I'm not an Aquarius. I'm a Cancer.
I'm also not sure what this admission means, but I felt it was important after my week flashing back to the 1960s. Having now tapped into my inner flower child, I thought I'd share my observations after tripping out. (OK, I didn't drop acid, perhaps a few Altoids, but you get the point.)
It all started a week ago Saturday when I had tickets to see a professional production of "Hair." While I enjoy live theater, this is one show I had never seen, not even the 1979 film version. However, having older siblings, I knew as a kid all the popular songs and the fact that everyone got naked.
I was prepared for the free-flowing storytelling, but I must admit that I was unprepared for just how much of a departure it is from traditional musicals. After the first act, I was unsure how I felt. After the second act and a moving ending, I did like the show overall and appreciated the fact that this production was of superior quality.
Since we planned to see it a second time, I decided to spend the week attempting to adopt a late '60s mindset to better understand what it was all about.
It certainly helped that last Sunday's premiere of the fifth season of "Mad Men" took me so vividly back to the mid-'60s. Jessica Pare's now-classic rendition of "Zou Bisou Bisou" (above) certainly put me in a groovy state of mind.
But Don Draper and gang are no hippies (although Peggy is intrigued by the counterculture), and I needed more.
Mid-week it dawned on me to finally watch a movie that has been sitting on my TiVo for three years: "Easy Rider." Believe it or not, I had never seen this 1969 classic about two California drug dealers (Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper) who decide to take the money from their latest sale, hop on their motorcycles and head for Mardi Gras.
Much like "Hair," the narrative floated from one encounter to another, with Fonda's Wyatt so pensive that he's nearly mute. Jack Nicholson is manic brilliance as George, a lawyer who joins the duo for the trip to Louisiana. This film taps into the cause behind the hippie culture, one that explores the meaning of true freedom, the right to express oneself in a way that societal norms may not allow, and the empowerment this provides. One of the crucial points is that society's narrow views can bring about tragic results.
"Easy Rider" was made for a pittance but netted box office gold for Columbia Pictures. And it was the perfect companion piece to "Hair," which tackles the same themes.
The next day I jumped online and read the lyrics for all of the songs. I also looked up the history behind the show and how it captured what was happening in Greenwich Village in the mid-1960s.
Armed with my newfound knowledge and an understanding of what it all meant, I was ready for my repeat encounter with "Hair." And all I can say is "wow!" I didn't expect to love it so much the second time around.
The show has garnered some criticism locally from people who have labeled it "anti-American," "anti-family" and "anti-religion." And I did see a handful of people leave before the end of the show each time. However, these labels are short-sighted, because the hippies were fighting against an establishment that was telling them how to live their lives when they wanted that freedom to discover themselves. And remember, this was a time when the Civil Rights moments was occurring, the women's rights movement was just around the corner and Vietnam was a divisive war.
If I had time, I really should have watched "Woodstock." That would have completed my flower child hat trick. But I'm glad to have seen "Easy Rider" and "Hair." While I may leave the love beads at home when I go to work tomorrow, I'll be thinking about my week as a hippie and the lessons I've learned. And I'll be humming "Let the Sun Shine In" all day long.