Hope you'll find this form of avant-garde blog style literature and Web art interesting, and that you won't mind the author's lack of formal literary skills. This is a personal site and not a book, in the formal meaning of the world. Hence, the informal character.
Two different spellings of "hippie" are used on this site because the word "hippie" is also spelled "hippy". The spelling "hippy" is older, and is used rarely, now. If it is used, t is more often used as a noun. Today, the most widely used spelling is "hippie", and it is most often used as a verb and a noun.
The hippie movement was a peace and love movement at a time when families in the U.S. gathered in their living-rooms to watch cowboy movies on TV. It was a time of the Cold War, a nuclear threat, equal rights movement, sexual revolution, assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and the Vietnam War.
So, why did I and a small percentage of American youth became a hippie at a time like that? Well, I can speak only for my self. In fact, I didn't know that I was a hippie until I was told that I was one. So, I don't know why I became a hippie because it was natural for me. I suppose there were many reasons for that. The main one was probably because I was born in the middle of the 20th Century, at the beginning of the Atomic Age, shortly after WWII. So, it was like the Karma of those times that turned a small percentage youth toward the peace movement and sexual revolution, which were at the core of the hippie movement. The oldest symbol associated with hippies is the peace. Even today, the peace sign is widely associated with the peace movement and with hippies. It was used for the first time at anti-nuclear demonstrations in England. The peace sign was created in 1958 by Gerald Holtom for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in England. It quickly caught on among peace activists and hippies.
Few are aware that only about 2% of American youth participated in the hippie movement and that it wasn't such a mass movement before the Woodstock 1969 festival. I never chose to become a hippy. I was called a hippy by others, and got my hippy nickname "The Polish Hippy" from a Belgium school mate. The name caught on, especially after I was taken out of the classroom one day, and taken by force to a nearby barbershop to have my hair cut short. My hippie name stayed with me until the end of the 1960s. Other hippies on both continents have adopted that name since then; especially if they were Polish. It is a unique name in that it refers to a nationality. The name spread largely through some 1960s media productions. Later, that name was removed from the scripts due to protests from the Polish Embassy in Washington, who took it as vulgar.
I like to call those early days of hippies "the pure days". I was a Beatles fan, a fan of American folk music, Blues music, Allen Ginsberg, Beat writers and abstract avant-garde art, among other things. I suppose many Beatles fans began like I did, after the Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, and by following the other British bands that invaded America. The British music played by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals, Led Zeppelin and many other bands like that was largely a transformation of Afro-American music. Those British artists also brought to America new fashions. The main one that distinguished boys, who were Beatles fans was boys long hair styles and high heel Beatles boots, which replaces our sneakers, moccasins or loafers, for a while. Those artists from Great Britain were styled after some spoiled boys from good British homes, who often wore longer hair in those days. So in the beginning, it was a bit snobbish to dress like that. The new fashions from London were called Mod Fashions. They were lush, colorful, abstract and stood out in contrast to the toned down and conservative American fashions. And it wasn't until the 1960s that the bikini, and so called Swedish movies caught on in America, which became symbols of the sexual revolution in America.
The decked out Mod fashion styles from
London gave rise to a more budget friendly and casual
hippie styles, also called the hippie look. Bell-bottoms
were introduced in California by a fashion designer
towards the end of the 1960s. Today, they are widely
associated with hippies and 1970s Disco culture fashions.
The hippie movement started in America
but incorporated many ideas from other places and
cultures. Hippies also formed an informal political
movement, and it's been said that hippies are social
reformists that changes the world in many ways. Many of
those are now taken for granted. But as the movement
spread across the world, hippies became identified with
different things in different parts of the world. Not all
of them were as positive as those in the USA. European
hippies were sometimes involved in different issues then
American hippies. For example, they didn't have to deal
with the Vietnam War, with the military draft and other
issues. They also traveled around the world a lot more to
Asia and the Indian subcontinent, for example.
