d.i.y. pranksters: staying on the bus

“Do your own thing.” Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” -The Diggers. Eventually, hippies were being attacked and vilified both in the media and physically by punks, skinheads and right-wing reactionaries and other youth sub-cultures. But the impact, favorable and unsavory of the 60′s hippie movement is not in question. It is a homegrown phenomenon that could only have happened in America. It is also something of a contentious issue as to whether the hippie movement, and more broadly speaking, the counterculture, began on the west coast or the east.

---Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood’s MAGIC TRIP is a freewheeling portrait of Ken Kesey and the Merry Prankster’s fabled road trip across America in the legendary Magic Bus. In 1964, Ken Kesey, the famed author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” set off on a legendary, LSD-fuelled cross-country road trip to the New York World’s Fair. He was joined by “The Merry Band of Pranksters,” a renegade group of counterculture truth-seekers, including Neal Cassady, the American icon immortalized in Kerouac’s “On the Road,” and the driver and painter of the psychedelic Magic Bus. Kesey and the Pranksters intended to make a documentary about their trip, shooting footage on 16MM, but the film was never finished and the footage has remained virtually unseen.---Read More:http://bijou-cinemas.com/bijou/2011/06/magic-trip/

Although the East had its share of free thinkers and certainly political radicals, it would seem that the West Coast, particularly California, was home base for the U.S. hippie movement that began in the 1960s, evolving as it did from back to nature movements, surfer culture, hot rod culture that developed independently from the East Coast Beats. During a time frame that spanned a good generation, millions engaged in discussion about free thinking, pacifism, anti-institutionalism, authoritarianism, and a lot more. There is a reason why California, Silicon Valley etc. leads the world in computing innovation and creativity.

---Laughlin recruited many of the early psychedelic musical talent including the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Iron Butterfly, The Charlatans, and others. Laughlin and George Hunter of The Charlatans band, were true “proto-hippies” wearing long hair, boots, and outrageous clothing. Together they opened the Red Dog Saloon in the old mining town of Virginia City, Nevada. The Red Dog Saloon became a focal point of drugs and psychedelic music festivals. During this time, LSD manufacturer Owsley Stanley, who also lived in Berkeley, provided much of the LSD to the burgeoning hippie scene. Stanley, an ex-army radar operator, converted his amphetamines lab to an LSD lab and became one of the first millionaire drug dealers in the United States. His LSD product became a part of the “Red Dog Experience”, the early evolution of psychedelic rock and the budding hippie culture. image:http://ifitshipitshere.blogspot.com/2010/05/dennis-hopper-behind-camera-and-canvas.html Read More:http://ifitshipitshere.blogspot.com/2010/05/dennis-hopper-behind-camera-and-canvas.html

… There is a new film out, “Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place,” a film by Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood that opens this weekend, just in time to catch the buzz of the Woodstock anniversary which was the effective swan song of the movement.It seems as if the movement became extensively commercialized as it moved into the East coast media centers. You have to wonder whether Kesey’s pilgrimage to NYC was not the end of that first phase.  The movie is an exercise in what they call “archival vérité.”:

It’s a documentary that uses old footage to recreate a documentary that Kesey intended to make about his 1964 cross-country bus trip — the one so memorably chronicled in Tom Wolfe’s account, “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”Kesey was onto something similar to what we would now call reality television: scenes of people with odd names (Mal Function, Gretchen Fetchin, Generally Famished) getting stoned and behaving weirdly. After publishing the novels “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Sometimes a Great Notion,” he had by 1964 wearied of writing or so fried his brain with hallucinogens that he embraced what he saw as a brand new art form: a drug-enabled psychic quest that would document itself as it was happening. The famous bus — a psychedelic-painted International Harvester with a sign in front that said “Furthur” and one in back that warned “Weird Load” — was wired for sound, and there was a movie camera on board.Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/01/movies/magic-trip-reconstructs-footage-from-ken-keseys-bus-trip.html

The East Coast had a long history of leadership in high tech industry, especially the strip running from New York to Boston. The same area that was once a mecca for the hippie movement’s “free thinkers” is now home to the computing technology innovators. It was said that East Coast computing and technology firms  like IBM programmed their employees as they did their machines, updating them with adult software, deleting them of all creative spirit besides enforcing a strict dress code of white shirts. Meanwhile, West Coast innovation, growing out of the hippie movement, encouraged and drew upon different strands of novelty and creativity. The success that came out of the West Coast’s more liberal environment seems self-evident today.

