Sunday, 29 November 2015

HIPPIE REDUX: #25 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

Allen and Jack, New York City
Before Hippie There Was Beat

Jack Kerouac's classic novel, On The Road, was published in 1957, although written ten years earlier. It was thinly-veiled autobiography and portrayed the lifestyle of Kerouac's circle of friends, later known as Beats or the Beat Generation. Like the Hippies who followed them, Jack and his friends rejected the conformism and materialism around them.

They moved restlessly between New York, San Francisco, Mexico City, Paris and Tangiers. Their music was found in Afro-American jazz clubs. Their intoxicants were tokay and marijuana. Their joy was uninhibited sex and poetry as spontaneous as possible. They were some of the first white Americans to not only study the Buddha's path but try to embody it.

Many in the next generation found On The Road an influence, including Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Hunter S. Thompson and the Doors.

And while Kerouac succumbed to alcohol in the Sixties, Neil Cassady was the driver for Kesey's psychedelic bus, while others like William Burroughs, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure and Lawrence Ferlinghetti all contributed to the counterculture. And Jack's dear friend, Allen Ginsberg, author of Howl, was not only considered a key Sixties figure but continued his passionate dedication to social activism, gay rights, Buddhism and wild poetry until his death in 1997.

From On the Road, “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn...” by Jack Kerouac.

From Howl,"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night..." by Allen Ginsberg.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

HIPPIE REDUX: #24 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

Photography at 33 1/3.

The Sixties may not have been the best decade for photography, but there were two interesting developments. Much was done in portraiture, both of celebrities and musicians. And the one square-foot area of the LP record became a great mass media for both art and photography. Photographers like Art Kane, Robert Frank, Richard Alvedon, David Bailey, and Pete Turner made some stellar images. We enjoyed albums even before popping the shrink wrap. Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, In the Court of the Crimson King, Axis Bold as Love - Jimi Hendrix, Disraeli Gears - Cream, Grateful Dead - Aoxomoxoa, the Doors 1st, the Who Sell Out, Bookends - Simon and Garfunkel Pink Floyd - Ummagumma, Hot Rats - Frank Zappa, Let It Bleed - Rolling Stones, Bitches Brew - Miles Davis. Humour and shock was valued, although often banned in some countries (See the Blind Faith “girl with jet model” for instance). Pictured - The Mother’s of Invention by Art Kane. I am writing Hippie Redux every two days and also posting it on my facebook.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

HIPPIE REDUX: #23 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

It Came To This.

On May 4, 1970, four Kent State University students were killed and nine injured when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire during a demonstration protesting the Vietnam War. I remember going down to the American Consulate in Toronto that day and watching people throwing paint at the building and police on horses chasing people in the crowd. Neil Young immediately wrote a protest song called Ohio and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young recorded it and rushed it out as a single. It mentioned Nixon, “Tin soldiers and Nixon coming” and repeated the lines “Four dead in Ohio” and “We’re finally on our own”. The song was banned on some AM radio stations. This image won the Pulitzer Prize and became a symbol of the counterculture’s alienation from the government and the military - industrial complex. John Filo

Monday, 23 November 2015

HIPPIE REDUX: #22 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

February 24, 1968, Volume 1, No 6,
Our Price: Twenty-Five cents.

A photo of the Rolling Stone magazine I have kept for 47 years. I read this mag continually and obsessively from the first issue til the late 80's. As well as keeping me up on musicians and turning me on to great albums, the photography was often excellent (see Annie Leibovitz - John and Yoko cover for instance) and they always had one in-depth report on some social or cultural phenomena (usually bizarre, usually from California, Hunter S. Thompson anyone?).

Thursday, 19 November 2015

HIPPIE REDUX: #21 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

And The Name of The Band Is…….

Late 50’s rock musicians had mostly sane names - Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins -with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and The Big Bopper being exceptions.

The names of the British Invasion, starting in late 1963 with the Beatles, changed all that. Suddenly we had the Kinks, the Yardbirds, Them, the Who, Procal Harum, the Troggs, the Animals, Pink Floyd, the Zombies, King Crimson, the Rolling Stones, the Pretty Things, Ten Years After, and the band shown here.

America soon responded. The Grateful Dead, Moby Grape, the Electric Prunes, Vanilla Fudge, the Strawberry Alarm Clock (food fetish here?), Iron Butterfly, the Byrds, Deep Purple, the Mothers of Invention, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Lovin Spoonful, Velvet Underground. From Canada we had the Guess Who, Steppenwolf, the Paupers, and the Band (about as perverse a name as you can get).

