Friday, January 6, 2017

Elysian Park Love-in, March 26, 1967

By 1967 there was a great degree of derisiveness for young people, those kooks, hippies, freaks and acidheads that defied authority, and the LAPD. On Easter Sunday, 1967, 15-20,000 hippies congregated in a natural amphitheater in Elysian Park, a beautiful downtown Los Angeles oasis adjacent to Dodgers’ Stadium in Chavez Ravine. Surrounded by eucalyptus and California poppies, the throngs of young people sat, listened to music (Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, Clear Light, The Flaming Groovies), danced and got high. There were families and hot dogs and laughter.

The mainstream media portrayed only those few miscreants who invaded the serenity (namely The Hell's Angels), whose motives were clearly not those of the Love-in. There are two sides (and more) to every story, but only one side was told by The Times or CBS or all-news KFWB. For most of the celebrants, there was indeed innocence and tranquility and little need for a violent police presence. Despite the shear numbers of participants, there were few arrests and the day ended peacefully, yet nearly 50 years later, it’s hard to relay the story without a callous bias toward the LAPD. I was there, I was four years old, I remember the people, I recall the smell of eucalyptus and patchouli; I remember “Incense and Peppermint.” I remember sitting on an old Pendleton blanket. But also I have a vivid recollection of the cops, the animosity, the disregard, the condescending looks, as if waiting, just waiting.

 Elysian Park Love-in by Henry Diltz, Easter Sunday, March 26, 1967                                      Mickey Dolenz

[Though there is speculation that The Turtles, Iron Butterfly and The Grateful Dead also played the Love-in, this cannot be verified. The Grateful Dead played at San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom that same night, and so, although possible, their appearance was unlikely. Others also confuse the Easter Sunday Love-in at Elysian Park with an unscheduled concert date for the Moody Blues and Jefferson Airplane; instead these bands performed a similar event in 1969.]