If the only two Grateful Dead songs you know and like are “Truckin’” and “Touch of Grey,” then you are no Deadhead.
If you think sporting long hair and smoking dope makes you a hippie, then you know nothing of Counterculture.
If you think “Somebody to Love” is the only great song by the Jefferson Airplane, then you are in full blown ignorance.
If you think all I ever cared about was Civil War reenacting and getting loaded, then you don’t know me at all either.
What I’m talking about is just how ignorant most people are. I don’t really have much of a problem with garden-variety ignorance, but willful ignorance ticks me off. According to the Red Greene show, the three toughest words for most people to say are: “I don’t know.”
There you have it. I have severe and terrible issues with the Majority Culture.
The impetus for my world view and subsequent sojourns to San Francisco was a cultural icon of the early 1960s, Maynard G. Krebs. That’s right. While my buddies in kindergarten and the first grade wanted to be like Roy Rogers or Marshall Dillon, I aspired to be a Beatnik.
What set Maynard apart from most of the others on the show was his honesty. He knew he was ignorant. Unlike the other characters, he knew he didn’t know.
We take our computers, smart phones and such gadgetry for granted these days. When I was in grade school, my access to the outside world via electronics came through a small black-and-white TV, an AM radio and our rotary dial phone, the latter set up on a party line.
I received a J. C. Penny transistor radio in a leather case at Christmas 1964. Heaven knows what became of it after all these years, but I cherished that thing. I’d get into trouble for staying up on school nights and listening to KIOA during the British Invasion years.
My stepfather had a white Buick Skylark convertible with an AM radio. I don’t know what band it was, but the first psychedelic music I recall hearing was played by some college radio station in Missouri while my family was southbound in the car between Kirksville and Columbia.
It grabbed me.
It was during that same period that a cousin of mine was into HAM radio and shortwave stations. We heard San Franciscan Nights by Eric Burdon one night on a shortwave station before it was popular on AM. Even as a preteen, I knew something special was going on in San Francisco.
Then came “Somebody To Love” by the Jefferson Airplane in 1967. “White Rabbit” was seldom if ever played on AM radio as the overt drug references in the song got it banned on the airwaves, at least in Iowa.
The Christmas of 1969 brought another cherished electronic device in the form of a portable record player. Not having any LPs of my own yet, I borrowed a copy of “After Bathing At Baxter’s” by the Airplane from a public library.
This concept album is perhaps one on the most intensely psychedelic albums ever recorded. Even on a cheesy little mono-channel record player and without any chemical assistance whatsoever, “After Bathing At Baxter’s” expanded my 15-year-old consciousness.
From then until this very day, I have been a devoted fan of the Jefferson Airplane and its subsequent reincarnations and spinoffs. I vowed I would someday travel to the Bay, hear the music in person and scope out the scene at Haight-Ashbury even if the Summer of Love had long since passed.
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