The sum­mer of Love

Did the haight-Ash­bury district of san fran­cisco wit­ness a psy­che­delic shift in con­scious­ness that con­tin­ues to re­ver­ber­ate to­day, or was it just a so­cial ex­per­i­ment that ended in com­mer­cial ex­ploita­tion, drug abuse and dis­il­lu­sion? GARY LACH­MAN turns on,

Fortean Times - - Contents -

Did San Fran­cisco wit­ness a psy­che­delic shift in con­scious­ness that re­ver­ber­ates to­day, or was it a so­cial ex­per­i­ment that ended in drug abuse and dis­il­lu­sion? Gary Lach­man turns on, tunes in and goes back to 1967 in search of en­light­en­ment.

Fifty years ago this sum­mer, some­thing hap­pened on the west coast of Amer­ica that in ret­ro­spect seems rather like a mod­ern day Chil­dren’s Cru­sade. It was called the Sum­mer of Love.

Filled with LSD, mar­i­juana, patchouli oil and the strains of the Bea­tles’ Sgt Pep­per’s

Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Sum­mer of Love of 1967 was en­vi­sioned as a kind of trans­for­ma­tive sea­son-long so­ci­o­log­i­cal ex­per­i­ment by the lead­ers of the bur­geon­ing San Fran­cisco psy­che­delic counter-cul­ture. For them it was the start of a ‘con­scious­ness rev­o­lu­tion’. For oth­ers, it was a party that went on for too long.

As I point out in my book Turn Of­fYour Mind: The Mys­tic Six­ties and the Dark Side

of the Age of Aquarius, the roots of the 1960s counter-cul­ture go back to the Beat Gen­er­a­tion of the pre­vi­ous decade. 1 But we can trace its an­ces­try even fur­ther back, to the Wan­der­vo­gel move­ment of early 20th cen­tury Ger­many, the ‘free love’ com­munes es­tab­lished at Mon­teVer­ità, in As­cona, Switzer­land, around the same time, and fur­ther still, to the ‘oc­cult re­vival’ of the late 19th cen­tury that pro­duced Madame Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theo­soph­i­cal So­ci­ety, and the dark ma­gi­cian Aleis­ter Crow­ley, whom the counter-cul­ture would cel­e­brate as a ‘proto-hip­pie’; even the Bea­tles were fans. But the im­me­di­ate spark for the Sum­mer of Love was struck on the pre­vi­ous au­tumn.


On 6 Oc­to­ber 1966 the State of Cal­i­for­nia crim­i­nalised the pos­ses­sion of ly­ser­gic acid di­ethy­lamide-25 – or as it was bet­ter known, LSD. Acid had been mak­ing the scene for some time by then. It had been dis­cov­ered 23 years ear­lier by Al­bert Hof­mann, a rig­or­ous re­search sci­en­tist with the pres­ti­gious San­doz Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Com­pany in Basel, Switzer­land. Hof­mann was search­ing for a bet­ter as­pirin and he had a hunch that the batch of er­got fun­gus he had been work­ing with had some­thing more to of­fer. When a minute amount of the 25th syn­the­sis of the stuff mys­te­ri­ously got into his sys­tem, he knew he was right. His ac­count of his cel­e­brated bi­cy­cle ride a few days later, on 19 April 1943, when he pur­pose­fully in­gested some more just to make sure, is a recog­nised clas­sic in psy­che­delic lit­er­a­ture.

Not long af­ter this, literati such as the Ger­man writer Ernst Jünger, who tripped with Hof­mann, and Al­dous Hux­ley, who pop­u­larised the ju­di­cious use of psychedelics in main­stream pub­li­ca­tions like Satur­day Evening Post, sang the praises of chem­i­cally al­tered con­scious­ness 2 (see

FT180:28-32). Hux­ley had al­ready writ­ten his ac­count of his own ex­pe­ri­ence with a less pow­er­ful agent, mesca­line, in his widely read The Doors of Per­cep­tion (1953). It was, in fact, the Cana­dian psy­chi­a­trist Humphry Os­mond, who had ad­min­is­tered Hux­ley’s mesca­line dose, who coined the term ‘psy­che­delic’.

