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.