Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Dirty F@#*ing Hippies Were Right!

"Haight Ashbury, Commune Group, 1968" by
Elaine Mayes

A few years ago at a photo conference Elaine Mayes showed a series of black and white portraits made during the “summer of love” in Haight Ashbury. That famous summer, 1967, I was 20 years old. I hadn’t yet made it to San Francisco, but I was a fervent member of the counterculture. I dropped in & out of school, did various low-paying jobs, wandered around, listened to a lot of music, got high as often as I could. I called myself a hippy. My hair and beard were wild.

I wore cast off clothes. I believed our country needed a revolution to make

us all free.

More than three decades later, Mayes’s slides showed me what I had seen but in some way not registered back then. Her pictures are skillfully direct -- unpretentious, accurate. For me they were a kind of reseeing -- only lucid this time, not stoned or lonely or in a hurry to get somewhere else. It was like suddenly having memories I didn’t know existed.

The 60s aren’t chic in these pictures. The hairstyles aren’t like the coiffed manes of the musical Hair or all the movies that would come later. The clothes -- mostly picked up on the street or in thrift stores -- often show imagination but haven’t yet become a marketable style. Everyone is so young. Only a few of the faces show the drugs & disillusion that would overtake the scene in just a few years....

I wouldn’t have thought so before, but these portraits convinced me the 60s are best pictured in black and white.

-- from Tim Connor's blog, Looking at Photography

It's simplistic, the YouTube vid, below.
It's a bit much. {Harold! Eat up your beets!}
It's tried and true, so trite, it's so.
It's in color; It's in psychadelic.

That's a lie of a put-down.
It's a montage of purported news.

{What's black and white and red? A nun in a blender!}

That's pretty much where I am this afternoon.

Angry at the image of my brother homeless and eating out of trashcans, following The Dead, brilliant, young, alone, abandoned. He's had his whole life to live beyond his then. I've had but a year of mostly rebuking the impulse to pull up that photograph, to play that song... again.

I am convinced that one day in Berkeley I walked right by him as he hungered. I am pretty sure he stank like a shithole. My then -- believed linear -- was a twisty sucking spiral of a wormhole.

For a tangible grasp, a hard hold, on Tumbleweed's torn and rancid tee-shirt, so that he never goes missing again? Study his gifts, here, and here.

Borrow his gaze, give him a toothy grin and a wave (he calls this "fool in a pool.")

My father told me to take all my memories (He proceeded on the assumption of the known; He knew that his part in it soured the milk, clabbered the butter; He called all my memories "bad.") -- My father told me to take all my bad memories, and "put them in a box... do you see it? now throw away the key. now put the box away, away, away in the back of your head."

1968 execution of a VietKong fighter: A South Vietnamese general executes a Viet Kong fighter in Saigon, during the North Vietnamese attack, known as Tet, after which the US knew it was losing the war. Photo: http://www.ccun.org/

He didn't know it, but I pictured the side of the head
where would be the exit wound, gaping, flawed --

you cannot ever get those edges back together,
no matter how many times
you block the sweater!

use real woolite
not the knock-off stuff
because you know there is a reason
for the brand*


I tire of dealing with idiots and the mentally ill, the special people who incarnate both attributes, slapping their tin teaspoons across the bars of the continuum. I lose focus, and find myself behaving badly.

{Harold: You sure have a way with people.
Maude: Well, they're my species.}

So, hell's bells, What's it all about, Alfie? The movie's soundtrack featured Sonny Rollins. Then Burt Bacharach popped that tune for Cilla Black.

What's it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
Then I guess it's wise to be cruel.
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie,
What will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there's a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there's something much more,
Something even non-believers can believe in.

It's Shrove Tuesday for you staid Anglican-inclined and for all of us tempted to huddle around a pile o' pancakes on a cold winter night, cheering on the kids who could afford the expense of winter sports.

Still? I'm tempted to go with Mardi Gras and Carnival: Get it all out of my system so as to better roll in Wednesday's ashes.

Shrove Tuesday? Fat Tuesday? Mardi Gras? Pick your pre-purification poison. It won't matter -- The Dirty F@#*ing Hippies Were Right!


