December 10, 2019

How the 60s Ruined My Family

“Forty-nine years after she died of a heroin overdose at age 27, rock’s doomed diva is on the road again. “A Night With Janis Joplin,” a musical homage to the psychedelic era and its favorite blues singer, returned to its Bay Area roots in mid-October — to Santa Rosa and then San Jose, where I first heard that scratchy, sultry crooning through our living-room stereo.

Interest in hallucinogenic drugs has rarely been stronger. The Oct. 13 episode of “60 Minutes” featured Johns Hopkins University’s ongoing psilocybin research studies. The report made a good case for magic mushrooms’ ability to cure depression and addiction; many control-group patients in the study swore the drug took them on some of the most profound “journeys” of their lives.

The Sixties have been dead for 50 years this January. It’s long past time to bury them for good because we’ve severely overrated them. Those years left deep marks on our culture while still leaving us in a perpetual daze about their exact meaning. Meanwhile, the nostalgia bus just keeps rolling on. For those who were there, the sensory overload never ends: Jimi Hendrix’s wailing Stratocaster; Peter Max’s Crayola-inspired pop art; the brittle back seats of Volkswagen bugs; Sensimilla buds, empty Coors cans; the acid-trip comedowns; people losing themselves in the sound, the substances and, really, the feelin’-groovy zeitgeist. “Never trust anyone over 30,” Jack Weinberg, a student-activist at the University of California at Berkeley famously said in 1964 — the year I was born.

But what if you weren’t merely a child of the Sixties but just … a child? What if you couldn’t trust anyone to be your caregiver under 30? And what if, over time, you grew so sick and tired of hearing about how great it all had been that you just wanted to tell everyone to stop the revisionist history and shut the hell up?”

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