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What a great story ("Laguna on Acid: The great hippie Christmas invasion of 1970," Dec. 25)! Bob Emmers is a genius for tracking it down and writing so accurately. He told the story from so many perspectives, and the readers can see it did change each person involved. It was a spiritual event from that standpoint alone.
-Elizabeth Leeds, Laguna Beach
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Emmers' GREAT story enhanced a particular flashback of my own. It was 1967 or 1968. The underground papers were advertising something big, something that was going to happen at Elysian Park in Los Angeles on Easter Sunday: a love-in. Everyone was encouraged to come and share the good vibes. Radio picked up on the buzz, and soon the word was out to all. It spread like a rash. My curiosity and excitement built as I waited for the day.
I arrived early with my brother and his girlfriend, and we were amazed to find thousands of fellow brothers and sisters already quite into doing their thing. The aroma of pot, spices and incense filled the morning air like London fog. Walking into this growing crowd of mellow faces was a powerful experience. The colors of their clothes were blinding. Massive tents and flags had been erected for various tribes. Within an hour or two, the word was that close to 100,000 of us were there.
Bands jammed on a small stage. As the Mothers of Invention sent wild sounds out to us, I noticed that every few feet, there was a burning roach lying on the ground with the intentional purpose of being found and enjoyed. I crawled around like some space dog, toking from roaches that appeared to be as prominent as confetti. Candy hearts were passed around like notes at junior high; it was some of the best acid I had ever taken. Beautiful nude women, their bodies painted with peace signs and other logos of the times, were lying here and there. Everyone was smiling and laughing. Hells Angels tripped with straight-looking folks. Old faces shared good thoughts with young ones. The crowd was on the scale of some Bible story. There was no violence to be heard or seen anywhere.
Then a line of police appeared out of nowhere. Wearing riot gear and holding nightsticks, they stood at the top of the hills looking down on the scene. It was like ice water poured over your fevered head. I had visions of the army waiting to attack Spartacus and his people. Then something wonderful happened. They did nothing. Once again, word passed from face to face. It had been decided to ignore the drugs for the duration of the day. Pot was legal. The police watched as the people shared and tripped. They stood like sentinels but made no attempt to cause any trouble.
The society that hated us back then is probably wishing to its gods from behind its iron-barred windows that we, those crazed freaks, were back. We tried to hand them flowers and incense. They now have drivebys and carnage on the streets they live on. As for me, aside from the indelible memory of this great event, all that remains are two little candy hearts that I keep in a bottle with other souvenirs from those times. To Bob Emmers, I offer what is still legible on one of them: "YOU'RE SWELL."
-Brett M. Stark, Costa Mesa
Emmers must be really hard-up to write an article like that. No one has an interest in the 1960s-1970s anymore except as a joke. And for the people who lived in the period, it amounts to a failure to make lasting and needed change. I doubt they want to relive the period either. Most are either grandparents or dead. All parties were and are clueless: police, local residents, the so-called hippies.
Is it any better now? New buildings saturate the area, milking the locale to the point of financial exhaustion. Once the real estate has no upward value, you will have a massive slum. The people with money will move out, and the people living off programs will move in.
Every generation since the 1950s has openly mocked the previous generation. Children subconsciously hate their parents' values. They're all trained to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance in grammar school, and by high school, they're trying to overthrow the government within the context they know. The high school kids speak the truth since they have no financial biases-yet. Those few years of physical maturity and freedom from financial burden are much closer to the real freedoms all people should enjoy. What we have now is a form of financial slavery where the government sucks the life out of any real freedom that might be bought from hard work.
It would be fitting if the hippies had the direction to take the lifestyle to the ultimate expression: to overturn money-based values and simply live for themselves. Spooks like the IRS and the government would be powerless against very large numbers of organized non-participants. Writers for Star Trek create large-eared capitalists with teeth like piranha fish, touting ridiculous values in the lust for wealth. I suggest the distortion is nowhere near as ugly as the real thing in the home and on Wall Street.
-Donald Rose, Orange
let it ride
Re: the recent article and letters about the Orange County Transportation Authority and rail transit (John Hall's "The Warm Fuzzies," Dec. 11; Letters, Dec. 18 and 25). I am surprised that so many people are opposed to the idea of a light-rail line in the county. Rail lines take up very little space compared to freeways, and if they carry a lot of people, that reduces the pressure to keep expanding the existing freeways. Ridership would depend a lot on the routing, but I think there is good potential in the area. For comparison, the Blue Line in LA carries about 55,000 people per day, and the two light-rail lines in San Diego carry a total of 70,000 people per day. If the OC light rail connected to the Anaheim, Orange and Irvine Metrolink stations, it would provide a fast way for workers coming in from LA and Riverside to get to their jobs.
