Tag Archives: Oregon

HIWAY AMERICA – The Oneonta Gorge Oregon, a time lapse Of Portland and weird Portland Oregon




 Called “Finding Portland”, it took production company Uncage the Soul 51 days and more than 300,000 individual photos to assemble. Thanks to the magic of time lapse photography, each second contains 3.8 hours.

My favorite parts are the Shamrock Run at 1:05 and the long pan out starting at 1:24 that shows just how incredibly beautiful—and close by—the nature aroundPortland is.

Oneonta Gorge, Oregon

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Oneonta Gorge is one of those hidden treasures that you just have to see to believe. Tucked away within the stunning Columbia River Gorge (which is a natural wonder all on its own), this magical creek might be one of America’s most beautiful hikes. It was a miner ’49er named Carleton Eugene Watkins, originally on the West Coast for the California gold rush, who first photographed the area, and he was the one who gave the gorge its name– he called it “Oneonta” after his hometown of Oneonta, New York.

Located near Page, Ariz., this brilliant slot canyon is split into two different sections, commonly referred to as “The Crack” and “The Corkscrew.” The natural canvas of color and unique structure is an Instgrammer’s dream.

zschnepf / shutterstock.com

zschnepf / shutterstock.com

Flickr: gorgejeff / Creative Commons

 The Oneonta Gorge is in the Columbia River Gorge with a unique set of aquatic and woodland plants. The ferns and moss make the walls look like a fairy tale, and visitors can walk through the creek on a warm summer day.

COOL PEOPLE -KEN KESEY and Alison Ellwood Captures The “MAGIC TRIP” Of Ken Kesey


Ken Kesey

American writer, who gained world fame with his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962, filmed 1975). In the 1960s, Kesey became a counterculture hero and a guru of psychedelic drugs with Timothy Leary. Kesey has been called the Pied Piper, who changed the beat generation into the hippie movement.

Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, CO, and brought up in Eugene, OR. Kesey spent his early years hunting, fishing, swimming; he learned to box and wrestle, and he was a star football player. He studied at the University of Oregon, where he acted in college plays. On graduating he won a scholarship to Stanford University. Kesey soon dropped out, joined the counterculture movement, and began experimenting with drugs. In 1956 he married his school s…more

Alison Ellwood Captures The “MAGIC TRIP” Of Ken Kesey

& the Merry Pranksters’

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Taking it Furthur – Waking the Dead


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!




Alpha Farm Garden by Kate Harnedy



Planting In Alpha Garden by Kate Harnedy

Hippie Oregon

Oregon was the center for the counterculture and experimentation in the ’60s – the smoke still hasn’t cleared

Deep within the Coast Range fourteen miles east of Florence, Oregon, a dozen or so members and residents of Alpha Farm have their days scheduled on a hand-drawn chart hung on a kitchen wall.

They tend to a large garden and orchard, care for children and chickens, prepare evening meals for one another, keep the farmhouse clean, haul firewood, fill woodstoves and work shifts on a mail-delivery route or at their café and shop, Alpha Bit, in nearby Mapleton. Most have come to this commune within the past three years seeking alternative lifestyles. One resident characterized the place as a “community boot camp.”

According to a booklet outlining Alpha’s history, optimistic young Quakers from Pennsylvania founded the commune in 1972 because they “saw the Northwest as being generally open-minded and tolerant,” not to mention “the climate was mild, educational facilities were good, the ocean was nearby, and the land seemed not particularly prone to earthquakes.” Two of those founders still live along Alpha Creek, in the “new house,” where members gather for meetings and make decisions about how to continue living as a group of equals seeking “to change the world, not by proselytizing or politicizing, but rather by allowing a fullness of spirit and openness of heart to be dominant in us.”

Alpha Farm was founded just three years after Oregon’s Family of Mystic Arts Commune was featured on the July 18, 1969 cover of LIFE magazine, that introduced a new wave of communalists with radical lifestyles.