And the guys pictured here? Definitely the cream: Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton of Cream.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

HIPPIE REDUX: #20 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and friends.
Gurus, Cults, Families and Monsters

The sudden Sixtie's interest in Eastern spirituality brought out the best and worst. I remember young people proselytizing on the streets of Toronto dressed all in black, with long cloaks, calling themsleves The Process. In London, England, I chanted with Nichiren Shoshu. Gurus came from India, Japan, and Tibet. Rock bands travelled to India to sit at their master's feet. In America cults formed like the Lyman Family, the Source Family and, horror of horrors, the Manson Family.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

HIPPIE REDUX: #19 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World (Still)!!

As soon as they came out, I played The Rolling Stones early albums daily for a year or two, in love with the groove and swagger of their music. I was only dimly aware that they were imitating their heroes, the great bluesmen of Detroit, Chicago, Memphis. The Stones, these skinny kids from London, were perhaps the first white blues band. And with very few digressions, they have remained true to the feel of Black music since then (I know they included a Chuck Berry classic in every concert I saw). Formed in 1962, they will be touring South America in a few months, Jagger is 72.

Friday, 13 November 2015

HIPPIE REDUX: #18 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

Eighteen Floors of Hippie !

This building on a Toronto main street opened in 1968 as Rochdale College, a co-op student residence cum educational facility. Its relaxed polity soon became anarchic and the building became maybe the world’s only high rise hippie haven. I remember visiting a friend, the general atmosphere was…well…funky. The joke was that the Jesus freaks lived on one floor, the speed freaks on another, the bikers on another, and the dealers on the top (to have more time if there was a police raid). Eventually it became more and more a drug distribution centre for a biker gang and finally in 1975 the last person was ejected and the doors welded shut. It’s now an old folks home.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

HIPPIE REDUX: #17 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

photo: Joel Brodsky
Not Your Great Grandmother's Handsome Man !!

In keeping with the Sixtie's spirit of experimentation, new ideas of male magnetism from Jim Morrison.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

HIPPIE REDUX: #16 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

photo: Don Hogan Charles / The New York Times

Racial Inequality

The Sixties pushed the question of racial inequality into everyone’s face. I remember visiting a gas station in Georgia in 1965 and seeing three toilets signed Men, Women, Coloured: this in violation of the Civil Rights Act of the previous year. Riots exploded year after year, and in April and May of 1968, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, violent eruptions occurred in 125 cities and large parts of the country appeared deserted as everyone remained indoors.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

HIPPIE REDUX: #15 Why I'm glad I'm over 65!

Santana at Woodstock: Latin Rock

The music scene was re-energized in 1964 with the so-called British Invasion of the Beatles, Stones and many other bands. Although largely simple rock n roll, this changed quickly as groups on both sides of the Atlantic began to experiment. The number of brilliant musicians who showed up in the next eight years was astounding. And rock took on many new forms, latin rock, prog rock, folk rock, country rock, rock opera, psychedelic rock, glam rock, shock rock. We didn’t know how lucky we were to have new albums by Pink Floyd, the Doors, King Crimson, Steppenwolf, all in the same month perhaps. By 1972, the transformation of popular music was complete and glorious.

HIPPIE REDUX: #14 Why I'm glad I'm over 65!

The Drug Question

What would the Sixties have been without drugs? Pot and LSD played a key role in showing people how reduced the contemporary cultural reality was. Taking acid was almost a rite of passage. The illegality of it created a immediate sense of revolt. Imaginations were set loose to play in art, music, literature. A psychedelic style was created. The new sense of an interior world caused people to seek out gurus and teachers, often from the East.

But that was one side to the experience. I can remember a friend of mine injecting speed into my vein. This naive desire to “get fucked up” any way possible was part of the tragedy. People were damaged by intense drug experiences. Amphetamines, cocaine and heroin became major problems. And many never got beyond the drug experience to real change.

Monday, 2 November 2015

HIPPIE REDUX: #13 Why I'm glad I'm over 65!

photo: Gered Mankowitz
The Man

In 1967 I was going through a record store bin in the Oshawa Shopping Center when I found an album by a group I'd never heard of, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The cover was cool, so I bought it ($3.29?) and took it to a friends house nearby. His dad had a large stereo in the basement, and we slapped on the vinyl. When the first chords of Purple Haze came crashing out of the speakers, our jaws dropped. We didn't know music could be so wild, so chaotic, but so beautiful.