Friday, July 14, 2006

What IS it with CC and hippies?

DISCLAIMER: This mostly applies to Gen X/Gen Y hippies, sometimes called "Neohippies." I'm not necessarily talking about older hippies, though if you see yourself or your older hippie friends in this, that's not my fault. That said, some older hippies seem to have had a genuine committment to changing the world and really tried to do things in effective ways. Props to them, but I don't see hippies in my generation doing that really at all.

My thing against hippies dates back to at least my college years, though I have certainly had experiences since that have confirmed it.

There was an entire dorm full of hippies at my college and my experiences with them were mostly negative. Probably the most dramatic of these was during my senior year. I was president of the "Egghead Dorm" where all the science majors lived. I had won on a platform of "Vote for me and we won't have a dorm-wide party. We will buy a hammock for the courtyard and some picnic tables instead." I had a meeting every Sunday night where I would gently dole out advice to the suite leaders under me, basically running things under a "don't be an asshole' shall be the whole of the law" sort of philosophy.

Our dorm was non-drinking, the only non-drinking dorm on campus, and there was a tacit agreement with the administration that we got away with a lot of minor rule violations but the campus police wouldn't walk through often because we were slighly out of the way and we were so darn well-behaved on the big stuff.

Then the administration decided that since our dorm was SO good, that they should move a few of the biggest hippie troublemakers into our dorm. Maybe that would make the troublemakers behave.

Of course, it didn't work that way. Pretty soon, a solid quarter of the science majors were partying all night and the dorm always smelled like pot and nobody could study. Every meeting was a mix of self-righteous hippies bitching at me because I was trying to enforce the rules, sometimes assuring me that if I just used drugs I wouldn't care so much, and appalling things like a guy in a wheelchair saying "PLEASE make everyone be a little bit more responsible with their glass bottles. I'm getting broken glass caught in the treads of my chair and it's cutting up my hands!"

So basically, my sweet little meetings became hell. Five years later, I would read the Tipping Point and start to understand what had happened.

Since college, I've continued to see evidence that hippies tend to have certain qualities that drive me crazy in a human being. I tend to think that people who have these qualities are drawn to hippiedom, which reinforces them. If a self-declared hippie does not have these qualities, I can get along fine with them, it has happend before.

SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS-- There are many decent examples of this, probably the best being the Andressohn case in Florida. These were hippies who were raising their five children on a raw food diet. One died of what appeared to be malnutrition.

That article doesn't have much on it, but the parents' defense was that the baby had a congenital disease which they didn't know about because they don't believe in the medical establishment.

Had they taken their kid to a doctor when it only gained a few ounces in its first six months of life? Of course not. A doctor would call that "failure to thrive" and start running tests, but they knew better than the medical establishment. They're hippies. So they treated the kid with wheatgrass enemas. As far as I've read on the case, if the parents even understood that they could have saved their baby's life by taking him to a doctor, they never acknowledged it. Their way was the only way.

The prosecution contended they starved the baby to death.

Needless to say, several hippies I have known have brought this case up as an example of the horrible discrimination raw foodists face. When Christian Scientists do this kind of thing, I hate it too. But at least with Christian Scientists they are doing it for religious reasons. For hippies, it's about showing off that you know better than the establishment.*

Do most hippies take it this far? Of course not. But the number of defenders this couple has, and the amount of "anything mainstream must be bad. I always know better because I'm hippie" attitude one sees other places is enough to turn me off.

POT SMOKING--- People who smoke pot smell really bad and don't seem aware of that. And if you smoke up every time life gets hard, you become a little kid emotionally who expects the world to revolve around you because you don't have the maturity that dealing with unpleasant experiences like an adult brings.

LAZINESS AND SELFISHNESS- Hippies like to complain about politics, but when they do anything about politics, it's usually something pointless like a protest march. (And nothing makes a protest march less effective than a plurality of hippies. People going by look at them and think "This march isn't full of people like me. It's just a bunch of hippies." PLEASE people, if you must attend a protest march, wear your dockers.) The hippies I have known like to bitch and moan but are almost never up for anything actually effective because effective things involve sustained effort. IMHO, they like to bitch more than they like to improve things.

And LOTS of them live off their capitalist parents.

SPECIFIC TOLERANCE: "You can believe anything you want to, as long as it is what I believe. If you differ from my beliefs in any way, politically, nutritionally, morally, etc, then I have the right to lecture you endlessly. Because if you really understood the world, you'd see things my way." (I thought of it as a part of self-righteousness, but someone just emailed me making the case that this deserves an unattractive quality category all its own.)