Communes are just one part of the larger hippie movement whose influence in Oregon culture and history is evident today. Hippies were a driving force behind farmers markets, organic foods and weekly and seasonal craft and music fairs. They preached the environmental awareness, sustainable land use, renewable energy, and transportation policies that help define the state today.

In the 1960s and 1970s, hippies found a special home in Oregon’s rural areas, where they founded dozens of communities like Alpha Farm, and in cities, particularly in the Willamette Valley, where businesses and programs that were once considered radical and marginal now thrive and are even mainstream today. From recycling to acid tests, from Ken Kesey to organic food, and from pacifism to local DIY fervor, Oregon’s character is the love child of the marijuana-smoking long-hairs who fostered Oregon’s back-to-the-land tradition.

Just decades after non-Native explorers and fur trappers began infiltrating the Oregon Country in the early 1800s, tens of thousands of emigrants traveled west from Missouri in long, arduous wagon trains. The trail split at one point, going north to farmland in Oregon and south to goldfields in California. According to legend, a depiction of a pile of gold sat under the arrow pointing south, and Oregon was written on the one pointing north. Those who could read went to Oregon. Aside from the insult to Californians, the old tale identifies Oregonians as intellectual people who seek personal fulfillment before material wealth. Many of those pioneers sought the freedom to create their own self-sustained society, and Oregon had the climate and landscape to support their dreams.

Almost a century later, after the homesteads had long been claimed, cities were well established, and resource-extraction industries had taken hold of the region’s economy, pacifists who refused military service during World War II created an art school within their Civilian Public Service work camp along the coast between Waldport and Yachats. They dreamed “vaguely of sticking together after the war,” according to book-printer Adrian Wilson. “What a community center I visualize,” he wrote home to his parents. “We would earn money from the press and more from crafts—myrtle-wood, etc.” When the war ended and they were freed from the camp, Wilson and several other artists settled in San Francisco, where they helped build a community of artistic resistance to mainstream culture that would support the radical writers who came to symbolize the Beat generation.

Like the hippies of later decades, the Beats railed against the “straight” elements of society. With the opening line to his poem “Howl,” Allen Ginsberg cut against the national post-war narrative of affluence and security. He wrote, “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness.” In his 1958 novel The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac included a thinly-disguised description of ”Howl’s” October 1955 reading at San Francisco’s Six Gallery, where listeners (including Kerouac, who had taken up a collection to purchase jugs of cheap wine) wildly applauded the reading. “By eleven o’clock when AlvahGoldbook was … wailing his poem ‘Wail’ drunk with arms outspread everybody was yelling ‘Go! Go! Go!’ (like a jam session).” Just a few months after that first performance, Ginsberg joined fellow radical poet Gary Snyder for a reading at Snyder’s alma mater, Reed College in Portland.

The Music Scene, Coffeehouses and the Birth of the Oregon Country Fair

These writers and poets found a home in coffee shops, where folk singers also played to audiences and where the next wave of counterculturalists would soon follow. Walter Cole bought Caffe Espresso in Portland in 1957 and quickly started booking musicians to draw in more customers. His house musician, Earl Benson, played in the jug band Fourth Gear Rubber, which “made a bridge between the solo folksinger and the electric rock band,” according to Valeria Brown, a historian of the era. Within a decade, Bob Dylan had plugged in at Newport and 15-year-old Steve Bradley had formed Portland’s U.S. Cadenza, a rock band that opened for the Grateful Dead at Portland’s Masonic Lodge on July 18, 1967. Brown explains that young musicians like Bradley, influenced by jazz and the blues, spent many hours in Portland coffeehouses, “improvising accompaniments to each other’s material.” Such willingness to experiment was a defining feature of the era.

