A Dream Deferred

I’ve always held an unpalatable distaste for hippies of every distinction. Like some buzz shorn grandpa, I can barely stomach the sight of them, with their flowing, free trade garments and soiled bare feet; the girls with their armpit hair and contrived vocal inflections; the boys with their paltry builds and mental anemia; the obsession with peace and love.

Peace and love! A more useless coupling has yet to be realized (with the exception of that Lisa Marie/Michael Jackson thing, which was like trying to pair up two female wall sockets). Peaceful utopia is an idea best left in Kindergarten, right after you’re involved in a vicious fight with your best friend about whose daddy is stronger. My core complaint about hippies and/or their pacifist tendencies is the futility. It’s been over 40 years since that cultural “revolution” and what hath the hippies wrought? Hippiedom’s major contribution thus far has been stifling political correctness, the bane of every thinking person’s existence. These moral calisthenics, which goodly people use for easy identification, accomplish nothing, other than rigging up an unalterable code of conduct similar to atavistic etiquette mores.

Much like religious beliefs, peace-loving ideology is not compatible with modern society. An image of peaceful resistance often heralded is that of the fresh faced young girl sticking a flower into the barrel of a rifle. Oh, my heart is bursting with joyful rainbows! How beautiful! How ignorant. Peace and love don’t come expelling from that barrel, sweetheart; bullets do. Generally, a bullet shot from a rifle can travel almost 4,000 feet per second and is capable of blowing your face clean off. Responding to every negative development in the world by focusing your “good vibes” and spewing patchouli-scented rhetoric will only get you lauded at the vegan picnic. To the rest of the world, it’s a laughable distraction. You continue your endless debate on poverty and violence and aggression over soy lattes and dairy free pastries; I’ll be over here, living it.

Those high ideals that flourished in the 1960s had two revolting outcomes: isolation or assimilation. Many former love children believed they could drop out of society and create communities of their own. We now call these people junkies or hobos, and they effectively forfeited the game when they disappeared into their friends’ basements and low-wage work at the alternative bookstore.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: dumpster diving is not romantic or noble. Squatting in an abandoned house ceases to be sexy as soon as you reach adulthood. There are plenty of people who hold anti-establishment views and opinions, and instead of fleeing with their tails between their legs, they are in the shit daily. They wake up in the morning, work their asses off, then come home to educate their brood with important life lessons, such as self-defense and media literacy. You can’t win a game that you refuse to play, and merely refusing to participate does not render the game nonexistent.

Those choosing the latter option of assimilation kept the peaceable rhetoric yet abandoned the accompanying convictions. It’s amazing how loose one gets after hitting middle age, when those dollar signs start flashing in your eyeballs and the wife is on you for an all expenses paid trip to Jamaica for the “atmosphere” (although I hear the “atmosphere” in Amsterdam is far superior). Every Sunday morning the news shows are bracketed by commercials for insurance planning and stock portfolios aimed at aging hippies, complete with easily identifiable hallmarks, like lava lamps and trippy soundtracks recalling those halcyon days of free love and casual drug use. The dream died (for the millionth time) the day George Carlin agreed to voice a lackadaisical VW van named Fillmore in the Disney crap-fest known as Cars. This is the man who succinctly voiced every anti-establishment viewpoint I’ve ever held decades before I was born, and yet someone was deft enough to trick him into coming over to the other side?

Stacie Adams is an unassuming and introverted young woman with plans to take over the world and make it tolerable. Her heroes are few, but precious: Bill Hicks, Nat Turner, Orson Welles, and Hunter S. Thompson. She detests useless celebrity, bureaucracy, and unfettered stupidity. "I am disgustingly provincial and I’ve never stepped foot outside the US, but it is my dream to travel the world. My favorite beer is Red Stripe, my favorite movie Irreversible. I’ve seen Evil Dead 2 over 100 times. I am an encyclopedia of trivial facts and figures." She can be reached at: mutterhals@hotmail.com. Read other articles by Stacie, or visit Stacie's website.

14 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. gerald spezio said on August 21st, 2007 at 7:36am #

    Stacie, doan you worry! David Korten says that the Goddess is coming any day now – free shoes and earth community for everybody. Rianne Eisler told David and David is telling us.

    The Goddess was in complete control 5000 years ago, but she was mysteriously removed from benevolent power (Shazam!) by too many enemas and too few animuses administered by patriarchal goons. The patriarchal goons will get their comeuppance, too. Doan you worry.

  2. Robert B. Livingston said on August 21st, 2007 at 11:58am #

    Stinging points make perfect sense to me, but I am not ready to adopt any politics of resignation.

    It’s too easy to lump the true peace and love troops with dumpster divers and other economy misfits and victims. What does that say about us and them? Isolation is preferable to keeping company with bad people– but that is an extreme one turns to when no one good is left.

    To be sure, we need more creativity and capital (moral and tangible) in the peace movement.

