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Go ahead, name your movement. Name something good and positive and pro-
environment and eco-friendly that's happening right now in the newly "greening"
America and don't say more guns in Texas or fewer reproductive choices for women or
endless vile unwinnable BushCo wars in the Middle East lasting until roughly 2075
because that would defeat the whole point of this perky little column and destroy its naive
tone of happy rose-colored sardonic optimism. OK?
I'm talking about, say, energy-efficient light bulbs. I'm looking at organic foods going
mainstream. I mean chemical-free cleaning products widely available at Target and I'm
talking saving the whales and protecting the dolphins and I mean yoga studios flourishing
in every small town, giant boxes of organic cereal at Costco and non-phthalates dildos at
Good Vibes and the Toyota Prius becoming the nation's oddest status symbol. You know,
Look around: we have entire industries devoted to recycled paper, a new generation of
cheap solar-power technology and an Oscar for "An Inconvenient Truth" and even the
soulless corporate monsters over at famously heartless joints like Wal-Mart are now
claiming that they really, really care about saving the environment because, well, "it's the
right thing to do" (read: It's purely economic and all about their bottom line because if
they don't start caring they'll soon be totally screwed on manufacturing and shipping costs
at/from all their brutal Chinese sweatshops).
There is but one conclusion you can draw from the astonishing (albeit fitful, bittersweet)
pro-environment sea change now happening in the culture and (reluctantly, nervously) in
the halls of power in D.C., one thing we must all acknowledge in our wary, jaded,
globally warmed universe: Thehippie s had it right all along. Oh yes they did.
Recycling? Humane treatment of animals? Medical pot? Alternative energy? Natural
childbirth? Non-GMO seeds? It came from the granola types (who, of course, absorbed
much of it from ancient cultures), from the alternative worldviews, from the underground
Here's a suggestion, from one of my more astute ex-hippie readers: Instead of issuing
carbon credits so industrial polluters can clear their collective corporate conscience,
maybe, to help offset all the savage damage they've done to the soul of the planet all these
years, these commercial cretins should instead buy somekarma credits from the former
Of course, you can easily argue that much of the "authentic" hippie ethos -- the anti-
corporate ideology, the sexual liberation, the anarchy, the push for civil rights, the
experimentation -- has been totally leeched out of all these new movements, that
corporations have forcibly co-opted and diluted every single technology and humble pro-
environment idea and Ben & Jerry's ice cream cone and Odwalla smoothie to make them
both palatable and profitable. But does this somehow make the organic oils in that body
lotion any more harmful? Verily, it does not.
You might also just as easily claim that much of the nation's reluctant turn toward
environmental health has little to do with thehippies per se, that it's taking the threat of
global meltdown combined with the notion of really, really expensive ski tickets to slap
the nation's incredibly obese ass into gear and force consumers to begin to wake up to the
savage gluttony and wastefulness of American culture as everyone starts wondering, oh
my God, what's going to happen to swimming pools and NASCAR and free shipping
from Amazon? Of course, without the '60s groundwork, without all the radical ideas and
seeds of change planted nearly five decades ago, what we'd be turningto in our time of
need would be a great deal more hopeless indeed.
But if you'rere a l l y bitter and shortsighted, you could say the entire hippie movement
overall was just incredibly overrated, gets far too much cultural credit for far too little
actual impact, was pretty much a giant excuse to slack off and enjoy dirty lazy
responsibility-free sex romps and do a ton of drugs and avoid Vietnam and not bathe for a
month and name your child Sunflower or Shiva Moon or Chakra Lennon Sapphire
Bumblebee. This is what's called the reactionary simpleton's view. It blithely ignores
history, perspective, the evolution of culture as a whole. You know, just like America.
But, you know, whatever. The proofs are easy enough to trace. The core values and
environmental groundwork laid by the '60s counterculture are still so intact and potent
even the stiffest neocon Republican has to acknowledge their extant power. It's all right
there: Treehugger.com is the new '60s underground hippy zine. Ecstasy is the new LSD.
Visible tattoos are the new longhairs. And bands as diverse as Pearl Jam to Bright Eyes to
NIN to the Dixie Chicks are writing savage anti-Bush, anti-war songs for a new, ultra-
Now bringing you back...
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