Kind souls, less-than-kind souls, and total morons vie for my attention and for space in my mailbox. Yesterday, an actual kind soul forwarded a press release, which (with annotations, natch) follows:

On Sunday, October 20th The Committee for the 35th Anniversary of the Summer of Love,, and its non-profit partners will present "The Spirit of Peace: The 35th Anniversary of the Summer of Love Celebration" in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza.

2002 marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of the "Summer of Love", a historic period of time in San Francisco. In 1967, thousands of people flocked to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, following their dreams of a better world. The world was watching as a whole new colorful and exotic culture erupted out of the mass gatherings of like minded souls, including art, music, philanthropy, clothing design, and even hair!

Geez, you'd almost think none of those things existed before 1967. Criminy, even I had hair back then. Then again, during the period in question I was between my sophomore and junior years in high school, and male pattern baldness usually doesn't attack teenagers.

Artistic endeavors? The Beats, regardless of their appeal to the counterculture, were part of another generation entirely. And just who's a household word? Stanley Mouse? Raphael Schnepf?

I hate to get all David Horowitz-y on you here, but you'll have a hard time persuading me that all the fruits of the Sixties were sweet and juicy: too many minds pretending to be opened were merely twisted ninety degrees, and the Bay Area is still overrun with pretenders of various sorts.

San Francisco had long been a center for alternative music, and many forms of music have emerged from its bustling jazz and folk scene. In the mid Sixties new bands were born amidst the excitement of the times. New venues were opening, appealing to the music-hungry ears of the masses experiencing a psychedelic revolution. Bill Graham and Chet Helms opened dance halls to showcase the new sounds, spawning the "San Francisco Sound", and changing the rock 'n roll music scene forever.

Nice to see Chet Helms, founder of The Family Dog and owner of the Avalon Ballroom, getting some credit here; history, revisionist trollop that she is, tends to focus almost entirely on Bill Graham and the Fillmore West. Then again, Helms is one of the movers and/or shakers behind these, um, reunions, and anyway, Graham died a decade ago, after trademarking the phrase "Summer of Love"".

It certainly seems inarguable that music in San Francisco, as Dave Marsh once said, "developed at odd angles to the music produced in the rest of the country," and the occasional wayward vector is good for the soul, but the vaunted San Francisco Sound, I think, contains more than your recommended daily allowance of hype.

Some of the bands to emerge from that era are still with us today, and will join with the committee for the 35th Anniversary of the Summer of Love in proudly presenting this major free live concert. From 10AM - 7PM the sounds of The Beau Brummels, Lydia Pense & Cold Blood, Canned Heat, IABD (formerly It's A Beautiful Day), and Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Great Society, Country Joe McDonald along with a Tribute to Quicksilver and many special guests will recall the music of those legendary days. The cast of Hair, the musical, will be on hand to perform some classic numbers from their show. This historic day will be documented on film, and is a benefit for non profit groups born during those golden days such as the SF Food Bank and the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, among others.

I was, and am, a fan of IABD, but there's not much here that can be called truly influential, though the Brummels, once out from under Sly Stone's production, laid some of the groundwork for country-rock, and erstwhile Quicksilverman Dino Valenti penned the ever-irritating "Get Together", which managed to avoid being a hit until 1969 yet was covered by everyone from Linda Ronstadt to the Dave Clark Five.

The event will be filled with vendors selling colorful wares reminiscent of the era, food booths offering delicious varied and organic items, and two large beer gardens. It should be a beautiful day in San Francisco and we encourage all to attend!

Thanks, but I think I'll pass. And is it just me, or does "delicious varied and organic" seem like it could have several different meanings?

The Vent

8 October 2002

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 Copyright © 2002 by Charles G. Hill