Here's an early excerpt from my book, THE ME GENERATION... BY ME (GROWING UP IN THE '60s). It occurred to me I've been remiss in plugging the crap out of my books. You can (and should) buy this one here.
By 1967 I had been as far south as San
Diego, far north as Santa Barbara, far east as Las Vegas, and far west
as the end of the Santa Monica pier. But that was about to change. My
dad announced that we were going up to San Francisco.
Oh. My. Fucking. God.
had wanted to go to San Francisco more than anyplace else in the world.
I was intrigued by all the buzz about the music scene there,
Haight-Ashbury, the Summer of Love, and okay, I’ll be honest – I just
wanted to see a Giants game at Candlestick Park.
As always, we
drove. I still had not been inside an airplane. Our family trips
tended to be on the frugal side. We stayed at a Travelodge motel on
Lombard St. in the Marina district. We should have slept in the Impala. It had more room.
I didn’t care. I was just thrilled to finally be there. We saw the
sights, traveled the bridges, dined at Kans in Chinatown, hopped cable
cars, slurped crab cocktails at Fisherman’s Wharf, and gawked at the
basketball-sized bazooms on Carol Doda whose image was proudly and
largely displayed at the topless Condor club in North Beach where she
jiggled them three times nightly.
Side note: Carol had risen to
prominence in 1964 when many delegates from the Republican National
Convention went to see her act.
I also got my first glimpse of
the Haight-Ashbury district. This was hippie Mecca, the epicenter of
the counter-culture revolution. Love was free and the drugs were
reasonable. With Scott MacKenzie’s “San Francisco” as their anthem,
young people from all over the country migrated to the Haight. Harvard
Professor Dr. Timothy Leary, the noted advocate of psychedelic drug
research (LSD) coined the catchphrase: “Turn on, tune in, drop out”.
(That same year Leary would marry his third wife. Hard to tell
whether the bride was really beautiful that day; all the guests were on
acid.) This was a Utopian society, an oasis where you were free of the
shackles of expectation and civilization. A haven for spiritual
awakenings, creative inspiration, and yes, even consciousness expanding.
looked exactly as you’ve seen it in documentaries and movies of the
60s. Loads of hippies in colorful garb (some with face paint) milling
about, rolling joints, playing
guitars and tambourines. Murals on the sides of buildings, head stores
and ma & pa markets. And vivid kaleidoscopic color everywhere –
from Tie Dyed clothes to rainbow store signs to a blue building with a
yellow door. Imagine Jimi Hendrix as the art director of SESAME
STREET. But it was festive and fun.
And as we drove through
this idyllic world I thought to myself, “Ugggh! How the hell can anyone
live here? It’s so dirty and crowded. What happens if you get sick?
What kind of privacy would you get in one of these cramped apartments?
How clean are the bathrooms? What’s the TV reception like?”
I had zero desire to turn, tune, drop, or whatever else was necessary to move to Haight-Ashbury and join this freaky scene.
It's one thing to be a hippie. It's another to give up creature comforts.