Through the late 1950s to his death in 1963 – on the same day as Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy and CS Lewis – Hux­ley was the ac­cept­able face of the grow­ing psy­che­delic move­ment. Oth­ers fol­lowed, but not al­ways with Hux­ley’s cau­tion. LSD be­came pop­u­lar among the Hol­ly­wood bo­hemian set, and the psy­chol­o­gist Os­car Janiger – head­shrinker to the stars – ad­min­is­tered it to his clients with great suc­cess. Cary Grant, one of the most pop­u­lar ac­tors of the time, told an in­ter­viewer that LSD had changed his life. Other ther­a­pists ran LSD ses­sions for $100 a shot. But it was R Gor­don Wasson’s ar­ti­cle about his ex­pe­ri­ence with psilo­cybe

mex­i­cana, “Seek­ing the Magic Mush­room,” in the 13 May 1957 is­sue of Life that set the stage for the sum­mer shindig a decade later. One of the peo­ple to try a taste of the ‘flesh of the gods’ – as the mind-al­ter­ing fun­gus was called – was a Har­vard psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor named Ti­mothy Leary. The ex­pe­ri­ence, we can say, went to his head.

At Har­vard, Leary ini­ti­ated a se­ries of ex­per­i­ments with psilo­cy­bin, the pow­er­ful drug syn­the­sised from the mush­room. Among his guinea pigs were the Three Mus­ke­teers of the Beat Gen­er­a­tion – Allen Gins­berg, Jack Ker­ouac, and Wil­liam S Bur­roughs Jr. Gins­berg be­came as vo­cal an ad­vo­cate of the un­re­stricted, ‘demo­cratic’ dis­tri­bu­tion of LSD as Leary would be. He would later be­moan the fact that LSD had

Among Leary’s guinea pigs were theThree Mus­ke­teers of the Beat Gen­er­a­tion

been the drug of choice in the in­fa­mous CIA MK-UL­TRA ex­per­i­ments in ‘mind con­trol’, and that he had un­wit­tingly been one of their sub­jects. 3 The au­thor Ken Ke­sey was an­other re­cip­i­ent of the CIA’s en­light­en­ment. Ke­sey be­lieved use of the drug should be un­reg­u­lated, as the Acid Tests and Trips Fes­ti­vals he or­gan­ised with his band of Merry Pranksters made clear: even Leary’s fa­mous dic­tum of ‘set and set­ting’ was jet­ti­soned in these freeform, multi-sen­sory hap­pen­ings. One less en­thused par­tic­i­pant in Leary’s psilo­cy­bin ex­per­i­ments was the writer Arthur Koestler, who had re­cently switched from pol­i­tics to psy­chol­ogy and who would later turn to the para­nor­mal. He found the ex­pe­ri­ence “fake, er­satz, in­stant mys­ti­cism”. His as­sess­ment, how­ever, was in the mi­nor­ity. But the most im­por­tant player in Leary’s Har­vard days, from the point of view of the Sum­mer of Love, was the English con­man and hip­ster so­ciopath Michael Holling­shead, who made a name for him­self as ‘the man who turned on Ti­mothy Leary’.

Holling­shead had ac­quired some 5,000 doses worth of LSD and, the story goes, mixed the stuff in an empty may­on­naise jar with some pow­dered sugar and dis­tilled wa­ter, pro­duc­ing a high-po­tency goop. When he licked the spoon he went through the roof. He was con­vinced that hence­forth he would “live in the realm of the pri­mor­dial… I shall trans­form my­self into a god who could walk across the tops of moun­tains…” Sim­i­lar ex­trav­a­gant pro­nounce­ments would soon be echoed by Leary.

Claim­ing that he was sent by Hux­ley, Holling­shead turned up at Har­vard; soon af­ter, Leary en­joyed a lick of Holling­shead’s spe­cial spread. The flesh of the gods seemed more of an af­ter-din­ner mint com­pared to stuff Holling­shead had given him. Har­vard was al­ready con­cerned that too many of Leary’s stu­dents were act­ing strangely and that his psilo­cy­bin ex­per­i­ments were re­ally a cover for il­licit drug-tak­ing. Now that

The psy­che­delic cul­ture took hold in the Haight-Ash­bury district of San Fran­cisco

Leary had tasted God’s DNA, all pre­tence to aca­demic ob­jec­tiv­ity was aban­doned. He was sacked by Har­vard in 1963, but by then he had al­ready taken on the role of psy­che­delic prophet, one he would main­tain, in dif­fer­ent ver­sions, for the rest of his life.