-Chris Flescher, San Diego
the pressure cooker
I have been reading the OC Weekly for quite some time. I am also fairly up on the music scene in OC, particularly Costa Mesa. And I am a zealous advocate of free speech. However, Rich Kane is one of those people who makes me want to change my beliefs. I have yet to agree with him on any of his so-called "reviews." He reminds me of Rex Reed. Mr. Kane is very sparing with his favorable comments about local bands. I suppose that is fitting for a "critic." However, I have read two of his reviews about my favorite band, the Pressure, and could not disagree with him more. In Mr. Kane's first review, he suggested that perhaps he was not in the right frame of mind to appreciate the band. His Dec. 25 Locals Only review makes it clear that he really doesn't have a clue about what is happening with the OC music scene, particularly with the Pressure. Certainly the Pressure having developed a huge following in a very short time should be some indication of their worth as a band with a sound that pleases, not to mention the thrill of one of their live performances. Although I have heard and enjoyed the Neil Armstrong Band, I would hardly suggest that they are the salvation of rock music. They are beginners at best. Yet Mr. Kane holds them up as the best band in OC.
I don't really know how anyone can suggest that there is a "best" band anywhere, considering the various sounds that are being produced today. It is a shame that Mr. Kane has such a narrow view of music that he has to categorize bands as the best, worst, etc., or ramble on with pseudo-hip innuendoes with the intent of belittling one group or the other. If Mr. Kane truly has an ear for music, I expect that he will not be so concerned with who is best, but rather with what is being expressed by the lyrics and the manipulation of sound that each band projects. Perhaps he should consider another line of work.
-G.W. Smith, Laguna Beach
Rich Kane responds: Sorry, I wasn't adequately blown away by your fave band, but I really didn't think the Pressure were so bad-they just didn't make me wanna turn cartwheels or anything. I never said the Neil Armstrong Band is the best band in OC; I merely raised the possibility that they MIGHT be-thank you for kindly disagreeing. As for your statement about the Pressure's "huge following" being indicative of their worth as a band: if you equate the size of a band's crowd with its level of artistic worthiness, you must really love the Backstreet Boys.
stop the madness
After reading Wyn Hilty's "Millennium Plan Madness" (Machine Age, Dec. 18), I decided to visit Anthony Dragun's Web page. In contrast to Dragun's claim, his site is putting out disinformation. His "News and Update" page claims to host the "inaugural online edition of Project 99's newsletters." Project 99's newsletters, however, have been online for more than two years on the El Toro Airport Info Site. Next, Dragun invites visitors to read a statement from Irvine Mayor Christina Shea but instead introduces them to Councilman Larry Agran. His claim that Agran is a member of the El Toro Reuse Planning Authority's board of directors is simply not true-at least not yet.
My concern is not with Dragun's credibility. His page will self-destruct if he continues to channel misinformation into his site. I would, however, have expected the Weekly to point out these half-truths, as well as the fact that the domain name contains "com," not "org," which denotes a not-for-profit site. Had this been any other site, or had another newspaper, say, the Times Orange County, generated this report, the Weekly would have subjected the object and the reporter to derision and mockery. Is the reason for the velvet gloves the presence of a Weekly column in said Project 99's newsletter?
-Hanna Hill, Irvine
Wyn Hilty responds: Does Ms. Hill honestly mean to suggest that wrongly claiming to be the first site to post some newsletters online constitutes "disinformation" about the Millennium Plan? There are probably some inaccuracies on Dragun's site; for that matter, there are probably inaccuracies on the El Toro Airport Information Site and the county's El Toro site. The point of my article was not to nitpick and find fault among the various El Toro sites, but to point out the dangers of infighting among anti-airport forces-exactly the sort of behavior Hill (who fails to mention her own connection to Project 99) demonstrates in her letter. Furthermore, she is simply incorrect in implying that because the site has a ".com" address, it is a for-profit site; ".com" is often registered by individuals who are neither organizations (.org or .net), schools (.edu), nor government agencies (.gov)-individuals like Dragun. Finally, this is the first time in my memory that the Weekly has been accused of being too nice to somebody, and on behalf of the entireWeekly staff, I would like to thank Hill for giving us a good laugh.
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