Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 11, 2007
Both my Guardian Weekly and Monthly arrived on Friday of last week. I’m in heaven. There’s nothing more civilized than spending a leisurely Sunday morning reading newspapers over breakfast.
I’ll get to the Weekly later. The Monthly has two articles of particular interest. In “Slogan’s Run,” Catherine Rapley talks with Ji Lee, a disgruntled New York ad man who does these great detournements of billboard and online advertising with cleverly phrased and placed word bubbles. His stuff can be seen here.
Then there’s Ed Vulliamy’s retrospective on the 1967 Summer of Love (“Peace, Love and Understanding”), done through interviews with survivors like Country Joe, Bob Weir, Paul Kantner, and Barry Melton. Generally a worthwhile piece, although I have a few criticisms.
The writing is done in a staccato style that is a bit jumpy, and makes the interviewees all sound the same. He clearly states that the Summer of Love was seen “to reach what was for some the revolution’s climax, for others its nadir.” Yet no one who soured on the hippie ideal is interviewed. What we are left with is at best a flashback, and at worst nostalgia.
Which brings me to my final criticism. For the most part, I’m positive about the hippie counterculture in particular, and about the 1960s in general. However, I just don’t buy the cliched reasons for the collapse of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury that started even before 1967, which Vulliamy repeats ad nauseam. It was the hordes of young people that flooded the Haight which the community wasn’t prepared to handle; it was hard drugs like speed and heroin that started to replace soft drugs like marijuana and LSD; it was the commercialization and exploitation of the hippie experience. To my mind, even all three of these reasons combined don’t entirely explain why the hippie counterculture went bad. Perhaps having a few disgruntled and dissenting voices could have helped shed new light on the subject.
The then-and-now photos of some of those interviewed are fun.
There’s also a horrific article about a ruthless Nigerian militia, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, and a nicely eclectic music section, among many other interesting features. I’m glad I subscribed.