Joel Selvin mener i en ny bog at kunne kaste et bedre lys over omstændighederne omkring mordet på Meredith Hunter ved en Rolling Stones koncert i 1969, skriver Daily Mail. Det er historien om depravation, både Rolling Stones, især Mick Jaggers, men mest interessant også hippiebevægelsen. Og den fik mig til at tænke på en anden artikel, der husker tilbage på, hvorledes flower power endte i narko og ynk.
I 1969 var Rolling Stones stort set fallit, trods deres kommercielle succes, grundet de aftaler de havde med deres agent, som tog hele fortjenesten, fortæller Daily Mail. En turne på den amerikanske vestkyst, hvor bandet ikke var så fremtrædende, skulle rette op på det forhold og den sidste koncert, skulle være en åben og fri med deltagelse af andre at tidens toner, misundeligt inspireret af den foregående Woodstockkoncert, og den skulle tillige filmes.
Men forberedelserne til så stor en koncert var sjuskede. Man ombestemte sig en uge, før at koncerten skulle afholdes på Altamont Speedway ved San Fransisco, fremfor det mere velegnede Sears Point Raceway fordi Jagger mente det var for dyrt. Og fordi Jagger ikke kunne lide politiet, skulle Hells Angels stå for sikkerheden. Et andet band, The Grateful Dead havde gode erfaringer med de Hells Angels rockere, som de kendte, men dem Jagger hyrede for en masse bajere var anderledes
As a small team rushed to set up an inadequate, 4ft-high stage and a lighting system the day before the show, a toxic party began. Fans arriving ahead of the show tore down the neighbouring fences for firewood and sat around playing music, taking LSD, smoking joints and having sex.
Unknown to the complacent Stones, these were no longer the happy, innocent days of the Summer of Love. Some chemists had added the poison strychnine to their LSD recipe because it was said to extend the length of the trip. Some threw speed into the mix. Bad trips spread throughout the crowd at Altamont from the start, and many fell prey to acid-spiked drinks. The crucial detail of medical care had been put off until the last minute, leaving the site with eight doctors, four psychiatric doctors from UCSF hospital, and a Red Cross team who, mercifully, had turned up uninvited.
The Hells Angels, who were paid for their vague role as a disastrous informal security force with $500 of beer, left a bloody trail all day, riding their motorbikes through the crowd to the stage and beating men and women with pool cues.
These were not just the relatively civilised San Francisco Angels known to the Grateful Dead. As Altamont was on no one’s patch, the Angels came from an unstable mixture of chapters. Some of the bikers were frankly psychotic; many had something to prove.
A fat, naked Latino man was pummelled for dancing erratically and could later be seen covered in blood, his teeth missing. A naked woman dispensing hugs received similar treatment. The injured were littered backstage like wounded soldiers.
Angels crowded the stage, savagely knocking out singer Marty Balin of support band Jefferson Airplane while they played. One sat beside Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Stephen Stills as he performed and stabbed him in the leg with a sharpened bicycle spoke every time Stills stepped forward to sing. Streams of blood soaked his trousers.
Even for the Stones, the signs were there from the beginning that this was not the peaceful hippy gathering Jagger had naively hoped for. Moments after their arrival by helicopter, a young man stepped into Jagger’s path and punched him in the face, knocking him down. ‘F*** you, Mick Jagger,’ he screamed. ‘I hate you!’
As they took to the stage, the Stones belatedly realised the situation had gone far beyond their control. Angels glowered at them from all around, and wouldn’t stop beating people in full view of the band.
Hunter, a black man with a white girlfriend, had attracted the attention of Angels all day. As the Stones went into Under My Thumb, Hunter was smashed in the face by a biker. He tried to scramble away into the audience, but four or five more Angels pounced on him.
He managed to get up and started to run away. Stumbling and out of breath, Hunter pulled a gun from his waistband.
In chilling scenes, The Maysles’ film, Gimme Shelter, captured the moment when 22-year-old Hells Angel Alan Passaro leapt through the air and plunged a hunting knife into Hunter’s neck. They tumbled to the ground together. Passaro kept stabbing the boy in the back. Several other Angels stamped on him. One stood on his head.
“‘The hippies had no defense against this kind of ferocious savagery,’” kan man læse i en anden Daily Mail artikel om samme bog, men med flere gode billeder. Rolling Stones spillede videre og hippierne lyttede og trippede og fik bank. Man skulle virkeligt ikke have været der.
Meredith Hunters liv kunne være reddet, hvis ikke Rolling Stones havde insisteret på at bruge deres helikopter til at flyve hjem til hotellet, Hvor Jagger forsøgte at arrangere en trekant (af seksuel karakter forstås), i stedet for at få Hunter på hospitalet. 3 andre mennesker døde den dag; en druknede da han forsøgte at forcere et hegn ved en akvædukt og to blev kørt ned af en koncertgænger på et trip i en stjålen bil.