In the recently published book, Fruit of the Sixties, Suzi Prozanski documents the people and ideas that created the Oregon Country Fair, an annual three-day festival “where aging hipsters, sacred tricksters and new vaudevillians, plus their children and grandchildren, would gather for decades to celebrate counterculture community.” She includes a full chapter on the Odyssey Coffee House, which opened in Eugene in October 1967 and “quickly became a meeting place for people exploring new ways of living and working together,” or as co-founder Bill Wooten put it, a place for “activists, university students, high school dropouts, hippies, street people, musicians, artists, bohemians, beatniks, and bums.” During the five years the shop was open, owners and patrons used the space to plan anti-war demonstrations, sell crafts, plan the renaissance fair that would become the Oregon Country Fair, create a “switchboard” through which members of the alternative community shared information, and plan a community free school that taught courses ranging from yoga, existentialism, and batik to women’s liberation and African American studies. Such courses are now common in universities, and crafters who met at Odyssey later started the Eugene and Portland Saturday markets, now cornerstones of local food and craft economies.

Not all Eugene citizens were pleased to have such a colorful counterculture in their city. During a three-hour panel discussion and forum on the Free School in July 1969, some people “shouted hysterical accusations that the school was run by left-wing revolutionaries, atheists, drug addicts and sexual perverts.” An Odyssey regular, Mary Wagner, resists such characterizations, explaining that “so frequently, the hippie counterculture that’s portrayed today is just a big drug indulgence,” when in actuality, “the Odyssey was like a center for thought and intellectual stimulation and music and art.”

The Kesey Trip

Of course, drugs did play a starring role in the culture revolution. A self-described “old hippie” now living at Alpha Farm recently justified his commitment to a life far outside the norm with a question: “Have you ever tried LSD?”

Working to understand the potential military applications for psychedelics, the CIA experimentally administered LSD (or acid) to people under a program called MK-ULTRA. Oregonian Ken Kesey became a test subject in the mid 1960s, while living outside San Francisco. Kesey then liberated some of the LSD and began using it outside the program. He promoted LSD’s visionary effects in a 1964 crosscountry tour with the Merry Pranksters on their brightly painted bus called “Furthur.” Writer Tom Wolfe made that trip famous in his 1968 book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, where he also described the “acid test” parties Kesey and the Pranksters hosted while the Grateful Dead supplied music. All these parties took place in California except one.

Kesey, the Merry Pranksters, and the Dead journeyed north to Portland’s Beaver Hall in January 1966. Kesey later told this story about the show: “A guy off the street, a businessman, came in and paid his dollar and got his hit of acid. He had a suit on and an umbrella. At that time, [each acid test] was still small enough that one person could become the center of attention. He was out there dancing and somebody hit him with the spotlight and he said, ‘The king walks!’ And he began to walk with his umbrella and play with his shadow.” Calling attention to the symbiotic relationship that fans of jam-band music continue to revel in today, Kesey went on: “The Dead were watching this and playing to every moment so he became the music that people were playing to.”

Hunter S. Thompson wrote that, in the mid-1960s, “anything was possible. The crazies were seizing the reins, craziness hummed in the air, and the heavyweight king of the crazies was a rustic boy from Honda named Ken Kesey.” Leader of the acid tests and the Merry Pranksters, there is no doubt Kesey’s early days established his hippie bona fides, but his later years reflect the maturity of the movement in general. He continued to take LSD, at least once a year, almost until the end, and he also farmed, wrote, edited, served on the local school board, coached wrestling, practiced magic tricks, worked on creating a movie from film of the 1964 Furthur trip and taught at the University of Oregon. That mix of individual expression and community building is a potent residual of the hippie era, one far easier for many to appreciate than patchouli.

Perhaps the grandest ruse in hippie lore anywhere, came under the seal of the State of Oregon. Oregon hippies helped organize a state-sponsored, drug-filled, rock-androll festival. The impetus for the concert was based upon the political activity that placed them front and center on the six o’clock news— protesting the war in Vietnam. Held from August 28 to September 3, 1970, just a year after Woodstock, the festival, Vortex I, was the brainchild of a few hippies who persuaded Governor Tom McCall to accept a quid pro quo. Earlier that year, massive anti-war protests had filled Portland’s South Park Blocks, and the Ohio National Guard had fired on protesting students at Kent Sate University, killing four. With the FBI raising the alarm that unruly hippies would descend on Portland to cause mayhem during an American Legion convention with headliner Richard Nixon, McCall took a much-ridiculed chance. Police directed 35,000 hippies to a muddy, LSD-infused party at McIver State Park, fortyfive minutes southeast of Portland. Nixon decided not to come, and although the People’s Army Jamboree organized a healthy anti-war protest, McCall never called out the National Guard troops stationed downtown.

