the 60s (37)

On the Road in Mendo

A great crowd at Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino last night for my Tiny Homes on the Move slideshow. In addition to the 50 or so mobile homes I showed, we talked about farming, building methods and materials, the ’60s*, and building codes. I looked at the roomful of people — we were all on the same page — causing me to reflect on who are these people, who are “we?”

   Dwell magazine, bless its sterile heart, is the completely other side of the picture and, due to its popularity, I would guess our group is in the minority — kind of like the book lovers in Fahrenhei 451. I’ve been trying to define the characteristics of our group. We believe in doing things with our own hands…natural materials…craftsmanship…working kitchens…solar heated water…colorful interiors…Feng shui…gardens, chickens, foraging. One of these days I’ll write something about who we are. In the meantime, heh-heh, check out; this is the kind of stuff we like.

*I said to someone recently, “Well, the ’60s happened in the ’70s — no actually, the ’60s happened in the ’60s and the ’70s — and she said, “The ’60s are still happening.” In many cases, being rediscovered.

Post a comment (1 comment)

Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Catalog, the book that changed the world

From an article (long one) in yesterday’s The Observer, by Carole Cadwalladr, here. Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

“…But then, it’s almost impossible, to flick through the pages of the Catalog and recapture its newness and radicalism and potentialities. Not least because the very idea of a book changing the world is just so old-fashioned. Books don’t change anything these days. If you want to start a revolution, you’d do it on Facebook. And so many of the ideas that first reached a mainstream audience in the Catalog – organic farming, solar power, recycling, wind power, desktop publishing, mountain bikes, midwife-assisted birth, female masturbation, computers, electronic synthesizers – are now simply part of our world, that the ones that didn’t go mainstream (communes being a prime example) rather stand out.…

“It changed the world, says Turner, in much the same way that Google changed the world: it made people visible to each other. And while the computer industry was building systems to link communities of scientists, the Catalog was a ‘vernacular technology” that was doing the same thing.…

“John Markoff, who wrote What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry, says, simply: ‘Stewart was the first one to get it. He was the first person to understand cyberspace. He was the one who coined the term personal computer. And he influenced an entire generation, including an entire generation of technologists’.…


“Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of Wired magazine, tells me how he first came across the Catalog when he was still in high school ‘and it changed my life. But then it changed everybody’s life. It inspired me not to go to college but to go and try and live out my own life. It was like being given permission to invent your own life. That was what the Catalog did. It was called “access to tools” and it gave you tools to create your own education, your own business, your own life’.…”

Sent us by Vic Long

Post a comment (5 comments)

Nostalgia for the Hippie Building Heyday

“…The creative explosion ignited by the back-to-the-land builders of the 1970s was memorialized by many photographers, most notably Art Boericke and Barry Shapiro, who produced a best-selling book, Handmade Houses: A Guide to the Woodbutcher’s Art. In centuries to come, historians will probably note that the era of the hippie builder was the last chapter of a century-long period in American history — namely, the closing of the American frontier.”

Thanks to Mike Litchfield for heads up on this article.

Post a comment (3 comments)

Connectors for Geodesic (and other) Domes

A pretty complete list of connecting dome struts, both metal and wood. At left is the system developed by Bill Woods of Dyna Domes in Phoenix, Arizona in the mid-’60s.

Funny, they omitted what I think was the best wooden dome hub system, the pipe-section hubs and stainless steel strap tightened with a banding device. This was developed by Fletcher Pence in the Virgin Islands in the early ’60s and was strong and elegant. I saw it used by architect Jeffery Lindsay in L. A. and we used this system at Pacific High School for 10 wood-framed domes in the early ’70s.

Sent us by Kevin Kelly

Post a comment (3 comments)

New Video of Our Homestead + '60s Revisited

I ran across Kirsten Dirksen and Nicolás Boullosa (from Barcelona) via Jenine Alexander, one of the builders in our new book. They had done a great video of Jenine talking about the 2 tiny houses she’d built in Healdsburg, California. We ended up using some of the stills from the video on the 4 pages we did on Jenine.

So when Kirsten and Nicolás came to California a few months ago, they came to visit. They’ve made almost 500 videos, many of them on tiny homes, and Kirsten is a journalist after my own heart. Within 2 minutes of arriving, she was asking questions, filming, and getting the essence of our work and lives. Immediate rapport. Here, several months later, is her take on our work, the homestead, the background of west coast publishing a la the ’60s and ’70s, the Whole Earth Catalog, Stewart Brand and the influence that the WEC and Stewart had on Steve Jobs when he was in high school. Yes, it’s all tied together in a wonderful way.

Post a comment (9 comments)

"Rockin' at the Red Dog" Great Documentary

I can’t find the comment on this blog that recommended this film, but whoever you are, I am so grateful. I’ve never seen a film that captured the special  spirit of San Francisco in the mid-60s as well as this one. It’s hard to describe what went on in the Haight-Ashbury district from say, 1963 to 1967 (when the “Summer of Love” proved to be the death knell). It was a joyous, harmonious, sharing, open, friendly, and loving community, and the San Francisco music was unique. It wasn’t London or New York or the Beatles, Stones, or Dylan; it was uniquely San Francisco, and the Red Dog Saloon in Nevada city played a key role in the music and style and spirit of the times.

If you were there, I’d hazard to say you’ll love this movie. They got it right! A bunch of it was filmed in 1991, and all of these people are still together: articulate and insightful. Filmmakers and editors did a fabulous job of piecing together videos, stills and interviews. The  music! The clothing! The hair!
The Charlatans and Big Brother and the Holding Company stand up to the test of time. The latter was one of my favorite bands (before Janice came along). (Deadheads, there is no Grateful Dead music in this film.) There is one beautiful mandala-like sequence of the ’60s posters,  giving you a sense of this powerful new art form. A bunch of wonderful black-and-white stills interspersed with moving footage. The reminiscing comes off well. There was joy then, boy was there, and it’s adequately reflected here.
Plus the DVD is $3.99.
Music du jour: Keep on Smilin’ by the Wet Willie Band/I Don’t Trust You Man by Willie Big Eyes”Smith/Amsterdam Rag by Ben Prestage
Post a comment (6 comments)