*etymology of brand:

brand: O.E. brand, brond "fire, flame; firebrand, piece of burning wood, torch," and (poetic) "sword," from P.Gmc. *brandaz (cf. O.N. brandr, O.H.G. brant, O.Fris. brond "firebrand, blade of a sword," Ger. brand "fire"), from base *bran-/*bren- (see burn). Meaning of "identifying mark made by a hot iron" (1550s) broadened 1827 to "a particular make of goods." Brand name is from 1922. As a verb, brand is attested from c.1400. Related: Branded; branding.

brand new: c.1570, from brand. Originally it must have meant "fresh from the fire" (Shakespeare has fire-new).
brandish: mid-14c., from O.Fr. brandiss-, prp. stem of brandir "to flourish (a sword)" (12c.), from brant "blade of a sword, prow of a ship," of Frankish origin (see brand). Related: Brandished; brandishing.
Ked: proprietary name of a brand of canvas sneakers, 1917, registered by United States Rubber Co., N.Y.
"We wanted to call it Peds, but ... it came too close to ... other brand names. So we batted it around for awhile and decided on the hardest-sounding letter in the alphabet, K, and called it Keds, that was in 1916." [J.Healey, in R.L. Cohen, "Footwear Industry," x.93]
Smirnoff: proprietary name of a brand of vodka, said to have been in use since 1914.
Oxo: proper name of a brand of beef extract, 1899, British.
Day-Glo: 1951, proprietary name (Dane & Co. of London) for a brand of fluorescent paint.
seven-up: children's game, 1830; with capital initials, as the prop. name of a brand of carbonated drink, it is attested from 1928.
Olivetti: name of a brand of typewriters manufactured by a company in Turin, 1949; currently the only manufacturer of manual typewriters.
Zippo: proprietary name of a brand of cigarette lighter, patented 1934 by Zippo Manufacturing Co., Bradford, Pa.
Methedrine: 1939, proprietary name of a brand of methamphetamine (by Wellcome Ltd.); slang abbreviation meth is attested from 1967.
Bacardi: 1921, name for a brand of West Indian rum produced by Compania Ron Bacardi, originally of Cuba.
maverick: 1867, "calf or yearling found without an owner's brand," in allusion to Samuel A. Maverick (1803-1870), Texas cattle owner who was negligent in branding his calves. Sense of "individualist, unconventional person" is first recorded 1886, via notion of "masterless."
OxyContin: brand name of an oxycodone compound marketed in U.S. from 1996. Second element from continuous (i.e. "time-released").
Kleenex: 1925, proprietary name, reg. by Cellucotton Products Company, Neenah, Wisconsin, U.S.; later Kimberly-Clark Corp. An arbitrary alteration of clean + brand-name suffix -ex.
firebrand: probably late 13c., from fire + brand. Figurative sense of "one who kindles mischief or passions" is from late 14c.
generic: 1676, "belonging to a large group of objects," formed in Eng. from L. gener-, stem of genus "kind" (see genus). Sense of "not special, not brand-name," of groceries, etc., is from 1977.
Kodak: brand of camera, arbitrary coinage by U.S. inventor George Eastman (1854-1932), U.S. trademark reg. Sept. 4, 1888. In 1890s, practically synonymous with camera. Kodachrome, reg. trademark for a method of color photography, 1915.
Gitano: "gypsy," 1834, from Sp., from V.L. *Ægyptanus "Egyptian." The fem. is gitana. The Fr. form of the fem., gitane, was used as the name of a brand of cigarettes (1933) and has come to be used for Fr. cigarettes generally.
mark (1): "trace, impression," O.E. mearc (W.Saxon), merc (Mercian) "boundary, sign, limit, mark," from P.Gmc. *marko (cf. O.N. merki "boundary, sign," mörk "forest," which often marked a frontier; O.Fris. merke, Goth. marka "boundary, frontier," Du. merk "mark, brand," Ger. Mark "boundary, boundary land"), from PIE *mereg- "edge, boundary" (cf. L. margo "margin," O.Ir. mruig "borderland"). The primary sense is probably "boundary," which had evolved by O.E. through "sign of a boundary," "sign in general," "impression or trace forming a sign." Meaning "any visible trace or impression" first recorded c.1200. Sense of "line drawn to indicate starting point of a race" (e.g. on your marks ...) first attested 1887. The M.E. sense of "target" (c.1200) is the notion in marksman and slang sense "victim of a swindle" (1883). The notion of "sign, token" is behind the meaning "numerical award given by a teacher" (1829). The verb is O.E. mearcian (W.Saxon), merciga (Anglian) "to trace out boundaries," from P.Gmc. *markojanan. Both noun and verb influenced by Scandinavian cognates. Mark time (1833) is from military drill.

this post has been my first real experience with automatic writing.

i had hoped that one of last night's waking dreams might find its way here. as myself, i stood before a flat, 2-dimensional cut out of charleton heston, who had a large and clunky speaker in his bellybutton.

and the bellybutton said: "It's people.
Soylent Green is made out of people. They're making our food out of people. Next thing they'll be breeding us like cattle for food. You've gotta tell them. You've gotta tell them!"

kinda, in a way? god spoke to me? well, heston did. he was moses. also an astronaut in planet of the apes. george taylor. that's gotta count for sumpthin'.

i needs me a sammich.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Haddock Corporation's newest dictate: Anonymous comments are no longer allowed. It is easy enough to register and just takes a moment. We look forward to hearing from you non-bots and non-spammers!