Slack-Jawed Over the Summer of Love

Wow. From Utopia to squalor in ten weeks flat. That's what I saw when I watched the mind-boggling PBS American Experience show "The Summer of Love" last week. It was 1967 and a made-to-order song advised that if you are going to San Francisco make sure to wear some flowers in your hair. And tens of thousands did, lured by the promise of a community liberated from the strictures of private property and all those repressive mores that clamp down on peace and love (agape) and sex and drugs and rock and roll (eros). What happened was that in the process of unlocking some doors (the doors of perception, the doors of the obligation) space was opened up for amazing creativity, for example, in the way music advanced and expanded then. But into the new void flowed the hedonists, the opportunists, and the runaways, and voila, that was that. The same thing happened ten years later with the punk movement, philosophically the opposite of the the hippie dream, but still (strangely) idealistic and looking for a space outside of repressive norms (including now, ironically, peace and love). Once again, the result was great music. But now the hedonists, opportunists, and runaways flowed into Lower Manhattan or London, or started squatting in abandoned buildings worldwide.


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