Jeg huskede som sagt en artikel fra The Atlantic, som via Joe Samberg, mindedes disse “hordes of kids who had been lured to California by utopian ideals and then settled into a life of sex, drugs, and lethargy”, som “by any middle-class standards, these people were living totally miserable lives.” i netop San Fransisco
There were two types of drug users on Telegraph Avenue. One group unapologetically shot heroin. The other group took mind-altering drugs but believed that opiates were a sinister way for The Man to keep poor people from climbing out of the ghetto. At first, some of the kids put up signs declaring, “No heroin dealers here.” Over time, Joe says, those signs came down and more and more people started using hard drugs. “All that stuff about consciousness was just sort of dropped.”
“You see these kids drinking Southern Comfort? Those two bottles appeared and disappeared in what couldn’t have been more than two minutes. These kids were 13, maybe 14. But they just consumed anything that would come their way.” (Joe Samberg)
Looking at Joe’s pictures, it’s clear how young some of those addicts were. One group of junior-high-aged girls, known as the Mini Mob, often showed up in Mickey Mouse t-shirts. “There were people there who had those young kids very much in their thrall,” says Joe. “They told them, ‘Listen, you don’t need to go to school. Everything you need to learn in life is right here on the street.’”
A lot had changed in Berkeley since 1964, when thousands of students—many of them wearing suits and ties—gathered at Sproul Plaza to champion civil rights and demand free speech. Campuses had been the sources of the counterculture’s boldest ideas, the places where young activists mobilized to fight segregation and the Vietnam War, taking classes in political theory and Eastern philosophy.
Now, college dropouts were congregating with misfits and runaways on the other side of Sather Gate. The outrage was still there, but the issues were murkier. While Joe was hanging out on Telegraph Avenue, his brother Paul published an anthology of underground newspaper diatribes called Fire! Among other things, the book ridiculed the whole idea of higher education:
College is a fantasy in the suburban mind of Mr. and Mrs. Work-Hard-Our-Life-Is-No-Fun-But-the-Kid-Will-Get-What-We-Can’t-Afford. The campus is a cultured nest egg where I-Don’t-Understand-He’s-Always-Been-a-Good-Boy and Oh-No-She’s-Not-That-Kind-of-Girl stroll hand in hand up the ladder to success, their tender heads floating in the lessons of the gentle professor. Only the kids never saw the professor. He was in his lab developing the new improved tear gas the kids are coughing under while the university president sits above it all.
Even at the time, though, Joe says he was “too sarcastic” to fully buy into the radical agenda. “The average person on the avenue was almost completely ignorant politically,” Joe says. “All they really cared about was drugs, drugs, drugs. They were nihilists and hedonists. They just supported anything that was against the establishment. There was no intellectual foundation. The spirit everyone had talked about—the feeling of love and new age and progressive politics—was dying a miserable death.”
Over time, Joe says he watched “mind-expanding” drugs give way to more and more heroin. “I never had the wherewithal to be a full-fledged drug addict,” says Joe. “I never had enough money. And I was never willing to sell my camera.” (Joe Samberg)
“That was my problem with the whole thing,” says Joe. “There’s no growth for people if they’re continuously on drugs. It started out with all this higher thinking—expanding your mind to become more conscious of what’s really going on in the universe. But once the drugs took over, all of those big ideas disappeared.”
The author of the Atlantic article, Mark Harris, reached a similar conclusion. He was a generation older than the Baby Boomers, but as a white New Yorker who wrote for Ebony and The Negro Digest, he was highly sympathetic to the youth activism of the 1960s. He just didn’t think the hippies, in particular, were bringing about any meaningful change. Drugs had stunted their emotional development, leaving them at the mercy of “their illusions, their unreason, their devil theories, their inexperience of life, and their failures of perception.” Instead of promoting brotherhood and equality, they’d taken over public spaces, picked all the flowers in Golden Gate Park, and refused to turn their music down to let their hardworking neighbors sleep. And as they begged for money and frequented free clinics, these children of the suburbs siphoned resources away from the urban locals who needed them most.
En tredie observation er at de mest ressourcestærke ideologer udlevede sig selv i en periode af deres liv og fortsatte derefter som iværksættere eller forfulgte seriøse karrierer. I deres kølvand efterlod de sig alle de dumme og svage, som de havde besnakket med deres løfter om frihed, virkelighedsflugt og ansvarsforskydning og som aldrig kom ud af deres misbrug.
Og der er jo ikke meget ved at have en dansk blog uden et dansk perspektiv, så her er Danmarks Radios dokumentar Christianias Børn: Skyggesiden af eventyret