Woodstock Seen Through A 4 Decade Haze Part 2
Up until the year 1968 LSD was fully legal, and the San Francisco area youth culture of the age was being encouraged to experiment with this dangerous hallucinogenic drug through the media efforts of Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and his radical entourage which called themselves The Merry Pranksters, a rock band specializing in psychedelic music and which called themselves the Grateful Dead, and Owsley, the artist behind Purple Haze and Orange Sunshine as well as a do it yourself chemist.
By the middle of the Sixties, San Francisco had generated an entirely innovative social situation: the Hippies. The Hippies were thoroughly dedicated to group experience, communal living, free love, Eastern philosophy, ultraleftist political views, and various aspects of the occult. They were identified by wildly colored clothing, feathers, beads and hair... tons and tons of long flowing hair. Although the famous Broadway musical can seem just like a theatrical construct to the youth of today, it actually does present a fairly accurate perspective onto the reality of the Hippie Age.
The primary anthem of the Hippie generation was written by Jesse Colin Young when he penned those famous lyrics to "Get Together Right Now". With the viewpoint allowed by a four decade detachment it was obvious that these social styles were significantly detached from Marlon Brando's Wild One or James Dean's Rebel without a Cause. Most Hippies truly did believe that love and peace could be the basis for an entire civilization, and they set about to construct one... albeit for a brief, blissful, and unforgettable time... and fully unsuccessfully to boot.
New York City gravitated towards the Hippie culture approximately a year after San Francisco had established itself as the heart of the Hippie Generation, as a considerable number of Hippies moved into the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, and the East Village to the point where by 1967 Lower Manhattan could easily have been considered as San Francisco East.
Tompkins Square Park, located in the core of the East Village in New York City's Manhattan, became the primary gathering place of the Hippie Nation Eastern Section. In 1967, New York sponsored a concert series in that park which featured a few of the top stars of the movement such as the Grateful Dead and Richie Havens. By the end of the Grateful Dead show which was held on Memorial Day in 1967, the first memorable confrontation occurred between the Hippies and the New York City Police Department.
The hippies were holding an impromptu drum jam, when the NYPD showed up and claiming there was a blockage of traffic and a lack of permitage, ordered the crowd to move along. The melee that ensued put dozens of people on both sides in the hospital and established the long lived rancor between the Hippies and the Pigs (as the police was known).
The confrontations that began in 1967 in Tompkins Square Park led to the huge demonstrations outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago where thousands of Hippies and even innocent bystanders were attacked by the police and injured.