Sunday, May 21, 2017

"Set That Favorite American Adjective, 'Free,' on a Fresh Altar"

"The Human Be-In drew about 20,000 people to Golden Gate Park. Costumes, music, incense, and marijuana abounded. ('There was so much dope rising in the air,' Rock Scully recalls, 'Jerry and I thought we'd walked into a geodesic dome.') Allen Ginsberg was on hand, leading a massive om chant. Timothy Leary, then 46, premiered his mantra, 'Turn on, tune in, drop out.' A consequential witness was the *Chronicle'*s revered jazz critic, Ralph J. Gleason. 'No drunks,' a stunned Gleason wrote in his column. The event was 'an affirmation, not a protest … a promise of good, not evil This is truly something new.' He described it as 'an asking for a new dimension to peace … for the reality of love and a great Nest for all humans.'
"As news of the Be-In trickled out, media coverage increased. In early spring, a group of Haight insiders held a homespun version of a press conference, welcoming the youth of America to San Francisco to experience the magic for themselves, as soon as school let out. The Diggers braced to house and feed the hordes. And hordes there would be, given the seductive name coined for the beckoning season."

Sheila Weller, in a 2012 Vanity Fair article, writes about the origin of San Francisco's Summer of Love.

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