You probably all wished to be a hippie at some point of your life, to go ‘On the Road’ just like Jack Kerouac, to live in Haight-Ashbury, CA, to go on Tour with Jimi Hendrix, to take pictures of The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and have the chance to sing along with Country Joe & The Fish in Woodstock during the most famous festival of all time.
And I have to admit, so did I ..
Alain Dister, a French journalist and photographer has fulfilled this dream and in 2001 published Oh, Hippie Days ! Carnets Américains 1966-1969 in order to share with us the best three years of his life.
In July 1966, he took a plane to NYC, picked-up a drive away to California, let his hair grow and began his new lifestyle as a Hippie.
” Je ne pars pas en vacances, moi. Je pars pour vivre une aventure, sur la route. “
Far from all the sterotypes that surround this period, Oh, Hippie Days ! offers the pros and cons of a beatnik’s lifestyle sometimes not as peaceful and happy as we may have thought.
Between the abolition of the sexual taboos, the free clinics, the drugs and the acid freaks , the Vietnam War, The Black Panthers, the dangers of hitchhiking across the USA and Canada, the rise of strange new religions & leaders, the ‘ Families’, those communities that could offer you a place to sleep for a week or 2 until you go back on the road, The Flower Power … everything has been related in details.
One by one, the people with whom Dister shared this crazy experience, from the good to the bad moments, are all listed : Angela from Redwood City, Liza who escaped from her dentist parents to live her Summer of Love, Regine who died from a heroin overdose, Jess, Tara, Jon, Gerry …
And blessed was the time when you could be friends with personalities like Leonard Cohen, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead, Allen Ginsberg, Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa and so on.
” Et j’ai tendu le pouce, en reprenant la route vers le Nord. ”
Crédit photos Alain Dister