The 30th Anniversary Of The
Human Be-In (And Summer Of Love)
October 12, 1997
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco

Photo Gallery 1

I went to the Summer of Love celebration to see if I could bring back a testimonial to the persistence of the counterculture these past three decades. The pictures I was looking for were not of celebrities — were not of what was happening on the stage. What I wanted to see was how we're all doing — after so many turns in the road, all of us who made it this far, who made their way back to the 'source'. What a beautiful day it was. One of those glorious October San Francisco days bestowed itself on the 30th gathering of the tribes in Golden Gate Park. I kept realizing throughout the day that so many of the elements from that first Be-In of 1967 were reflected in this event. I was especially looking for any Digger elements, and I found a true Free Feed. The itinerant People's Kitchen was serving non-stop meals, with gourmet java on the side, out of their reconditioned RV parked in the Bus Caravan by the beach. I think these photos more than anything that can be written are proof that the counterculture is strong and growing, in contradistinction to those who would declare that it died an early death in 1972 or thereabouts.

As for the stage, not to ignore the efforts of those who helped focus the energy, there were apparently dozens of volunteers who worked selflessly to create the event. They have a Web page: www.summeroflove.org, and we truly appreciate their energy. Of the few people I recognized — Chet and Wavy kept the behind-the-scenes cooking, Peter Berg was up for a fiery appraisal, Diane DiPrima and Michael McClure gave inspired readings, and Cecil Williams got everyone to join hands and hearts to give peace a chance. The Charlatans were back together. The Starship had the place rocking. &tc. Who would've thought Jello Biafra in the role of Father Ginsberg? One helluva day. I kept thinking about all those who now are gone. But the kids (15-16 yr olds in abundance looking like the teenie boppers, and 18-25 yr olds looking like the wizened communards, we once were) — the kids knew what was happening. It felt very good to know that there's another generation coming along. The Beat goes on — what goes 'round comes 'round.

I will add any other memorances that anyone would care to send for the archives.

Update (10/27/97): E-mail brought a most pleasant surprise, a couple of pictures from the Morningstar folks who made their way to the Celebration. I've put these onto a separate page, called "Morningstar At The 30th."

[Photos 1] [Photos 2] [Photos3] [Photos 4] [Photos 5] [Photos 6] [M*30th]

There was so much color, everywhere. I won't ever be able to look at a black and white photo from 1967 and not think of the color that was missing. I kept noticing all the trips people had going, once outside the zone of the main stage. Here, a group of women were doing body painting. The Diggers had a phrase that represented the idea of a creative anarchy: "Do your own thing" which kept ringing in my ears all day.

 

Everywhere I looked, there were archetypes from my hippie past. This trio reminded me of a Wes Wilson poster, looking like the Magi stopping for momentary rest on some spiritual quest.

   

Just as in 1967, the Krishnas were giving out prasadam and collecting donations.

   

The true Digger spirit was alive and well. If you squint, can you imagine the original Page Street free store and the Panhandle feeds? This group has been traveling the country for seven years, pulling into inner city neighborhoods where they set up their free People's Kitchen. Floppy explained how they scrounge "perfectly good fruits and vegetables" from cast-off Produce Market bins. (As if I were completely ignorant of such knowledge.)

   

The bus in this photo is named after the original hippie bus, Furthur, which Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters drove as they toured the country in 1964, and which Tom Wolfe made famous in his classic tale, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

   

A couple dozen converted school buses, RV's, and vans stretched down the parking lot by the beach, looking remarkably like the hippie Bus Caravan that left San Francisco in 1970 under the guidance of Stephen Gaskin, guru of the Monday Night Class. (This weekly hip revival meeting took place at the Family Dog auditorium by the old Playland amusement center, just a few hundred yards from where this photo was shot.) The Caravan returned in 1971 to San Francisco, but soon left to find a permanent settlement, which would become The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee. (I remained in The City to find gainful employment to help pay the balloon mortgage on the Ortiviz communal ranch, and to find a more copacetic environment for a 21-year old gay man.) Stephen's teachings from this period are recorded in The Caravan, along with some great photos of the 60-odd vehicles that we drove cross-country.

Another caravan left San Francisco in 1971. This was the Digger/Free City Caravan, which Peter Coyote wrote about in the chapter published here, Approaching Terminal Velocity.

Stephen Gaskin was even back for the celebration, I heard.