Tuesday, December 12, 2017


In 1967, TIME magazine gave us this definition of Hippie: "One sociologist calls them "the Freudian proletariat." Another observer sees them as "expatriates living on our shores but beyond our society." Historian Arnold Toynbee describes them as "a red warning light for the American way of life." For California's Bishop James Pike, they evoke the early Christians: "There is something about the temper and quality of these people, a gentleness, a quietness, an interest—something good." To their deeply worried parents throughout the country, they seem more like dangerously deluded dropouts, candidates for a very sound spanking and a cram course in civics—if only they would return home to receive either. Whatever their meaning and wherever they may be headed, the hippies have emerged on the U.S. scene in about 18 months as a wholly new subculture, a bizarre permutation of the middle-class American ethos from which it evolved. Hippies preach altruism and mysticism, honesty, joy and nonviolence. They find an almost childish fascination in beads, blossoms and bells, blinding strobe lights and ear-shattering music, exotic clothing and erotic slogans. Their professed aim is nothing less than the subversion of Western society by "flower power" and force of example. 

"Although that sounds like a pipe-dream, it conveys the unreality that permeates hippiedom, a cult whose mystique derives essentially from the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. The hippies have popularized a new word, psychedelic, which the Random House Dictionary of English Language defines as: "Of or noting a mental state of great calm, intensely pleasureful perception of the senses, esthetic entrancement and creative impetus; of or noting any of the group of drugs producing this effect." With those drugs has come the psychedelic philosophy, an impassioned belief in the self-revealing, mind-expanding powers of potent weeds and seeds and chemical compounds known to man since prehistory but wholly alien to the rationale of Western society. Unlike other accepted stimuli, from nicotine to liquor, the hallucinogens promise those who take the "trip" a magic-carpet escape from reality in which perceptions are heightened, senses distorted, and the imagination permanently bedazzled with visions of Ideological verity."

The Grass Roots, on the other hand, put it more succinctly in "Let's Live for Today."  There was no end, of course, to hippie naivete (youth is wasted on the young, as Wilde put it), oversimplifying the process in the quest for an ideal, for their "Ideological verity," whatever the hell that is: "When I think of all the worries/ That people seem to find/ And how they're in a hurry/ To complicate their minds/ By chasing after money/ And dreams that can't come true/ I'm glad that we're different/ We've got better things to do./ 
One, two three, four,

Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today

Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today

And don't worry 'bout tomorrow...