Letter: On hippies, weed and Davos
A few key points about pot, so-called hippies and the real topic that no one is talking about at Davos this week.
The hippie movement died before the Kent State shooting. Haight-Ashbury was a dump by then. By 1974 you needed a shotgun as you slept in your trashed-out apartment. A string was tied to a trigger, and on the other end, to your big toe. If someone walked in, the toe pulled the trigger. Then you asked who was at the door.
For myself, I chased a movement that was dead, but I had Bob Dylan’s spirit for a while. The road between Colorado and Northern California was kind to me. But by the time Stevie Nicks and her sidekick joined Mick Fleetwood, rock was steeped in commercialization as the white folks shoveled snow up their noses. The naive hope of creating a counterculture died a lonely death as the ’60s generation slid into greed and selfishness was immortalized. The reality Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld described was nothing but the truth; the world is a dangerous place, and I shall add a rather shitty one at that. Sept. 11 is a vivid reminder of cruelty and hypocrisy. Another is the Columbine shooting.
When I see a hippie wannabe, I think of a profound comment shared with me: Grateful Dead is no more.
Phish sucks, get a job.
I think today of Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, the quagmire in the Middle East between the Israelis and Palestinians, the lost continent of Africa, Central America (Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua as narco states), and the others in South America who are still having problems exploiting their resources, and providing an infrastructure to promote a qualitative standard of living. (Do I add the U.S. as well?) How sad it all is. And who is to blame?
Easy money, a financial elite eating humanity alive and ongoing structural changes signaling a high probability that an episode emulating the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand is lurking somewhere in the throughs of a suicide bomber. War is different today, but enemies can create misery very easily. The bad men of today — Putin and Assad — are a sad reminder that authoritarian dictatorships can be clever. Kennedy was a master with television. The masters of today have harnessed the wizardly gadgets which only buys time. Think of Egypt or the United States? China? Russia? At the end of 1963, the master himself was televised draped with an American flag.
Who would ever think that after most of the 20th century, the 21st century remains anemic to democratic principles of the French Republic and our Founding Fathers? When will we ever learn? I suppose we’ll keep trying like Llewyn Davis, despite that his struggle, as well as ours, is a losing proposition. But it’s the struggle that counts, and Oscar Wilde is correct that a cynic knows no value.
So, no more hippies. Please. They are delusional. But for those who want to lay back and smoke a joint, you have my blessing. It will help you to forget that even if you’re in a place like the Roaring Fork Valley, it’s all pretty shitty (unless you’re skiing powder). Best to roll one up, put on Dylan or the Byrds (if you’re me). Neil Cassidy is dead; so is Jack Kerouac, Jerry Garcia, Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin and others. Leary is irrelevant. And I wish Peter Green had not gone to Berlin. The Electric Kool-Aid Test did not pass.
California Dreamn’ is no more and, by the way, I prefer French wine, a Parisian baguette and a good cheese.
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Richard Compton’s life will be celebrated in an informal gathering on Oct. 23 from 1-3 p.m. at the Pine Creek Cookhouse. All are welcome.