Sunday, September 24, 2017

1967 - Post Script

A codicil: 1967 was not the Renaissance. It was a fleeting moment that few in actuality were privy, a coming of age, an era when American youth in particular was tired of mourning the death of JFK, tired of a senseless war, senseless violence; indeed the Zombies solidified the ideology with the line "It's the time of the season for loving," not as a claim for what it was, but an idea of what it could/should be (“…that was just a dream some of us had.”)  In retrospect it was beautiful and mind expanding; Bruce Dern was there to counteract the detrimental side of the acid trip for Peter Fonda (The Trip), and with 50 years of filters we acknowledge the utopia through a nostalgia for [faux] innocence lost.

In the Summer of Love, George Harrison, wife, Patti Boyd and Derek Taylor drove into San Francisco in the early evening and strolled, unnoticed, along Haight Street. They reached the sector of Golden Gate Park then known as "Hippie Hill," where they found a young man performing before several long-haired youth. After a few minutes, Harrison asked to borrow the musician's guitar, and proceeded to play. A few more minutes later, one young woman finally recognized him. "Hey," she shouted. "That's George Harrison. That's George Harrison!" David Swanston, a Chronicle reporter on the scene, noted what happened next: "As the cry echoed through the park, hippies clambered down hills, dropped from trees and sprang from behind bushes. A sizable crowd formed. Harrison played for about 10 more minutes and then shouted, 'Let's go for a walk.'

"'Yeah,' shouted the hippies, 'let's go.' And off they went. Harrison strumming the guitar, the hippies following along. As the crowd left the park and moved down Haight, it grew. And grew. As Harrison strolled and strummed, hippies bubbled up beside him and posed questions:

" 'How does it feel to have the family all together?' one asked.
" 'It's gettin' better all the time,' Harrison responded.
" 'What do ya think of the Haight-Ashbury?' another queried.
" 'Wow, if it's all like this, it's too much,' Harrison answered."

Another idyllic psychedelic remembrance. Privately Harrison is quoted as saying about the Haight, "[I thought it would be} something like King's Road, only more. Somehow I expected them to all own their own little shops. I expected them all to be nice and clean and friendly and happy." Instead, he said, he found the hippies "hideous, spotty little teenagers." Others recall Harrison as too high to play the guitar and when he refused was chased  back to his limo. As always, it's merely how you tell the story. Human beings are many faceted, diverse, happy, terrible, wonderful, hideous and spotty creatures simultaneously. At AM we recognize the hydra, the nostalgia, the faux innocence and look beyond. Remembering what was sublime is humanity's greatest defense mechanism.