    The most memorable line in this essay is “You can’t win a game that you refuse to play, and merely refusing to participate does not render the game nonexistent.”

    But it works both ways too?

    If life is a series of games– and I am not wholly convinced– then I’ll choose peace and love. Soul Power may not win Paper, Scissors, Rock everytime, but I wouldn’t play without it.

    San Francisco

  3. mandt said on August 21st, 2007 at 12:28pm #

    Lucky you Stacie, I’ve not seen a hippy in over thirty years nor a hobo in over forty. I thought they were an endangered species. Aren’t you special!

  4. JBPM said on August 21st, 2007 at 2:38pm #

    “Much like religious beliefs, peace-loving ideology is not compatible with modern society.”

    Care to back either of these assertions up?

    The arrogance of using such broad brush strokes would be breathtaking if it weren’t also so cliched. Maybe the reason we on the left in the US are so fucked is because we continually denounce one another for our ideological divergences instead of agreeing to work with one another and with the non-aligned (and, more often than not, religious) “masses.”

    If we actually want to make a difference, it seems that means we’ll need to link peaceniks with non-peaceniks, Christians with atheists, young people with old folks, etc.

    Oh who am I kidding? My emphasis on “both-and” probably just reveals my peace-loving naivete and religious incompatibility with modern society. Got to get back to dumpster diving!

  5. JBPM said on August 21st, 2007 at 2:46pm #

    Look what I’ve retrieved from the dumpster. Yet another insanely uninformed quote: “Hippiedom’s major contribution thus far has been stifling political correctness, the bane of every thinking person’s existence.”

    They’ve actually made a few other contributions (and I’m not including carrot cake). Mark Morford, columnist for SF Gate, pointed out in a really great article (“The Hippies Were Right! Green homes? Organic food? Nature is good? Time to give the ol’ tie-dyers some respect,” SF Gate, 5-2-2007) that many of the cultural values we now take for granted had their start in the hippie countercultures of the 60s and 70s. Now recycling, eating less meat, organic farming, etc. aren’t panaceas by any means, but they are also some pretty cool contributions.

  6. Deirdre Helfferich said on August 21st, 2007 at 5:20pm #

    Hmmm…interesting. Rather full of stereotypes. This bit, about the futility of nonviolence, reveals ignorance of history:

    Much like religious beliefs, peace-loving ideology is not compatible with modern society.
    The British Empire was forced out of India by a movement using largely nonviolent techniques. The Danes successfully saved thousands of Jews in World War II by simply refusing to cooperate, by resisting the Nazis in a nonviolent way. The American Civil Rights Movement was largely, and successfully, nonviolent. It’s very hard to maintain one’s faith in the rightness of one’s own violent behavior if the people who are the recipients of one’s violence can’t be made into “bad guys”. Nonviolence works, and “peace-loving” isn’t the same thing as “passive”, which seems to be the confusion that this author has. She should check out this book by Peter Ackerman and Christopher Kruegler or Yes! the Magazine of Postive Futures. The hippies WERE right, if some of them were a bit stoned or naive. (But then, so too are some violent types a bit stoned or naive. People are people.)

  7. Deirdre Helfferich said on August 21st, 2007 at 5:31pm #

    Addenda/correction: the British Empire was forced out of India due to financial troubles–but the nonviolence movement motivated the people.

  8. Ana said on August 21st, 2007 at 6:27pm #

    Para ser um hippie você deve acreditar na paz como a maneira resolver diferenças entre povos, ideologias e religiões. A maneira à paz é com o amor e a tolerância. Amar significa a aceitação de outra enquanto é, dar-lhe a liberdade para expressar-se e não os julgar baseados em aparências. Este é o núcleo da filosofia do hippie.
    Assim ser um hippie não é uma matéria do vestido, do comportamento, do status econômico…É uma aproximação filosófica à vida que emfatiza a liberdade, a paz, o amor e um respeito para outro e à terra. A maneira do hippie nunca morreu. . Eu acredito que há um pouco hippie em todos nós.
    A geraçao que acreditou ser capaz de parar uma guerra e mudar o mundo, deixou uma semente que acabaria sendo lançada aos quatro ventos, indo refletir-se nos lugares mais longínquos do globo. Uma nova moral, uma nova ética, novos valores haviam sido cultivados na cabeça das pessoas, graças rqueles jovens dos anos 60. Essa semente está presente ainda hoje dentro de cada um que se permita sonhar e acreditar na realizaçao de seu sonho. Aliás, o sonho nao acabou..

    To be one hippie you must believe the peace as the way to decide differences between peoples, ideologies and religions. The way to the peace is with the love and the tolerance. To love means the acceptance of another one while it is, to give to it freedom to it to express itself and not to judge them established in appearances. This is the nucleus of the philosophy of hippie. Thus to be one hippie is not a substance of the dress, of the behavior, of the economic status… It is a philosophical approach to the life that emfatiza the freedom, the peace, the love and a respect for another one and to the land. The way it hippie never died. I believe that he has a little hippie in all we. Geraçao that it believed to be capable to stop a war and to change the world, left a seed that would finish being launched to the four winds, going to reflect itself in the places most distant of the globe. A new moral, new ethics, new values had been cultivated in the head of the people, young favours rqueles of years 60. This seed is present still today inside of that if it allows to dream and to believe realizaçao of its dream. By the way, the dream nao finished.

