Fifty Years Ago (Tomorrow)

Tomorrow (Saturday Jan 14 2017) will be the 50th anniversary of the Human Be-In ("A Gathering of the Tribes") in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, which sort of inaugurated the "Summer of Love" and featured the likes of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company (including Janis Joplin), Quicksilver Messenger Service, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsburg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gary Snyder (friends of my wife’s parents when they were all living in San Francisco in the 50s), Michael McClure (he and his wife used to babysit my sister-in-law), Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass), Dick Gregory, Yippie! Jerry Rubin, the Hell's Angels, legendary LSD pioneer/entrepreneur Owsley Stanley (he donated thousands of acid tabs and turkey sandwiches), and a crowd estimated between 20,000 and 30,000. If you weren't on the planet yet or were barely sentient at the time (I'm looking at you, Miho Kato Tyszka---and Matthew and Hana as well), it's a sliver of American cultural history worth studying a bit (see links below) and reflecting upon this weekend.

And if anyone happens to be in the Bay Area this weekend, of course there is going to be a commemoration/celebration of the anniversary ("A Rededication to the Values of the 1960s – Peace, Love, Community & Activism"). It won't be in Golden Gate Park, and it won't have all the cool people onstage from 1967 (his name isn't on the official program but I've heard that Michael McClure will be there, which would be a neat tie to the past), and it isn't free (but costs only $20), and it surely won't have 20,000 to 30,000 attendees, but it will have Wavy Gravy as the Master of Ceremonies and resident clown (he of "What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000 people" fame at Woodstock in 1969; he lives in Berkeley where I see him occasionally at my neighborhood bank branch, and his SEVA Foundation offices are around the corner from my favorite breakfast joint on Fourth Street); Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow (now almost equally well known as a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation); video messages from Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Michelle Phillips, Dr Jane Goodall, and others; and a first-and-last-ever performance by the 1960s Allstar Band consisting of members of iconic San Francisco rock bands including Big Brother and the Holding Company, Country Joe and the Fish, The Blues Project, Sons of Champlin, Electric Flag, and The Youngbloods.

We'll be in San Francisco tomorrow but will be commemorating and celebrating the occasion with lunch, a movie, and some shopping instead. We’re old now.