Reprint from the Greatest Hits Collection, lol.
This first appeared on Thu Jul 09, 2009
I am a very fortunate person. Either that or a tragic figure, only time will tell.
My Dad was a beatnik, artist and architect, creative and with an aesthetic view of life that has colored my view of it…even though he wasn’t around much. But when he split to go around the world on his spiritual quest just as the decade of the sixties was born, he gave me another inheritance as well, albeit unintentional. He left us in the Haight Ashbury….just as the sixties were being born. And that is where I grew up.
I had no real idea what exactly was going on there, because like any child, I thought that the environment I was growing up in was normal. I thought that the explosion of what can only be called Love Energy in the 60’s that was centered in San Francisco, in the Haight, and then “spread” from there was just how life was.
It didn’t really spread from there of course. That explosion of creativity and an entirely new way of thinking was very much a planetary phenomenon, as we can see looking back at the time.
As the blurb for a new book called 1959 by Fred Kaplan puts it…
It was the year of the microchip, the birth-control pill, the space race, and the computer revolution; the rise of Pop art, free jazz, “sick comics,” the New Journalism, and indie films; the emergence of Castro, Malcolm X, and personal superpower diplomacy; the beginnings of Motown, Happenings, and the Generation Gap-all bursting against the backdrop of the Cold War, the fallout-shelter craze, and the first American casualties of the war in Vietnam.
It was a year when the shockwaves of the new ripped the seams of daily life, when humanity stepped into the cosmos and commandeered the conception of human life, when the world shrank but the knowledge needed to thrive in it expanded exponentially, when outsiders became insiders, when categories were blurred and taboos trampled, when we crossed into a “new frontier” that offered the twin prospects of infinite possibilities and instant annihilation-a frontier that we continue to explore exactly fifty years later, at an eerily similar turning point.
It was a planetary explosion that was expressed, as all such pervasive and revolutionary energies are, in each place and in each person in a unique way to that place or person. But that burst of energy that brought about a new way of thinking, a new form of what can loosely be called ‘politics,’ and a huge burst of creativity was expressed….to my subjective eye…most purely in the Haight.
By one word, by one Unifying Principle.
And Love’s inevitable partner, Peace.