Monday, September 7, 2009

#21 The Sixties


The most interesting and momentous decade of the twentieth century, at least with respect to culture, was the Sixties. Prior to the Sixties society by organization and ethos was very simple: you were either normal or you were a weirdo. If you tried to be something in between, like James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis or Martin Luther King did, you were labeled a “renegade”, and that meant two things. First it meant you were cool. Second, it meant you must die. It was a classic glass half-empty/ half-full situation.

Then came the Sixties and the rise of a secondary societal consciousness whereby all these young people protested that they wanted to be cool but, at the same time, not die. In retrospect this seems not an unreasonable position but the establishment of the time got REALLY PISSED and proceeded to ship them off to Vietnam or sniper their whiny a**es on college campuses.


Of course that strategy never really panned out. In the end the establishment waffled on shooting ALL of the young people and thus a long repressed alternative to the normal/weird dichotomy came out to mainstream society. We came to call it counterculture and its members we called Hippies and they were Cheech Marin, BIlly Jack, Jesus Christ Superstar and whole litany of others who moved to San Francisco, changed America forever and, all the while, got a ton of play.

Forty-five years later the ideological value of the Hippie movement has more or less been appropriated whole-sale into everyday politics, law, and social mores. The rejection of racism, open misogyny, corporate greed, and war-mongering is pretty standard, uncontroversial thinking everywhere outside rural Arkansas and the Palin household. Accordingly, being a Hippie in 2009 does not stand for much beyond a generalized lifestyle sensibility. It just sort of means you don’t own a TV or take showers.


Now here’s the thing: modernly, girls do not want to be in smelling distance of such guys, or for that matter, jam bands, the Haight and any other Sixties’ holdouts. Some guys get flummoxed here because the original Hippies, in rejoicing free love, nudity, and anti-materialism, scored one long, muddy, unprotected sex romp. This scenario, where you get to chase every skirt you see, go commando, and never pay for handbags, diamonds or deodorant, is so appealing to the male mind that some of us have overlooked the fact that time has passed it by. The progression was this: Hippies were like, “Yeah, free love man, stop getting all hung up on artificial, culturally contingent and totally oppressive conventions of hygiene and sexuality, man,” and the Man was like, “Hey stop that, that’s disgusting,” and Hippies were like, “Try and stop us” and then Nature was like, “AIDS.”


Now it’s true that participation in a group or movement that stands for a political philosophy (Go Obama!) still might win you female attention but old-school Hippie philosophies (environmentalism, gender equality, chocolate cherry ice cream) have gone mainstream, lost their verve, and dissipated into ordinariness. And without the eccentric philosophy the Hippie isn’t a renegade. He doesn’t have anything compelling to express. He’s just an anachronism with toe-nail fungus and bad B.O. He’s got (the sausage fest(ival) that is) Burning Man, pre-dawn Tai Chi and a bong shop down from Amoeba Records but he doesn’t have a prayer of getting laid, which is bad for him but worse for us, since we contract his girl-repelling Hippy funk by the property of propinquity. We’re complicit by geographical association. It’s like living with your dad - he's cool, you love him, but he's killing you.

7 comments:

  1. The Hippies got free love and we got gross poly amorous goths.

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. Certainly the hippie/feminist anti-grooming ethos does take away from the attractive female and guy pool in SF.

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  4. Oh man the progression line was great, where do you come up with this stuff man. Is there a way to get a RSS feed somewhere or am I being totally blind?

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  5. Thank you for your blog!
    Not only brilliant, but also spot on.

    Here's a tip:

    Research SF's water supply and how our hair and skin reacts to hard water. Also, check out the harsh effects of "all natural" shampoos and conditioners, which as we know are so popular amongst SF culture.

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  6. I got out of high school in '66, stopped shaving and cutting my hair, and disappeared down in the Haight, thence devoting my time to learning all I could about vino, drugs, and group sex.

    So well did this ethos, if that's what it was, get engraved in me, that I found myself in my mid-thirties, saying..."You mean just the TWO of us? No one's even gonna WATCH? Well, ok, sounds kinky, but I'm up for it if you are..."

    By the way, I'm writing this very pleasantly stoned, my snow white old hippyman hair pulled back in rather mussy ponytail, and my full white beard making a handsome contrast to my 6 year old black tee shirt.

    Seems as though you CAN take the ole hippy outta...um...well, you know, but you can't make him drink...or like that, you know?

    ...toke...

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  7. The hippies were all about the drugs, DRUGS. More please. And then over time people realized that the acid trip might have revealed something to them but ultimately didn't lead to any major shifts in the ruling class' management approach towards its society. Drugs don't make people smarter, they only make them feel smarter while on some of them until the next day, when they wear off and there's trouble locating one's bicycle. Mainly it's a good way for poor hippie people to momentarily/conveniently 'forget'(ignore) their true lot in life(bummer dude!). Contrary to your premise however renegades and rebels have been an important aspect of humanity time immemorial-- and hippies were just one of many of the American flavor varieties--they "didn't want to die", let's get high! 'Free' Love(for drugs)!---the greatest fraud (outside of male property/ownership) ever accepted by (some of the) women. Women and men were buying into some strange ideal vision that drug use would lead to a shared utopia----saved! Finding shared salvation in a perpetual mode of living in total irresponsibility and disheveled disorder--hoping to continue down a straight path to anarchy??

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