San Francisco celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the Summer of Drugs Love in Golden Gate Park this weekend, and it sounds like it was a big hit. The weather certainly cooperated.
Something to know about the Summer of Love is that it was largely a media creation. By the summer of 1967 the peace, love, and pot movement had peaked and was about to decline. Probably its apogee was around January of that year, with the Human Be-in in Golden Gate Park. Within a year the Haight would look like a war zone, with abandoned and boarded-up business, the streets grim and taken over by hustlers, punks, and dealers of hard drugs.
National papers and magazines picked up on the counter-culture movement after the Be-in, and ran breathless articles about the Diggers and the “hippie” movement in San Francisco. That publicity fueled an immigration of teeny boppers from all over the country to the Haight. The release of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album early that June kicked things into overdrive, as everyone in the country tuned into that album — it was not uncommon to hear the lingering chords of “A Day in the Life” reverberating from several different directions — reinforcing that sense that people were coming together in some sudden convergence of positive energy. And, in a way, they were. But it was short-lived. The Summer of Love was a swan song, really.
The image above, by Brant Ward, is from the Chronicle’s coverage of the weekend’s festivities.
Speaking of Sgt. Pepper, here’s the Shatner interpretation: