Counterculture

“Beyond a haze of yellow flowers, the Beatles and their womenfolk (above, from left, Paul and his girl friend, John, George, Ringo and their wives) struck a lightly brooding pose with their new guru— Indian mystic Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.” — Life, 8 September 1967.

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The 1960s were an awfully turbulent time.

Pictures:

1. First man on the moon.

2. Vietnamese children running from the site of a napalm attack.

3. MLK in the march from Selma to Montgomery.

4. The self immolation of a Buddhist monk in protest of governmental anti-buddhist policies in South Vietnam.

5. Flowers are placed on the bayonets at an anti-war protest, otherwise known as “flower power”.

6. Woodstock music festival, attended by an estimated half million people.

7. The Beatles

8. Marilyn Monroe, who died August 5th, 1962.

9. President John F. Kennedy.

10. Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in to office after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

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RALPH STEADMAN

Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run … but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant .…

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket … booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) … but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that ….

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda … You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning .…

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave .…

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

The people who seem to be most genuinely alien to older generations aren’t the ‘edgelords’ picking up the dusty banner of the '70s punk swastika. They’re the much-derided “special snowflakes” that have college professors and pundits doomsaying about the rising threat of trigger warnings and safe spaces. They’re the aggressively cute proponents of 'cybertwee,’ the soft and socially aware reaction to three decades of increasingly tired '80s chrome-and-circuits loners. We’ve had several decades of young men trying to replicate a 20th century ideal of rebellion, but the strangest and most extreme thing that a group can be right now is radically, intensely dedicated to emotional intelligence and the notion of inclusivity.
The hippie movement that swept through the Western world was like a galloping horse in the wild. A few dozen people were able to ride it for a while, some even steering it for a brief period, but no one–no philosopher, no spiritual figure, no dope dealer, no songwriter or artist, and certainly no political leader–ever controlled it.
—  Danny Goldberg, In Search of the Lost Chord: 1967 and the Hippie Idea

The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
(Parlophone PMC 7027)
Released: 1 June 1967
Chart Position: #1

Side A: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” • “With a Little Help from My Friends” • “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” • “Getting Better” • “Fixing a Hole” • “She’s Leaving Home” • “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”
Side B: "Within You Without You" • “When I’m Sixty-Four” • “Lovely Rita” • "Good Morning Good Morning" • “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” •  "A Day in the Life"

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The yippie movement (youth international party)
Was a leftist political movement founded in the late 60s (1967)
They are an offshoot of the freespeech/anti-war movements of the 60s.
The group was well known for its theatrical prank like direct action, with such stunts as advocating to nominate a literal pig (pigasus) for president in the 1968 elections.
They have been described as highly theatrical anti authoritarian anarchists.
The yippies called for the creation of alternative, counterculture institutions such as food co-ops, underground newspapers, free clinics, etc.
Yippies believed these cooperative institutions and a radicalized hippie culture would spread until they supplanted the existing system.

A statement from the yippies advocating a new nation said,
“We are a people. We are a new nation. We want everyone to control their own life and to care for one another… We cannot tolerate attitudes, institutions, and machines whose purpose is the destruction of life, the accumulation of profit.”