BFTN #11 2018-06-18
June 18, 2018
BFTN #12 2018-06-25
June 25, 2018
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Part SEVENTEEN of our series on the WAR ON DRUGS – The Beatniks and the Hippies.


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Show Notes:

  • In the 1960s, as drugs became symbols of youthful rebellion, social upheaval, and political dissent, the government halted scientific research to evaluate their medical safety and efficacy.
  • The Baby Boomers born after WWII had a different set of priorities.
  • The counterculture made marijuana fashionable on college campuses.
  • Other “hippies” sought to expand their minds with the use of hallucinogens like LSD.
  • Many soldiers returned from the Vietnam War with marijuana and heroin habits.
  • In short, the demand for drugs in America skyrocketed in the 1960’s.
  • The boomers were the most educated generation to-date
  • And they had a new sense of invincibility and quest for new experiences
  • They also had a desire to make the world a better place
  • Which is easier to do when you’re not dying on the front
  • They fought for historical moral causes of the time: civil and women’s rights, the environment and Vietnam War protests.
  • Using marijuana, and to a lesser degree LSD, baby boomers rapidly moved drugs from the fringes of society into the mainstream.
  • On May 13, 1957, Life magazine published an article that documented the use of psilocybin mushrooms in religious rites of the indigenous Mazatec people of Mexico.
  • Timothy Leary was a clinical psychologist at Harvard University who decided to go to Mexico to check that shit out.
  • He returned to Harvard and experimented with the therapeutic potential of LSD and psilocybin.
  • Beat poet Allen Ginsberg heard about the Harvard research project and asked to join the experiments.
  • Leary and his colleague, Richard Alpert (who later became known as the guru Ram Dass), were fired from Harvard University in May 1963.
  • After leaving Harvard, he continued to publicly promote the use of psychedelic drugs and became a well-known figure of the counterculture of the 1960s.
  • He popularized catchphrases that promoted his philosophy, such as “turn on, tune in, drop out” and “think for yourself and question authority”.
  • Here’s a clip from Leary:
  • But of course it wasn’t just Leary.
  • Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, First published in 1954, had a big influence.
  • He talked about using Mescaline to tap into religious experiences.
  • Of course that’s where The Doors got their name.
  • And speaking of The Doors – Rock n Roll played a huge roll.
  • The Beatles smoked weed.
  • Do you know who gave it to them?
  • Bob Dylan.
  • On 28 August 1964 at the Delmonico Hotel on Park Avenue, near Manhattan’s Central Park.
  • Do you know what that hotel is called today?
  • Trump Park Avenue.
  • The Haight-Ashbury district of San Franciso is where the hippies built a community based upon counterculture ideals, drugs, and music.
  • The word hippie came from hipster and used to describe beatniks who moved into New York City’s Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district.
  • Beatnik and hippie were terms both invented by the same guy – Herb Caen, a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • “Beat” was slang for “beaten down” or downtrodden, but to guys like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, it also had a spiritual connotation as in “beatitude.”
  • Kerouac wrote: The Beat Generation, that was a vision that we had, John Clellon Holmes and I, and Allen Ginsberg in an even wilder way, in the late Forties, of a generation of crazy, illuminated hipsters suddenly rising and roaming America, serious, bumming and hitchhiking everywhere, ragged, beatific, beautiful in an ugly graceful new way—a vision gleaned from the way we had heard the word “beat” spoken on street corners on Times Square and in the Village, in other cities in the downtown city night of postwar America—beat, meaning down and out but full of intense conviction.
  • Caen coined the term by adding the Russian suffix -nik to the Beat Generation.
  • Caen’s column with the word came six months after the launch of Sputnik I.
  • The Beat philosophy was generally countercultural and antimaterialistic, and stressed the importance of bettering one’s inner self over material possessions.
  • Alan Watts introduced the Beatniks to Asian philosophies.
  • Their soundtrack was jazz.
  • And they smoked weed like jazz musicians, as well as dressing like Dizzy Gillespie, with the horn-rimmed glasses, beret and goatie.
  • And they adopted the jazz slang – cool, cat, hip.
  • Which is where they hippies came from.
  • Hippies created their own communities, listened to psychedelic music, embraced the sexual revolution, and many used drugs such as marijuana, LSD, peyote and psilocybin mushrooms to explore altered states of consciousness.
