history (14)

The Gag-Me-With-A-Spoon Summer of Love

My annoyance at all the lame krap floating around now about 1967 in the Haight-Ashbury district, “The Summer of Love,”just about turned to repulsion of late. Yeah, strong word, but man is it bad! We went to the deYoung Museum in San Francisco (an architectural catastrophe) Friday for their exhibit. $25 entrance fee! Most of the exhibit consisted of posters and yes, the posters were magnificent, but the exhibit was mostly ’60s drivel.

The “hippie clothing” was awful. No elegance, no simplicity. People with bad taste and too much time on their hands; bad colors, mishmashes of design. A truly awful crocheted bedspread commissioned by Bob Weir. Two rooms of flashing video montages of blurry dancers — senseless, dumb; not trippy — sloppy.

And the clincher: when you leave the exhibit, they funnel you into The Summer of Love Gift Shop. I kid you not. T-shirts, hats, trinkets, a poster of lame buttons — all made in China.

These curators are giving the ’60s a bad name.

The “Hippie Modernism” exhibit at the Berkeley Museum was way better.

As is the exhibit at the California Historical Society. Really good b&w photos, tracing the ’60s from the Beats-on. $5 entrance fee.

There was a conference this weekend, some 45 presentations on the era, mostly by college professors.

Sorry, I’ve been brooding over all the distortions, all the weren’t-there, don’t-get-it pontificators.

“The Haight-Ashbury was a neighborhood. The ’60s was a movement.” -Ken Kesey

PS The “Summer of Love” (1967) was in actuality a disaster in San Francisco.

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Jack O'Neill, 1923-2017

Photo by Dave McGuire: Martinis at Jack O’Neill’s cliffside home in Santa Cruz in 2013. L-R, Betty Van Dyke, Richard Novak, Jack, Lloyd

I graduated from high school in San Francisco in 1952. I had to make up some grades in order to get admitted to Stanford, so I took some morning classes at a private high school and worked as an office boy at an insurance company in the afternoons. Each day I had a couple of hours off, so I started going to the beach.

Kelly’s Cove is the beach right next to the Cliff House at Ocean Beach, and I met a bunch of guys who were starting to bodysurf there. Cliff Kamaka, a Hawaiian who was a lifeguard at the nearby Fleishacker Pool* had taught the boys the art of bodysurfing. Charley Grimm, Rod Lundquist, John Stonum, Jim Fisher, Bill Hickey — and Jack O’Neill — were some of the gang.

The water averaged in the low ’50s, so you had to really be motivated to endure the cold. They’d build a big fire on the beach to warm up after getting out of the water, and had constructed driftwood windbreaks that you could get inside to lay in the sun.

Jack was working for a company that sold firefighting equipment. He and his wife Marge and their 6 kids lived in an apartment on Sloat Blvd., across from the zoo, a few blocks from the beach. His first attempt at staying warm was a “dry suit,” as used by divers. It was thin rubber. Jack bought one He showed it to me and he was wearing long woolen underwear underneath it. Where it might have worked for diving in calm water, it didn’t work at all in the turbulent ocean. Water would come in at the sleeves, legs, and neck.

Jack didn’t invent the wetsuit. According to Wikipedia, “Hugh Bradner, a University of California, Berkeley physicist invented the modern wetsuit in 1952…” The US Navy then developed wetsuits for their divers and the first ones were being sold in stores. The wetsuit was neoprene and allowed the water to get next to your body, but kept it warm. Before they started lining them with nylon (maybe Jack’s invention), they were difficult to get on, so we had to coat our skin with corn starch so they would slide on.

I may be the only person in the world who knows this, but one day Jack went to Roos Brothers, the big department store on Market at Powell in San Francisco, and bought a wetsuit in their sporting goods department. He took it home, took the measurements off it, and returned it the next day. Voilá, he had the pattern for his first wetsuit. I know this because I stopped by to see him the day he brought it home. Like Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile, but perfected it and made it available to millions, so it was with Jack and wetsuits.

