October 06, 2015
If the hippies really did win, it hardly seems fair because, in many ways, the “60s never really happened.
The era was, as this contrarian Englishman says, a “mass hallucination.” (I wish I could remember who described “Swinging London” to me as “18 months that happened to somebody else,” but as this paper reminds us, despite the (mostly dreadful) movies and garish, four-color photo essays, “London was, and would remain until the early 1970s, a city of bedsits and corner shops, greasy cafes and council housing estates” for the vast majority of its decidedly unhip citizens. Their American counterparts, meanwhile, made “The Ballad of the Green Beret” a million-seller and kept right on wearing polyester, drinking martinis, and eating Velveeta.
The hippies” elitist attitude can even be seen in that “Death of Hippie” “happening” 48 years ago this week.
While positioned as a rather clever and even self-deprecating protest against corporate commercialization and bloody-minded middle-class misunderstanding, the organizers were obviously just really pissed off that so many trashy “newbies” were decamping from the sticks”flowers, as instructed, in their hair”to ruin their beloved, rarefied little neighborhood. (The petulant Psychedelic Shop went so far as to close its doors for good the following day, picking up its bongs and going home.)
A writer in the Oracle pleaded that week that “anyone willing to help a budding scene flower make a move to Louisville, Kentucky” instead. I have a funny feeling he stayed put in beautiful S.F., don”t you? So, I”ll bet, did this woman, who explained the “funeral” this way:
We wanted to signal that this was the end of it, don”t come out. Stay where you are! Bring the revolution to where you live. Don”t come here because it’s over and done with.