Leary’s tub-thump­ing for the drug took the form of a semi-ini­tia­tory or­gan­i­sa­tion, the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of In­ter­nal Free­dom, but its more public face was the

Psy­che­delic Re­view, which ap­peared in 1963. Its pages ex­plored the hid­den his­tory of psychedelia and ad­vo­cated its use for re­li­gious, psy­cho­log­i­cal, philo­soph­i­cal, so­cial and sex­ual lib­er­a­tion. Many heard the call, and LSD – still legally avail­able – be­came the new sacra­ment of the un­der­ground. By 1964 John Len­non and Ge­orge Har­ri­son had both tripped, and in 1965, dur­ing a stint in Los An­ge­les, Len­non dropped acid again with the rock group the Byrds. The post-Beat scene and the ris­ing youth cul­ture were co­a­lesc­ing and mov­ing on from ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ to edgier busi­ness. In March 1966, at Lon­don’s Indica Book­shop, Len­non picked up a copy of Leary’s The Psy­che­delic

Ex­pe­ri­ence (1964), writ­ten in col­lab­o­ra­tion with his Har­vard col­leagues Richard Alpert and Ralph Met­zner, and was en­thralled. Pop mu­sic would never be the same again. Tak­ing their cue from the Ti­betan Book

of the Dead – a sign that Eastern mys­ti­cism of dif­fer­ent sorts was get­ting into the act – Leary and co. ad­vised Len­non to turn off his mind, re­lax, and float down­stream. Len­non took this to heart and be­gan a steady diet of LSD, which he con­tin­ued for the next two years. One im­me­di­ate re­sult was what many con­sider the first psy­che­delic pop song, the Bea­tles’ “To­mor­row Never Knows” the hyp­notic clos­ing track on their Re­volver LP.


One place where the new psy­che­delic cul­ture took hold was the Haight-Ash­bury district of San Fran­cisco, near Golden Gate Park. The area had been in de­cline since the 1950s. Prop­erty val­ues had gone down and rents among the elab­o­rate but now seedy 19th cen­tury wooden houses were cheap. The ear­lier North Beach scene, home to the Beats, had by then be­come over­priced. Artists, po­ets and oth­ers out of step with the Amer­i­can dream found a haven in the Haight, and it was among this com­mu­nity that the use of LSD and other mind-al­ter­ing sub­stances, such as mar­i­juana, be­came pop­u­lar.

The mid-1960s saw a grow­ing trend among some Amer­i­cans – a de­sire to es­cape the rat race, to re­ject main­stream con­form­ity, to seek out new, ex­per­i­men­tal ways to live. In this they were fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the Euro­pean bo­hemi­ans who jour­neyed to As­cona in Switzer­land to join the grow­ing body of Sun wor­ship­pers and ‘back to na­ture’ en­thu­si­asts oc­cu­py­ing the com­munes on Mon­teVer­ità half a cen­tury ear­lier. One pil­grim to the ‘Moun­tain of Truth’ was the Ger­man nov­el­ist Her­mann Hesse, who was now hav­ing a bestselling post­hu­mous come­back among the love gen­er­a­tion. An op­po­si­tion to the in­ten­si­fy­ing war in Viet­nam, a con­cern with civil rights and free­dom of ex­pres­sion, a per­mis­sive at­ti­tude to­ward sex and he­do­nism, a predilec­tion for com­fort­able, colour­ful, and ex­pres­sive dress, an in­ter­est in Eastern mys­ti­cism, and a lib­eral use of LSD, pro­duced a re­laxed, tol­er­ant, and com­mu­nal at­mos­phere in the ‘al­ter­na­tive’ neigh­bour­hoods that were pop­ping up in places like New York and Los An­ge­les.

