The white Chevy Biscayne rolled into Haight-Ashbury as the sun dimmed. The barefoot, flower-throwing hippies dancing in the streets jumped on the V8 engine’s hood, the white monster that had pulled our Starcraft trailer clear across America on a liquid diet of 27-cent gas. The Doors’ “Light My Fire” played every 60 minutes on the AM radio as it rose to the top of the charts.
My sister and I huddled in back on that day in the summer of 1967, transfixed by the colorful images swirling around us at a street intersection that our mother had learned about from photos in Life magazine. When the California dream pulled us to Southern California a few years later, I headed to San Francisco to join what I expected would be a never-ending street dance but found instead a neighborhood littered with panhandling meth heads.
No one’s noticed, but the band’s all packed and gone.
Was it ever here at all?
The party had moved on, but that summer changed the world, giving us a world that would deliver vegan footwear, downloadable music and electric cars. The tribal gatherings continue, from Burning Man and Coachella to Outside Lands and U2 shows at Levi’s Stadium.
Our Northern California summers unleash a bounty of beaches, golden mountains, blue skies, backroad wineries, musical events and gatherings of every stripe. The spirit of the Beats and the flower generation live on anytime you hit the road for a getaway, groove at a concert in the park, stop for a performance at a farmers market or blow by crafts booths on a street closed to cars.
Food trucks and fairs abound. Concert venues provide a menu of musical options as good as can be found anywhere. You can milk a goat to get back to nature or relive Shakespearean times at an outdoor theater performance.
This gives us something to write about. Metro‘s annual summer guide celebrates the 50-year summer and the spirit of Northern California. If taken in proper dosages, the events you’ll find in these pages will not just improve the quality of your life in the coming months—you’ll also be staying true to this region’s history.
How else can we continue to change the world?
Lyrics: John Perry Barlow