Summer Of Love Revisited

To everything, turn, turn, turn.
There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to gain, a time to lose.
A time to rend, a time to sow.
A time for love, a time for hate.
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.

The Byrds 1965

In 1967, San Francisco celebrated the Summer of Love, a “renaissance of compassion, awareness, and love, and the revelation of unity for all mankind.” (San Francisco Oracle). Peace loving teenagers flocked to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood to mellow out on free love and illicit drugs. The Fillmore Auditorium brought psychedelic rock to the forefront as bands such as Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead inspired a new generation of non-violent, hippie awareness. Thousands flocked to Golden Gate Park to receive free food, medical treatment, and basic necessities for anyone that needed them.

As I drive along the groovily named Brotherhood Way, I wonder why that spirit of peaceful optimism in 1967 no longer seems possible in S.F. today. The evidence is clear. For one, this metropolitan area notably suffers from the second worst traffic congestion of urban areas in the U.S. today. As I slow to a stop in an angry sea of horn honking gridlock now, traffic congestion tests my patience as I travel into the downtown. It is also noteworthy that a significant portion of the city’s population is considered officially homeless. I ponder the inhumanity of watching destitute people having little success in securing shelter from the cold. With S.F. having a liberal reputation  in favor of equal rights for same sex  relationships, it makes little sense to me why so many  “Elect Trump” signs are displayed near prominent street intersection in adjoining suburbs. Finally, as it has been documented that a high % of the city’s population relocates to S.F. from other countries, I become aghast of reports that white supremacists and Neo-Nazi followers have been reported recently to be perpetrating violent actions against such newcomers  in nearby Sacramento.

For a downtown of such exquisite beauty, I wonder why the white population is migrating in historic numbers to outlying communities.  As I elect to board the BART Rapid Transit system to escape traffic gridlock to downtown, I wonder why there are so few Caucasian faces that join me today in this time convenient journey. With the average cost of ownership housing in S.F. rising rapidly, I question how the American Dream of owning a home is possible for the vast majority of working families in this city.

I conclude my visit to the “city by the bay” to gaze in awe at the welcoming image of the Golden Gate Bridge. For many  newcomers , this international gateway  symbolizes a spark of hope that  human dignity and equal opportunity will take place  for all  Turning my attention to the right now, the stark isolation of Alcatraz Island stands in the distance, to remind me that there should be severe consequences for those who contrastingly show bigotry and hatred toward mankind. In a tumultuous election year, perhaps San Francisco can lead America to re-embrace that mellow groove time when a generation came together as one in the Summer of Love of 1967.

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4 thoughts on “Summer Of Love Revisited

  1. Wow! Your blog on leaving San Fransisco was rather disheartening. It is hard to equate Trump signs and traffic jams with the glorious City by the Bay that I fondly remember. My time living in Santa Rosa and spending weekends traveling over the Golden Gate Bridge to explore shops and restaurants, see plays in that amazing city started in January of 1971, right after graduating college. It was indeed a very different place back then. I also can’t help but think back on the old Clark Gable movie made in 1936 called San Francisco. I remember watching it as a child on TV and seeing the great fire that destroyed much of the city and how it was rebuilt while the symbol of hope persevered on the faces of the survivors. Every time I would travel over the bridge and look through the fog I would see images of the smiling faces of Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Janette McDonald mixed in with the then current day peace signs and long haired hippies of the present. I always felt that progressive change engulfed me whenever I entered those uphill city streets. How sad to think that now it is a congested city with bigotry brimming up through the fog. That is truly a sad state of affairs.

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  2. I’ve never been to ‘Frisco, but heard lots about it during the “hippie” days. I did want to join with those easy-going crowds but as a farm kid and studies to take care of, had more pressing things to do. In retrospect I’m glad I did not participate in that false renewal to experience the subsequent massive disappointment. What is happening there now is the micro of the macro for western society. Every successful civilization has its time and this one’s time is fast ending. Nothing can reverse that. Perhaps had the “hippie revolution” of the sixties taken root and not been undermined by drugs and false hope, the downfall could have been indefinitely postponed, but that hope is gone and will not come back. Buckle up for a rough ride into complete social chaos, America and Europe. Your days in the sun, mostly at the expense of the rest of the planet and its environment, are done and you’ve made so sure you would not have a care home to go to in your dying days.

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