But the Haight would be­come the Mecca for the ad­vo­cates of the new way of life. Rock mu­sic was a cen­tral in­gre­di­ent, es­pe­cially at the dances pro­moted by a group known as The Fam­ily Dog. Ja­nis Jo­plin, Jef­fer­son Air­plane, and the Grate­ful Dead (see

FT164:20-25, 180:52-56), were fa­mil­iar faces. Strobe lights, Day-Glo body paint, gy­rat­ing danc­ing, throb­bing rock en­sem­bles, and un­in­hib­ited em­braces all con­spired with the pow­er­ful il­lu­mi­na­tion of the ‘psy­che­delic ex­pe­ri­ence’ to turn rock con­certs into some­thing much more like re­li­gious events.

So when word got out that the gov­ern­ment had de­cided to ban their sacra­ment, the lo­cal par­tic­i­pants in the ‘con­scious­ness rev­o­lu­tion’ knew they had to act. The date of the crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion, 6/66, seemed omi­nous given it was the num­ber of the Beast in Rev­e­la­tion. Ten­sion had al­ready de­vel­oped be­tween the Haight and the au­thor­i­ties. What had be­gun as a small, al­ter­na­tive en­clave was now very vis­i­ble. The non-con­form­ist life­style was spilling out into the streets and at­tract­ing at­ten­tion. Ar­rests for smok­ing pot and va­grancy in­creased as the po­lice tried to con­tain what to many seemed a threat­en­ing trend. But it was Leary’s out­spo­ken, ag­gres­sive, and at­ten­tion-grab­bing ad­vo­cacy of LSD that more than any­thing else made Al­bert Hof­mann’s dis­cov­ery ver­boten, some­thing for which the more ju­di­cious psy­che­delic ini­ti­ates took him to task. For some in au­thor­ity there were ac­tual health haz­ards that needed to be ad­dressed. For oth­ers, the idea that LSD could be used to trans­form so­ci­ety, as Leary un­tir­ingly pro­claimed, was rea­son enough to ban it.

On the same day as pos­ses­sion of LSD was crim­i­nalised, the an­ar­chist group the Dig­gers and the ed­i­tors of the psy­che­delic news­pa­per the San Fran­cisco Or­a­cle or­gan­ised a ‘LovePageant Rally’ to mark their op­po­si­tion to the ban. The Or­a­cle’s as­trologer, Gavin Arthur, had al­ready an­nounced the ad­vent of the Age of Aquarius. Now the Or­a­cle’s brightly coloured, mind-blow­ing pages were com­man­deered to sound a rallying cry. Peace­ful co­ex­is­tence with the straight world was over – this was war.

The call was heeded. Thou­sands of peo­ple turned up on the Pan­han­dle, the stretch of Golden Gate Park nearby, many more than Ron The­lin of the Psy­che­delic Shop or Allen Co­hen of the Or­a­cle ex­pected. Mu­sic blared, pot was smoked, and as the ‘Prophecy of a Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence’ was read aloud to the groov­ing crowd, many among them con­sciously broke the new law, and, plac­ing a tab of the banned sacra­ment on their tongue, swal­lowed it.

But the Love-Pageant Rally was only the be­gin­ning. Af­ter­ward, the elders of the tribes gath­ered for a pow­wow, to de­cide on what would be ‘the next step’. Leary had pre­dicted a psy­che­delic rev­o­lu­tion and now, it seemed, it had be­gun. But it needed to spread. Michael Bowen, an artist as­so­ci­ated with the

Or­a­cle, con­sulted his own psy­che­delic guru, the mys­te­ri­ous John Star Cooke, who had his own ideas about a con­scious­ness rev­o­lu­tion. Cooke had been in­volved in Su­fism, Ouija boards, Kahuna magic, Tarot, Gur­d­ji­eff, Subud and a num­ber of other pur­suits, as well as LSD. It was dur­ing a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion with Cooke that the idea of the Hu­man Be-In came up.

It would be a kind of gath­er­ing of the tribes. Gavin Arthur con­sulted the stars to find the right time: 14 Jan­uary 1967 would, it seemed, be ideal. Posters went up all over the Bay area. The Berkley Barb, a rad­i­cal un­der­ground news­pa­per not al­ways par­tial to psy­che­delic pur­suits, threw in its front page. This was in keep­ing with the aim of the Be-In. Although many see the 1960s counter-cul­ture as all of a piece, in truth it con­tained se­ri­ous dis­junc­tions. Most of these boiled down to the split be­tween the po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists and the ‘psy­cho­nauts’, who were more con­cerned with ‘in­ner’ rather than outer rev­o­lu­tion. The ac­tivists thought LSD and pot turned the rev­o­lu­tion­ary pro­le­tariat into lotus-eaters, while the con­scious­ness kids thought the left­ies were up­tight and au­thor­i­tar­ian. The idea of the Be-In was to bring the two tribes to­gether, to unite against the com­mon en­emy, the Es­tab­lish­ment. The Be-In would mark a union be­tween the Heads and the Fists.

