Hip­pie hip­pie shake

Cel­e­brate 50 years of the Sum­mer of Love in San Fran­cisco

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - BOB COOPER

When a kid in a tie-dyed Grate­ful Dead T-shirt hits you up for change on San Fran­cisco’s Haight Street, don’t be an­noyed. He’s only do­ing his part to keep the spirit of the 1967 Sum­mer of Love alive, a half-cen­tury on.

De­spite the ar­rival of bou­tiques sell­ing $US840 ($1120) sneak­ers and $US165 hood­ies, and the slow fade of al­most ev­ery shop that lined the street in the 1960s, the Haight-Ash­bury neigh­bour­hood re­mains evoca­tively off-kil­ter. Old Vic­to­rian store­fronts and homes, some painted ex­tro­verted shades such as ca­nary-yel­low and indigo, dis­tin­guish the dis­trict, aka “the Haight” or “the Up­per Haight”. And scruffy teens still grav­i­tate to the area, ask­ing for change, whether it’s the mon­e­tary or so­ci­etal kind.

Un­furl­ing from the east­ern bor­der of San Fran­cisco’s Golden Gate Park, the Haight was the epi­cen­tre of Amer­ica’s 1960s coun­ter­cul­ture move­ment. “The Haight-Ash­bury was the prod­uct of teen re­bel­lion against 1950s reg­i­men­ta­tion and the Viet­nam war,” says a guide for the lo­cal Flower Power Walk­ing Tour who goes by the name Stan­nous Flouride. “The an­ar­chic as­pect was seen as a threat against the es­tab­lish­ment but ul­ti­mately had a pro­found in­flu­ence on Amer­i­can cul­ture.” Cheap rent drew the first wave of bohemians in the early 1960s. Le­gions fol­lowed, crest­ing in 1967 when 100,000 stu­dents, mu­si­cians and oth­ers flocked to San Fran­cisco for a sum­mer of drug-en­hanced com­muning and rev­elry that hor­ri­fied par­ents. This year, to mark the an­niver­sary, events from con­certs to art ex­hibits are be­ing staged through­out the Bay Area. You can take an or­gan­ised walk­ing tour or go it alone. Here, a self-guided stroll through the hip­pie era’s hey­day.

VIC­TO­RI­ANS THAT RULE: Free love reigned mess­ily dur­ing the Sum­mer of Love, mostly in ne­glected Vic­to­rian houses that had be­come over­crowded, af­ford­able com­munes. To­day many of these “painted ladies” have been ren­o­vated and sell for more than $US2 mil­lion each, with hip­pies re­placed by well-paid techies. Vis­i­tors can ad­mire hun­dreds of el­e­gant, cen­tury-old Vic­to­ri­ans on a nineblock stroll. Start at the famed corner of Haight and Ash­bury, walk up Ash­bury to Fred­er­ick (pass­ing Ja­nis Jo­plin’s house at 635 Ash­bury and the Grate­ful Dead house at 710 Ash­bury). It was there that po­lice ar­rested two Dead mu­si­cians and sev­eral women liv­ing with the band in a drug bust in Oc­to­ber, 1967. Next, turn right on Fred­er­ick to Clay­ton, right on Clay­ton to Page, right on Page to Ash­bury, then right on Ash­bury to Haight. HIGH JINKS: The Haight’s abun­dant mar­i­juana, LSD and other psychedelics were cat­nip to thou­sands of teen ru­n­aways. These drugs of­fered routes to new states of con­scious­ness, but also sent dozens of flower chil­dren di­rectly to the hospi­tal each week. Sup­ply­ing para­pher­na­lia were so-called head shops, once per­va­sive on the street, ped­dling rolling pa­pers and hookahs, among other ac­ces­sories. The six in busi­ness to­day in­clude Pipe Dreams at 1376 Haight, which opened in 1968, and Ash­bury To­bacco Cen­tre at 1524 Haight, where Jimi Hendrix once lived on the up­per level.

