Sunday, August 17, 2008


Early yesterday morning I saw workers setting up temporary chain link fencing in the west end of Golden Gate Park.

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Fencing within Golden Gate Park is erected for events that require paid tickets. Such events, in my small mind, are antithetical to the idea of public parks, but nobody seems to care any more about that—everyone’s grabbing what’s left.

The area being fenced for a three day rock concert, which includes unprecedented nighttime performances, is a huge part of the park that includes the Polo Field.

Radiohead and Tom Petty seem to be the headliners. For such as they you pay $85.00 per day or $225.00 for all three days

I’m reminded of a previous concert at the Polo Field that included:
The Grateful Dead
Jefferson Airplane
Quicksilver Messenger Service (lead singer Janis Joplin)
Steve Miller Band
Additionally, there were appearances/speeches/readings from:

Dick Gregory
Allen Ginsberg
Timothy Leary

According to Wikipedia, Owsley made a special batch of LSD and distributed it for free at the event, which was billed as “A Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In.”

I didn’t get any of the acid which is probably a good thing. I was only three months past my eighteenth birthday facing enormous pressures regarding the draft, and just beginning to confront my gayness. My senses were already sensitive enough.

The word Be-In has entered our vocabulary without its pun value.

There were maybe twenty or thirty thousand people there, though I recollect that the venue seemed too large for the crowd. It was a brilliant winter day. There weren’t any particular problems.

It was free of charge. There was no temporary chain link fence. No tickets. This was in January 1967, five months before the “Summer of Love,” which began the conversion of hippie into a commodity.

Anyway, I got a mailer recently from Barack stating that a core Democratic value is that we want to give our children more prosperous lives than we had ourselves.
Besides the idiocy of this perpetual-motion idea, we all know that American prosperity reached its peak in the mid 1960’s, when state-college tuition was free and so were the Dead, the Airplane, and QMS (which legendary groups were billed on the above poster simply as “San Francisco Rock Bands”)

No one in this presidential race has uttered the words “human population growth.” Hell, in all the Olympic coverage we’ve heard nothing about China’s one-child policy.

The kind of prosperity experienced by regular Americans in the 1960s is largely an outcome of World War II. Unfortunately, short of the world finding a humane way to control its population, such prosperity will come again only on the other side of a major Malthusian event.

So it doesn’t matter who-the-fuck’s on the Supreme Court.

----- o -----


sfmike said...

I do wish I could violently disagree with you, but unfortunately I'm of similar mind right now. "Mutate or die, dude," a slogan I saw underneath an SF freeway overpass back in the 1970s, is looking more prescient every day.

Anonymous said...

Willie, where the heck are you?

The Blue Elephant said...

Fun to know we were both at the original Human Be-In -- before we knew each other, I think. It was a time when people could think as no-one had ever thought before. An event without an object--simply to be human. A park that refused to be owned -- a people's park. But that was for then. I wonder what would be revolutionary now just in the way of looking at things.