Summer Of Love aired last night on American Experience, a PBS program that we always find interesting around here. This program was no exception. It chronicled the summer of 1967 when many young people across the country went in droves to join The Hippie Movement in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.
I had read several things about this movement before and so I was amazed that many of the people who participated in this movement still had positive things to say about it. Peter Coyote, who is extensively interviewed in the program, makes the point that The Hippie Movement was not able to end Capitalism and Imperialism as it set out to do, but it did accomplish some good things. His list of good things included, organic food, yoga, and alternative medicine.
Some of those things are good things, but the film footage provided makes it difficult for me to judge the movement in a positive way. Film footage of the Haight-Ashbury area before the Hippies cames shows a lovely and well kept neighborhood that quickly became filthy while they were there.
The Hippies themselves were filthy bringing back diseases that had not been seen since Medival times because they had been cured by soap. Venereal diseases were spreading through the area rampantly.
Art Gerrans, a San Francisco police officer durring that time said, "These people were supportive of the anti-war movement, but on the other hand, back in the Haight-Ashbury, where they were living, their culture there -- having sex with minors and committing statutory rape and using dope and murders -- they were violating the law, so we were arresting them. I guess they were rebelling against authority."
The idea of rebelling against Capitalism in reality turned into living with out working. Subsequently, funds soon ran short for hippies. Young people as young as twelve and thirteen were roaming the streets filthy and starving.
One of the women spoke glowingly of what the hippies called, "the free store" where you could go in and just take what you needed. The problem I saw when they showed film footage of this store, was that no-one would want anything in it. It was all garbage. It made a great summation for me of the whole movement.... You get what you pay for.
If you are interested, the next program will be a co-production with the program Frontline. This program airs April 30th & May 1. It will be a four-hour program called The Mormons. You can also learn more about the Mormons right from the source, here.