*Clarification: If ADULTS want to go and live off in the woods free of capitalism and the medical establishment, they have my blessing. But the ones who break a leg, then call for capitalism and the medical establishment to send a helicopter, get fixed up and then go back to bitching about capitalism and the medical establishment suck.


Chalicechick said...

I think some subcultures attract certain kinds of people more than others.

Not all cheerleaders are pretty, athletic girls.

But cheerleading certainly attracts pretty, athletic girls.

Not all high school theater people are melodramatic, but melodramatic high school kids tend to be attracted to theater.
(In my high school, the thespian society gave out an award every year to the couple with the most "self-created drama.")

Why wouldn't a group that encourages people to not be mainsteam attract a lot of people who reflexively look at the mainstream and think "I know better than all that"?


Anonymous said...

I am actually "pre-hippie" -that is I remember when they didn't exist as lifestyle type and when the word was first used to describe a group of people. It was about 1961, I was living in the city with a bunch of guys some of whom were musicians, the rest of us were existentialist philosophers, students of poetry and dreamwork. We thought of ourselves as hip....but we didn't have a lifestyle to conform to, we could get on the suit to go do a day job.

Hippies were identified as teenagers who came in from the suburbs to stand in lines at the Jazz clubs and coffee houses on weekend and they talked "hip" as if it were a second language.....

I stopped using the word Chick in 1961 when I heard a seventeen year old use it six times in very brief discourse. We got mad at the hippies because they made 'cool' into cliche.

Later they multiplied and got older. I still use the word to mean non artists who play as if they part of the art and music community.

Smoking weed can make one a permanent space cadet, dependent on escapism, and they say that is not an addiction.

Chalicechick said...

I'm not generationally qualified to make generalizations about the first wave of hippies, but everything you say matches my impression.


Joel Monka said...

I come from the tail end of that first generation of hippies myself, and even back in the late 60s/early 7os the trends CC speaks of were evident. I remember fondly an Earth Day incident- a group of hippies (younger siblings of real hippies, actually) staged an evironmental protest on campus, demanding (amongst other things) that the city clean up the filthy, trash strewn creek that ran through part of the compus, but technically was the responsibility of the Parks Dept. Those of us in ROTC staged a counter protest- we issued fatigues and nailsticks and cleaned up the trash the hippies were protesting about. Oddly enough, they didn't appreciate it.

Lilylou said...

CC, you have definitely had experiences to turn you off about hippie-ness. I call myself almost an aging hippie, but my "aging hippie-ness" has none of the characteristics that upset you so much. At least I don't think so!

Living out here in the far west, we see a lot of people who are pretty counterculture, live in the woods, smoke a bunch of pot, etc. But we do expect them to grow up eventually and "put away childish things", as we now-aging almost-hippies did.

It's very sad when they don't and it's very bad when they hurt their kids in the name of independence.

LaReinaCobre said...

I don't have anything against hippies myself. My former landlady was a very highly functioning former hippie. She raised three pretty awesome daughters, too. Maybe she was an original hip person and not one of the wannabes.

Years ago when I was applying to a university in Malaysia, I did a lot of reading on the country. At the time at least, it was illegal to be a hippie in Malaysia.

Rivka said...

Hee! I went to Reed College, bastion of the modern-day hippies, and this just fits perfectly.

One of my classmates wrote a paean to them, called "I'm not really a rich white kid.". For example:

...Yeah, I'm kind of scruffy
Got my hair grown down to here
Can't you tell by how I smell
I only bathe twice a year
Got my shirt from Guatemala
And my hat was made in Guam
My pants are Army Surplus
From back around Vietnam
So from that it should be clear
That even though I'm here
At a college costing twenty grand a year

I'm not really a rich white kid
I am living like my Third World brothers always did
I would not be born into an easy life, not me
That wouldn't be P.C.

...And it went on and on.

fausto said...

That said, some older hippies seem to have had a genuine committment to changing the world and really tried to do things in effective ways. Props to them, but I don't see hippies in my generation doing that really at all.

Uh, "tune in, turn on, drop out" isn't really all that effective, as ways to change the world go.

It was the Civil Rights movement, and popular protests against the Vietnam war, combined with popular shock at Nixon getting caught in criminal abuses of power, that changed the world in the '60's and '70's. Those societal forces were much broader and deeper than countercultural urges like the hippie movement. The counterculture rode the crest of those waves, but it did not cause them or provide the essential force.

Steven Rowe said...

