HIPPIE – Barry Miles

A picture book (nine by twelve inches) of the Sixties’ music and hippie scenes.

Author Barry Miles is on the inside back cover. A photograph has a biographical caption of one sentence which reads in part, “Barry Miles was a central figure in the development of the hippie movement…”

Everyone can stop laughing now. Although there are photographs, hippies were no longer hippies by 1968. They were street people, dealers, run-of-the-mill petty thieves, drug addicts, counterculture-artists as well as students, radicals, revolutionaries, communist anarchists, women belonging to various women’s groups, gays, lesbians, ecology-earth freaks, commune people and minorities.

I appreciate the pictures, graphics and artwork in Hippie, but showing them only does not distinguish among the lifestyles and goals among the various peoples. That sort of story, fiction or non-fiction, would take a long time and a long book put together with great care. By showing pictures only there are mistakes. Women’s movements (1968 to the present) ended much public nudity for the mass of politically in-tune women. Indeed, by the Spring of 1973 the underground newspaper, The Berkeley Barb, which had made a living on naked women stopped printing those photographs. Yet in Hippie Miles has photos of naked women at music festivals to support the idea that there were hippies later.

The mix of Hollywood and youth music is not well told in pictures or in the slight editorial comments. Much too many pages are devoted to Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary and people prominent in the mid-Sixties when their influence justly faded after a year. One page mentions The Beach Boys – surfing, girls, ocean, beach: California Culture. The Beach Boys were in California before The Beatles, the Stones and everyone else. And California, its beaches and the Pacific had a lot to do with hippies, pot and youth music. No pictures and no words explain, tell or reveal any of this.

Hippie makes a passing glance at Charles Manson, musician hippie. His murders are mentioned, but it is Manson personally who is responsible, not hippie culture of peace and love which Manson embraced and lived, had disappointments and professional set  backs. Something should have been written. Anyone familiar with hippie culture knows how mean, degrading and violent it was. Explanations are difficult but not an impossible analyses for “a central figure in the development of the hippie movement” to narrate about hippies, Manson and murder.

Finally, while there are many photographs, graphics and artwork, collected in one volume, not much was presented that I had not seen before. The book yielded insignificant facts – Bill Graham’s beginnings. But there is no explanation in Miles’ broad brush of hippies and the culture. Did hippies disappear (1) because they no longer had anything to oppose; (2) because life was becoming more difficult to support that lifestyle; (3) because the youth of America [not English youth] were less naive; (4) because hippies could not solve anything in society with their lifestyles; (5) because hippies were predatory leeches on society; (6) because women stopped being hippies because it was primarily chauvinistically oriented and women were interested in liberation or feminism?

None of these questions or considerations are solved by showing pictures, artwork and graphics. Hippie is disappointing.

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