It be­gan with Gary Snyder, a Beat poet turned Zen en­thu­si­ast, blow­ing on a conch shell. Then the 30,000-strong crowd, sprawled out in Golden Gate Park, joined with him in chant­ing the mantra of Maitreya. Allen Gins­berg fol­lowed with a chant to Shiva,

The Be-In was to bring the two tribes to­gether, to unite against a com­mon en­emy

the hashish smok­ing Hindu god of yoga. Leary do­nated a mantra of his own, telling the crowd to ‘tune in, turn on, and drop out’, his psy­che­delic slo­gan. Leary had hoped to head the new con­scious­ness rev­o­lu­tion, but his psy­che­delic dem­a­goguery was al­ready old hat to peo­ple who had grad­u­ated from Ke­sey’s free form ‘acid tests’. Lo­cal bands like Quick­sil­ver Mes­sen­ger Ser­vice, Jef­fer­son Air­plane, and the Grate­ful Dead pro­vided the mu­sic. 4 The sacra­ment was im­bibed, helped by a mar­i­juana gar­nish. Even the Hells An­gels were brought in to act as kysha­triyas, spir­i­tual war­riors, guard­ing the sound equip­ment and keep­ing an eye on chil­dren. The one sour note was when Jerry Rubin, the res­i­dent ac­tivist, grabbed the mic to wag his left­ist fin­ger at the crowd, rep­ri­mand­ing them for let­ting Viet­nam go on.

Be-Ins soon popped up in other places around the coun­try and the feel­ing was strong that some­thing big was on its way. The ide­al­ism of the early psy­cho­nauts en­vi­sioned some kind of na­tional Be-In, a gen­tle rev­o­lu­tion that would show the world that hate, vi­o­lence, poverty and all the other prob­lems of mod­ern civil­i­sa­tion could be over­come, just through a change in con­scious­ness, avail­able on a sugar cube. Hadn’t thou­sands of peo­ple in Golden Gate Park just man­aged to ‘be’ to­gether without a hitch? Many be­lieved that if the peo­ple in power would only share the sacra­ment, they too would see how eas­ily it could be done.

The elders gath­ered again and a plan was agreed. They would make the com­ing sum­mer a Sum­mer of Love; they would even form a Coun­cil to or­gan­ise it. The idea was to spread the word and to in­vite every­one dis­sat­is­fied with the Amer­ica dream, the rat race and all it en­tailed, to come to the Haight that sum­mer and to ex­pe­ri­ence on a grand scale the peace and har­mony of the Be-In. The pil­grims would then re­turn to their own towns, bring­ing the glad tid­ings with them. Soon the whole coun­try would be feel­ing the good vibes, guar­an­teed by a ju­di­cious in­ges­tion of the sa­cred drug. It would, the Coun­cil for the Sum­mer of Love be­lieved, change the world.


By this time the Love-Pageant Rally and the Be-In had at­tracted much me­dia at­ten­tion.

San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle colum­nist Herb Caen had coined the term ‘hip­pie’ to re­fer to the strange denizens of the Haight; he had coined the term ‘beat­nik’ a decade ear­lier. Ar­ti­cles about the hip­pies ap­peared in news­pa­pers, tele­vi­sion news aired re­ports, and there was even a guided bus tour of the Haight, the ‘Hip­pie Hop’, show­ing the straights how the other half lived.

