“Well,” said Alpert, “it’s a hell of a gathering. It’s just being. Humans being. Being together.”
“Yeah,” said Allen “It’s a Human Be-In.”
"From the outset the costumed people in the Haight-Ashbury did not seem to form simply a new Bohemia. Almost immediately I referred to them in my field notes as "costumed people," partly because I had not yet heard the term "hippie," but also because I recognized that they could not be easily classified, that they did indeed hear a different drummer, that the meaning of their drama was hidden from me. Nor did my immediate colleagues use the term "hippie" at that time. referring instead to "the young tourists" or "the acid-heads." A young social worker who worked at the Institute and lived in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood immediately adjacent to the Medical Center initiated me into the use of the term "hippie," and I remember asking her to spell it for me when I finally realized that she was not using the older term "hipster." At about the same time as I began work, a long story appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on a commune of "acid-heads," who lived in a large old house in a poor neighborhood, not too far from the Haight-Ashbury; the word "hippie" was not used in the story at all, although in another month- so swiftly did the term catch on- the local newspapers were generally using the term imprecisely for various costumed young people anywhere in the Bay area."
Elegantly uncostumed costume- people
"Thus the neighborhood was in many ways ripe for the events that took place in such intensity during the period of which I write. It included a population geared in many ways to the young and to new ideas, in particular to the idea of one world. Its flexibility can be demonstrated by the very fact that throughout the winter and spring, in spite of the influx of young people whose numbers increased at an almost unprecedented rate in the life of any city, the neighborhood became increasingly accepting. By June, various estimates were made that about 15,000 young flower children were living in the neighborhood, and most of this growth had taken place within the space of a few months."
Ginsburg holding court
"Thus within the space of a very few weeks, the nature of my feeling about these young people changed drastically. Mistakes they made, but they recognized them; they were critical of themselves; and they were flexible. To my amazement, they read many of the books that I had read as an undergraduate over thirty years before- D. H. Lawrence, Freud, James Joyce, Aldous Huxley, for example; and well-worn copies of books by these authors were pored over in the Psychedelic Shop, which periodically seemed to operate mainly as a library. Moreover, they were concerned about the problems of child-rearing practices in middle-class American society and were exploring alternative solutions, such as the kibbutz in Israel; such books as Melford E. Spiro's Children of the Kibbutz were regularly borrowed back and forth by members of the young community whether they were parents or not. Under their influence, I read some of the books that they liked but that I had never gotten around to reading, although most of them were at least familiar titles to me; the Tolkien books are notable examples. I discovered the importance of these books for the young people. Although Tolkien has denied that he was writing an allegory about Western civilization and the fear of nuclear destruction, the hippies read his books as an allegory for their time and position. The consistently good people in the Tolkien books are Hobbits and they have the lowliest status of all the groups of characters in the books. The hippies thought of themselves as being or becoming Hobbits; from time to time as the winter wore on, a sign would appear in the window of one of their gathering places to this effect: Do not add to the street confusion this weekend. There may be busts. Be good little Hobbits and stay home. I came to understand that the hierarchy of status in the establishment was one of the serious concerns of this coalescent group of young people. As a member of the second sex and as a marginal person in my own professional world- whatever that is- I found this concern congenial to me. What I am suggesting here is that with the passage of a relatively short time and some openness to this young community, the stranger began to feel at home."
The Human Be-In
Helen Perry, 1970
The above flyer is a rare piece of cultural ephemera and evocative of a certain era. Designed by Michael Bowen and Stanley Mouse it announces “A Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In”. This watershed event catapulted the hippie scene to national prominence. Participants were asked to “Bring food to share, bring flowers, beads, costumes, feathers, bells, cymbals and flags.” That they did. These ideas transfixed mainstream culture, and the phenomenon of the “hippie” burst full force into the public consciousness, transforming a generation.
Human Be- In Poster (one of several)
Ginsburg chanting mantras
"The Gathering of the Tribes" in a "union of love and activism" was an overwhelming success, Over twenty thousand people came to the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park. The psychedelic bands played -Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Poets Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Lew Welch, and Lenore Kandel, read, chanted and sang. Tim(othy) Leary told everyone to "Turn on, Tune in and Drop out", the Diggers gave out free food. The Hells Angels guarded the generator cables that someone had cut, Owsley Stanley gave out free acid; a parachutist dropped like an angel from the sky and the whole world watched on the evening news. Soon there would be Be-Ins and Love-Ins from Texas to Paris and the psychedelic and political aspects of the youth culture would continue to grow hand in hand everywhere." – Allen Cohen
"Turn In, Tune Out, and Drop One"
When will the next of the big free love- festivals be?