  9. Robert B. Livingston said on August 22nd, 2007 at 12:52am #

    If we can dream it we can do it!
    Thank-you Ana!

    Se nós pudermos o sonhar nós podemos fazê-lo
    Obrigado Ana!

  10. paul said on August 22nd, 2007 at 1:03pm #

    stacie sounds like an old punk spitting on his grandfather. Nothing better to do, Stacie ?

  11. ron said on August 22nd, 2007 at 6:29pm #

    This little rant is somewhat pointless. It’s so easy to be cynical. I’m not sure what you mean by hippie–indeed, I never knew what a hippie was. Either way, cynicism changes even less than dumpster-diving. At least there’s occasioanl good stuff in a dumpster. There’s nothing of value in cynicism.

  12. Tom Cordle said on August 23rd, 2007 at 4:09pm #

    Born in 1944, I am of the last of the generation before The Boomers. I’m guessing you were yet to be a glint in someon’es eye during The Sixties, which may account for your one-sided assessment of hippies. I was there, and I agree that there was much to dislike about the Hippie movement (it should be noted that bowels have movements, too, with somewhat similar results).
    Even then, I was disgusted with the sloth, the indolence, the rudeness and the other deadly sins which prevailed. Then as now, drugs are for losers, and that includes the tune-in, turn-on, drop-put intellectual pretensions of Timothy Leary, et al. Experience life somewhere besides the ivy-covered womb of Harvard, and you’ll get all the “experience” you can handle — without dropping acid.
    I was also appalled at the Mao-Wannabes who showed up on campus with raised clenched fists and “Power to the People, Right on!” sloganeering. It seemed to me, their chief aim was balling campus SDS groupies and drinking some pretty good wine. Meanwhile, the people were getting killed in Viet Nam or were, like me, working their asses off in a hot, poisonous foundry right out of the Deer-Hunter. At least that’s how it was back when the Rust Belt still had such things.
    But — your assessment does not credit hippies for the good that came from their protests — for calling attention to a misbegotten war — for bringing down a lying, conniving president — for denying themselves the pleasures and comforts of 50s conformity — for calling their elders to task for racism. In fact, as a woman, you would probably not be enjoying the forum you have today without young women of that day burning their bras and pounding on the door of corporate boardrooms. Frankly, I wish to hell more young people of what I suspect is your generation were out in the streets protesting this stupid war and this stupid president and his evil minions.
    Finally, hippies may have been a mangy disreputable lot, but they were the primary audience for some of the best and most liberated pop music this country has ever produced. Indeed, it was a time when the lunatics really did run the asylum. On that score at least, I can’t see where the iPod generation has much room to criticize the LP generation.

  13. Random said on August 25th, 2007 at 8:16pm #

    As a child of the 60s I grew up in the waning days of the hippy era only to be faced with adulthood in a strangely sterile, every man and woman for themselves 80s. I can honestly say that I find the 60′s more hopeful, more inspirational, more human. For all your undisguised distaste as you recite the cliche’d characteristics of the hippy, I wonder, as the above poster does, whether you realize the benefits you reaped from this vibrant period of our history and if you would truly be enjoying the present era were we able to surgically resect the peace and love decade? Straight from the 50′s, I for one can imagine a serious lag in birth control availability, limited educational opportunities for women, doubtful establishment of such noble ideas as environmental protections and consumer protections, not to mention a very different music scene, a retarded modern art movement, and heaven knows with regard to fashion. Politics? I don’t even want to speculate.
    Like any kind of social movement, we define the hippy by those that we most notice, whether by sight, sound or smell and we most notice those who stand out, making them posterchildren for the rest. The hippy that dresses modestly, smells neutrally, espouses his or her views quietly or indirectly, networks to intercept the goodies before they hit the dumpster doesn’t quite have the pizazz necessary to hit the radar, nevertheless they’re there. The hippies I’ve encountered have by and large been living the life modern environmentalists are now touting to the general public as “sustainable.” Much of what was once hippy is now mainstream. Today we have other groups who similarly jump out at us in terms of their culture, their appearance, their values. Much of it I could similarly shunt into a category that I myself react to with extreme dismay . . . violent, materialistic, misogynistic, wasteful, alien and in your face in fashion and music, uncaring about the longterm future, drug and alcohol- addled, and largely socially separated by choice.
    I can only sigh and say . . . Long live the hippy.

  14. Richie Hoffman said on August 15th, 2008 at 4:24pm #

    Damn kids with their ideals and whatnot, get off my lawn!