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New York Daily Photo: Summer of Drugs
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Saturday, 1 September 2007

Summer of Drugs

This year is the 40th anniversary of the Be-In and Summer of Love which was centered in San Francisco in 1967. Yesterday's event, Be-In Central Park, was held from 2 - 7:30 PM at the Bandshell, and sponsored by the Yippie Museum (click here for previous post). This is the second commemoration of the Be-In in NYC this year (click here for the previous event in Washington Square Park). Live bands were present. I arrived at 6:45 PM to the last band and a very small group - I hope the turnout was better midday. I found the situation quite sad and depressing. Many of the participants appeared to be hippies, burnouts, drug addicts, marginalized, counter-cultural or political activists. I don't think this motley, unkempt group are very good role models for the future. When it comes to advocacy (one recalls Timothy Leary's "turn on, tune in, and drop out") I think it is reasonable to judge the message by its messenger(s) and in this case, regardless of how one defines success, I think the drug message has to be called into question. Although good things did spring from movements of the 1960s, drugs turned out to be an extremely destructive path and those who continued to embrace them either paid for it with their lives or are seriously damaged and disadvantaged by their continued use. Drugs were a large component of the hippie movement and the original Be-In (some say it really was the summer of drugs). Underground chemist Owsley Stanley produced and provided massive amounts of his White Lightning LSD specially for the 1967 event. Many of the icons of this generation died from drug related causes, musicians and non-musicians - Jimi Hendrix, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, et al. I think David Crosby's comment is quite apropos: "Our generation was right about civil rights; we were right about Vietnam; we were right about poverty. Unfortunately, we were wrong about drugs." ...


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