---At the end of summer 1967, The Diggers declared the “death” of the hippie movement and burned an effigy of a hippie in Golden Gate Park. The Haight-Ashbury scene had deteriorated dramatically. The Haight Ashbury district simply could not accommodate the influx of hundreds of thousands of hippies. Many hippies, some no older than teenagers, took to living on the street, panhandling, and drug dealing. Problems such as malnourishment, disease, and drug addiction grew prominent in the Haight community. Crime and violence in the area skyrocketed as homeless drug addicted hippies stole to survive and drug dealers moved in to control the drug trade. By the end of 1967, many of the hippies and musicians who initiated the Summer of Love moved on, leaving many misgivings about the hippie culture, particularly with regards to their drug abuse and lenient morality. Read More:http://www.mortaljourney.com/2011/03/1960-trends/hippie-counter-culture-movement image:http://the-bistro.dk/author/heidi-bjerg-gundmann/page/4/

…As edited to under two hours by Mr. Gibney and Ms. Ellwood, the Kesey footage has several memorable scenes, including one in which the novelist Larry McMurtry, whose middle-class house in Houston has just been invaded by Kesey’s band, finds it necessary to call the police and explain that a Prankster, apparently suffering from a drug-induced breakdown, has gone missing and that in keeping with her nickname, Stark Naked, she’s not wearing any clothes.But there are also long, aimless sequences that seem to take place in druggy slo-mo: Pranksters covering themselves with pond scum; staring raptly at the random designs made by paint swirling in water; tootling interminably on instruments, apparently under the delusion that they sound like John Coltrane. These people are clearly zonked out of their gourds, and so is whoever is holding the camera. Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/01/movies/magic-trip-reconstructs-footage-from-ken-keseys-bus-trip.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2a

Irving Penn photo. 1967. ---That tension burst out into the open when Madrak directly asked Axelrod: "Have you ever heard of hippie punching?" That prompted a long silence from Axelrod. "You want us to help you, the first thing I would suggest is enough of the hippie punching," Madrak added. "We're the girl you'll take under the bleachers but you won't be seen with in the light of day." Axelrod didn't engage on "hippie punching," but he said he agreed with the blogger. "To the extent that we shouldn't get involved in intramural skirmishing, I couldn't agree more," Axelrod said. "We just can't afford that. There are big things at stake here." Madrak replied that Axelrod was missing the point ---Read More:http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/09/liberal_blogger_directly_confr.html image:http://blakeandrews.blogspot.com/2008_09_01_archive.html



The origin of the word “hippie” derives from “hipster” which was first coined by Harry Gibson in 1940 in a song titled “Harry the Hipster” (as Harry referred to himself). Hipsters were beatniks who had moved into New York City’s Greenwich Village. Beatniks were followers of the Beat Generation literary movement who through their writings, promoted anti-conformist attitudes and ideals. The first clearly used instance of the term “hippie” occurred on September 5, 1965 in the article “A New Haven for Beatniks” by San Francisco journalist Michael Fallon (who was writing about the Blue Unicorn coffeehouse).

Similar counter culture movements had occurred in Germany between 1896 and 1908. Known as Wandervogel (which translates roughly to “migratory bird”), the youth movement arose as a countercultural reaction to the urbanization that was occurring in Germany at the time. Wandervogel youth opposed traditional German values and forms of entertainment and instead emphasized amateur music and singing, creative dress, and communal outings involving hiking and camping. They were a back to the earth generation who yearned for the simple, sparse, back to nature spiritual life of their ancestors.

---The hippies accepted into their family the performance group The Diggers, a street theater group who combined spontaneous street theater with anarchistic action and art happenings. The Diggers sought to build an alternative free society where every need and desire could be obtained for free. By late 1966, The Diggers had opened public stores that provided free food (some of which was stolen off the backs of trucks), distributed free drugs, gave away money, and organized music concerts and art events. In October 1966, California became the first state to make LSD illegal when they declared LSD a controlled substance. In response to the criminalization of their psychedelic drug, San Francisco hippies staged a gathering in the Golden Gate Park. The event was called the Love Pageant Rally.---Read More:http://www.mortaljourney.com/2011/03/1960-trends/hippie-counter-culture-movement image:http://www.diggers.org/images/photos/23b_l.jpg

In later years, the Wandervogel Germans immigrated to the United States where they opened many West Coast area health food stores. Many moved to Southern California. Over time other Americans adapted the beliefs and practices of the Wandervogel youth. Songwriter Eden Ahbez wrote a hit song called Nature Boy that was inspired by the Wandervogel follower, Robert Bootzin. The song helped popularized health consciousness, yoga, and organic food throughout the United States. Read More:http://www.mortaljourney.com/2011/03/1960-trends/hippie-counter-culture-movement

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