Highsmith becomes a bohemian for a day in 'The Haight'
I had a '60's flashback today as I visited the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. At first I was a little dubious about venturing into what was once the "hippie" capital of the world. At the Haight and Ashbury streets, you still run into people who are channeling the (oftendrug-addled) "highs" of the city's "Summer of Love" from1967.
I quickly overcame my apprehension when I actually spoke with some of the"characters" who roam the streets.
My first encounter was a small tot who added greatly to the colorful mural behind him as he danced about.
Then the "Random Tramps," as they call themselves, posed for me with their dogs in the next block. This could have been a '60s shot from "the dawning of the age of Aquarius," don't you think?:
They had the look and feel of "the Haight" to which I had been exposed in the 60s: textbook hippies, head to toe.
Even the details on the building are colorful and, for some, nostalgic.
Then there are what are now famous "legs" poking out the window! Not sure what the statement is there, but you can't miss it.
I continued to use both of my cameras to catch the unforgettable scene around me. Although the sun was lighting only one side of the street, everything I captured seemed to "pop" because it was all so colorful. You can't walk more than a block before you see another person whom, it's pretty safe to say, showed up in the '60s and never left.
Some of the denizens of the Haight might have even been born there. Shades of Jerry Garcia?:
Colorful murals are eye candy everywhere you look
I even ran across a film crew photographing the staff at the "Loved to Death" store.
All in all, it was amazing time traveling back to the days when images of the hippie scene in San Francisco flashed on T.V., PP&M vinyl spun on our "stereos," and the nation was glued to the hippie "experience."
There's a lot of "message" art in the Haight:
Join me again tomorrow as I continue to venture out across the City by the Bay.
Carol M. Highsmith is traveling across America along with videographer Connie Doebele, taking photographs and capturing videos that document our times. All the work will be donated copyright-free to the Library of Congress for everyone to use now, and for future generations to see what our nation looks like during the early 21st Century.