August 1967

I arranged to meet my brothers in the Ashleigh Brilliant grove of Golden Gate Park at 1:00, and proceed to the Panhandle for a Mime Troupe play. Paul and Mark hitched as a pair and I set out on my own. At 11:30 I was standing outside USave (University and Grove) when an old vintage fire engine passed, one gumball, a siren and a straight strobe on the roof; flashing bliss.

A Black guy got out of a car and came to hitch with me. James had come out from New York a few days earlier. We talked about Wisconsin’s natural weed.

An old man in a station wagon, seats down, mattress in the back, stopped for us. A pair of University hippies, man and woman, occupied the back; a non-descript young dude sat up front. French, the driver, was about 200 years old with shoulder length red hair and matching beard. He talked like old George, Berkeley’s bi-sexual frontiersman, a constant stream of disjointed thoughts. It got hectic in San Francisco; he needed directions that he couldn’t follow. On Market Street he ran two NO TRAFFIC barricades, drove on the trolley tracks when the signs said KEEP RIGHT, then started a left turn onto a one-way street. The cop who had been following us for several blocks stopped him abruptly; James and I somersaulted down the mattress.

A book of Tibetan Mandalas hit me in the head and I thumbed through as we neared Haight Ashbury. Under one illustration was the mantra OM HRIH HAHA HRIM HRUM PHAT which I copied down on a piece of paper to share with the brothers. French gassed on about how young people in love don’t even have to eat because love itself sustains them. Finaly made it to the Haight and hastened down Page to the park and the naturalistic amphitheater at the end of the street at 12:59; looked around, no brothers, no Ashleigh. Walk out to Haight, look left, no brothers, look right, same. Two dudes crossing the street, exactly 1:00, my brothers had just gotten out of their ride.

Up into the hill to consume some joints. Finishing off the first one, Donovan’s “First there is a mountain…” song on the transistor radio. The day has been chilly and overcast and Paul wishes aloud that the sun come out. It does. We fire up more joints and walk smashed into the panhandle. A straight dude steps out from behind a tree, directly into our path and takes our picture. He flees; we walk on.

The Mime Troupe canceled the day’s performance. We sat a spell to let it soak in. A nearby baseball game drove us away with their foul balls.

Back on Haight Street, a stoned circus, smell it, flash past a group of people huddled on the sidewalk toking and passing. A crowd all around them going “tch, tch” and “shame”, a negative sanction- don’t bring the heat down on the street by being so uncool. At the end of next block, a cat standing on crutches and an old wino press against the building, sharing a joint.

A cat asks if we’ll pay him a dime for a new song, all kinds of panhandlers today. He says he’ll sing us the song anyway. It freaks us, a wordless humming sound with eye, mouth, body, and arm animation to match. We hold our heads as our minds explode, his song seems endless, it stays with us as we walk away.

A crowd on the sidewalk, an old man blowing musical saw. Fantastic eerie whoops, like a theremin, he plays it with a violin bow. He is playing in a doorway and a man comes out and gives him a gig playing at a coffee house. He blows some more, turning in to a flying saucer as he plays. A photographer ducks into the doorway taking pictures of the crowd and the cat, he is everywhere snapping his pictures. Then he passes the bucket hawks for the guy, shaming us into giving. Everyone lays some coin in the plate.

Crossed the street to the Psychedelic Shop and spent time in the meditation room. A large groovy room, rugs on all six sides, double Persian rug door, light machines, an altar. Not conducive to meditation, more for grooving. After a time we make it back to the park to finish off the joints. Hell’s Angels bikers and their molls hassle us for bread to cover Chocolate George’s funeral. We give.

Ashleigh is preaching in the park but we pass. A tough girl wants more money for George, is happy that we gave, and tells us about herself: how Angel president Sonny Barger is her uncle, and how her old man was the last Angel killed, the one that had his funeral in LIFE. It wasn’t that nice really. The Angels were irrational thugs, and everyone feared them. But they have to be tolerated, even celebrated, in our “do your own thing” ethos. A little compromised by the marijuana, I did not realize that my faded denim jacket constituted “colors”. Several blocks down Haight Street, near the Love Burger place, two Hells Angels accosted me, blocked my way, and accused me of not having respect for Chocolate George, and demanded I remove my colors. I quickly did so and spent the rest of the afternoon bare chested except for a bell on a red velvet cord Bonny gave me in Seattle. The thug vision summer of love differed from my own. As the joke goes: What is the difference between a Hoover and a Harley? A Hoover has the dirt bag on the inside.

Find a moving spot, a cubby hole in some bushes, and toke up. Just finish when two cats of similar disposition walk by and light up a few feet down the trail. Girls run nearby, someone else is doing birdcalls. Mark blows some tunes on a leaf. Go back through the park to groove with Ashleigh Brilliant. The Angels have taken over the microphone for a pathetically touching extemporaneous eulogy to Chocolate George. Ashleigh stands beside his microphone like some kind of an asshole while these horrific greasers tell everyone how it is going to be because one of their number had run his bike off a cliff, a image symbolizing the untenability of the hippie vision — if you are going to be congenially gentle, even slightly tough fascists will take over. In his memory, no colors, cutaways, or Levi jackets were to be worn until he was buried, now they tell me.

Bought some incense and we hitched out of the Haight. A Black guy stopped and took us to University and Sixth in Berkeley. He was a Methodist minister, fresh back from two years in England, here for a conference. It was an easy relaxed ride, learned a little on the side.


1 thought on “SUMMER OF LOVE”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s