1967 was the beginning of the end of the grass roots movement

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That was the year, after the Summer of Love, when the agencies got serious about getting control... more serious than just killing Paul. That's when they started putting together the mechanisms for killing more, sending in sleazy provocateurs, doing their best to discredit us. That template has been used many times since.

Since '63 or so, I'd seen my friends' older brothers growing their hair and dressing much more carelessly, in real fabrics, preferably faded. They started having things like leather thongs tied around their necks and wrists... maybe with beads... just generally much more arty-looking and mellow. We'd been listening to Bob Dylan for a long time and we knew all about the Beatles before they finally showed up in the United States for the first time.

In the winter of '64 four of my classmates had grown their hair sufficiently long to form their own rock band. The Consolidated Raspberry Smashers. Always played straight two-hour sets, tuning up to mangle that top 1964 hit, "House of the Rising Sun"... once in a while actually playing part of it... but the singing kept having to be switched from man to man because their voices were changing and they just never could quite pull it together to get from one end of that song to the other without something badly breaking down.

But it wasn't until 1965 when it was put to me, bluntly, by my all-knowing friend Janet, whose older brother was the hippest guy in Sleepy Hollow, that marijuana was involved, that it wasn't the addictive poison it was made out to be. This was 100% news to me because I had NO idea what it was, let alone that it was held as dangerous or leading to debauch and harder drugs... none of that. So, when shortly thereafter Janet told me about LSD, I wasn't so gobsmacked.

I didn't run off and start doing any of these things, but I did run off to various antiwar gatherings with Janet and her hip big brother and parents on a regular basis. The rest of the world might not have known about it, but the Bay Area, not just Berkeley, was brimming with antiwar and free speech and civil rights activism in 1965 and I was part of it. No, not allowed to go to Berkeley or San Francisco until later, but anything in Marin was okay and a LOT of those demonstrations had soundtracks provided by live bands. Big ones.

You get to know these people and the people they know. You become part of the scene.

So, by the time it was 1967, the year so many liars and rubes think was the start of it all, I was an old hand at the antiwar, etc, movement... and all manner of hippies of every age and proclivity... and many already famous and semi-famous musicians... had met Janis Joplin and gone to see her at the Fillmore West... giving her the peace symbol I'd fashioned that day in school out of copper wire and she thanked me, by name, from the stage.

That was also the year I started hanging out at The Third Rail, a nightclub for teenyboppers in the basement of the First Presbyterian Church in San Anselmo. Most nights it was just recorded music and soda pop to keep the wayward off the streets, somewhere hip and supervised, but at least one weekend night and often two, there were live bands... and not dumb ones either... the CRS having disbanded, thank goodness, the year before.

Sometimes this action moved across the street to the basketball courts at the seminary for bigger draws... Butterfield Blues Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Sons of Champlain, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead.... Then there were rock clubs all over Marin and San Francisco, beside the HUGE concerts that went on over at the Oakland Stadium and Coliseum, all of which I regularly attended with my older boyfriend and many of them from backstage.

So, Clare, if you are reading this, are you getting the picture here? I was [am] a hippie, and I knew a lot of the people McGowan made up bullshit stories about. I heard them bitching about having to go to LA... in person... in the same room. I know one who took one look and never played again, except at Christmas for a few friends at private parties. More beautiful songs you will never hear.

Northern Californians have never liked Southern California, least of all LA... even the people who come here from elsewhere, mostly, won't go there except if their livelihood depends on it, and only for so long as they have to, before they shoot back north to recover from it. And this was as true in 1963 as it was in 1967... and still is.

All that blather about there being no musical reason to congregate in LA, in Laurel Canyon, is horse shit. The Sunset Strip was crusted with clubs and the whole town of LA was full of record labels. If you didn't read my response about how a few minutes googling would prove this spurious, just look at the Wikipedia entry for the Doors... NOT to get more conspiratorial about Jim Morrison, but to see how many clubs and labels it lists... just a few of the many... in full swing by the time McGowan posits a psy-op brewing in the canyon.

In fact, the Doors wouldn't have gotten famous if they didn't come to the Bay Area BEFORE all that nonsense in the canyon. Hippie music was thriving in London and San Francisco, but record deals were in London and LOS ANGELES. Musicians HAD to go down there or not get contracts.

LA had no hippie scene until long after it was a going concern up north. The psychopaths didn't taint the kids with drugs and sleazy hygiene until they got enough systems in place to pull it off. The LA hippie scene may have started in 1967, but that was long after it had started, grassroots — no movies, no headliner death cults, and no hype — in the Bay Area. What McGowan was looking at was a natural congregation of musicians who had to be there to get contracts and, some of them, to record, and some to try to hook up with a band. I'm sure he found evidence of agency types trying to inject their poison, but the majority of the people he mentions were already famous, already formed, bands who'd performed all over the Bay Area for years by 1967.

They were NOT no-talent kids of feds the psychopaths styled to look degenerate and turned famous to debauch America's youth, but they were the ones who got worked on and threatened and compromised and harassed... to no avail.

The psychopaths didn't create the scene, and they didn't neutralize us with drugs. If they'd been trying to use psychedelics to coƶpt us, they failed. Spectacularly. The violence and the sleaze didn't work either, except on those already disposed to stay mainstream. What worked was a sudden flood of high paying jobs and disco music blasting from every radio station, the sudden appearance of cocaine and discotheques on every street corner. That was calculated. That, finally, worked.

Still, it didn't work on everyone and they used different means to nullify different groups, but NO WAY was half of McGowan's theorizing true, and psychedelics had NOTHING to do with it. The truth is bad enough. We DON'T need to make it more despicable, more prurient. If you want to get a better idea about what it was really like, listen to Mae Brussell... memorize her.

always and any time....