My Way IS the Highway

By Cynthia Johnston

“Death of Hippie: An End to the Summer of Love.”  (October 6, 1967)

Well, that didn’t work. Nice try, though. The idea, according to Diggers who helped start the whole thing nine months earlier by taking part in the Human Be-In, was to convince the media to point their cameras anywhere but the Haight. And to send the unwashed masses back to Nebraska. 

Unfortunately, the unwashed masses were done with Nebraska. They kept coming. Bad drugs and criminals followed along with tour buses and an oppressive police presence. The original artists and musicians who lived there fled to Marin and other more bucolic locations.

Hippie culture rippled unabated from the wellspring that is the Haight. First of all, there was the music—a whole new genre known as psychedelic rock took the world by storm. Bell bottom jeans and hippie fashion were all the rage.

Soon, Burning Man exploded in the Black Rock Desert, attracting distinctly hippie-like revelers from all over creation. After the death of Jerry Garcia, Dead & Co. rose from the ashes of the Grateful Dead. Dead cover bands popped up everywhere, some Jerry-centric, some with the ghost of PigPen out front. Those bands begat the burgeoning Skull & Roses Festival, currently featuring five days (April 19-23, 2023) of Grateful Dead songs in multifarious styles by some 32 bands. Grateful Dead music itself has become a genre of its own.

Cops at the Human Be In

The 1967 Diggers intended “to end the commercialization of the hippie lifestyle and the mainstream appropriation of their social experiment.”

You guessed it. To quote journalist and author Joel Selvin in a 2007 San Francisco Chronicle piece “… the mythology of that summer in 1967 has never disappeared. The San Francisco hippie, dancing in Golden Gate Park with long hair flowing, has become as much of an enduring American archetype as the gunfighters and cowboys who roamed the Wild West…. The Summer of Love resonates in strip mall yoga classes, pop music, visual art, fashion, attitudes toward drugs, the personal computer revolution, and the current mad dash toward the greening of America.”

For those who still mourn the passing of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, take heart. It has evolved—something Jerry himself would most likely encourage in all of us—but it’s still out there. You just gotta poke around.

Haight Street Voice Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Linda Kelly

This story first appeared in the Winter 2023 edition of the Haight Street Voice. 

Dr. Timothy Leary once told HSV Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Linda Kelly, “Intelligence is the ability to see the relationship between things – and you have that.” 

Today, about “connecting the (micro) dots” between the Haight Street Voice and the Wall of News, Kelly says, “We’re doing all we can to help keep the light that lit the ’60s shining bright.” 

So if you’re going to San Francisco, make your way to Haight Street where you just might find Linda Kelly at the 1506 Gallery or the Psychedelic SF Gallery at Haight and Masonic. You can pick up the print version at any groovy shop in the ‘hood. Meanwhile, here’s the digital version, gratis:

In 1980 Cynthia Johnston was NORML’s Marin County coordinator for the California Marijuana Initiative. She needed help producing a concert and met Steve Brown, the new NORML production guy and a former staff member of Grateful Dead Records. They hit it off and for many music-filled years—especially Grateful Dead—co-produced shows at Pacifica Community Television in Pacifica, California. She was an active member of BAWIM—Bay Area Women in Music. Her first Skull and Roses Festival was 2018, and she’s stayed hooked. “It was like the beginning of the whole hippie thing when there was room to dance freely and take pictures of the band close-up. And the music blew my mind! What had been lost was now found. I needed a miracle and this was it.” She began blogging before even hearing the word “blog” and currently has a website, My Way IS the High Way