Wow, what a bunch of squares here!
I thought UUs were like hip dudes, man! What a bummer.
;-) I find this actually an interesting collection of deficits-- and thus reawakes why the folks in Haight-Ashbury had the funeral for the Hippie back in 1968. Thus there are no Hippies after that year (or was it 67?) Everybody after that are folks struggling to be hip after that that hip went old - unless the chesse factor of the non-cool made it cool (like beehive hairdos do).

as for me, as i do in every religious discsussion, I will have to make substituions for words, when CC says slurs against Hippies, I will just smile and think she means "slackers"

"tune in, turn on, drop out" was of course written by a Harvard Professor, so we UUs know the value of that, right?

I personally am too young to be a Hippie, but I just spent some last weekend doing some talk with a guy I've known for many years; who was a Hippie in the Haight. Wonderful guy, and we talked about his buisness and hobby - same buisness he had since the mid-1960s; book selling. And yes he had a bookstore in SF. An old boss of mine was a Hippie as well as Special Forces in Vietnam. Another wonderful guy. He certainly went to bat for me when I needed it.
I can go on and on: so let me be perfectly clear: I treasure my old Hippie friends. Solid, dependable, wonderful, intellegent. I couldnt ask for more.


Anonymous said...

I have always liked the idea of hippies, even though I myself am hopelessly Establishment. I guess I like the idea of hippies as contrasted to my notion of a drab/conformist society during the '50s.

But you're right. I have known a number of hippies who possess the qualities you describe, CC. The most annoying are some relatives I have who collect welfare, don't use their snazzy degrees to try to earn a living, and live on a huge piece of land their rich parents gave them all while sternly reprimanding me for working at BIGLaw. I feel like one of those annoying 1960s dads saying, "You kids need to shape up!"

Still I cling to my ideal of the fun, good-hearted hippies who are simply non-conformist and care about peace and love without too much moralizing.

Joel Monka said...

They remember themselves as being much hipper than they really were, too. There must be 25 million people who claim they were at Woodstock... and yet, SOMEBODY was buying all those Pat Boone and Ricky Nelson albums!

Steven Rowe said...

Joel: Ricky Nelson started going by the name Rick Nelson in 1967. He was playing county rock with the Stone Country Band (which included future members of Poco, Little Feet,the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Eagles). He was indeed Hip.
You must mean Lawrence Welk - who during this time had a tv show.

Steven R (who admits to having lots of real Hippies among his friends)

Anonymous said...

Joel + CC -- Cyberxena actually was at Woodstock -- for three and a half weeks (the traffic jam lasted about that long....). She was very involved in an organization that helped 7500 guys get out of the VietNam war. They "really did something."
But those pseudo-hippies you describe is the reason I generally claim more affinity with the Beatniks than the hippies.
I was in the thick of it-- a teen in the '60s, in Marin County. I went to "The First Human Be-in" at the Summer of Love -- who should I run into there, but my Mother and the next-door neighbor lady, checking it out. we went to The Fillmore, and the Avalon Ballroom and Winterland for music -- saw a lot of groups -- Jimmy Hendrix, Big Brother, Crosby Stills and Nash, Vanilla Fudge, Santana, The Doors, etc. My hair was long enough to sit on. We went to anti-war marches. My sister lived in a commune for a while.
On the other hand, I kept up a 3.86 GPA at Berkeley and my nickname in HS was "Clean". (I know that's weird, but the three others I hung out with were "Soft", "Good" and "Clever").
All in all, I think no one really fits stereotypes completely.

Anonymous said...

The people I know who identify as hippies are far more independent of their parents than I. After all, I'm basically doing stuff that my parents are OK with, whereas they're striking out for stuff their parents don't like. I don't blame people who plan to live off their parents indefinitely for that fact; I blame their parents.

JD Meyer said...

bohemiotx says Thank you for your critique of hippies,Chalice Chick. By the way, I remember you from beliefnet many years ago! Once I wrote an essay entitled, "Why Mr. Meyer is Not a Hippie." Sure English teachers write plenty of essays,but I was really sick of being labeled a hippie. Like you, I see hippies as rather lazy; furthermore, I'm left of center politically, not left of left. Musically, I'm usually a headbanging metalhead (Priest, Maiden,Metallica)when it comes to music in English, a genre that introduced "good soldier, not war criminal" lyrics to music. Furthermore, I was a volunteer in a city economic development group and have met city leaders at Kwanzaa talks--hardly the hippie style of dropping out. But my hair was over my collar, and I wear jeans and sandals a lot, say "dude" and appear laid back. I guess that's why people said "hippie."