Editor’s Note: Recent ponderings on the place of drugs in the Occupy Wall Street encampments, plus our ongoing engagement with all matters psychedelic, has led Points to think about the counterculture. As Dr. Dave Smith, founder of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, noted in a talk that we posted here a few months back, drug use and abuse was rampant in the high tide of the counterculture. The steep human costs of that drug use are routinely omitted from that story–as is the fact that those costs were probably not distributed evenly, but fell disproportionately on the under-resourced and the young, on women and people of color. Looking for some resistance to and critique of this destructive and predatory culture, we turned to Eric Noble’s online Digger Archives, an incredible resource for ’60s-era history.
For those not familiar with them, the Diggers (who appropriated their name from a 17th century British group of radical nonconformists) were a loosely organized anti-capitalist direct action organization active in the Haight between 1966-68. Members of the Diggers served reclaimed food for free in Golden Gate Park, and were responsible for creating the Free Switchboard (which helped to locate resources for travelers passing through San Francisco), the Free Stores, and with Smith, the Free Clinic.
Less well-known is the Digger’s publishing project, the Communications Company (or ComCo), started by journalist Claude Hayward and novelist Chester Anderson. An older (b. 1932) denizen of the Greenwich Village beat scene, Anderson was skeptical about many elements of the counterculture–commercialism and opportunism, predatory behavior, sex and gender politics–and he used the ComCo’s broadsides as vehicles for his criticisms. Perhaps the most famous of these, a scathing commentary on the effects of the commercialized traffic in LSD on the social fabric of the Haight, is reprinted here.
Pretty little 16-year-old middle class chick comes to the Haight to see what it’s all about & gets picked up by a 17-year-old street dealer who spends all day shooting her full of speed again & again, then feeds her 3000 mikes and raffles off her temporarily unemployed body for the biggest Haight Street gang bang since the night before last.
The politics & ethics of ecstasy.
Rape is as common as bullshit on Haight Street.
The Love Generation never sleeps.
The Oracle continues to recruit for this summer’s Human Shit-In, but the psychedelic plastic flower & god’s eye merchants, shocked by the discovery that increased population doesn’t necessarily guarantee increased profits at all, have invented the Council for a Summer of Love to keep us all from interfering with commerce.