Along the Clackamas River at McIver State Park, however, hippies turned out in droves and the concert was widely hailed as a success. Two months later, McCall was re-elected with 56 percent of the vote. In that second term, he signed two pieces of legislation that defined Oregon as an environmental leader—the Bottle Bill, which encourages recycling, and SB 100, Oregon’s trademark land-use policy. Vortex may not have been the sole cause of that legislation, but its success and the radicals’ overall stretching of the political spectrum undoubtedly contributed to its existence.

Americans coming of age during the mid-20th century found good reason to rebel against the status quo. The Vietnam War’s ongoing carnage, police brutality at antiwar and civil rights protests, the continuing draft, the threat of nuclear war —heightened during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis—and the publication of Rachel Carson’s environmental opus, Silent Spring, all sent a clear message about the future. Young people were “shell shocked,” as 1970s Portland commune member Lee Lancaster put it, especially after the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Nevertheless, the mostly educated, white hippies mixed that shock with youthful optimism and set out to make a safer, more colorful, more peaceful world than the one their parents had built.

Identifying as a hippie, Lancaster says, was “a hell of a lot of fun, because that’s what we did to express ourselves.” Through wearing tie-dyed shirts, bell-bottom jeans and flashing the ubiquitous peace sign, hippies were instantly recognizable. It was all “an expression of throwing over the ’50s suburban values, enjoying life every day and not worrying too much about the future.” Lancaster and his fellow communalists didn’t just rebel through drugs and clothing, they also took action—protesting the building of the Trojan Nuclear Plant in Rainier, Oregon, establishing the first household recycling pick-up program in Portland, and helping create markets for organic foods. Lancaster now works as the finance manager at a local co-op, where he has worked for many years. He enjoys sharing his perspective and experience with a younger generation who he says is more cynical but has deeper understandings of problems and solutions than he and his cohorts did forty years ago. Just a few decades ago, he notes, scientific recognition of whole ecological systems was brand new, and the word sustainability was virtually unheard. The counterculturalist commitment to cooperative business and living models, healthy foods, and sustainable agriculture and energy use set them apart forty years ago, but those values are now mainstream in urban and rural communities all over Oregon.

Hippies Today

For better or for worse, the hippie haze, complete with hemp bracelets and “for tobacco use only” glass pipes, continues to find new generations of customers in head shops all over the state. But defining hippies today is a challenge. Are the only true hippies those who embraced prose, pot and protest in the 1970s? Or is the hippie ethic something that pervades various sectors of Oregon society—from young people who continue to flock to Grateful Dead cover-band shows to today’s commune residents and those who work in ecological sciences, environmental politics, or sustainability movements of one sort or another? The State apparatus has never sponsored another rock festival such as the Vortex, but bluegrass, jam-band, and newer electronic ensembles draw crowds of colorfully clad, happily tripping fans to shows and festivals. And, of course, the Oregon Country Fair is a well-established event that draws crowds year after year.

The freedom-loving counterculturalists have built systems through which they maximize their otherworldly fun, perfecting their costumemaking and stilt-walking as well as building colossal floats for annual festivals like Nevada’s Burning Man. Even drug use is more institutionalized, with medical marijuana almost a non-issue in Oregon and the possibility of decriminalization altogether in California, where the argument for regulation and taxation may hold sway with a bankrupt state government.

