“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.
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.
… 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.
…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