June 21, 1967

Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park on Summer Solstice.

Passing through the gate at Stanyan Street, I hurry past the tennis courts & bowling greens. Follow a pick-up truck filled with hippies. Wind & eucalyptus trees muffle the music in the distance.

Hippies park truck & run into woods. I follow them into the trees.

A girl with blonde hair & a daffodil sits alone in the lotus position.

“Is this the way to the Be-In?” I ask her.

She comes out of her trance with beaming eyes.

“I've been sitting here for three hours,” she says cheerfully, “and everybody's been going that way—so I guess that's it!” 

I drop down a hill, slip through a tunnel of bushes, & step into a burst of sunlight. Thousands of people milling in the meadow! And Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane is singing:

Don't you want somebody to love?

Don't you need somebody to love?

Smoke drifts up from a fire, Frisbees fly through the air, dogs & children chasing each other. Painted faces everywhere. A guy with a bouquet of yellow balloons sits at the top of a redwood tree.

I pass the open pit where The Diggers are cooking fish & hamburgers. People standing in line for food. Everything free.

“Love is the only thing,” one girl says to the guy beside her. “Life means nothing without it. Look at the bullshit that passes for happiness in this country—cars and houses, diplomas and credit cards—there's so much loneliness here. It's such a great feeling when you love someone. And when you don't, there's nothing, you're all dried up. So many people are walking around scared these days.”

“Wow,” the guy says shaking his head. “That's so true.”

She takes his face in her hands. “Give me a kiss.”

Scent of pot in the air as I make my way toward the stage. People swatting a giant balloon across the crowd. As I get close to the stage, I watch a fellow dressed like a sheik. Guy beside him wearing purple vestments of priest.

“Christianity died about 300 A.D.,” he says to the sheik. “At that point it went commercial. Jesus became a bestseller.”

“It's people who enunciate that I watch out for,” the sheik replies. “Like salesmen and ministers and college professors. They're the ones you’ve gotta watch out for.”

“It's a constantly changing reality,” the sheik insists, “so whatever you think about it is constantly changing too.”

Then I saw her. The raven hair, the thick black eyebrows, the dark green eyes. She brushes past me with just a glance.

“Hello,” I try.

She smiles but keeps moving.

I stop to watch a young woman dancing on her knees with her baby. Four people hold a bedspread above them. Then they put the baby in the bedspread & bounce her in the air. Great big grin on her face.

Tremendous wave of contact high. People form a daisy chain & sway to the music. And the voice of Grace Slick rings out above them:

Wouldn’t you love somebody to love?

You better find somebody to love!

Yeah! Everybody up on their feet now, rocking to her energy. People climbing on the stage, dancing & throwing their clothes to the crowd. Girls sitting on the shoulders of their guys to get a better view. Everyone clapping & screaming. Then out of nowhere Michelle runs out of the crowd.

“Have you seen Nathan?” she asks in a panic.

“What's wrong?”

“He went out on the street with some acid last night,” she says, “and I haven't seen him since!”

“I’m sure he’s here somewhere,” I say.

She’s biting her nails. I try to calm her down.

“The last time Nathan dropped acid,” she says, “he stood in the middle of the street begging people to run him over!”

She goes off through the crowd looking for him.

I go over to see what’s happening with a group gathered around a guy on a plaid blanket wearing a buckskin hat. Everyone’s admiring his hash pipes, carved from bone, adorned with seashells.

“Straight off the assembly line,” he says & points a thumb at his chest. “I'm the assembly line.”

It’s Chas.

“How much for this one?” a woman says.

“Three little greenies,” he chuckles.

“Three bucks?” she replies incredulous.

“Yeah, but first we gotta break it in.”

He pulls out a chunk of hash, flicks a wooden match on his belt buckle & lights the bowl for her.

“Is anything changing?” he asks as she exhales.

She gazes across the heads around her.

“I'm beginning to see the future,” she says.

“What's it look like?”

“Freaks,” she says, “lots and lots of freaks.”

A young guy beside me starts wagging his head, grinning.

“This is so far-out,” he says. “I just got in from New York last night!”

“Hitchhike?” I ask.

“I took a freight train!” he says. “The guards left the doors unlocked. I just sat there on three hits of acid and watched the country go by.” 

“You got here just in time,” I tell him.

“I was so bummed out when I got here last night,” he says, a little sad. “The first people I met wouldn't put me up. I was soooooo bummed.”  Then he shrugs laughing. “A half-hour later I met some good people. They invited me home for tea. We all had oatmeal for breakfast.”

He goes on through the crowd.

I spot her again in the middle of the crowd. Sitting on a blanket, talking intensely to a black man. I make my way over & move around in front of her hoping to catch her eye. She looks up & sees me but continues her conversation.

I climb a slope at the side of the meadow behind the stage. The stage crew rushes around, setting up for Big Brother & The Holding Company. A woman at the microphone holds the hand of a lost little girl & reads messages for people trying to find each other.

I slip behind the stage & climb a short rise overlooking the Polo Fields. Fog blowing in from the ocean. Nathan & Michelle flying a kite on the road below. The kite takes a nose-dive.

“Peter!” Nathan shouts as I come up to them. “Where have you been, man?” 

“Where have you been?” I say.

Michelle runs over & rescues the kite.

“I don't think this cat is ever coming down,” she says to me.

She tosses the kite in the air as Nathan backs off & lets out some string. The breeze catches the kite & sweeps it up in the air.

“Run with it!” Michelle shouts & chases him down the road.

I hurry back to the meadow. Janis Joplin’s at the mike in work shirt & jeans. She’s telling everybody what a great time she had at the Monterey Pop Festival. She almost walked out when the promoters wouldn't let people in for free.

“But what the hell!” she screams into the mike. “It's the music that matters!” 

She pauses & looks across the crowd with tremendous appreciation.

“What a gas! What a groove! God, I'm thrilled!” she says.

Taking the mike from the stand, she lifts her arms like wings & beats time with her foot as the band lets out behind her. She spreads her mouth on the mike:

Down on meeeeeeee.

Down on meeeeeeee.

Looks like everybody in the whole wide world—is down on me!

Rachel appears beside me.

“Hi,” she says in a hushed Southern drawl.

“Hello,” I reply & everything changes.

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