Some enduring aspects of hippie culture have become Oregon’s strong suit today. Oregon ranks among the top states for its recycling programs. State government incentives for green energy are among the most aggressive in the country. What Detroit was to automobile manufacturing, Portland and Eugene are to the bicycle. And Portland State University now has a conflict resolution program, contributing to the long-term advocacy of peace. Robert Gould, chair of the department, was involved in anti-draft organizations in Portland during the late 1960s and 1970s and remembers both hippies and “New Leftists” being involved in the peace movement then. “People like myself worked both sides of the street,” he recalls, having both founded a head shop, Ides of March, whose products “filled out the hippie lifestyle” and worked with Oregon’s U.S. Congresswoman Elizabeth Furse to found the Oregon Peace Institute in the 1980s. When describing the counterculture’s influence on the peace movement in Oregon, Gould emphasizes the work of women, “who have constantly been a presence in the peace movement,” and the effect of psychedelics, which “allowed for a consciousness shift that prompted empathy” by making it “possible to think about what it was like to be a person in another culture.”

While some hippie-era cooperatives have failed, many continue to turn a profit in Oregon, offering workers, owners and customers the means to put their values to work through business. Hippies of decades gone by are leaders in these institutions and more. They support community agriculture programs (and are sometimes the farmers) and are board members helping to govern local co-ops, businesses owners of clean energy companies, scientists studying ecological systems, and politicians working within the system for environmental regulations and social justice.

Thanks to Photos by Kate Harnedy





Patrick Moen built an impressive reputation as a federal agent, busting big drug rings that peddled everything from meth to ecstasy on the streets of Oregon.

Moen’s decade-long career with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration ended last month when he took a job with Privateer Holdings, a Seattle-based private equity firm that invests in the fledgling, but lucrative marijuana industry.

Instead of listening to wiretaps and tracking illegal drug money, Moen now vets potential marijuana-related ventures as investment opportunities for the Yale-educated backers of enterprises like Leafly.com, a website offering reviews of marijuana strains.

It’s a radical departure for a 36-year-old lawyer who once toyed with the idea of becoming a federal prosecutor.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” said Moen, who is in the process of relocating from Portland to Seattle. “It’s not one I took lightly. I talked with friends, family and coworkers. I sought out opinions. When it comes down to it, this is an incredible opportunity for me professionally and personally.”

The switch from law-and-order agent to marijuana industry booster raised eyebrows among Moen’s colleagues. Police generally take a dim view of marijuana; the DEA’s own “threat assessment” calls it “the most widely available and commonly abused illicit drug in the United States.”  In Oregon, federal authorities have aggressively pursued large-scale marijuana producers and traffickers.

patrickmoen.JPGView full sizePatrick MoenKeith Brofsky

John Deits, an assistant U.S. attorney who oversaw federal drug prosecutions in Oregon until his recent retirement, said Moen was a sharp-eyed agent who “understood the mission” of federal law enforcement when it came to illegal drugs. Though marijuana is legal for recreational use in Washington and Colorado and medical marijuana is allowed in 20 states and Washington, D.C, it’s illegal under federal law.

“I think it was surprising to me that Pat would want to do what he is doing,” Deits said. “I think it was surprising to a lot of people within his own agency.

“But obviously they are the ones that know a lot about the laws and a lot about marijuana,” Deits said.

Moen is the second DEA agent with Oregon ties to make the move to the marijuana industry. Paul Schmidt, who until 2010 served as the highest-ranking DEA agent in Oregon, now works as a medical marijuana business consultant.

Hiring government regulators and enforcement officials is a common strategy among American corporations, said Pete Tashman, an assistant professor of management at Portland State University’s School of Business Administration.  The pharmaceutical industry, for example, is famous for hiring former government regulators, he said.

“It’s a revolving-door strategy,” Tashman said.

Former government officials offer businesses an insider’s view of how to navigate regulations and shape future ones, he said.

“Folks that have experience on the legal end of it will help their employers lobby for the right kinds of policies that might emerge in the future,” Tashman said.


Schmidt, 54, acknowledged that some former colleagues consider advising the medical marijuana industry a move to the “dark side.”

“A lot of people say, ‘How could you be so against it Monday and then on Tuesday you are all for it?” said Schmidt, who worked in law enforcement for more than three decades and lives in Canby.