  • During the late 1950s and early 1960s, novelist Ken Kesey, who wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the Merry Pranksters lived communally in California.
  • They’d throw parties, known as Acid Tests, where people would drop LSD and combine it with music and multimedia performances.
  • The Grateful Dead were the de facto “house band” of the Acid Tests.
  • They also traveled across the United States in a psychedelic painted school bus, organizing parties and giving out LSD.
  • Kesey died November 10, 2001, at age 66 of liver cancer.
  • The Haight-Ashbury district of San Franciso offered a concentrated gathering spot for hippies to create a social experiment that would soon spread throughout the nation.
  • The first ever head shop, Ron and Jay Thelin’s Psychedelic Shop, opened on Haight Street on January 3, 1966, offering hippies a spot to purchase marijuana and LSD.
  • Around about this time, Lou Reed wrote a fucking song called HEROIN where he talked about shooting up heroin.
  • Fuck the Beatles and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.
  • Lou just said “hey, we’re shooting heroin – deal with it. This is real life.”
  • During the 1967 Summer of Love, psychedelic rock music was entering the mainstream, receiving more and more commercial radio airplay.
  • Then in 1970 Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin all OD’d – which just made drugs even cooler.
  • Only 5% of American college students had ever used marijuana in 1967
  • Two years later that figure jumped to 22%.
  • Amphetamines (speed) remained confined to small subcultures, such as bikers
  • Heroin was still used mainly by jazz, and a growing number of rock, musicians.
  • A July 7, 1967, Time magazine cover story on “The Hippies: Philosophy of a Subculture,”
  • The article described the guidelines of the hippie code: “Do your own thing, wherever you have to do it and whenever you want. Drop out. Leave society as you have known it. Leave it utterly. Blow the mind of every straight person you can reach. Turn them on, if not to drugs, then to beauty, love, honesty, fun.”
  • It is estimated that around 100,000 people traveled to San Francisco in the summer of 1967
  • an August CBS News television report on “The Hippie Temptation” and other major media interest in the hippie subculture exposed the Haight-Ashbury district to enormous national attention and popularized the counterculture movement across the country and around the world.
  • The Woodstock Festival in 1969 attracted an audience of more than 500,000 people who went to hear Canned Heat, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Carlos Santana, Sly & The Family Stone, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, and Jimi Hendrix.
  • But the kids weren’t just getting high.
    They were also protesting.
  • Against The Vietnam war, for civil rights.
  • When Americans flipped the channel from the race riots, they’d see riots the country’s most prestigious college campuses — lines of helmeted police, clouds of tear gas, flailing nightsticks.
  • The antiwar movement was dragging legions of perfectly nice kids into what many saw as a frightening “counterculture” of insubordination, poor grooming, and promiscuous sex.
  • To the offensive blare of rock and roll, young people were burning the flag, tearing up draft cards, praising the enemy, ridiculing everything their parents represented.
  • The whole country seemed to be coming unglued, with blacks tearing down one side and the kids tearing down another.
  • Many returning U.S. Vietnam veterans became addicted to heroin after being exposed to some of the purest and cheapest heroin available in the world.
  • And those veterans had major PTSD, even though the terms hadn’t been invented yet.
  • Within a few short years, JFK, RFK, MLK were all assassinated.
  • Altamont happened.
  • Charles Manson happened.
  • Somewhere in there, The Johnson Administration passed the Narcotics Addict Rehabilitation Act of 1966.
  • The act specified that “narcotic addiction” was a mental illness.
  • It also recognized that the disease concept of alcoholism also applied to drug addiction.
  • But drug use was still considered a crime.
  • The act didn’t have a major impact because the small amount of funding that was appropriated for treatment couldn’t meet the increasing demand for drugs in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
  • But in the late 60s, the baby boomers were in their 20s.
  • And whenever you have more young men, you have more crime.
  • Which is why you send them off to fight wars, but unfortunately some come back.
  • And then you force another bunch to live in segregated communities in poverty.
  • The Civil Rights movement scared Whitey, as did the kids and their long hair and rock and roll.
  • Which gave Nixon the opportunity he needed.

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