Sunday, September 24, 2017

My celebrated "Hippie" period

Here's another excerpt from my book THE ME GENERATION...BY ME (GROWING UP IN THE '60).  It's been forever since I plugged that.  I'm going to keep doing these until I sell enough books to get in the Amazon top 10... or at least 10,000.   Here's where you go to get your ebook copyAnd here's where you go to get the handsome paperback.  Read the reviews.  Many are from people I don't even know. 

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.

I 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.

But 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.

Haight-Ashbury 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.


Mark Stout said...

I remember that Travelodge from my days of living in the neighborhood '86 to '98. I just looked it up. It's still there. $384 a night.

Mike Barer said...

This summer was the 50th anniversary of the "Summer Of Love".

Peter said...

I've said it before but please write a book about your funny stories and adventures working in Hollywood. And dish the dirt on the assholes you've encountered, obviously not naming them but just telling us funny stories about them, like the one about the actor you fired for sticking his tongue in the actress's mouth during rehearsals.

Anonymous said...

It only looked like the Summer of Love for a couple of months.
Then all that other stuff Ken described took over. Drugs, crime and really bad vibes.
If you want an idea of what happened look up George Harrison's experience when he visited Haight Asbury.

Karan G. said...

A funny and entertaining read. You will laugh out loud...a lot! A great holiday gift for any Baby Boomers in your life.

JW said...

Did you get to the Stick?

Jahn Ghalt said...

It's time for another bit of "encouragement".

My strong impression was that you really liked writing GROWING UP IN THE '60s. So, why not do your next decade:


(or whatever title)

If you write that "Hollywood Tales Memoir", I'll but that and give away extra copies, but I'll buy several copies of "70s".

ODJennings said...

The big family vacation was California during the Summer of Love, and to their credit my parents took us to Haight Ashbury. We went in the station wagon with the windows rolled up and the doors locked, but at least we went. Fortunately my 17 year old brother took me back later that night after the parents had gone off on their own to re-live their WWII romance. I think he took me to keep me quiet, but at least he took me.

Other than the pornographic comic books (which were a real revelation), my takeaway was how dirty and miserable everyone looked. We walked in to the park, and I still remember all the kids sleeping on the grass. This was not the way LIFE Magazine had made it look.

The other thing I quickly noticed was that every little store was selling the same 25 buttons, the same posters, the same t-shirts, and they were displaying them in roughly the same way and charging the same prices. Even as a 12 year old this made alarm bells ring, and I quickly realized that there wasn't a Hell of a lot of difference between the stores at Haight Ashbury and Wall Drug or South of the Border. one tourist trap looks very much like every other after a couple weeks of a family vacation in the back of a station wagon. To be fair, my 17 year old brother learned a lot about what his options were when he turned 18 and entered the draft, but to me (except for those incredibly educational pornographic comic books) the whole thing had a hollow feel to it.

Sean Robbins said...

San Francisco is still dirty and crowded. But now Height-Ashbury is full of trendy shops.