Schmidt has long been interested in the drug’s botanical background and its medicinal potential, he said. And though as a federal drug agent, he testified in marijuana cases in Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Wyoming, he said he viewed the drug as less harmful than heroin, meth and cocaine.

“It was the least of the evils,” he said.

Many officers, particularly younger ones, agree with him, he said.

“If you go to the newer law enforcement – somewhere 45 years and younger – and you talk to them about cannabis, they are just like, ‘Man, why isn’t it legal? I have got other things to do.'”

After Schmidt retired from the DEA, he worked for the Colorado Department of Revenue, the agency charged with ensuring medical marijuana dispensaries comply with state regulations. He returned to Oregon and this year sat on the panel that drafted rules for the state’s medical marijuana retail industry.

Next month Schmidt will hold a series of seminars around the state advising prospective medical marijuana retailers about Oregon’s new dispensary law. The $95 per-person seminars will include “fresh perspectives on the developing cannabis market,” according to the flier.

Steve Fox, a Washington, D.C.-based marijuana lobbyist who helped coordinate Colorado’s successful cannabis legalization campaign, said bringing DEA agents into the industry is “politically savvy” and likely intended to put investors and political officials at ease. Hiring a former drug cop also may help foster a company’s reputation as mainstream, he said.

But Fox doesn’t see the move as a necessarily positive one in general.

“This industry now is about producing and marketing a product and the people who work for the DEA have experience in a different industry, which is arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana,” he said.


Moen, who started his career as a beat cop in upstate New York, where he grew up, joined the DEA in 2003 and spent eight years in the gritty city of Bridgeport, Conn. He earned a degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

About two years ago, Moen, who developed an expertise in wiretaps, was promoted and posted to the agency’s Portland district office, where he had a hand in the region’s biggest drug investigations as a task force supervisor. Those cases uncovered major meth, oxycodone and ecstasy rings and marijuana, too.

Moen said marijuana ranked “pretty low” among the DEA’s priorities. And while marijuana cases weren’t routine, his work gave him a close-up view of how drug traffickers exploit Oregon’s medical marijuana law, which he said “needs a complete overhaul.”

“The system is just widely abused,” he said. “It’s set up in theory as a nonprofit situation, but there are tons of people making a living off the system and enforcement of compliance is left up to law enforcement.”

Moen, whose salary as an agent was about $130,000, said he recently began considering job options beyond the DEA. Budget woes and congressional gridlock took a toll on the agency, resulting in “a bit of a brain drain,” he said.

“Really, really talented people were leaving,” Moen said.

Over the summer he heard Privateer Holdings CEO Brendan Kennedy talking on NPR about the company’s mission: investing in the nascent marijuana industry. Impressed, the veteran cop gave Kennedy a call and the pair met at a Portland area Starbucks in late summer.

The agent slid an envelope across the table.

“I am not ashamed to say I was a bit nervous at that point,” Kennedy said. “I wasn’t sure what was going to be in the envelope. Ultimately, it was his resume.”

Kennedy, who has a background in venture capital, said Moen helps the company manage risk associated with the cannabis industry.

“Patrick’s role is to help us navigate a very complicated environment, to help us be in compliance with all of the local, state and federal regulations,” said Kennedy, whose company gets about five pitches daily for marijuana-related businesses.

Marijuana’s legal ambiguity isn’t clouding its business potential. One recent estimate puts the value for the legal marijuana market nationwide at $1.44 billion. The State of Legal Marijuana Markets, a publication produced by Arcview Market Research, estimates that market will grow 64 percent by 2014.

Moen said the challenges of getting the marijuana industry off the ground and helping create mainstream brands appealed to him, but he wasn’t sure how the news would go over with his DEA colleagues.

“Nobody hung up on me,” he said. “That was good.”

It’s been about a month since he quit the DEA. Moen said he’s been surprised to learn how many people he knows consume marijuana.

“Now that people can open up,” he said, “I realize this is a product that someone’s parents use, someone’s friend uses. People that are professional and that have families and that they all view it as an acceptable, better than acceptable, as a better alternative than other options: That was an eye opener.”

— Noelle Crombie