May 23rd, 2014 11:44 EST
It`s Almost 'SUMMER OF LOVE' Time Again! Whip Out 'The Haight Ashbury-A History' By Charles Perry!
It seems like every year, around this time (Memorial Day, & just before June 1st), I like to drift back in time & take a look (under a magnifying glass) at the period we refer to nowadays as `The Summer of Love,` which mostly occurred in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco from June-August of 1967.
My fascination with this period and the influential cultural vibes that emanated from it, has persisted consistently and continually for the past 47 years; this fascination is a result of having grown-up during this time (I was 14 at the time Sergeant Pepper was released, which was June 1, 1967). But Boy did I miss out on a lot!
Okay, so it would take a long time to explain this properly, so I`ll just cut to the chase. I listen to tons of records from this period (to psyche myself into a SOL consciousness), and I sleep with my copy of The Haight Ashbury-A History, by Charles Perry (Werner Books, 2005); maybe through osmosis, some of it will rub off on me.
This isn`t exactly a review of The Haight Ashbury-A History, nor will it provide you with much biographical background on Charles Perry, since I don`t know very much about him, other than what`s in his Introduction, as well as a few things I`ve seen on the internet (Artist Biography by Richie Unterberger was helpful).
I want to learn more about the role played by Charles Perry during the early years of The Rolling Stone, for example, so I have quite a bit of research I`ll need to do in regards to that. I`ve noticed my local Half Price Books has many of those early issues of Rolling Stone for sale, but I don`t have the kind of bucks you need to collect those babies!
Anyhow, this is my second time to read his book (I`d like to collect the first edition also, published in 1988); I`ve been reading it for about a week now, but am only on page 165 (Chapter 5, The Be-In Era). I`m reading it very slowly on purpose (I`m not stoned on marijuana either, Friendo!); I want to pick up every bit of minutiae, since I heard that Mr. Perry put so much TLC, researching the Haight for over a decade.
It shows! An example is, by the time he gets to the summer of 1967, he gives you precisely what was happening, nearly every day, and blow by blow. Hey, I was Living (Dead) in Dallas, Texas at the time, and news didn`t travel too fast back in those days; okay, so I want to see what I missed out on the first time around.
Through the years, I`ve managed to fill in the picture ever so gradually, and that`s a good thing, even though I was the last one to the party. Some of the areas where I`m improving my knowledge are: the Diggers, the Mime Troupe, Ken Kesey and His Merry Pranksters, Psychedelic Poster Art, the Fillmore, the Avalon Ballroom, Big Brother, Janis, The Grateful Dead, ...
...The Jefferson Airplane, Hippie Gear, LSD, The Family Dog, Moby Grape (especially, the tragedy of Skip Spence), Quick Silver Messenger Service, Chet Helms,Timothy Leary, Phil Graham, Monterey Pop, the Free Clinic, Country Joe, and finally, at the center of all this (for me, at least), is George Harrison`s visit to the Haight on August 8, 1967 (there are plenty of fab photos preserving this memory).
I still have much more I need to learn, but I`m very appreciative of the pains the author has taken to collect and preserve these important memories, that represent a significant chapter in what we usually term The American Experience. I see it as a reference book I can keep handy, if I want to remind myself what happened during those exciting times I grew up in; not all of it occurred in San Francisco, only 95% of the beautiful stuff did. I`d say less than 1% of it happened where I was growing up; as a reminder, that was Dallas.
Another reminder is, the way we heard about the Summer of Love was via the only three TV networks available (NBC, CBS, ABC), and by way of Time or Newsweek, or Life or Look magazine. We didn`t have the internet back then; and I don`t remember seeing The New York Times or the San Francisco Chronicle for sale where I lived.
It`s good to know somebody wasn`t so stoned that we lost this important history (for all time). Peace & Love Brothers & Sisters! I guess I`ll return to my book (with a little incest burning & some Ravi Shankar trickling out of my IMac).