My Summer of Love
February 9, 2023 | The Hollow Man Series, International Espionage
Who hasn’t heard of 1967’s Summer of Love? Well, I was there and completely missed it. I woke up two years later and decided it was time to see San Francisco close up. Surely they had worked out the kinks by then and made significant improvements to sex, drugs and rock & roll. Improvements to all of it.
I boarded a westbound train after spring semester and traveled toward a new future; to a Promised Land where we could tune in to find new ways of expression, become aware of one's own existence, and perhaps walk on water, sometimes with a little help from overly-friendly street pharmacists. I arrived in the Haight like an immigrant getting off a boat at Ellis Island, wide-eyed and full of unbounded hope. I was ready for a revolution in music and culture, and it made a sound like thunder.
I picked some of this and some of that from my new world but mostly gravitated to the music side of the street. I became a regular at places like the Blue Unicorn Coffeehouse and the Straight Theater where I saw the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and The Holding Company, Country Joe, Santana, and many others make musical history. When they weren’t on stage, most haunted group apartments and crash pads, jamming across bands and passing a toke or two. Carlos Santana, Jerry Garcia, and Janis Joplin seemed to be wherever I was, though it might have been the other way around. Others were there too; most of them followed that proverbial different drum that dropped them into a minor rock & roll footnote.
Jefferson Airplane was already flying high on the charts but some still came around early on. Grace Slick and Paul Kantner were always favorites when they showed up. One or the other would join in on harmonies, sometimes trying out a new riff. As spring turned to summer, the Airplane got busy working on sets for some upcoming gig they were excited about. Others soon followed their lead and signed on for Woodstock as well.
In early August I was already 24 hours into a three-day train ride to the east coast. Woodstock was going to be the concert to end all concerts.