Monday, 18 January 2016

Hippie Redux: #37 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

Love-Ins, Happenings and Electric Circuses

I once went to a Toronto park for a Love-In. All I remember was a woman with a peace symbol painted on her chest, her d├ęcolletage only revealing the upper half.

Then there was an Electric Circus (1968-1970) on Queen St. E., modelled on a club in New York, sort of proto-disco and proto-rave. It held 38,000 square feet of floor space, a total environment, including a strobe-lit dance hall, chambers designed to effect specific effects (a “womb room” for instance), and costumed participants. I remember an earth-shaking playing of “South California Purples” (Chicago) in the main room - with dancing and strobe lights - it was a total spectacle.

And Happenings? Well, with a lady friend of mine I once visited a couple we knew in Toronto. We lit candles, turned out the lights, put on some Donovan, took our clothes off and all four got in a warm bath. Definitely a happening.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Hippie Redux: #36 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

Photo: Art Kane
Strange Days Have Found Us !

The new music of the Sixtie's was amazing for the variety of style and focus created by various bands. The Doors carved out their own unique territory. With surreal lyrics by Jim Morrison, theatrical arrangements by the band, and the inclusion of extended numbers on the first three albums (The End, When the Music's Over, Five to One), the Doors presented us with music as psycho-drama, dealing with the inner quest, exposing what is hidden behind assumptions, a balance between the carnal and the mystical. We'd never heard anything like it.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Hippie Redux: #35 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

The 1968 Democratic Convention, The Black Panthers, the Weathermen

Peace and Love was not on everyone’s mind in the Sixties.

In August of 1968 10,000 demonstrators arrived in Chicago to protest at the Democratic Convention. Chicago’s mayor, Richard J Daley, know for his dictatorial style, greeted them with 23,000 police and national guard. Mayhem ensued with beatings and copious tear gas in the streets. Eight of the organizers were arrested and put on trial for conspiracy to riot as the Chicago Eight, although after many years in court charges were dropped.

The Black Panthers were originally formed to police the police. Armed patrols shadowed the police in Oakland. Soon becoming a national organization, needless to say their existence was fraught with conflict with the government, and resulted in many deaths.

The Weathermen Underground undertook bombing of many government buildings, with advance warning to prevent human casualties. A secret leftist organization, they declared war on the United States.

The end of the war in Vietnam in 1975 reduced the radical agenda for many groups, although the current Black Lives Matter movement echoes the original concerns of the Panthers.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Hippie Redux: #34 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

Bitches Brew: Music was Music

I remember being in a communal hippie house in 1967 in New Hampshire. Several people were excited to bring home the new jazz album Sorcerer by Miles Davies. In those days music was music. We loved rock but any music that was new and fierce was ours, even from a forty-one year old jazz trumpet player. In 1970 Davis came out with Bitches Brew, a double album of long improvisations including electric guitar, electric piano and electric bass. The bass player, Harvey Brooks, was from a rock band called the Electric Flag. The music had strong funk, african and rock influences, was a huge hit, and was highly influential. It sat in my record collection with Let It Be by the Beatles and Sticky Fingers by the Stones.

Hippie Redux: #33 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

The Underground Press

During the Sixties there was a rapid expansion of newspapers known as the Underground Press. Most cities in North America had at least one, and others popped up in Italy, the UK, Australia and even India. Generally they conveyed all that was seen as revolutionary, counterculture and bizarre, with art work from the outer limits, long rants on this and that, and cartoons that were at best abstruse, at worst offensive. In San Francisco it was the Oracle, in Toronto the Harbinger. Most of these rags disappeared mid-Seventies, but the Georgia Straight, from Vancouver, was able to change and is still published today as an entertainment magazine.