I remember Old Town best for the
parties, Piperís Alley, Folk Music Cafes that I
couldn't afford to visit too often at that time, and Lincoln
hippies used to gathered on various occasions. There was
also a lot going on at the University
Campus, The Coffeehouse on 54th Street in Hyde Park near the Museum of
Science and Industry and also in Grand Park. But that
would be another story..
After the U.S. backed out of the
Vietnam War, hippies lost their main cause and went their
own separate ways. Some joind various other causes such
as ecology, gay
civil rights, women's rights etc. Some turned on to the Glam Rock or Glitter
that was forming in New York, also the underground Disco
of the early 1970s esp. in Chicago. Disco music
grew around Motown and Soul music, which were
very popular during the hippie era. But its
characteristic rhythm and beat came from the classic
soul/disco song by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes
called "The Love
and others such as "Love Boat" by Earl Young
from Philadelphia in the late 1960s. The disco scene was
gay, colorful and psychedelic. Chicago developed its own
disco music style that is called House
which spread to discos in Detroit and New York. House
Music also influenced European Techno music; especially
became popular in Amsterdam and in Berlin.
The disco movement burned itself out
by the early 1980s and ended also in Chicago
with the burning of disco records at a sports stadium.
The idea came from a Chicago radio DJ. Similar events
were held earlier elsewhere in 1950s against Rock &
Roll music and in 1960s The Beatles' music. But those
earlier ones were not as successful as that one in 1970s
against disco music. Still, the free spirit of the 50s,
60s and 70s lives on.
But in 1969, I went to Europe and ended up staying there for half a year. That experience helped me become more cosmopolitan and solved my draft problem because I forgot to register for it. But I missed a chance to go to Woodstock with my buddies, and sliding with them through the mud. But who would have guessed it would turn out to be such a historic event. Besides that, I was in Canada, England, Holland, Denmark and Poland. So, that was a lot more interesting and educational. My worst experience was in Poland where I was kept on the border for hours, had my luggage searched and had many personal things confiscated by a crooked Customs Officer. And after all that, I was made to pay a ridiculous costumes tax on used clothes. All this because the officer found a Peace button and Zig-Zag rolling papers in my luggage. I still have, the rolling papers, a roach clip and a few other things that weren't confiscated on that trip to remind me of those days. That was a year after a wave of 1968 student protests in America and across Europe. It was also a year after the January and March 1968 student protests in Poland, which I wasn't aware of at that time. But I didn't find any hippies in Poland. There were many more in England, Denmark and Holland. Life behind the Iron Curtain was like stepping into a time warp and travelling many decades back in time. But in spite of the initial bad experiences, life there wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Best of all, it was very budget friendly. I wouldn't be able to compare it to any place because I don't know of any place where one could live so well on such a modest budget today. So, it turned out to be a good place to kick some bad habits and to repair the condition, in which my condition was in. I also learned a bit about Marxism, which I found had nothing to do with the Marx Brothers or Marks & Spencer. The best of all, the few bucks I got from home went a long way there, which is important no matter what ideology one followed.
Yes, I learned that Karol Marx was a romantic, who believed that the working class should have social benefits and more time to enjoy music, art and culture like he did. He was greatly influenced by Adam Smith, a well known 19-century Scottish Economist. Marx believed in globalization and that socialism would be good for highly developed and industrialized capitalist nations. He did not recommend socialism for developing countries like, for example Poland, Russia or India. Perhaps that's why it had failed behind the Iron Curtain, and caught on in neighboring Germany, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.
The 1960s altered the course of our lives forever.
The Peace Movement was over by the mid 1970s, underground FM radio stations turned commercial, head shops closed and so called hippie neighborhoods turned into popular tourist traps. The War was over! Lennon got married, the Beatles broke up and the 1960s Peace Movement was over, too. Many hippies returned to their family homes, graduated, got jobs, married, joined political parties, climbed up the ranks of the decked out world, became successful, joined the Rotary Club, became the establishment and became Yuppies. But not all hippies become Young Urban Professionals. Though many of us may not look like a hippies any more, many of us do remain hippies at heart. So, lets keep on truckin' and keep the (hippie) faith.
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