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HIPPIES - post war "baby boom generation"
PostWysłany: 23 Cze 2009 4:41

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post war "baby boom generation"

The post war "baby boom generation" was something of an anomaly both to parents and to the children they would eventually raise. Growing up amid the contradictory conditions of prosperity and paranoia that prevailed during the 1950s, as they grew into adults this young generation tired of abundance and yearned for a more "authentic" life. Their quest initiated outlandish fashions and tastes, broke taboos, and, together with an eager television and music business, monopolized the culture industry, saturating public discourse with hedonistic and sentimental idioms. With the objective of a new classless society of sincerity and trust, some of these young people adopted the term "hip" from beatnik slang and donned the flowery, flamboyant posture of "hippies."

By the mid-1960s, hippies began to appear in high schools, colleges, and enclaves around the country. Their unique combination of hedonism and morality depended on the spin they placed on the "generation gap" that separated them from their elders: in high moral gear, hippies projected every conceivable social and ethical defect of society onto their parents--the generation who, having survived depression and war, clung to middle-class prosperity and values like drowning sailors to a life vest. From the perspective of the young, this "materialism" was evidence of the bleak life of "straight" society, and of the moral bankruptcy that spawned war, environmental damage, racism, and sexual persecution.

Starting around 1964 and increasing steadily into the early 1970s, hippies began gathering in lower income, inner city neighborhoods (the same areas their parents had worked so hard to escape) such as New York's East Village and, particularly, San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, and later formed communes and settlements in the countryside. Largely white, middle class, and educated, hippies whipped up their own philosophy of natural living, easy sexual and social relations, sincerity, and hedonism through a blend of Eastern mysticism, left-wing social critique, and Beatnik appropriations of African-American slang. To the hippies, "squares" were "uptight," out of touch with their feelings and with each other, and it was this isolation from human feeling which had made them such aggressive, authoritarian, and often brutal people. The hippie lifestyle, on the other hand, was not only more fun, it was morally superior.

Drugs played a special part in this hedonistic moral rebirth. By "blowing one's mind," drugs allowed one to see through the fake values of middle-class materialism and into the profound layers of one's innermost being. The hippie political outlook was just as fanciful. Hippies imagined the older generation working together in a massive authoritarian conspiracy called "the Establishment," or "the Man." They believed the main objective of the recognized social order was to restrain and control the innocent love of life, nature, and happiness that defined hippie life. The Vietnam war provided a ready target for hippie opposition and rebellion: the words "peace" and "love" became symbolically loaded terms, lumping together a call for military withdrawal from Vietnam, an attitude of mutual acceptance and trust between people, and a sense of personal awareness and happiness. The famous photograph of a hippie protester inserting flowers into the rifle barrels of a line of National Guard troops demonstrates the unique style of hippie morality, which connected personal feeling with political intent.

It is possible to bracket a viable and active hippie counter culture between the years 1965 and 1973. Over this period, a few important dates stand out: in 1966, the Beatles, having already made long hair an important emblem of youth culture, released Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, rock's first concept album. The jacket featured the band in lavish, mock Napoleonic military garb, a look that coined much early hippie camp and whimsy. One song in particular, "A Day in the Life," crystallized the hallucinatory drug-induced sense of the absurd which was to become known as "psychedelic." The song wove together two quite different sounds; one, sung by Paul McCartney, took an everyday, commonsensical tone, "woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. . .," while the other, sung by John Lennon, interrupted McCartney's narrative to coo dreamily, "Ahhhhhhh. . .I'd love to turn. . .you. . .on. ..." The song seemed to split reality into two, the mundane and the fantastic, the square and the hip. And, along with another track on the record, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," Sergeant Pepper was thought to advocate psychedelic drug use as the necessary bridge from the drab world of old straights to the lush and expressive world of the young and the free.

In 1967, the Monterey Pop Festival provided the first in a series of major outdoor rock concerts, and in 1969, the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival provided the movement's thrilling climax. Hundreds of thousands of hippies clogged the region around the concert trying to get in, and, after airlifts of food, water, and flowers from state troopers, the event subsided without incident, a testimony to the solidarity and mutual goodwill of a counterculture guided by feelings of love and peace. However, over time, the climate of the counterculture changed: hippie urban frolicking turned into serious homelessness and poverty, and the drug culture grew into an organized and dangerous underworld. Petty criminals, drifters, and profiteers overran many of the hippie hangouts and communes. The Manson murders and a violent outbreak of violence and murder at a concert at Altamont, California, in 1969 brought to the fore a growing tension within hippie culture between middle class and idealistic hippies and a growing criminal drug culture with no idealistic pretensions to speak of.

Bibliography for: " Hippies "

Sam Binkley " Hippies ". St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture. 22 Jun, 2009. [link widoczny dla zalogowanych]

[link widoczny dla zalogowanych]


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