Liz wrote:Lumi, can you give us a quick synopsis?
Nope, I couldn't begin to try - but I'll try to type out a pertinent passage. From The "Hashbury" Is the Capitol of the Hippies
, New York Times Magazine, May 14, 1967:
Last year in Berkeley, hard-core political radicals who had always viewed hippies as spiritual allies began to worry about the long-range implications of the Haight-Ashbury scene. Students who were once angry activists were content to lie back in their pads and smile at the world through a fog of marijuana smoke - or, worse, to dress like clowns or American Indians and stay zonked for days at a time on LSD.
Even in Berkeley, political rallies during 1966 had overtones of music, madness and absurdity. Instead of picket signs and revolutionary slogans, more and more demonstrators carried flowers, balloons, and colorful posters featuring slogans from Dr. Timothy Leary, the high priest of acid. The drug culture was spreading faster than political activists realized. Unlike the dedicated radicals who emerged for the Free Speech Movement, the hippies were more interested in dropping out of society than they were in changing it. They were generally younger than the political types, and the press dismissed them as the "pot left", a frivolous gang of druggies and sex kooks who were only along for the ride.
Then Ronald Reagan was elected Governor by almost a million-vote plurality. Shortly afterward, Clark Kerr was fired as president of the University of California - a direct result of Reagan's victory. In the same November, the G.O.P. gained 50 seats in Congress and served a clear warning on the Johnson Administration that despite all the headlines about Berkeley and the New Left, most of the electorate was a lot more hawkish, hard-nosed and conservative than the White House antennae had indicated.
The lesson was not lost on the hippies, many of whom still 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-hippy 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.
So it is no coincidence that the Haight-Ashbusy scene developed very suddenly in the winter of 1966-1967 from the quiet neo-Bohemian enclave that it had been for four or five years to the crowded, defiant dope fortress that it is today. The hippies, who had never really believed they were the wave of the future anyway, 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 - form Berkeley to the Haight-Ashbury, from pragmatism to mysticism, from politics to dope, from the hang-ups of protest to the peaceful disengagment of love, nature, and sponteneity.
"Oh, good!........ No worries, then."