ROCK QUARRY: Ja­nis Jo­plin, Jimi Hendrix, the Dead and Jef­fer­son Air­plane all lived in the Haight, and per­formed in and around the neigh­bour­hood. Hit songs of 1967 in­cluded Jef­fer­son Air­plane’s White Rab­bit, San Fran­cis­can Nights (in­spired by a night Eric Bur­don spent with Jo­plin) and the blissed-out bal­lad San Fran­cisco (Be Sure to Wear Flow­ers in Your Hair). Want to reac­quaint your­self with the roots of psy­che­delic and acid rock? Pop in­side cavernous Amoeba Mu­sic at 1855 Haight, a for­mer bowl­ing al­ley that car­ries used CDs, along with end­less rows of records and rock-his­tory books and posters. An ex­hibit at the San Fran­cisco City Hall, un­til June 23, dis­plays dozens of rocker pho­tos taken in 1967 by late photographer Jim Mar­shall.

GREEN ACRES: In 1967, hip­pies es­caped the dis­trict’s crush­ing crowds by de­camp­ing to the large city parks that bor­der the Haight on three sides: Golden Gate Park, the Pan­han­dle and Buena Vista Park. They flooded into these green spa­ces to heed coun­ter­cul­ture icon Ti­mothy Leary’s call to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” A favourite place to con­gre­gate was Hip­pie Hill, a grassy slope in Golden Gate Park. Ge­orge Har­ri­son even dropped by once and sang a few songs. En­ter the park at Haight and Stanyan, take the path that an­gles right past the stop light un­til Hip­pie Hill is vis­i­ble on your right. From its apex you can see the old carousel at one of Amer­ica’s old­est pub­lic play­grounds (1887) and the eu­ca­lyp­tuses that blan­ket Mount Sutro. PSY­CHE­DELIC RELICS: Vis­ual artists also grav­i­tated to the Haight, de­sign­ing con­cert posters that de­fined a trippy new aes­thetic; ty­pog­ra­phy en­dured dis­tor­tions, lines swirled, colours skewed flu­o­res­cent. To fur­ther rad­i­calise these con­certs, Haight artists pi­o­neered the mul­ti­me­dia light show, which com­bined ul­tra­vi­o­let lights, strobes and mind-bend­ing slideshows. At the de Young Mu­seum, a 10-minute walk from Haight Street, in Golden Gate Park, stop in for The Sum­mer of Love Ex­pe­ri­ence: Art, Fash­ion, and Rock & Roll, an ex­hibit run­ning un­til Au­gust 20. On view are con­cert posters, hip­pie fash­ion, historic pho­tos, films and in­ter­ac­tive mu­sic-and-light shows, 300 works in all.

ON THE FRINGE: Along with long hair on both sexes (blur­ring the gen­der di­vide to the es­tab­lish­ment’s dis­tress), 1967 fash­ions in­cluded me­tres of fringe, head­bands, love beads, and novel and ex­otic uses of leather, denim, cro­chet and em­broi­dery. All were sold at Haight Street shops and still are to­day in eight vin­tage em­po­ri­ums. Love On Haight at 1400 Haight, the most colour­ful, car­ries only lo­cally pro­duced tie-dye. For more glam­orous throw­backs, like Nehru jack­ets and bell-bot­tom jump­suits, check out Pied­mont Bou­tique at 1452 Haight.

EAST­ERN PA­RADE: Hip­pies were early and ar­dent Western adopters of Asian tra­di­tions, from acupunc­ture to yoga, as well as the teach­ings of Bud­dhism, Hin­duism and Hare Kr­ishna. Of five Haight Street shops that sell Asian ob­jects such as heal­ing crys­tals, prayer flags, Bud­dhas and Ti­betan singing bowls, The Love Of Gane­sha at 1573 Haight is the largest and most invit­ing. You en­ter through a veil of hang­ing scarfs and a haze of in­cense, and in the back, you can plop on to pil­lows in the no-mo­bile­phones-al­lowed tent for a quick self-led med­i­ta­tion ses­sion, per­haps to ru­mi­nate on the Love Gen­er­a­tion that once thrived on a street called Haight.


• sum­meroflove2017.com

Haight Ash­bury neigh­bor­hood, top and top right; viewing ex­hibits at the Sum­mer of Love Ex­pe­ri­ence at the deYoung Mu­seum in San Fran­cisco, above; Candace Kling Minidress (c 1968),


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