Interview With A Hippie
Wishful thinkers thought the hippie movement dried up and blew away. But wrong then, wrong again now.
Missionaries for the hippie movement, like Wavy Gravy, Jackson Browne and surviving members of the Grateful Dead, stayed visible enough, but what about the freaks who put on ties and polished their shoes, blending in with the the silent majority that wanted to pile all the hippies in a burlap sack and dump them in the river? Where are they now, and what’s on their minds?
As it turned out, hippie movement survivors can still be found. They just look different, but their faith hasn’t changed, especially now, seeing how badly the silent majority screwed up American culture.
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The Hippie Interview
Me: Thank you for setting aside time for this interview.
Hippie Today: Still not sure why I agreed. Feels like digging for bones in an abandoned garden.
Not so abandoned. Aren’t there plenty of hippies from the movement still around, just hiding?
Hippie Today: Hiding from what? We destroyed Nixon. W was a hood ornament, and we replaced him with a liberal as president. What’s to hide from? We also made them too chicken to start up a draft again. Didn’t keep them from enjoying their wars, but at least it’s all volunteers. Why hide? We won.
Hippie Today: Sure! The hippie movement infiltrated everything. The Sixties counterculture kept rockin’ in the free world. Where’ve you been, man?
How do you figure you won?
Hippie Today: We gained invisibility. We made you absorb us. You know that chubby little guy who used to be on public television all the time, Andrew Weill, going on and on about natural health and eating habits? Pretty New Age stuff, huh?
PBS puts on a lot of self-help productions, touchy-feely things.
Hippie Today: Why do you suppose that is?
Hippie Today: Hippie movement subversion. Do you realize Weill was right in there with Timothy Leary and Ram Dass, known as Richard Alpert, then, experimenting and promoting drugs and herbs to expand consciousness? He stayed fat, but he grew a beard and went bald. He eventually sold out, though. He helped get his partners kicked out of their professorships. He also lost some weight.
How is Andrew Weill subversive? He may have been crazy in the Sixties, but changed.
Hippie Today: Dave, you’re not paying attention. Common trait, I guess. Helps people become accepted and successful. Anyway, Weill is teaching people to meditate. Friggin’ meditate, man! The establishment doesn’t want people to meditate. People who meditate don’t generally make good shoppers, and if you aren’t a good shopper, you’re not supporting America the Beautiful. It’s even worse than being anti-war. Can you believe all those overweight people wandering in a trance through the malls, buying home decor for houses with more bedrooms than people, mortgaged to the gills? Brings a tear to my eye, it’s so right.
You’re wearing Nikes.
Hippie Today: Camouflage, man. No one bothers a hippie as long as he or she doesn’t get carried away with it. You’ve got to throw them a sop every once in a while, make them think you’re a real American. The silent majority has this comforting fantasy that the hippie movement went away. Who wants to hurt their feelings?
Your opinion of being American seems to be pretty low.
Hippie Today: Seems? Only seems? Jesus, I thought it was a lot more obvious than that.
Hippies at Woodstock Music Festival
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In a nutshell, can you tell me why?
Hippie: In a nutshell, Dave? Are we doing talking points here or memes? We’ve gotten awfully good as a culture at both. We use them to help us miss everything.
Express it any way that suits you.
Hippie Today: I just did.
Hippie Today: Expressed why I don’t think highly of American culture. I guess that would be ‘alleged’ culture. I repeat: We use talking points and memes like plastic bridges to carry us over the top of reality. We miss everything by staying out of the pool. That and the shopping thing. Oh, and the addiction to militarism. Beats education, as far as we Americans are concerned. No serious thinking demanded. Greater entertainment value.
Can you expand on that?
Hippie Today: Well, sure. The general experience of the hippie movement and the Sixties counterculture revolution showed the powerful classes the dangers of raising young people to think independently and to have passions about their egalitarian beliefs, which was what we were all learning then. Sort of weird they went that way. It was a fop’s fantasy. The toffs never really were in favor of that liberté, egalité, fraternité stuff, but they taught it anyway, just like they meant it. Democracy, fairness, civil rights got hatched and protected, except in the mosquito republics, which we should have let go when they wanted it. Women’s rights emerged out of the blue. We’d have been okay too, if we hadn’t also gotten caught up in a more general addiction to freedom, you know, liberty without specific applications to minority rights, just us doing what we believe in and enjoyed.
Sex, drugs and rock and roll?
Hippie Today: The media took up that mantra to, first, sell newspapers and, second, to belittle the spirit of what was happening in the hippie movement. Apart from tactics, though, what they wanted to do was put an end to freedom. They killed a few people first, randomly shooting down unarmed kids at Kent State and Jackson State, before realizing they didn’t have to go so far as killing unarmed young adults. The world is full of followers, many of whom were hippies. All they needed was that carrot on a stick. No rifles required.
So, what was the carrot on a stick?
Hippie Today: Sex, man. Free love was the only counterculture attribute they nurtured. Robert Lowell wrote a great poem in Notebook 1967-68: Poems
I’ll never forget. It was about an experiment with rodents. When the rodents learned to give themselves orgasms by touching an live electric plate, they would return to get shocked again and again, even to the point of starvation in a plethora of food. That was us, of course, humans as rodents, getting our rocks off and letting everything else go.
Some people say that there was no real sexual revolution, but there was just a lot more talk.
Hippie Today: We’re never going to know that for sure, are we? Nobody tells the truth about their sex lives, but the point is that, as long as they could keep our minds on it, it didn’t matter if we were doing it. While we weren’t looking, the conversion continued.
A conversion? Of what to what?
Hippie Today: Of thinking, feeling human beings into consumers and professionals. Professionals, jeezjust the word makes my skin crawl.
You don’t like professionals?
Hippie Today: You didn’t notice it rhymes with soulless? Professionalism has no passions. It’s just following the code in an exquisitely designed way. Those guys will do anything, as long as they do it right. Phew! Look at Wall Street. You can smell the crooks all the way up here. Even professionals can smell bad, morally speaking, if you’re not on the team. I’m not, by the way.
Professionals and consumers?
Hippie Today: Yes. That’s all we have here in America today. It’s all pretty automatic and runs like a top. America the Effective. Nobody thinks. Nobody questions the game anymore, only the game inside the game. Hey, listen, we should do this some more, some other time. We didn’t even get to drugs, music, social modes of behavior, Woodstock, that stuff.
Well, we got to stuff I didn’t expect.
Hippie Today: Hey, I’m in the flow, man. I’m a channel. Get me started, and I’m a spigot.
Hippie Today: Don’t go there, Dave. Very subversive.
Maybe next time..?
Hippie Today: No, not even then.
He put his hat back on and swung his serape around his shoulders.
Hippie Today: Peace, brother.
Schonberg – Hippies
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David Stone, Writer