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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Summer of Drugs

This year is the 40th anniversary of the Be-In and Summer of Love which was centered in San Francisco in 1967. Yesterday's event, Be-In Central Park, was held from 2 - 7:30 PM at the Bandshell, and sponsored by the Yippie Museum (click here for previous post). This is the second commemoration of the Be-In in NYC this year (click here for the previous event in Washington Square Park). Live bands were present. I arrived at 6:45 PM to the last band and a very small group - I hope the turnout was better midday. I found the situation quite sad and depressing. Many of the participants appeared to be hippies, burnouts, drug addicts, marginalized, counter-cultural or political activists. I don't think this motley, unkempt group are very good role models for the future. When it comes to advocacy (one recalls Timothy Leary's "turn on, tune in, and drop out") I think it is reasonable to judge the message by its messenger(s) and in this case, regardless of how one defines success, I think the drug message has to be called into question. Although good things did spring from movements of the 1960s, drugs turned out to be an extremely destructive path and those who continued to embrace them either paid for it with their lives or are seriously damaged and disadvantaged by their continued use. Drugs were a large component of the hippie movement and the original Be-In (some say it really was the summer of drugs). Underground chemist Owsley Stanley produced and provided massive amounts of his White Lightning LSD specially for the 1967 event. Many of the icons of this generation died from drug related causes, musicians and non-musicians - Jimi Hendrix, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, et al. I think David Crosby's comment is quite apropos: "Our generation was right about civil rights; we were right about Vietnam; we were right about poverty. Unfortunately, we were wrong about drugs." ...

9 comments:

................................................................... said...

that is one depressing pic! I love your blog and try to get to it few times a week.

i added it to my a-class blogs:
www.aclassblogs.blogspot.com

happy blogging!

kashitta, tlv

• Eliane • said...

I have to agree that it is a little sad and pathetic. Did you go to the Psychedilic exhibition at the Whitney? A lot of the pieces left me with that feeling that to "appreciate" it people probably had to be smoking a little something.

Marie said...

Very good blog. Very interesting post. I will often be back. I love New York...

Brian said...

I was somewhat concerned about the less then positive feeling I conveyed writing about this - but I did not want to put a spin on it. This was the way I saw it.
Thanks for understanding.

Carlos Lorenzo said...

You're totally right about that. It's depressing and it doesn't look like some glorious time anymore. It happened in different times and under other circumstances but that doesn't mean you have to ruin your life in trying to evade reality. Great narration and approach here, Brian.

denise said...

Wow, your blog is really great!
Your pics show exactly what we see in NYC. That's amazing,'cause it's so hard to show reallity in pictures.
The only thing I dind't like was the size and the collor of the font you use, I had some difficult to read it.
For sure I'm gonna return to your page everyday.

Anonymous said...

The drug culture had not vanished. Sadly, it was taken over and commercialized by Big Pharma.

Freud used cocaine to lift his spirits, now you use some kind of Prozac.

bluechic said...

i really liked this post, says a lot that needs to be said today

Anonymous said...

I came across this searching for any pictures or articles that were written in response to the be-in last friday.

Writing from the perspective of one of the bands who were on stage, ( 21st century foxes), before you arrived-- I have to say our outlook was not as gloomy or "pathetic" as some of your writing suggests...we had a great time...

Infact, our last song (always improvised) invited the crowd up to join in with whatever they had ( drum instruments, clarinets, even a violin from the previous Bluegrass band ( Minetta Creek), harmonicas, tamborines.. and the result was a wonderful feeling that we all enjoyed. I saw many healthy, vibrant folks looking to enjoy being human...creating, dancing, talking...

Our permit was issued until 7 00 so you caught only the downwind of something that was fun and exciting...not to be lamented...I assure you...