Nov 212009

Sometimes I come up with the germ of an idea for discussion here in the Halls of Rock without knowing exactly where I expect things to go. This is one of those times. I think a lot about the notion of hippies and wish there was some kind of true neo-hippie vibe that I could be swept up in. I’m going to share a few thoughts on the matter and see if any of you have your own thoughts on the subject.

A few of you may have heard me say this story before, but when I was about 6 or 7 years old my parents, who were not hippies in any way but were pretty liberal in terms of the pop culture they’d expose me to, took me to a drive-in double-feature of Easy Rider and Hell’s Angels on Wheels. We went with another family and their young boy. I still remember the other boy and I sitting atop the roof of our old station wagon, and I still remember the thrill I got from all the hippie stuff on screen that night: Dennis Hopper’s mustache, the football helmet, the choppers, Steppenwolf, the bad biker in Hell’s Angels on Wheels getting shot right between the nose bridge of his rectangular Roger McGuinn glasses… From that night forward I wanted to be a hippie.

Maybe a year or two later, I recall an older girl in my grandparents’ neighborhood taking a bunch of us little kids to see to see the movie Willard. (Good god! As a parent of two preteen boys myself, what was going on in the late-60s/early-70s, with my not-normal-but-not-progressive, middle class family, taking me to a double-feature of hippie biker flicks and trusting a 12-year-old girl to take a group of 8 year olds to see another flick about a young man who loves rats?) The girl asked us what we wanted to be, and the other kids wanted to be butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers – the usual stuff. The girl got a real kick out of my wanting to be a hippie, but I recall walking her through my thought process – you know, getting to have long sideburns, a ‘stache, a chopper, a cool helmet, shooting bad bikers right between the eyes… Honestly, to this day I still want to be a hippie, in the rebellious, searching, cowboy sense Easy Rider, and that’s why I’m asking for your help in rebuilding Team Hippie for the Modern Age.

Team Hippie needs to have an edge. We should be flying our freak flag, for sure, but leave out all that phony peace and love stuff. The love should be evident through the trust we display in each other’s presence, not through that “Dead dance” or 12-string acoustic guitars and Rug Harmonies. And no comic book-cosmic lyrics. I’m cool with truly cosmic thoughts, as we rebuild Team Hippie for the Modern Age, but nothing that’s inspired by Tolkein or Timothy Leary. The Captain Beefheart clip I’ve used to kick this thread off gets at the sort of Peace Warrior hippie culture that I have in mind – none of that overbearing patchiouli oil nonsense, no pretenses that we’ve moved beyond a sense of danger. Revisiting Leon Russell has also told me something about what the modern-day hippie could offer. Think of how earthy Russell and his band are in that silly clip I posted yesterday. They’re the kind of guys I aspired to hanging with when I was a boy. I want to cut the bullshit that happened in between and pick up where that vision left off.

There’s a lot of work to do. Clearly, my thoughts are still formulating, but the prudish, puritanical state our culture’s been stuck in needs a shake up. I’ll be the pathetic old “professor” at the fore of this youth movement, if necessary. Can you help me develop a relevant set of hippie tenets for the modern age? This shouldn’t be about reliving a Time/Life notion of the ’60s. This should be our way of moving beyond these stunted, thumbsucking times. Where are we headed?


  12 Responses to “Rebuilding Team Hippie for the Modern Age”

  1. hrrundivbakshi

    The closest thing I’ve seen to a truly new, yet truly communal and counter-cultural thing in music was the live Gogol Bordello show I saw. Like deadheads, fans of that band follow them *around the world*, and the show of unity they display while the band blasts through their somewhat-apocalyptic-party-til-the-planet-burns-up repertoire is pretty astounding. For its part, the band is all about eliminating the distance between them and their audience — *and* eliminating national/ethnic boundaries through the bizarro world music hodge-podge they play. In short, there really is a kind of global love vibe (of a sort) going on with GB. For this reason — and also because the band is, in fact, *smokin’* in a live setting — the show I saw was weirdly thrilling, even for a hippie hata like me.

  2. Mr. Moderator

    I’m thrilled you’re the first to check in on this idea, Hrrundi, because in my mind, the rebuilt Team Hippie will accommodate your needs. A rebuilt Team Hippie including your powers may be unstoppable!

  3. sammymaudlin

    In reading your goals here, it sounds like the first thing we need to to is spring Charlie Manson.

  4. team hippie for the new millenium ought to be based around an MC5 sort of aesthetic more so than a bonzo theatre troupe vibe if you get my meaning.
    my dad was a hippie.
    my friend butch asked my dad in 1979 (we were 6) if he was a hippie.
    my dad said: not really. the hippies were walkin around sayin “peace and love peace and love”. me and my friends were sayin “peace, love and a punch in the mouth”
    i can get behind that.

  5. Mr. Moderator

    shawnkilroy, I like how your dad thought. He may need to be brought in as a consultant.

  6. One thing to do would be to advocate not selling out to the Man!

  7. alexmagic

    Maudlin already said the first thing that came to my mind when reading your post: have you considered, Mod, what Charles Manson would have brought to the table if he’d applied himself to the hippie movement more directly? I think you and the Wizard might have been able to hang out.

  8. Mr. Moderator

    I hear what you and maudlin are saying, alexmagic. Too bad Manson couldn’t have brought his demos to Leon Russell or the Mascara Snake rather than Dennis Wilson. They may have better been able to redirect his energies.

  9. Personally, I’d like Team Hippie to be a strict no-lab-coat zone.

  10. trolleyvox

    Oy, do I have a lot to say about this re-branding/nostalgia. Expect some rambling thoughts during breaks from Thanksgiving mischigas.

  11. Forget Manson, go with the late Hunter S. Thompson.

    Freak power!

  12. Mr. Moderator

    I would propose that Team Hippie’s headquarters be located in Marin County. That’s a beautiful spot for relaxation. Most of the nitty gritty work, however, will be done on the streets, where we will be taking it.

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