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It was easy to see that the young men who were hippies on Haight Street wore beards and long hair and sometimes earrings and weird-o granny eye-glasses, that they were barefoot or in sandals, and that they were generally dirty. The script was “psychedelic.” That is to say, it was characterized by flourishes, spirals, and curlicues in camouflaged tones—blues against purples, pinks against reds—as if the hippie behind the message weren’t really sure he wanted to say what he was saying.

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The 19th Century Was A Mistake The 20th Century Is A Disaster. When hippies first came to San Francisco they were an isolated minority, mistrustful, turned inward by drugs, lacking acquaintance beyond themselves.

Even in arrest they found approval from their parents, who had taught them in years of civil rights and resistance to the war in Vietnam that authority was often questionable, sometimes despicable. But they were spirited enough after all, to have fled from home, to have endured the discomforts of a cramped existence along Haight Street, proud enough to have endured the insults of the police, and alert enough to have identified the major calamities of their age.

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One branch of their philosophy was Oriental concentration and meditation; now it often focused upon the question “How to kick” (drugs). Hippies wore brilliant Mexican chalecos, Oriental robes, and red-Indian headdress. Once the visual scene was ignored, almost the first point of interest about the hippies was that they were middle-class American children to the bone.

The ennobling idea of the hippies, forgotten or lost in the visual scene, diverted by chemistry, was their plan for community. To citizens inclined to alarm this was the thing most maddening, that these were not Negroes disaffected by color or immigrants by strangeness but boys and girls with white skins from the right side of the economy in all-American cities and towns from Honolulu to Baltimore.

I asked the hippie at the counter why it was there, but she didn’t trust herself to try. It was easy to see that the young women who were hippies were draped, not dressed; that they, too, were dirty from toe to head; that they looked unwell, pale, sallow, hair hung down in strings unwashed.

Or they wore jeans, men’s T-shirts over brassieres. Girls who might have been in fashion were panhandling.

The Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco is not the only place where hippies have congregated for their “summer of love,” but it is certainly the biggest, floweriest, and most psychedelic.

Journalists have skated the surface of hippie goings-on, but for real insight about the participants and their not altogether relaxed hosts, The hippie “scene” on Haight Street in San Francisco was so very visual that photographers came from everywhere to shoot it, reporters came from everywhere to write it up with speed, and oportunists came from everywhere to exploit its drug addiction, its sexual possibility, and its political or social ferment.

But it was also my suspicion that hippies would speak when they could; meanwhile, their muteness suggested doubt.

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