While the Coun­cil for the Sum­mer of Love wanted word to get out, so that the psy­che­delic mes­sage could spread, they were also con­cerned that with all the at­ten­tion, the mag­i­cal vibes of the Haight were chang­ing. Things were quickly get­ting out of hand, and swiftly mov­ing be­yond their con­trol. Al­most as soon as the idea of the Sum­mer of Love was formed, clouds gath­ered around it. Tourists were clog­ging the streets with their cars. Day-trip­pers, un­in­ter­ested

in the mys­ti­cal in­sights af­forded by the sacra­ment, headed to the Haight for some cheap highs and free love. What had started as a spon­ta­neous cre­ative ex­pres­sion was quickly be­com­ing a fash­ion, with hip­pie chic re­quir­ing ap­pro­pri­ate wear. Love beads and head­bands were de rigueur. The lo­cals felt that the neigh­bour­hood was los­ing its soul. The Dig­gers fought back. When the Hip­pie Hop rolled down Haight Street, they held mir­rors up to the win­dow, so the cu­ri­ous could get a good look at them­selves. On Easter Sun­day 1967, hip­pies danced in the streets and had a ‘walk-in’, stop­ping traf­fic in the district. But the po­lice were con­cerned too. Hip­pies seemed to be sprout­ing quicker than mush­rooms, mag­i­cal or oth­er­wise. And when one news­pa­per an­nounced that “Hip­pies Warn City – 100,000 Will In­vade Haight-Ash­bury This Sum­mer” the mayor quickly de­clared war on them. The San Fran­cisco Board of Su­per­vi­sors said they were un­wel­come, and the po­lice said they would keep the pil­grims out.

Brave words. The flood started with spring break, with col­lege kids from Mid­dle Amer­ica and back east want­ing to see if what they had read in the pa­pers was true. The Mon­terey Pop Fes­ti­val, held over 16-18 June, just down the coast from San Fran­cisco, drew an es­ti­mated 25,000 to 90,000 peo­ple, crowd­ing in and around the fair­grounds where Jimi Hen­drix, the Who, Ja­nis Jo­plin, the Dead, Ravi Shankar and oth­ers per­formed. Af­ter­wards many headed north for the sum­mer. A few weeks later, school was out, and the flood started in earnest. The Bea­tles’ Sgt Pep­per had just been re­leased, and every­one lis­tened for the coded psy­che­delic mes­sages. It vied with other mu­sic as the sea­son’s sound­track, but the tune most as­so­ci­ated with the Sum­mer of Love was Scott McKen­zie’s ‘San Fran­cisco (Be Sure to Wear Flow­ers in Your Hair)’, writ­ten by John Philips of the Ma­mas and the Pa­pas. It was re­leased that May and headed straight to the charts. With its catch line, “If you’re go­ing to San Fran­cisco, be sure to wear some flow­ers in your hair”, it was aimed at draw­ing its lis­ten­ers to what was be­ing called the ‘Cap­i­tal of For­ever’.

It worked. Many heard the tune, and like the au­di­ence for the Pied Piper, many fol­lowed. Too many: with 15,000 hip­pies al­ready in­hab­it­ing the Haight, an­other 100,000 made the place un­sup­port­able. The city coun­cil re­fused to let Golden Gate Park act as a gi­ant camp ground, so many slept in the streets and washed when and where they could. The Dig­gers, Fam­ily Dog, and other lo­cals tried to find safe hous­ing for the pil­grims, and even set up a Free Clinic and Free Store to help with the in­flux, but they weren’t pre­pared for the del­uge that came wash­ing down the Haight. The free food, free drugs, free love and good vibes that the new ar­rivals had read about in the na­tional press were soon used up. In a short space of time it be­came clear to those in­volved that what they had on their hands was some­thing like a ‘bum­mer of love’.

Soon even the sacra­ment could not turn the thing around, and its vo­cif­er­ous ad­vo­cates weren’t mak­ing the scene. Ke­sey was in jail on a mar­i­juana rap and Leary was en­sconced in Mill­brook, his up­state New York head­quar­ters, try­ing to de­vise a new at­tack on the es­tab­lish­ment and new ways to make money. Acid it­self was in short sup­ply and the new­com­ers took to swal­low­ing metham­phetamine and other sub­sti­tutes in or­der to get high. Less spir­i­tual drug deal­ers moved in, in­clud­ing the Mafia, who

The lo­cals weren’t pre­pared for the del­uge that came wash­ing down the Haight

may or may not have been re­spon­si­ble for some grue­some drug killings, and free love quickly de­te­ri­o­rated into sex­ual as­sault and pro­lif­er­at­ing STDs. One Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­pany flyer – a kind of hip­pie bul­letin board set up by the Beat writer Ch­ester An­der­son – an­nounced that a “17-year-old street dealer” had pumped a “pretty lit­tle 16-year-old chick” with speed and then raf­fled her off for a “Haight Street gang bang”. When the Grate­ful Dead’s Jerry Gar­cia read this he knew the party was over.

