Rethinking the Summer of Love
My latest SFGate column reexamines the social and political legacy of the "Summer of Love" and delves into my own connection to the flower power generation (here's a hint: it's all in the name):
This summer marks the 40th anniversary of the so-called Summer of Love, that mythical three months in 1967 in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood when visions of peace, love and harmony -- aided by bountiful quantities of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll -- reigned supreme.Continue reading "Rethinking the Summer of Love"
The Summer of Love has since become legend-- an expression of countercultural revolution, particularly in the minds of those recollecting the glory days of their youth. However inaccurately, this three-month period encompassing a tiny fraction of the population and an eight-block stretch has become a symbol for the entire decade.
Among '60s disciples, it's an article of faith that everything that came out of that summer was a boon to American society. This has certainly been the impression conveyed through popular culture. Rarely are the more pernicious
offshoots of the social and political experiment known as the Summer of Love referenced in the glowing and groovy portrayals seen on PBS and the History Channel.
But in its haste to dispense with all tradition that came before, the Summer of Love generation threw out much of the good along with the bad. The attempt to live in a manner that is essentially unsustainable led to a proliferation of divorce, drug use, promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, and all the perils and problems associated therewith. Too many people left their families, became addicts, and in some cases, lost their lives.
When all social boundaries are tossed aside and self-fulfillment becomes one's raison d'etre, society breaks down and, with it, all sense of morality. Seen in this light, the Summer of Love starts to seem more like the Summer of Folly.
Update: Quite a few readers have pointed out a Ted Nugent article at OpinionJournal.com on what he terms "The Summer of Drugs." While I take a more libertarian approach to illegal drug use, like other vices, I'm loathe to see it elevated to the mainstream. Or, as in the case of "Summer of Love" nostalgia, romanticized needlessly. It is what it is.