Sunday, June 05, 2016

10. The Flower People by Henry Gross

Picked this up at a stall at the Marché de Nuit here, after flipping through it several times.  It's a series of interviews with people from the the "hippie" movement.  It was written in 1968 and while some may find the cover and the idea something to laugh at today, it's actually a pretty cool historical document.  The author is a bit heavy at first with some of his framing, but the vast majority of the interviews are just the various people speaking and it's really fascinating.  There interview subjects range from a young woman who is doing way too many drugs, a head shop owner who is sympathetic to the scene, but also taking care of himself, a bunch of people from a pretty chill commune in Connecticut and a bitter loner who couldn't fit in. 

What was the most eye-opening to me was how self-aware about the scene itself most people seemed.  I thought that things were still in pretty full bloom in 68, but the people here are all well aware of how many of the "hippies" are just upper middle class kids coming in from the suburbs for the weekend, about how commercial things had become and about how dependent (or derived from) drugs the culture was.  It's sort of depressing to see how little we have learned as a society since then.  One guy, a chemistry professor, talks about how he can't wait for us to properly embrace marijuana and study it so it can be understood and applied properly.  That only took us 50 more years and a devastating "war" on drugs and we are only now starting to figure that out.

A good read, but its seriousness made me want to jump back into my Freak Brothers omnibus!

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