By the end of the sum­mer, the Cap­i­tal of For­ever had be­come a kind of psy­che­delic ghetto, with bad trips on the rise. A new drug, STP, more pow­er­ful than LSD, had ar­rived. 5 On 21 June, the Sum­mer Sol­stice, a cel­e­bra­tion took place to mark the of­fi­cial start of the Sum­mer of Love. 5,000 tabs of the new high-oc­tane hal­lu­cino­gen were dis­trib­uted free to the par­tic­i­pants. Many later found them­selves in hos­pi­tal emer­gency wards, rat­tling through a three­day trip. The doc­tors, un­aware of what they were deal­ing with, ad­min­is­tered Tho­razine, the stan­dard pro­ce­dure with acid ca­su­al­ties. They didn’t know that Tho­razine ac­tu­ally in­creases STP’s ef­fects, and so the wigged­out pil­grims only got worse.

When au­tumn came every­thing was of­fi­cially over. The neigh­bour­hood had gone down­hill, the good vibes had evap­o­rated, the po­lice were crack­ing down, and many who had made the Haight what it had been, pulled up stakes and moved to the coun­try­side. The pil­grims re­turned to their homes, some en­light­ened by the ex­pe­ri­ence but many cyn­i­cal about what had ac­tu­ally taken place. On 6 Oc­to­ber 1967, a year af­ter the Love-Pageant Rally, the Dig­gers, who had been the most ac­tive and ef­fec­tive group on the scene, per­formed a mock cer­e­mony, an­nounc­ing the ‘Death of the Hip­pie’. Don’t come to San Fran­cisco was the mes­sage now. There’s noth­ing here.

ABOVE LEFT: Ken Ke­sey, pro­po­nent of un­reg­u­lated LsD use and or­gan­iser of the Acid tests. ABOVE RIGHT: eastern mys­ti­cism meets the san fran­cisco sound.

ABOVE LEFT: the Grate­ful Dead house at 710 Ash­bury; cheap Vic­to­ri­ans in the haight meant that rock bands and artists could move into the neigh­bour­hood. ABOVE RIGHT: the Dead hang­ing out in early 1967. TOP: the lo­cal mu­sic scene cen­tred on fam­ily Dog dances at the Avalon, the carousel and other ball­rooms.

ABOVE: “strobe lights, Day-Glo body paint, gy­rat­ing danc­ing, throb­bing rock en­sem­bles... con­spired with the pow­er­ful il­lu­mi­na­tion of the ‘psy­che­delic ex­pe­ri­ence’ to turn rock con­certs into some­thing much more like re­li­gious events.” BE­LOW: Poster art for haight-Ash­bury dances and con­certs was equally dis­tinc­tive.

ABOVE LEFT: Al­lan Gins­berg danc­ing to the Dead at the Be-In. ABOVE RIGHT: A poster for the ‘Gath­er­ing of the tribes for a hu­man Be-In’ at Golden Gate Park on 14 Jan­uary 1967. BE­LOW: In oc­to­ber, the poster for the ‘trip or freak fan­tas­magora­ball’ at Win­ter­land seemed to sound a darker and less ide­al­is­tic note.

ABOVE LEFT: the haight un­der siege; the Dig­gers hand out free food in the Pan­han­dle. ABOVE RIGHT: the haight Ash­bury free clinic opened in June 1967 to treat hip­pies deal­ing with ‘bum trips’, stDs and other con­di­tions. BE­LOW: one ma­jor driver for the in­flux was scott McKen­zie’s faux-hip­pie smash hit ‘san fran­cisco’.

ABOVE: A group of peo­ple carry a fake cof­fin dur­ing the cer­e­mony of ‘the Death of hip­pie’, a mock fu­neral or­gan­ised by Mary Kasper to sig­nal the con­clu­sion of the scene in the haight Ash­bury. BE­LOW: A fu­neral no­tice in­vited peo­ple to at­tend the ser­vice in Buena Vista Park on 6 oc­to­ber 1967.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.