17 October 2018

Summer of Haight (opening) [1982]


[From Cellophane Visions, written 17/18 October 1982]
I
t was the 14th of January in 1967 that the greed and stupidity of the HIP merchants and psychedelic hucksters of the Haight got it together to blow the lid off and make San Fantasia the adventureland Mecca for all the middle-class high schoolers who wanted to enjoy a brief fling into the exciting world of play poverty. They called it the Human Be-In. Like all the other events in which Finnegan played no part, it was lame. When Finnegan thought of how it could have been, he was ready to weep for the arrogance and disgusting flatulence of it all. All it was was a chance for the would-be radicals and so-called hipsters to indulge in a little public mutual masturbation, but it was enough.
Finnegan was slow in the realization of what was going down. The Gutter Free Food program was taking up so much of his time that he did not have time to put the promoters of the Summer-of-Love hoax in their place, which was weighted down with cement at the bottom of the San Fantasia Bay, but instead was merely content to let events take their course.
Finnegan had to wonder just how long these hip radical escapees from the middle-class could keep on kidding themselves. He thought of warning their intended dupes of their mendacity, of using his position as a counter-cultural folk hero to short-circuit the fast-buck ripoff artists who passed themselves off as the “leaders” of the new movement, but he felt that his anonymity, his reputation of never seeking the media limelight, was more important. He merely smiled to himself, and continued hustling the stuff that was needed to make the Free Food thing work. If the lemmings of the high schools of America wanted to throw themselves into San Fantasia, that was their lookout. Finnegan has always believed in letting people dig their own graves, if that’s what they want to do.

In those days, when he was trying to finish up high school without destroying his mind, Stephen Farnham began to picture himself as a character in a Jack Kerouac book. The long gray roads were calling him, the seagull cries of Heceta, Greyton and Cauldron on the Wyano coast, the mysterious beckoning of the Cascadia desert towns, Rattlesnake and Death Gulch and Desolation, the names like tombstones under the dry sun, and last the siren call of Fornicalia. San Fantasia. Everybody was going to San Fantasia that year. The secret was out, and all the hip people were hanging out in the Haight-Ashtoreth district. The Cosmic Park regulars all knew the inside story; smuggled copies of The Oracle circulated from hand to hand, each as precious as parchment hand-written copies of the Tao Te Ching, and each told o the marvelous mystic world where L.S.D. and marijuana flowed like wine, and where love was free.
Stephen had experienced the fantastic way that acid had of making the world into a mixed up salad of colors exploding across the retina like phosphorescent paint splashed across living flesh in the warm wet night. But was that all that it was about? Saruman spoke of metaphysical highs, mysterious planes of mystic consciousness, and God. Saruman spoke of God quite a bit in those days, but Stephen never knew what he meant by it.
Saruman was one of the people who never slowed down, rockets streaming through the psyche and gone already before there was time to register their passing. He had gotten his name from Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. He had never read the trilogy; he just liked the sounds. Saruman sounded hip to him, like the sort of name a wizard should have. He called his place Perelandra. There were always a dozen or so people staying there, crashing out on the living-room floor or standing around drinking beer in the kitchen. Like Stephen he had taken to sleeping out in Cosmic Park himself; the two of them would smoke dope and talk until the sun rose. [17/18 Oc 1982]

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