Victor Moscoso, ‘Incredible Poetry Reading’
The Bay Area’s CBS affiliate, KPIX, aired special reports on the hippie phenomenon in 1967: “The Maze: Haight/Ashbury,” a tour of the burgeoning neighborhood led by Beat poet Michael McClure, and “The Maze: Etched in Acid,” a skeptical look at LSD enthusiasts. The music of the New Salvation Army Banned plays under both. (The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Wildflower were profiled in “The Maze: Liverpool, U.S.A.,” an episode that has yet to turn up on the intertubes.)
What you catch glimpses of, aside from the period-costume detail everyone expects from this time and place—incense sticks, love beads, bad dancing—is the grime of actually existing hippiedom: chainsmoking guys with scabs on their noses and dirt under their fingernails who stole their friends’ records, ate chili dogs and shot A, huddled in stuffy rooms, “rapping.” So this is the vaunted innocence my elders cry over, huh? I’m not ashamed to admit I felt a tug at my heartstrings, too. The street parking on display in these reports made the tears and the snot run down my face, with the upper lip trembling, the lungs breathing all irregular, and the awful shuddering of the bowels. Once, before humankind decided to turn its back on righteousness and wade ass-deep in sin, there truly was free parking on this earth. In San Francisco, even!
The “Haight/Ashbury” report includes a visit to the Grateful Dead’s house at 710 Ashbury. And yes, that’s Courtney Love’s father, Hank Harrison, talking about his work with the LSD Rescue Mission in “Etched in Acid.” I bet his “father of the year” award is so shiny by now you could see John Mayer’s brain in it.
“The Maze: Haight/Ashbury”:
“The Maze: Etched in Acid”: