Friday, March 10, 2017
The Death of the Hippies
In 1967, just after the Summer of Love, The Atlantic published “The Flowering of the Hippies,” a profile of San Francisco’s new youth culture.
“Almost the first point of interest about the hippies was that they were middle-class American children to the bone,” the author noted. “To citizens inclined to alarm this was the thing most maddening, that these were not Negroes disaffected by color or immigrants by strangeness but boys and girls with white skins from the right side of the economy ... After regular educations, if only they’d want them, they could commute to fine jobs from the suburbs, and own nice houses with bathrooms, where they could shave and wash up.”
A middle-class boy from the right side of the economy: That was my mother’s cousin Joe Samberg. When they were growing up, she spent every Thanksgiving at his family’s home in the upscale Long Island suburb of Roslyn Heights. His father was a successful businessman who, somewhat incongruously, had far-left sympathies.
Throughout the 1960s, Joe and his four brothers became more and more radical. Two of the Samberg boys eventually went down to Cuba to cut sugar cane for Castro’s revolution.
In 1969, when Joe was 22, he moved out to California.
By then, the Haight-Ashbury scene described in the Atlantic article had mostly migrated across the bay to Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue. Rents were a little cheaper there, and for those who couldn’t pay rent at all, the weather was a little warmer. The college town was also more sympathetic to the long-haired kids who crowded the sidewalks day and night—talking, protesting, kissing, dancing, fighting, and taking lots and lots of drugs.
To keep reading this article, click here.