheduled to perform the first day. He was forced into it because many of the acts that were scheduled to perform that day hadn’t arrived yet. He also performed on Day Three with the rest of The Fish.

A 20-year-old man named Stephen Victor Tallarico (later known as Steven Tyler of Aerosmith) attended the festival.

Image
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young almost didn’t perform at the festival. The helicopter that Graham Nash and the group’s drummer Dallas Taylor were on was less than 25 feet off the ground when the tail rotor failed and it began to spin. The helicopter almost crashed and Nash and Taylor were almost killed.

Michael Lang once said that his original idea was to have Roy Rogers close the festival by singing “Happy Trails.”

The character named “Woodstock” from Peanuts was named for the festival

 

Ny Times Article

NY Times Article

Woodstock Monument

In Memory of Woodstock ” A Birth of a Generation”

Did you attend the “Original” Woodstock concert? If so I would like to hear from you and your experience while attending. Write to me atwebmaster@the60sofficialsite.com

theCHIVE

Funny Photos and Funny Videos - Keep Calm and Chive On

S A V O I A

Curating all the best stories on the web.

Mark Armstrong Illustration

Because Nothing Succeeds Like Humor And Good Illustration

The Family Kalamazoo

A genealogical site devoted to the history of the DeKorn and Zuidweg families of Kalamazoo and the Mulder family of Caledonia

Fiction All Day

Writing and Life ~ by David Ben-Ami

rajivchopra

A Gypsy, Bismillah & Esmerelda The Spider Sit With Yama At The Vaitarna

enriquesmassage

A great WordPress.com site

The Art Studio by Mark Moore

Where Imagination Becomes Realality

GUNNY.G: COCKED AND LOCKED ~ ONCE A BLOGGER ALWAYS A BLOGGER !

THE ORIGINAL/ONLY GUNNY G ! NEWS.VIEWS.HISTORY.POLITICS.CONTROVERSIAL.GOVERNMENT.LAW.MILITARY.ETC. ~ WHAT THE FOLKS OUT THERE ARE SAYING !

lizardpudding.com

Artwork By ISD

Happy Lessons

I love you!

Outlook in Life

... and it is ever changing

Erik Conover

storyteller

Ankit Mishra

Smile! Because You're Beautiful.. :)

Loud Alien Noize

Dissecting Surreal Infos Like a Drunk Surgeon

Midwestern Plants

Learn about Hardy Plants for the Midwest & How to Care For Your Midwestern Landscape!!

Storytime with John

pull up and listen...I've got a funny one for ya...

The Nerd Nebula

The Nucleus of the Universe for all Nerd Hacks!

anntogether.com

with her paper brain, artwork, giant husband, two teens, two dogs, dog-eared and daily dreams she has nightly...

Pretty Little Treasures

Don't be afraid to dream big!

TwistedSifter

The Best of the visual Web, sifted, sorted and summarized

Plutonium™ Paint

Ultra Supreme Professional Grade Aerosol Paint

johncoyote

Poetry, story and real life.

Celia Fitzgerald

"As every thread of gold is valuable, so is every moment in time." - John Mason

Eve's Apple

Blogging my forays into art.

Chris Brake Show Podcast

Indianapolis Podcast | Indiana Talk Radio Show

Dr. Nymphobrainiac

My Life as a Psy-Eroticologist

A Tramp in the Woods

A nature diary from the Forest of Dean.

RoadsideArchitecture Blog

roadtrip photos of buildings, signs and statues

moviejoltz

The website where movies count

inkposts

A Space for Enjoying Writing

euzicasa

Share something you learned everyday!

The World of Andy Lawson

My senses, my thoughts, your browser

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 982 other followers

%d bloggers like this: