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Everyone Loves Acid

By Adam Thomas

Tuesday August 7, 2007

Oh the 60’s. That swell time when it seemed like there was a real possibility that the world could be changed. We all know that’s bullshit now. The man has his hand more tightly wrapped around our throats than ever before. But back in 1967 they had this thing they called the summer of love. Naked men and women dropping acid, diggin the vibes of Hendricks and the Stones, letting the juice run down their legs. Good times, good times.

This month at the Cinematheque is the 40th (who knew) anniversary of that shameless summer of hippyness, and its a good chance to go see a bunch of films that helped define a generation of idealistic non-committal dropouts who couldn’t get it together to actually change the world let alone their pants… if they were even wearing any. Sure you’ve seen Easy Rider, but there is a whole whack of stuff screening that is both laughable and hippynotising.

Something’s Happening is a rare chance to see inside the legendary Acid Tests in San Francisco, offering footage of Ken Kesey and the Pranksters and of Neal Cassady as host of the Acid Test graduation.

Haskel Wexler’s Medium Cool is groundbreaking for being a fictional film shot on the fly and on location amidst the backdrop of the 1968 US Democratic Convention in Chicago which saw anti war protesters, hippies and cops actually battling it out in the streets. Like Easy Rider it has a dark edge to it and offers a little less incense and peppermint and more police dog and rubber bullets.

Monterey Pop is always great especially when Jimi upstages the Who, (who totally smashed all their instruments), by flapping his pelvis around and setting his guitar on fire as the feedback churns out painful screams. There is no doubt the 60’s had some good things going. Political unrest is cool and free love and all that would have been alright, and hell, everyone loves acid. But it’s different now… Even if it all failed, it must have been a time when it felt nice to believe in the possibility of hope. But then again, maybe that was just the acid.

Now playing at the Pacific Cinematheque