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Recommendations of Cool Stuff

Usually when I see a list of quotes, there might be one or two that I like. Here they are all zingers:

• “I’ve always been very careful never to predict anything that has not already happened.” — Marshall McLuhan

• “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” — Dorothy Parker

• “Decisions are made by those who show up.” — Jennifer Pahlka

• “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” — Albert Einstein

• “Not long ago what we have today was so implausible that nobody bothered to say it would never happen.“ — Marc Andreessen

• “The first 90% of a project is a lot easier than the second 90%.” — Tim Sweeney

• “If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less.” — General Shinseki

 — Kevin Kelly

This is from Recomendo, a weekly newsletter from Kevin Kelly,  Mark Frauenfelder, and Claudia Dawson that “…gives you 6 brief personal recommendations of cool stuff”: https://recomendo.com/


Also from Recomendo:

Unlocking phone:

If you bought a phone that’s locked to a specific mobile carrier, you won’t be able to use it with another carrier until you get it unlocked. AT&T says they will unlock phones you’ve had for two years, but the process is so arduous that it’s never worked for me. They make it difficult on purpose, I suspect. But I’ve unlocked phones using an unlocking service on eBay and paying $6 per phone. I gave them the phone’s 15-digit IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) serial number and a day later they sent me an email to let me know it’s been unlocked. I have no idea how they do it, but it works. — MF

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Pericú Revolt of 1734

In which the Pericúes, the tribe of southern Baja California, offed Padre Tamaral of the San José del Cabo mission. What’s extraordinary is that it’s depicted in this tile plaque on the church here. Their revolt lasted for 3 years.

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"The Pursuit of Delight" -- Stewart Brand's review of Steven Johnson's Recent Seminar in San Francisco

Humanity has been inventing toward delight for a long time. Johnson began with a slide of shell beads found in Morocco that indicate human interest in personal adornment going back 80,000 years. He showed 50,000-year-old bone flutes found in modern Slovenia that were tuned to musical intervals we would still recognize. Beads and flutes had nothing to do with survival. They were art, conforming to Brian Eno’s definition: “Art is everything you don’t have to do.” It looks frivolous, but Johnson proposed that the pursuit of delight is one of the prime movers of history — of globalization, innovation, and democratization.

Image: Perforated Nassarius gibbosulus from archaeological layers dated to between 73,400 and 91,500 years ago at Taforalt. Credit: Image courtesy of d’Errico/Vanhaeren

Consider spices, a seemingly trivial ornament to food. In the Babylon of 1700 BCE — 3,700 years ago — there were cloves that came all the way from Indonesia, 5,000 miles away. Importing eastern spices become so essential that eventually the trade routes defined the map of Islam. Another story from Islamic history: when Baghdad was at its height as one of the world’s most cultured cities around 800 CE, its “House of Wisdom” produced a remarkable text titled “The Book of Ingenious Devices.” In it were beautiful schematic drawings of machines years ahead of anything in Europe — clocks, hydraulic instruments, even a water-powered organ with swappable pin-cylinders that was effectively programmable. Everything in the book was neither tool nor weapon: they were all toys.

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Ohlone Tribe of Santa Cruz

This lovely painting is on the wall of the Santa Cruz Museum Of Natural History, a wonderful small museum with displays of the former inhabitants of the Monterey Bay Area, as well as local flora and fauna. It’s at 1305 East Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, CA 95062.

What a beautiful life California inhabitants had before the Europeans arrived!

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Celts -- Exhibit at National Museum of Scotland

This is a stunning exhibit in Edinburgh.

“Go on a quest through the ages in search of the identity of the Celts, at the latest blockbuster exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland.

The first major exhibition on the subject for over 40 years, Celts is produced in collaboration with the British Museum and features over 350 objects from both museums’ collections, as well as other important pieces from across Europe.

Foremost amongst these is the spectacular Gundestrup Cauldron, a richly-decorated vessel made from silver and found in a peat bog in Denmark. Now reconstructed, its surfaces are alive with wonderful detail, providing us with a glimpse of the gods, rituals and lives of the people who made it.

Other objects serve a similar purpose: ranging from reconstructed chariots and carnyx war trumpets to opulent gold torcs and decorative objects. Each piece resonates with a beguiling sense of intrigue, allowing visitors to this well laid-out exhibition to draw their own conclusions about the true nature of the identity of the Celtic people.…  ”

https://www.edinburghspotlight.com/2016/03/exhibition-celts-national-museum-of-scotland/

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