the 60s (50)

The ’60s…

Catalysts for Change When the baby boom generation grew up, many of them rejected material success and its accompanying conformity, and sought other avenues in life and means of expression.

It’s hard to believe, but all the following ideas, concepts, perceptions, movements, arts, practices, discoveries, and acts were going on in the ’60s:

Zen Buddhism, meditation, the Tarot, the Kabbalah,
the I Ching, martial arts, women’s liberation,
gay rights, the sexual revolution, black power,
Native American culture, marijuana and LSD,
political activism, building your own house,
organic gardening and farming, revival of crafts,
alternative energy sources: sun, wind, and water,
organic gardening and farming,
ecological awareness, self-sufficiency,
the Beat poets, the blues and rock ‘n’ roll,
the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan,
Rolling Stone magazine and dozens of new
underground newspapers, dolphin consciousness,
viewing the earth from space,
The Whole Earth Catalog,
planetary consciousness, whole systems,
the West Coast publishing revolution,
the first desktop computers, domes,
long hair, new styles of dressing,
the Human Be‑In, the Monterey Pop Festival…

Note: Many of these things were not so much new, as they were new to this very large group of young people — who had the time and means to study and experiment — and set out on new courses in their lives.

All of these things were part of our world in the ’60s, and carried over into what we did in the ’70s, including building this homestead.

From my almost-just-completed book, The Half-Acre Homestead. (This is kind of a footnote in the appendix describing briefly what happened in the ’60s, because the values and discoveries of those times are reflected in the building of our homestead.)

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Nadine – Chuck Berry

Recorded in 1963, just after Chuck got out of jail. Essence of rock and roll. Johnny Johnson (I would guess) on piano here. Johnny was a big and relatively little-known integral part of Chuck’s success. I saw Johnny in NYC some years ago. I closed my eyes when he was playing and saw shimmering diamonds. And yeah, I was stoned. So?

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Interior of Geodesic Dome, 1969


Fisheye of the interior of a plywood and vinyl geodesic dome built by teenage students at Pacific High School in the Santa Cruz mountains, California, in 1969. The window patterns were great, and made for striking photos, but the domes leaked. I’ve always thought that our work at PHS was in the aesthetic realm, not in the practicality of our designs.

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Martin’s Pod

In the 1969-1970, I ran a dome building program at Pacific High School in the Santa Cruz mountains (above Saratoga). The school had 40 acres and the kids built their own domes to live in. It was pretty wild, and we did have some good moments before it all fell apart in a few years — teenagers away from home for the first time in a drug-rich environment.

Martin Bartlett was the music teacher and he built the only non-geodesic dome for himself. It was constructed by standing sheets of ¼″ plywood on end, trimmed on the upper edges so they could be pulled over and joined at the top. Martin then covered it with cedar shingles, installing a circular plexiglas skylight in the center. The design was by Bob McElroy, who had built one in Big Sur.

The school — teenagers building their own homes — resonated with the press in those days. Life magazine came and took photos, and Time published an article on us. I’m working on and off on a book on the ’60s and it will include the Pacific High School story.

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The Ace of Cups!

I somehow missed them back in the day. They were the “girl group” among the ’60s San Francisco bands. Their show at Sweetwater in Mill Valley on Thursday was awesome. Their new double CD album is a killer, impeccably produced, and with Taj Mahal, Bob Weir, Charlie Musselwhite, Jack Casady, David Grisman, and Jorma K. sitting in. Peter Coyote sings a great lead on one song. They write just about all their songs.

They never got their due recognition back in the ’60s, but listening to this brings me back to the Avalon, the Monterey Pop Festival, the wonderful feeling in San Francisco in the ’60s (before “The Summer of Love”).

There are kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll songs, beautiful ballads, Taj sings a short riff, “I don’t do what I outta, I just do what I do” (sounds about right), then the band kicks into a shit-kickin’ “On the Road,” with banjo and soaring fiddle.

It’s interesting that all the other SF groups — The Jefferson Airplane, the Dead, Quicksilver, Big Brother, Moby Grape, etc. — are long gone, and the girls have come rocketing back. If you were there then, trust me — you’ll love this album. (Order it from them and bypass Amazon.)

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Paul Krassner on the ’60s

It was sex, drugs and rock and roll, and those were all fun. But at the core of the counterculture was a spiritual revolution, in a sense of leaving the Western religions of control, and exploring the Eastern disciplines of liberation. There was meditation. There were workshops in advanced breathing.

The counterculture represented a certain economic threat, because here were several people sharing a car, or not getting insurance, but taking care of each other, making their own clothes, using less electricity, making candles.

The Justice Department was trying to infiltrate communes. I spoke to a friend of an ex-FBI guy who said they had the FBI hippie squad. And they had to learn how to roll joints, the better to infiltrate with. Originally, the CIA intended LSD to be used as a means of control, but all these young people deprogrammed themselves from the mainstream culture, and then reprogrammed themselves with a more humane value system.

All the people I know from that time have, whatever their profession, they brought that same sense of idealism and compassion with them. Socrates said, “Know thyself”, then Norman Mailer, said “Be thyself” and the unspoken mantra of the counterculture was “Change thyself.” And the psychedelics — but not necessarily them, it could’ve been meditation or Zen or whatever — served as vehicles for people to change themselves. And that included protesting against the war, which meant that the CIA’s plan had backfired.

The full interview is available here.

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